Freedom of speech means sometimes you shut up

There have been a lot of discussions lately about freedom of speech. Some of this has centered around the question: Are we hurting the Nazis (Golden Dawn) in Greece by signing and circulating a petition to ask WordPress to take down their web site? (More on this below, there have been interesting developments.) What about (intentionally) offensive comedians, hired to perform at conventions and conferences? Are we right to get mad at the organizers for organizing that, or do we just assume that somebody out there finds it funny, so we should just back off and maybe go sit by the pool for a while or something? (You need to know what satire is to really understand.)

Often, people jump into any discussion where it looks like speech is being questioned, silenced, affected in any way, dare I say ‘repressed,’ with strong admonitions that at all costs one must not interfere with anyone’s freedom of expression. Those who jump in first and hardest are often lost causes. No amount of discussion, no slew of examples, no pile of evidence, no plethora of historical facts will talk them down from the position that all speech must be protected at all times no matter what the speech is, who is saying it, the context in which it is said, its consequences, how it is being “said,” or anything. Not only that, but that which damages or represses speech is generally over-defined to include any call for putting a lid of any kind on any thing.

Those people, with their blind rage against repression, need to do one thing: Shut up.

Why? Because I’d rather have a tiny bit of speech (theirs maybe?) repressed and otherwise engage in thoughtful conversation that is not only free but rich, than to have a quiver of rules always at hand and to have only one purpose in life: to enforce those rules at all costs, even the cost of sanity.

The truth is that speech is repressed all the time in many different contexts, including places that exist mainly for the purpose of doing things like protecting speech. Speech is not “free” in the “I CAN SAY WHATEVER I WANT ANY TIME I WANT TO ANYONE I WANT NO MATTER WHAT” sense in the very halls of Congress or State Houses around the United States, where activities governed by the very constitutions that guarantee expression are carried out daily. And that only relates to American Protected Speech, not Speech as it may or may not be protected in other countries, or across borders. (Again, we’ll come back to that, with the Greek Nazis, in a moment.)

Rachel Maddow, or rather Rachel Maddow’s Blog with Laura Conway as Blogero, provides an interesting example of recent events in the New Hampshire House that serve as a vehicle for pointing out a few realities regarding speech, its freedom, and why freedom of speech does not mean what a lot of people think it means. It also serves as a fun example of Republicans being dysfunctional, which is always amusing. But before we get to that, since Rachel Maddow was mentioned, I want to step into the Way Back machine for a moment and remind you of a conversation she had on her show a couple of years ago that is stuck in my head and that is very relevant.

Watch this video about the activities in the House of Representative Alan Grayson, and Rachel Maddow’s interview of him. I’ve provided crib notes below.

0:00 – 1:40 Grayson snarking on the Republican Health Care Plan
1:40 – 2:27 Maddow speaking of Republican demands for apologies, Grayson’s non-apology
2:27 The mention of the Holocaust
2:27- 5:51 Discussion comparing the rhetoric of Republicans vs. Democrats on the House Floor.
5:51 Interview with Grayson starts
6:43 Maddow asks about the Holocaust reference
7:31 Maddow asks about the Holocaust reference
8:00 Maddow asks about the Holocaust reference
8:00 Remainder of discussion about what people want to see in Congress

That was a great example of several things. First, we have the contrast between what Republicans generally do (speech-wise) vs what Democrats generally do. Then we have the double standard applied by Republicans with respect to what is considered acceptable speech. Mainly, we have examples of institutionally regulated speech irrespective of party. Congress can, technically, make a member apologize, take words back, or shut up and, though not exemplified here, Congress has rules about what you can say and do on the floor or even with what is done on the floor. For example, using footage of floor speeches is not allowed in campaign ads. So, in the very place we have speech being protected by all these people who have sworn oaths to protect the Constitution, we have run of the mill (and also disputed and debated but widely accepted) regulation of speech.

The reason I picked this video instead of any of the others available that cover the same issue is because of Rachel Maddow’s three-times a charm questioning of Grayson on his reference to the Holocaust. Rachel Maddow clearly believes that one should not Godwin the conversation, as it were, by using a reference to The Holocaust when referring to other things, even if those things are themselves really bad things in their own way. The reason for that is because we do not want to reduce that particular term (“The Holocaust”) to a trite aphorism, or in fact, anything less than it is: a reference to one of the most spectacular examples of human horror we know of, one that we as a culture (many cultures included) have quite purposefully decided to Never Forget. Rachel is right, Grayson learned something, and a tiny piece of the world improved at about 8:02 in this discussion, even though it involved, in a sense, a suppression of speech. Someone was told that he should not say something. There are a number of reasons I chose this example, but one of them is that it was one progressive “repressing” another. Makes the conversation simpler.

And now, on to New Hampshire.

Republican State Representative Steve Vailancourt became annoyed at his fellow Republicans during a debate on Voter ID, which is, of course, a law that will limit expression through voting. The House Speaker (a Republican) placed restrictions on what could be addressed during a floor debate, and the irked Vailancourt may or may not have risen his hand in a Fascist Salute and shouted “Sieg Heil.” Here’s the video of that:

Vailancourt was asked to apologize, so he provided a very snarky and insincere apology. A committee was formed (we learn from Twitter) to shape the apology for the hapless Representative, and he tried it again. He bunted, that didn’t work, so he did it again-again. Here’s the video of that last at-bat

Personally, I think it is mildly entertaining that this was Republicans, who are the Party of Lockstep, sniping at each other.

This is obviously another example of institutionalized restriction of speech that every one accepts (more or less) and works with and feels important in order to allow other free speech to happen (in floor debate) and be protected (as in protecting and defending the Constitution of the State and/or Nation). But it is also another example of this whole Nazi thing.

Nazis really did exist, and their handiwork is still a scar upon our culture. Just the other day I attended a play based on a book written by Sabina Zimering, a woman in Amanda’s school district. The woman’s granddaughter was in Amanda’s biology class two years ago. The students put on this play, based on Zimering’s life as a young Jewish girl who, with her sister, “Hid in plain sight” as Catholics, in Germany, during World War II. They ended up working as maids in a hotel in Germany that catered to Gestapo officers. Sabina Zimering is still alive (and attended the opening of the play), and of course her offspring and grand offspring feel a link to her history. At the moment, with this play and with grandma having spoken to school groups many times, the entire Wayzata School District feels an affinity and a link to her and her experience. And thus, everyone feels something for … or about … the Nazis as well.

And that’s just a school district in the Upper Midwest. Families across the country have parts decimated by the Holocaust, others have old veterans or memories of them who fought in the war. And so on.

Hogans Heros and Mighty Mouse aside, Nazi things, references to Nazis and Nazi things, and The Holocaust and references to it are all special. Pure free speech disregards these meanings and disregards the power in these symbols, and advocates for anyone to say anything any time they want to anybody about anything, arbitrarily and without regard to the pain and without regard to the dangers. Pure free speech is a dick.

Which brings us, finally, to the actual Nazis, the ones in Greece, who call themselves Golden Dawn. A few days ago I posted a petition started by a friend to have them knocked off WordPress’s servers because Nazis violate the terms WordPress requires. These Nazis in particular have made and continue to make threats of violence, and have carried out violent acts. WordPress, a private company, can legally and ethically restrict such things on their servers. Pure free speech insists that this is repression. But if a private company following ethics-driven guidelines is repression, than that means I can use stencils and spray paint to write “I drink my own pee” on your forehead, right? No? You don’t want that? I AM BEING REPRESSED!

It is true that more people came around here to defend the Greek Nazis against me than said they would sign the petition to help defend The World against the damn Nazis. At moments like that, I want to stop blogging. By the way, I reserve the right to delete comments that defend Nazis on this post. Anyone who makes such comments and gets them deleted has the right to tell the world that I am repressing them. But not here. Get your own blog. That is how free speech works.

And now, as promised, the latest on the Nazis. They now have a web site claiming that they are being repressed! My Greek is kind of rusty. As in, I can’t read a word of it, but there is always Google Translator. I am in regular contact with Nazi Fighters (really, more like Nazi Annoyers at this point) connected to this Greek Struggle, and I’m told that the web site asks people to complain about the repression of the Nazis’ free speech to the organization (Change.org) that has put up the Anti-Golden Dawn petitions. With that as context, here’s what the website may or may not say according to Goolge Translate:


We were to report the website Blogger!!!
Shame, it’s obscene. The anti-Greek waste trying to shed our website with complaints left and right. Here you will see

Maybe not to prevent contact you again. Remember our address. Never miss this: [URL removed .. I ain't given out no Nazi URL!]

NOR try, the fascist pigs of SYRIZA of New Democracy and PASOK, WE THE they wash ashore. THIS TIME TO SPEAK NEW WEBSITE ALREADY PREPARED IN OUR SERVER AND THEN LET’S TRY!!

Those who can battle against this AISCHOUS TO JOIN, SEND MESSAGES EVERYWHERE.

Those who can, go to this page to report the objector sought to erase all of the Golden Dawn blogs from Blogger on the pretext that they are terrorist, etc. and explain that the Golden Dawn is a legitimate party elected by the people. Those who can help. …

Sincerely,

[The Nazis]

It doesn’t really say “The Nazis” at the end, but I translated this:

The MANAGER, GREEK, PATRIOTIS, ETHNIKISTIS!!

to mean that.

And, moments ago, I found this out. Golden Dawn has started it’s very own Change.org petition complaining that they are being repressed! How cute!

Freedom of speech is not what a lot of people think it is. It does not operate at the place and time of the words spoken, but rather, across the experience of an individual as that individual’s life intersects with an idea or other thing that can be expressed. An artist might want to make a big giant red shapy thing with blue dots. But the moment the artist thinks of this, she does not grab the paint out of a neighbor’s garage and paint the big shapy thing on the nearest bus. Or at least, not without fully expecting to get busted and forced to make amends. But society must ensure that the artist can make the big red shapy thing somewhere, sometime, within reason, and if it is meant to be seen, society must ensure that it can be seen. Freedom of speech applies to people and ideas and other things that can be expressed as they exist in the multidimensional space of society, not to every single fiber of that society’s fabric. Yes, we must be aware that as one or another strand of the weft and warp of society becomes a no-speech zone, then another and another, there may emerge an unacceptable patchwork of repressive places and policies, or a bias against one type of speech or one type of person.1 But as we’ve seen in these examples, it is considered normal in a free society to limit what is said, how it is said, and when and to whom, reasonably, and most of the time nobody thinks of it as repression. A person who sees repression in every restriction is probably being naive.

Feel free to say almost anything in the comments below … :)

___________________
1And yes, we must consider the possibility of a slippery slope down which our dominos may slide, smashing right into our hackneyed, overdone mixed metaphors.

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34 Responses to Freedom of speech means sometimes you shut up

  1. cafeeineaddicted says:

    Two points: The Vaillancourt video autoloads with the page

    “ethnikistis” is greek for “nationalist”.

  2. John D says:

    Awesome! Now the new new atheists want to tell us what to say. I love the new polite free-thought movement. It is so freeeeeeeee!

    Thought police in a new form and a now there is new set of morality cops on the beat. “We” get to pick which words are polite, which are rude, and which should be BANNED!

    Repeat after me… “I (insert name here) do solemnly swear to tell people they are wrong when they use words that make reference to recent first world social problems. These include words like “heil”, “cunt”, and “twat”. And don’t even think about N….r. That will get you jail time sucker.”

    These words are so offensive that we should ignore the first amendment and just ban them outright. After all, someone somewhere will be offended and we can’t have that. Free-thought is a-okay… just not free speech.

    Now carry on…. and shut the fuck up!

  3. Greg Laden says:

    Caf: Thanks. I pulled that video (couldn’t figure out how to repress its speech) and switched things around a little so we now have Vaillancourt in the act of the original offense.

  4. Alverant says:

    I think it was Mark Twain who said, “Never miss a good opportunity to shut up.”

  5. Bob Allen says:

    Power to the people who say – “shut up”.

    And Power to the people who say “shut up” to the original people who have the power to say to others – “shut up”.

    And power to the people who say “shut up” to the people who say – “shut up” – to the people who say “shut up” to the people who originally said – “shut up”.

    And power to the people who say “shut up” to the people who say “shut up” to the people who said “shut up” to the people who said “shut up” to the original people who said “shut up” to the folk who refused to shut up in the first place.

    And even MORE power to the people who say “shut up” to the people saying “shut up” to the people who said “shut up” to the people who, in rightious indignation, said “shut up” to the people that said “shut up” to those who want the others to “shut up” – SO we hear the sound of – Silence !!!!!!!

    Ooooooooooooooooooooooom. Peace.

  6. F says:

    Free speech means never having to hear that you are wrong or that your speech is unacceptable.

    Because the free speech of others doesn’t count.

    Authoritarians are such fun.

  7. I’m of the opinion that you’re free to say these things, but that everyone is free to treat you appropriately for it. These folks want to exercise their free speech on someone else’s server? That someone gets to boot them off if they don’t like it. Someone wants to call someone else a racial, gender, sexual slur? Fine, but others can deem that person a complete douchebag and, like with the first example, remove them from any arenas these others control.

    If these nazis want to sit in their houses and talk about how only good aryans are worthy of life, fine. That’s their look-out. Nobody’s thought-policing them. They’re ACTION-policing them. And public speech is an action. And actions have consequences.

  8. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says:

    Somehow, I don’t think a single person who’s whining at us getting a WordPress site shut down for violation of terms of services would even hesitate before banning a troll on their own blogs.

  9. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says:

    Also, I want to take a different tack with this.

    No government has EVER held the right to free speech to be absolute. Slander, for instance, has generally not been protected. Neither have things like falsely shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater (in fact, this example stems from a quote by an American judge regarding the limits of free speech).

    Promoting the lie, to an increasingly desperate and fearful population, that the economic and social woes of a country are due to the scheming or simple presence of ethnic minorities, very much falls under both of these headings.

  10. mikmik says:

    I was on the bus Sunday for a 1/2 hr. ride. Conversation starts between me and some guy beside me. Starts polite, turns to politics when he starts blaming Canada’s woes on Liberals, Harper is best PM ever, too many minorities, look we’re only two white guys on bus. He talks loud enough for many around us to hear – it’s insulting.
    He bitches that there’s too many laws. Like what, I say. He says you can get thrown in jail for saying things…
    He says that it has happened to several people that are his friends. I say , “What!? (Dawns on me) You mean for hate speech?”
    “Well, you should be free to say your opinion, that’s my point.”

    I said that that’s bullshit, inciting hatred and violence against other people is wrong, that our problems today are that everyone is worried about their own selfish rights when the biggest problems are pulling together is respect and compassion for others. I tell him not to talk to me, I am an NDP.

    He continues yakking at me, feigning ‘reasoned discussion’ yet getting more and more outrightly indignant, telling me that, now, that socialism is basically a dangerous force in the world – I tell him again that I am not interested in his opinion, ’cause that’s all it is, not ‘facts’ as he presents it, and to leave it alone, I DO NOT CARE FOR HIS CONVERSATION.

    Still he persists, playing the role of a phony pseudo-open to reason considerate thinker, FFS. I say, the evidence is that progressive societies with good social programs have less seperation between rich and poor, higher standards of living over all, longer life spans, that ‘less laws’ means de-regulation of industry(financial) and that’s what caused the greatest mess in the world right now, only a moron wants to make what is clearly not working even worse, now shut up!

    Then he tells me, still in loud conversational voice, that “Y’know what they call London now? they call it Londonistan and pretty soon whites are outnumbered in their own country blah blah…”

    First time I ever lost it in public like that. I turned right eye to eye and yelled, “SHUT THE FUCK UP. YOU ARE A RACIST. SHUT. THE. FUCK. RIGHT. UP.!!!

    Fuck, this fucker is fucking ugly towards people around us, and uses me to force conversation that I don’t want so he can spew his intolerant fucking ignorance all over everyone in range, purposely.

    This fuckwad goof, the first real ultra-right neo-con I’ve met in real life, and I live in Alberta, he thinks free speech means invading my right to not be bothered, my right to sit there and quietly contemplate my ride(to hospital to sick family), so that he can freely and openly make everyone have to listen to his corrupt, degenerate filth.

    It was an express route across Edmonton that didn’t stop for twenty minutes, but luckily we were just pulling up to the first stop, finally, and we were able to part ways.

    Fuck, these absolute fucking crybaby children and their right to ignore everyone else’s rights – bunch of stunned, hypocritical infants.

    • John D says:

      There really should be a law against people saying what they want. Especially on buses or in the bar.

      I was in a bar/restaurant last night playing (no money) poker. A woman in her mid 20s was at the table and she accidentally messed up her deal. She gave too many cards to one player so she had to re-deal. She happened to be chewing gum. She said “Oh, I’m such a dope sometimes!” and I replied “It must be the gum!” Haha. I was just playing into the opening she gave me to tell a little joke.

      Well…. she lit off on me saying “NO ONE insults my intelligence!” I just grinned. Give me a break. This was one of the most harmless jokes possible. But no! She was offended. We must try not to be funny.

      Three hands later I took all her chips with a straight.

      I suspect she really wanted to say “Shut UP! Shut the fuck up!”

      Mixing with strangers in public is always special. So fun. Everyone has so much honor and everyone is so intelligent.

  11. Greg Laden says:

    Azkyroth, that’s not a different tack at all, it’s part of what I’m saying! I didn’t mention the fire in the movie theater though, as I didn’t wan to cause a panic.

    mikmik: Ah, Edmonton . The Texas of the Great White North.

  12. iknklast says:

    Sometimes the problem is that people don’t understand the concept of free speech. The First Amendment guarantees us that Congress will make no law prohibiting speech. It does not say that our neighbor can’t ask us to STFU, or that we have to listen to any nonsense people want to spout. People conflate these all the time.

  13. CyberLizard says:

    I can’t hear people talking about shutting up without thinking of this scene from Night Shift: http://youtu.be/hjHUP9Sta9I

  14. MatthewL says:

    Frankly I think the founders got it right.

    “The congress shall make no law…”

    Freedom of speech is about government not restricting free expression by force of law. There are exceptions necessary to maintain even a minimally orderly society. Incitement to violence and intimidation of others being the main ones. It is on these bases that groups such as nazis can be legally restricted and still be consistent with the ideal. It is the government’s monopoly on force that makes the first amendment so vital and also why it is incumbent on the government to prevent others from using violence or threats of violence to suppress speech.

    Freedom of speech also means that in the marketplace of ideas you are free to sell whatever you want and others are free not to buy it. This means that in my home I don’t have to tolerate someone spouting what I find to be offensive nonsense and in the public square I am free to ignore (or debate with) them. It seems to me that blogs are more analogous to extended living rooms where visitors are like invited guests (even if it is an open house it’s still your house) than to the public square which is a shared resource regulated by government.

    It becomes more complicated when dealing with privately owned public forums. Using terms of service agreements to restrict access to resources is problematic if the effect is to shut out certain groups from access to these forums. It seems to me that service providers must be as neutral as possible with constraints being imposed only based on society’s need to maintain a minimal level of order and thus by force of law. For this reason I’m troubled by the idea that any group can be shut up by WordPress or others unless there is an actual breach of law and not just contractual terms of service.

    Nazis must be stopped due to their efforts to use force and intimidation to promote thier views not by restricting their right to express themselves in peaceful and orderly ways. I know it sucks sometimes but it’s just the asymmetry between civilization and barbarism.

  15. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says:

    Well…. she lit off on me saying “NO ONE insults my intelligence!” I just grinned. Give me a break. This was one of the most harmless jokes possible. But no! She was offended. We must try not to be funny.

    You’re equating this with virulent racism?

    Goddamn you’re stupid.

    • John D says:

      Azkyroth – I was just telling a little story just like the prior comment about the man on the bus.

      Thanks for your assessment of my intelligence. I think it is fine to use language freely and you can call me anything you like.

      You are obviously a very polite and kindly person of the highest breeding. I am sure glad to know that you are the one that wants to tell others what to say and how to say it. You are obviously morally superior to me.

  16. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says:

    For this reason I’m troubled by the idea that any group can be shut up by WordPress or others unless there is an actual breach of law and not just contractual terms of service.

    Did WordPress declining to host the Nazis’ content on their privately owned servers due to violating the terms under which the use of those servers was offered somehow prevent said Nazis from establishing their own servers, or from contracting with any server owners who are willing to host said content?

  17. mouthyb says:

    I really wish the distinction were better covered in civics courses. This is one of the issues which most annoys me: free speech is not a get out of trouble free card, to play whenever confronted by the consequences of one’s speech.

    It’s part and parcel with the idea that social change only happens to disadvantage the people to whom power belongs. People with that kind of authoritarian bent think that using the statements they believe others to use to get out of trouble will work, irrespective of any other dynamic.

    And those people can go fuck themselves. All of them.

  18. BigRed says:

    May I just butt in:
    “holocaust |?häl??kôst; ?h?l?-|
    noun
    1 destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, esp. caused by fire or nuclear war : a nuclear holocaust | the threat of imminent holocaust.
    • ( the Holocaust) the mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime during the period 1941–45. More than 6 million European Jews, as well as members of other persecuted groups, such as gypsies and homosexuals, were murdered at concentration camps such as Auschwitz.
    2 historical a Jewish sacrificial offering that is burned completely on an altar.”

    This is the Webster’s definition, meaning that Grayson was rather justified talking about “slaughter on a mass scale”.

  19. Greg Laden says:

    It is cute how dictionaries still use that original pre-Nazi definition as #1, yet no one else does.

  20. cafeeineaddicted says:

    Thats not a fair assessment, I think. Talking about ‘a holocaust’ is different from ‘the Holocaust’, the same way ‘a bomb’ means any explosive device while ‘the Bomb’ refers to the nuclear bomb.

    I may be influenced by the use of the term in Greek though. The term is consistently used to describe any large-scale destruction by fire.

  21. Matthew says:

    Did WordPress declining to host the Nazis’ content on their privately owned servers due to violating the terms under which the use of those servers was offered somehow prevent said Nazis from establishing their own servers, or from contracting with any server owners who are willing to host said content?

    My point, perhaps not clearly expressed, is that between private spaces (living rooms, blogs) and public spaces there are privately owned public forums where the rules governing free speech are not so clear. What if AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc decided to deny service to groups they disagreed with? This could effectively cut off access to vital means of expression.

    I’m not saying this is equivalent to the situation with WordPress and Golden Dawn. I don’t know enough of the specifics. If the activities in breach of the terms of service are actually illegal (such as incitement to violence) then shutting them down is entirely appropriate. If it’s just offensive speech then it’s not so clear. Sorting out these sort of details is ultimately up to the courts.

  22. Greg Laden says:

    If the activities in breach of the terms of service are actually illegal (such as incitement to violence) then shutting them down is entirely appropriate. If it’s just offensive speech then it’s not so clear. Sorting out these sort of details is ultimately up to the courts.

    Matthew, I totally get what you are saying and it is essentially correct, but I think it is not what is really going on here, either on the Petition front or in this conversation. There is confusion on this very thread about these things, some of it I’m afraid willfull.

    The reason we are even talking about Nazis is becuase we loath them. We are not interested in subtle differences in modality here. People who walk around with things that look like swastikas making Nazi salutes and making Nazi-esque talk about undesirables are self identifying with the people who threw granny in the oven, and they will do more of that as soon as they get some ovens. Concern about Nazis being treated poorly is sympathizing with them and is either total dickishness or some sort of need to hear one’s own voice.

    WordPress damn well better distrust, dislike, and just plain dis Nazis because it is, it turns out, more important to take the humanist road than the skeptics road. A skeptic can’t tell the difference between a Nazi and a Libertarian and a Monk because there are people out there who hate each of those sorts of folk with equal vehemence. There is in fact a skeptical (skeptics?) position that genocides happen and while we may feel badly about the victims, it is a human process just as much as any other human process. I’m sure most skeptics don’t think this but some do. It is not possible to make that mistake from a humanist persepctive.

    The Nazis are bad. The idea is to poke them in the eye. The method of the action in this case is appealing to WordPress’s terms of service rules, which is nothing other than a convenience.

    This (the bit about the Nazis) should not be a philosophical discussion about free speech or fairness or slippery slopes. It should be a discussion about how to keep the Nazis down.

    If necessary, I will agree to the fact that someone making a fairness argument on the behalf of Nazis is a better person than me for that reason. Fine.

    I will be over her poking the Nazis in the eye. Have a nice time in the oven. Bring sun screen.

  23. Louise says:

    I am getting a little annoyed with all the emails about the Nazis in Greece. Are you giving the same about of comments and effort to all the White Supremecists, Neo-Nazis, etc. that we have in the USA? Oh wait, we have freedom of speech here. Don’t they have the right to freedom of speech there?

    Granted some are in their government and that is a bit scary, but I would not be surprised if we have several white supremists in our government at the state and federal level.

  24. Rick says:

    Greg – “A skeptic can’t tell the difference between a Nazi and a Libertarian and a Monk because there are people out there who hate each of those sorts of folk with equal vehemence.” WTF? Now how am I going to read anything you write as if the author were lucid? Perhaps rage is a reason to step away from the keyboard.

  25. John D says:

    The whole idea that Greek neo-Nazis are a big concern is quite laughable. When I heard the news about these idiots I laughed out loud and then said “Good luck with that!” I am sure this party must think it is onto a great idea, but really… Greece is one of the poorest economies in Europe specializing in tourism and olive oil exports. The idea of a Greek racist nationalist uprising is comical. How quickly do they want to descend into third world status? Pretty quickly I think.

    Yeah… good luck with that guys. There is nothing here to worry about… and it will be entertaining to watch. “Ohpa!”

  26. Greg Laden says:

    Rick, that was sarcasm.

    Louise, in the big picture, over time, yes I give more attention to those folks in the US. But that would not matter. I could just as well ignore the skinheads and white supremacists in the US and still write about Gold Dawn. Freedom of speech, you know! Jeesh, Louse.

  27. MatthewL says:

    Sorry if I went OT. I guess I haven’t sufficient time, knowledge or interest to be of much use here.

  28. Rick says:

    Sarcasm? Sarcasm has to be in specific context, and isn’t immune from the onus of making sense. I’m not disagreeing with everything you say though. I just think that one of the best weapons of the left is the inanity that issues forth from the mouths of the right – be they the ignorant right or the crazy right. When people are allowed (forced) to confront the insanity of what passes for fascist theory from the fascist’s own mouths, they recognize their bug-nuttery.

  29. infoo says:

    “The Nazis are bad. The idea is to poke them in the eye.”
    Ideas like this are snack for nazi propaganda, you’re just generating golden spawn here

  30. Greg Laden says:

    You prefer to not stand up to them. Other than criticizing those standing up against them, you seem to have done nothing. You know what that means, right?

    Or is there useful thing you are doing that you would like to tell us about.

    And yes, you need anti nazi cred if you want to legimately criticize others who are standing up to them, if you are going to do that here.

  31. Joanie Mackowski says:

    My comment’s so late: maybe the apocalypse is over already. Just noting the pleasure of reading this blog and many of the comments, the fascinating threshold between offense and grace. Maybe the freest speech is cheap junk made overseas, undersea, under the table: sweat-shop speech, guaranteed obsolete. I too am all for speech that’s grown, woven, or built to order phoneme by phoneme: maybe this is artisanal speech, not quite free (it takes time and materials), but definitely worth it.