Tagged: marketplace of ideas
Lessons in Law 6
“I must stay on the court in order to prevent the Bolsheviki from getting control.” Chief Justice William Howard Taft, 1929
It must have been no small peril as the Chief Justice could utter such words.
On the other hand there are those who trivialize the matter using the phrase “red scare,” blaming people such as Chief Justice Taft for irrationality.
The record of Communist parties’ participation in coalition governments in European countries (like France) remains unscrutinized. What you’ll find is their consistent voting for the curtailment of fundamental freedoms.
In June 1919 the Overman Committee of the U.S. Senate concluded that Communism in Russia was “a reign of terror unparalleled in the history of modern civilization.“
“Since 2011, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has excluded the Chinese government and China-affiliated organisations from its activities, including using funds to host Chinese visitors at NASA facilities.” (Wkpd: China exclusion policy of NASA)
In 1943 the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act of 1943, or Magnuson Act, repealed the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, allowing for an annual quota of 105 Chinese immigrants, at the same time maintaining the ban against ownership of property and businesses by ethnic Chinese.
For those who think hate speech is unprotected, please read Snyder v. Phelps, 562 U.S. 443 (2011). The Supreme Court held that the WBC [Westboro Baptist Church]’s hateful picketing was protected speech. And Wikipedia correctly cites me as the source of the protection. ([a Twitter user named] The First Amendment)
“Hate speech” is a name found by those willing to shield group lobbying from people’s scrutiny. To those who’d retort that using the n-word and other such words isn’t “scrutinizing group lobbying,” I have this to say: “One man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric” (Justice John Marshall Harlan).
Les émissions littéraires et les écrivains qui se rendent sur ces plateaux sont à la littérature ce que la télé-réalité est à la réalité : de la « télé-littérature ».
En France nous avons eu des ministres communistes et nous avons toujours des parlementaires communistes mais demander la même liberté d’expression qu’aux États-Unis est impensable.
Invasive Moderation (Part 3)
The Corporate Frankenstein
For Part 1 read here, for Part 2 here.
Twitter is going wild with their flags, trying hard to suppress even the truth. Just shows how dangerous they are, purposely stifling free speech. Very dangerous for our Country. Does Congress know that this is how Communism starts? Cancel Culture at its worst. (Pres. Donald Trump, Dec 24, 2020)
Twitter’s flags are Twitter’s free speech. But sure go with “free speech is how communism starts” and see how far that gets you. (The First Amendment)
As a few tech companies today have the power to stifle the “free flow of information and ideas” that the First Amendment’s aim is to ensure, to do nothing about it is to make fun of the Amendment rather than to pay it due respect.
To compare Twitter’s policy with an individual’s speech is bogus. A company follows a predefined corporate purpose. At best its speech should be construed as “commercial speech,” with limited protection only.
(Nota Bene: As in the next tweets I speak of the political speech of corporations, it should be clear to you that the statement here is about what corporations are in essentia according to me, like the “End Corporate Personhood!” message on the placard there [Middle Tennessee State University’s First Amendment Encyclopedia: Corporate Speech].)
Commercial speech has only limited protection: “For commercial speech to come within that provision, it at least must concern lawful activity and not be misleading.” (Central Hudson Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission ). And in the earlier state of affairs commercial speech wasn’t protected by the First Amendment at all: see Valentine v. Chrestensen (1942). – An individual’s speech isn’t subject to these conditions.
As to corporations’ so-called “political speech,” since Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) it gets broad protection but the decision deals with “political speech in the form of contributions and expenditures on behalf of candidates and political issues,” not in the form of internet moderation affecting the free flow of information and ideas. Twitter Inc. has the First Amendment right to contribute financially to the campaign trail of a candidate, that’s all, there’s nothing about First Amendment protection for flagging other candidates’ tweets in the bargain.
Next time I’ll comment on Amalgamated Food Employees Union Local 590 v. Logan Valley Plaza (1968): “Logan dealt with right to use private property as ‘equivalent’ of public space.“
A corporation isn’t the government. The First Am. is applicable against the government or private entities acting under color of state law ONLY. And Twitter ain’t that. (Ava)
As the First Amendment cannot ensure the free flow of information and ideas against private encroachments, a statute is needed. I am arguing that that statute will be upheld against the private companies’ claim that it violates their First Amendment right.
Indeed, corporate speech has not as strong a status as citizens’ speech, all this ultimately deriving from the common law, where property is no source of absolute discretionary power.
The Supreme Court of the United States has to balance on one hand the free marketplace of ideas, which a statute will maintain, and on the other hand the rights of trustlike corporations, which a statute will regulate for the good of the commonwealth just as numerous statutes do already.
Corporate speech is twofold: commercial and political. Conceding that corporations’ political speech is equally protected (since Citizens United), that’s not the case of their commercial speech. This alone enables one to say that corporations have less First Amendment rights than individuals. => 1>.5+.2
But wait… how can you argue with… MATHEMATICS!??!?! (Allen)
Algebra is as good a form of logical thinking as another.
At least according to Bertrand Russell.
But a true algebraic formula here would be: 1>.5+x 0<x<.5 or 1>1/2+x 0<x<1/2
Given different >levels< of scrutiny by courts, one could easily translate the whole thing into algebraic formulae.
Because of Citizens United, courts will apply strict scrutiny on the bill I envision (as moderation by internet platforms such as Twitter would be deemed corporate political rather than commercial speech, and so receive full rather than limited protection). Precisely! I’m arguing that in any case the compelling interest called for by strict scrutiny exists, as it is about guaranteeing the free flow of information and ideas.
The First Amendment is a means to an end: the free flow. When people complain about private platforms not respecting the First Amendment, technically they’re wrong –correct– because they mistake the means for the end but in fact they are complaining about impediments to the flow.
Those who complain about platform moderation invoking the First Amendment mistake the means for the end but those who deny them the right to complain make the same mistake. It’s 1A for the sake of it; that is called fetish worship.
Commercial speech is speech that has a commercial purpose. Even an individual can produce commercial speech, and if so, is also subject to government regulations on commercial speech. i.e. commercial speech != [different from] speech by corporations. (Bob)
The difference is that there’s no corporation without commercial speech, without a part of it devoted to that sort of speech that was not even considered to be speech until the 1970s.
Think about it: “corporate-political-speech.” Where until Virginia State Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council (1976) corporations’ commercial speech wasn’t even considered to be speech at all!
“The McConnell decision [McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003)] largely rested on Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), which permitted bans on corporate speech.” (From comment on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission  in John R. Vile, Essential Supreme Court Decisions, 2018).
For 20 years corporate political speech was no speech at all in the United States.
“The Austin decision identified ‘an antidistortion interest’ in limiting political speech based on an attempt to prevent the effects of accumulated wealth.” That was the rationale.
Justice Stevens’s dissent on Citizens United is brilliant. Quotes (J. R. Vile 2018):
Restrictions on corporate expenditures date back to the Tillman Act of 1907. … The decision in Austin has not shown itself to be as flawed as the majority suggests.
The Court has long approved ‘the authority of legislatures to enact viewpoint-neutral regulations based on content and identity.’
The Framers had a much narrower view of the rights of corporations than the majority, and the original understanding has been substantiated by the history of regulation in this area.
The Constitution does, in fact, permit numerous ‘restrictions on the speech of some in order to prevent a few from drowning out the many.
The laws at issue are legitimate measures to prevent corruption and to protect shareholders from expenditures they do not support.
They [corporations] are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.
Just like about 40 years ago commercial speech emerged as speech, 30 years later, that is ten years ago, corporate political speech became speech. For what purposes have these sinister Frankenstein creatures been invented?
The (1) of Section 230 seems intended to prevent its (2), it protects providers from liability for content on their platforms, so providers have no reason to remove content –if they’re for free speech– as nothing can happen to them for content, 230(1) speaking.
I grant you immunity for any sort of content (1) and, whereas you should be content with that, I also grant you immunity for (bona fide) content removal (2). It’s called to have your cake and eat it too. Completely unbalanced. As they’re free to remove content, why can’t I hold them responsible for content they don’t remove?
You’re perfectly free to sue the person posting the offending tweet. (J_Rex)
Wouldn’t suing an anonymous user depend on Twitter’s will to disclose information about the user?
If you don’t like Twitter’s or Facebook’s rules you are perfectly free to create your own platform with whatever idiosyncratic rules you want. In fact, there are such platforms, notably Parler. (J_Rex)
I’m free to leave but at a cost (among other things in terms of audience) and Twitter, which, as one of the first movers, has an undue trustlike position on the market due to its millions of users, should partake in the cost. If such laissez-faire views were accepted, Twitter could staff its moderation office with lunatics and that would be just as good. It can and perhaps it does.
Advocacy of Illegal Conduct Is Lawful
In a previous lesson I told Diane, who had said “no speech is protected if it incites violence,” that she was wrong. She was wrong, but even competent persons make the same error: “These cases illustrate that the First Amendment applies to all groups so long as their intent is not to intimidate or incite violence.” (First Amendment Encyclopedia: American Nazi Party and Related Groups x)
When such conclusion isn’t from lack of knowledge, it’s lack of logical thinking. “Incite violence” isn’t the same as “incite imminent lawless action” (including violence) and therefore it is lawful to incite non-imminent violence.
“In NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. (1982), the Supreme Court ruled that an economic boycott constitutes a form of constitutionally protected expression akin to traditional means of communication, such as speaking and writing, even if violence is threatened as a means of achieving group goals.” (First Amendment Encyclopedia : Boycotts)
I think the courts have held (properly) that there is a tight rope to be walked between allowing someone who is simply pissed off to vent their anger and someone who is actually intending harm. (Diane)
I’m sorry to disagree again. People who “threaten violence,” like in the Clairborne decision, “actually intend harm” (at least conditionally: if… then) and yet it is protected speech.
But Diane is probably thinking of the “true threat” doctrine. So I add that except for the unusual 2003 decision on cross burning that can be a true threat, generally speaking in case law a threat has to be kind of very clear, present, imminent, lawless and all to be (a bit) “true.”
If the courts want to be consistent with Virginia v. Black (2003) on cross burning and the vague notion of intimidation, they will have to smash down the very doctrine of true threat, even Brandenburg v. Ohio (on lawless imminent action) and the whole edifice of First Amendment law. The Supreme Court made a mistake.
The true meaning of the American First Amendement, its truly distinctive nature lie in the words “Advocacy of illegal conduct.” This distinctly American right is what makes all other peoples beside conscious Americans look like phantoms or trembling mice keeping close to the wall.
In Cleveland v. United States (1946), “Justice Francis W. Murphy dissented, largely based on anthropological analysis, arguing that polygamy differed from promiscuity.” #Mormon
Porn often promotes “plots” based on racism, incest, rape, sexism, or violence, and then says these themes are okay in porn because they’re “fantasy.” Why are we sexualizing scenarios that are never acceptable in reality? (FTND: Fight the New Drug)
On a First Amendment Encyclopedia I read of criticism of porn films… in the sense of literary criticism. So, as you talk of “plots,” that alone could be construed as “redeeming value” (which protects some explicit material from prosecution for obscenity). As there’s a plot, that’s a work of the mind, a work of art.
But let me ask, then. What if someone cuts up the sex scenes from the film and uploads them piecemeal? The public will inevitably miss the dialogues, the acting, the story, the plot, all the redeeming value, they will only be… watching porn.
On a marketplace there must be antitrust laws. What are the antitrust laws on the “marketplace of ideas”?
The marketplace of ideas is about speech and counterspeech but some are defining it as speech and speech-canceling.
Lessons in Law 5
Dec 2020. EN-FR
“The argument against censorship is clear: no person should dictate our tastes, ideas, or beliefs. No official has the right to say what is trash or what has value.” – Justice William O. Douglas
It’s more than just an argument against censorship in the sense of prior restraint:
“It is impossible to concede that by the words ‘freedom of the press’ the framers of the amendment intended to adopt merely the narrow view then reflected by the law of England that such freedom consisted only in immunity from previous censorship.” – Justice George Sutherland
In about all Western countries previous censorship, i.e. prior restraint, is past, but the amount of public prosecutions for speech is appalling in about all Western countries but the USA. In those countries it’s still the “narrow view then reflected by the law of England.“
Invasive Moderation (Part II)
Read Part I here.
Seriously why do these people think nobody has successfully sued Twitter for First Amendment violations? ([A Twitter user named] The First Amendment)
Perhaps because people such as TFA, the Twitter user here quoted, spread the erroneous notion that Twitter can’t be sued for their moderation. But if such a suit can’t be a First Amendment issue as they claim, make no mistake it will be a free speech issue nonetheless and you’ll see it happen: The First Amendment vs Free Speech.
The First Amendment suit to come:
1/ The First Amendment’s aim is to maintain a free “marketplace of ideas” (the first occurrence of the phrase was in Justice Holmes’s dissent on Abrams v. United States 1919);
2/ Trusts must be combated on that marketplace too, and “preferred freedoms doctrine” gives “greater protection to civil liberties than to economic interests.”
What cause of action do you think exists against Twitter for moderating content, putting notices on tweets, or restricting the ability to like or retweet certain tweets? (The First Amendment)
The cause is invasion upon others’ rights.
Not admitting that a platform can be sued for moderation is like saying they can staff their moderation offices with maniacs and that would be just as good. I claim a staff of lunatics would do a less prejudiced and prejudicial job than many a platform. They are an impediment to the free marketplace of ideas.
What rights? (The First Amendment)
a/ A notice on tweets could well be libel for ought I know, depending on the notice, but even a removal could have the same effect as to the person’s reputation. You tell me what rights libel laws protect.
One lawyer TFA has RTed said: Platforms’ moderation is by the First Amendment. I agree platforms must not be liable for users’ content but I disagree they must not be liable for moderation. Moderation is speech and not all speech is protected; moderation can be unprotected speech. A State of the Union address isn’t supposed to be libelous either but as a POTUS (President of the United States) once tweeted to advertise a certain pizza parlor we may see a future POTUS disparaging a burger parlor in his State of the Union address and that could be judged libelous by a court of law.
The worst scenario is platforms protected from liability both for users’ content and for their moderation – basically the current state of affairs.
b/ What rights? The same rights as here: “The conscious decision by an airline to deny a passenger a ticket for no good reason might justify the award of punitive damages.” (Encyclopedia of American Law, 2002, D. Schultz ed.: Punitive Damages) Similarly, the decision by a social media to deny a user speech for no good reason might justify the award of punitive damages. How could it be a good reason for a business set up with the corporate purpose of offering people a platform for speech, that it disagrees with what someone said?
I prevent Senator Ted Cruz (and the rest of Congress) from punishing private companies based on the content of the speech they allow or disallow on their websites. Companies have the First Amendment right to determine what speech is conveyed on their websites. (The First Amendment)
Take that statute: “In California, you [a business] also can’t discriminate based on someone’s unconventional dress.” This California statute goes beyond the Civil Rights Act’s protected classes. It’s still in vigor as of Sep 3, 2020. Dress, like an armband in the famous precedent, is speech, so in fact Cal companies don’t “have the First Amendment right to determine what speech is conveyed” on their premises already.
Besides, “The conscious decision by an airline to deny a passenger a ticket for no good reason might justify the award of punitive damages.” (See above for source and brief discussion.)
No, YouTube is not “violating Section 230” by deleting videos that question election results. YouTube could say that it won’t allow any uploads by professors named Jeff, and that wouldn’t “violate Section 230.” (It would, of course, be terribly short-sighted). (Asst. Prof J. Kosseff)
Short-sighted indeed: “The conscious decision by an airline to deny a passenger a ticket for no good reason might justify the award of punitive damages.” Perhaps it wouldn’t violate Section 230 but I wouldn’t advise it all the same.
The SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) has stressed time and again that the First Amendment ensures the free flow of information and ideas. If private actors turn out an impediment to that free flow, I rest assured the Court will uphold “antitrust” statutes that combat the problem.
No. The First Amendment applies to state actors. To hold otherwise would require SCOTUS to reverse longstanding First Amendment doctrine. (TFA)
TFA’s is a quite correct inference from the First Amendment and yet it is also misleading, because a balancing must be made with another inference which is the free flow of ideas, and the result must depend on how these conflicting yet both necessary inferences are weighed against each other. There’s no doubt in my mind that the free flow of information and ideas will prevail, as common law never has construed private property as a source of entirely discretionary power.
As to the doctrine TFA stresses, it is right insofar as the two inferences were not conflicting in the past and it is only since recently that they have been.
Des goûts et des couleurs
Le débat sur les « valeurs » communes a eu lieu il y a plus de 75 ans aux États-Unis, et ce pays libre a évidemment tranché dans un sens contraire à la majorité française actuelle avec sa loi contre le séparatisme : “While acknowledging that fostering national unity or shared values was important, the Court rejected the claim that it could force people to share or adopt values” Commentaire à l’arrêt West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnett (1943).
Aussi, quand on dit que le projet de loi contre le séparatisme est fait pour que nous restions un pays libre, c’est évidemment le contraire de la vérité : ce projet de loi est fait pour que la France reste un pays non libre.
Le contraire de rester un pays libre est en effet de rester un pays non libre, et non pas être un pays libre qui devient un pays non libre. Les Français ne savent pas ce qu’est la liberté et ne savent pas non plus qu’ils ne le savent pas.
Il y a devant nous plusieurs façons de rester un pays non libre : ou bien adopter la loi de sécurité globale puis la loi sur le séparatisme, ou bien ne pas les adopter, ou bien adopter l’une et pas l’autre et alors laquelle. C’est vrai qu’on a l’embarras du choix.
Quand l’État chinois a mis en place la reconnaissance faciale à tous les coins de rue, les commentateurs français n’ont pas fait des articles sur le thème : « Les Chinois perdent leurs libertés. » En effet, les commentateurs français ne sont tout de même pas demeurés au point de supposer des libertés aux Chinois de Chine maoïste avant la reconnaissance faciale et le système de crédit social. Ils voient bien de loin mais pas de près, je ne sais plus comment ça s’appelle.
A Country Where Pornography Isn’t Obscene?
Given that “obscenity is not protected under First Amendment rights to free speech,” it is puzzling that U.S. law doesn’t affirm at the same time a presumption against the whole pornographic industry.
That in American law obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment and yet most pornography is, is beyond my understanding. I honestly fail to see how the bulk of porn videos and pictures can pass the “redeeming value” test set up by the courts as I’m told they do. So maybe scholars are wrong and it simply isn’t true that “pornographic materials are protected by the First Amendment” as far as the bulk of them is concerned, and that so long as porn is cordoned off, “redlight-districted,” so to speak, authorities don’t prosecute. That would be law enforcement discretion, choosing not to prosecute obscenity when it is cordoned off. The reason we would fail to see it this way is that such an extensive use of discretion is at odds with our sense of what the rule of law ought to be.
Single defendants are more likely to be convicted and more harshly by a court of law. I think I read it in an American law encyclopedia but forgot to mark the passage. Anyway, the first thing a criminal judge asks defendants is their marital status and whether they have kids.
Given that “the first thing a criminal judge asks defendants is their marital status and whether they have kids” and what I have read about judicial discrimination against singles, all convicted singles can appeal convictions on the ground of singlism.
The First Amendment Protection
of Speech and Assembly Which Advocate Violence
“Otherwise, the First and Fourteenth Amendments protect even speech and assembly which advocate violence.” (Encyclopedia of American Law, D. Schultz ed: Brandenburg v. Ohio)
“Otherwise” = when speech is not intended to produce “imminent lawless action”(1) and not “likely to produce such action”(2).
The use of the negative form here (by me) is confusing. The decision poses (1) and (2) as compounded, not alternate conditions: there must be both the intent to produce imminent lawless action and, independent of the intent, an actual likelihood as to result. If one of the two conditions is missing, speech is protected.
Depuis la chute du Rideau de fer, l’Union européenne est le dernier régime stalinien au monde.
Un magistrat soumis au devoir de réserve, tu te demandes ce qu’il fait en dehors de la salle, s’il vient d’un meeting politique, d’une réunion d’association, d’écrire pour un journal, de publier un livre… Non, tu te dis qu’il sort d’un cercueil dans sa robe noire et qu’il y retourne.
Un bon avocat ne gagne pas forcément plus d’affaires qu’un mauvais, car il faut aussi que le juge soit bon.
Le meilleur des mondes meilleurs
Ce pays n’a pas d’autre nom pour le droit relatif à la liberté d’expression que « droit de la presse ». La presse que l’administration arrose de subventions. Comme c’est commode. Le meilleur des mondes.
C’était le meilleur des mondes… avant internet. L’État français fait aujourd’hui ce qu’il faut pour maintenir sa doctrine compte tenu d’internet : loi Avia, loi de sécurité globale, loi contre le séparatisme… Dire que l’État français devient autoritaire, c’est ne pas comprendre l’évolution. En effet, ce n’est pas parce qu’il adopte ces lois que l’État français devient autoritaire mais c’est parce qu’il est autoritaire qu’il adopte ces lois. Parce qu’il est autoritaire et qu’il entend le rester malgré internet.
S’agissant du droit de manifester, tant que les Français manifestaient encadrés par des syndicats subventionnés (les cotisations représentent moins de 30 % du financement des syndicats), ils croyaient à la liberté de manifester. Depuis qu’ils veulent se passer des syndicats, ils trouvent que l’État leur met des bâtons dans les roues.
La justice pour mineurs suit un principe d’atténuation de la peine. C’est pourquoi un garde des sceaux parlera d’autant plus fortement des droits des victimes dans la justice des mineurs que le principe qui sous-tend cette dernière s’y oppose. Dans la justice des mineurs, la peine est atténuée par principe mais, pour la victime, l’acte est ce qu’il est, les dommages sont ce qu’ils sont, peut-être même plus violents que si le coupable avait été adulte car « On n’est pas sérieux quand on a dix-sept ans »… Et c’est pourquoi le grand sujet, dans la justice des mineurs, le grand sujet défendu avec ardeur par les ministres successifs, ce sont les droits des victimes – qui ne peuvent avoir en justice des mineurs et tant qu’elle existera qu’une place au rabais.
Criminal penalties are illegal as they are grounded on the hubristic notion that the society is owned by its representatives, namely, at the date of the notion’s emergence, the king. Criminal law and criminal penalties are the artefact by which kings dispossessed traditional justices.
The consequence is that the judicial system is clueless about how to integrate “victim’s rights” => “victim justice, or what is often referred to as parallel justice“! It’s no integration at all but parallelization.
When you’ve got parallel justices but no double jeopardy doctrine, then you do the defendants an injustice. (To have parallel lines you need at least two lines, even in case they overlap.)
A Chronology of Desegregation in the USA
Cut-ups from the Encyclopedia of American Law
(Read sections Brown v. Board of Education & Desegregation and One Bused Nation from Lesson 4 here.)
As late as 1992 the state of Mississippi was before the Court because it was continuing to maintain a dual university system (United States v. Fordice) (about 40 years after Brown v. Board of Education).
In 1991 the Supreme Court ruled that once a school district eliminated “the vestiges of prior discrimination,” it no longer had to maintain racial balances. Oklahoma City Board of Education v. Dowell (1991)
In September 1999 a judge of the district court involved in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklemburg Board of Education (1971) found that the Charlotte-Mecklemburg School District had eliminated all traces of intentional racial discrimination and so ordered it to stop its massive busing program.
Finally, a counterpart to de jure segregation is de facto segregation, which refers to division of races based on residential patterns. De facto is not mandated by the state or required under law. Instead it is a voluntary form of segregation. De facto has been recognized by the Supreme Court, which ruled that because it was based on private action it did not allow for a judicial remedy. In the case of Milliken v. Bradley (1974) the Court ruled that de facto segregation in residential patterns could not be remedied by forced busing of students from suburban schools to urban schools.
In the USA coroners are elected officials in a majority of states (“More than 80 percent of U.S. coroners are elected“). In 2016 the Progressives of ThinkProgress published a paper “Why do we still elect coroners?” which conclusion –no surprise from Stalinians– is to stop electing them.
They give the example of one coroner in whose reports “suspicious deaths in police custody were simply accidents or natural causes.” What those Stalinians don’t tell you is that in countries where coroners aren’t elected, they ALL declare such suspicious deaths as natural.
The First Amendment Protection of Book Burning
“Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. ” – Alfred Whitney Griswold
“They won’t burn”? Book burning is protected speech.
Picture: Comic books burning in Spencer W.Va. [West Virginia], 1948 (AP Photo via mtsu.edu Middle Tennessee State University’s First Amendment Encyclopedia)
Of course Griswold meant “books won’t burn as a result of state action.” However, I’m sure some people would cry foul state-sponsorship if a GOP local section carried out book burnings while the governor or POTUS is a Republican, for instance. Book burning is free speech.
“Books won’t burn as a result of state action without judicial redress” isn’t the same as “books won’t burn,” to begin with. People have the constitutional right to burn books. The ambiguity of Griswold (or is it GRIMswold?)’s words is unescapable. “Books won’t burn” has a smell of “You won’t burn books,” a threat at people who would exercize their First Amendment right to burn books in public in protest against those books spreading like morbid germs.