Saturday, December 20, 2008

And So It Begins

Amp, Jill, and others have already provided good commentary on the horrifying story of 12 year old Black girl who was abducted by plain clothes police officers in front of her own house, accused of being a prostitute, beaten, then later charged with "resisting arrest". Suffice to say I agree with all their analysis.

I only want to add this. If this honor roll student grows up and becomes a "gangsta rapper", and spins out verses with her own version of "Fuck the Police", nobody has the right to complain or judge. Agreed?

16 comments:

Patton said...

Agreed. And may I add: You stay classy, Texas!

Katharine said...

I second the agreement. And the desire for Texas to stay classy.

Cycle Cyril said...

So you now believe two wrongs make a right?

PG said...

Cyril,

I look forward to your explanation of how someone's exercising free speech rights, to talk about her mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement, is a "wrong" that is in any way comparable to being falsely abducted and wrongfully arrested.

David Schraub said...

I've always believed two wrongs can make a right. In middle school, I had a math problem where "wrong" + "wrong" = "right" (where each letter represented a digit). And in Elementary school, I correctly deduced that "Star Wars: A New Hope" was Episode IV of the Star Wars serious, based off two wrong presuppositions: that the original Star Wars trilogy were episodes 1-3, and that the first Star Wars movie was just "Star Wars".

(PG makes the good points, so I'm left with inane anecdotes from my childhood).

Cycle Cyril said...

I have no problem with Freedom of Speech and believe everyone has the full and complete right to say whatever they want.

But that does not make what they say right.

"Gangsta Rap" is antisocial, anti-woman to large extent and thus destructive and wrong in my opinion.

Besides I always have the right to complain and even be judgmental. It's a Freedom thing.

Now it's your turn.

PG said...

Cyril,

You have yet to explain how something that in your First-Amendment protected opinion is antisocial, destructive and therefore wrong, is comparable to being falsely abducted and wrongfully arrested.

Or should I assume, from your not addressing that bit of it, that in your opinion, anything that you consider "antisocial" (anti- which society? and "destructive" (destructive of what?) is comparable to having criminal acts perpetrated against a child under color of law?

The only way one could believe that David was saying "two wrongs make a right" is if instead of his saying, "We shouldn't complain about a black woman's becoming embittered about the police when she gets treated like this," one imagines that he actually said, "I don't think this family should file a lawsuit; I think they will totally be compensated for this mistreatment if the daughter becomes a gangsta rapper!"

PG said...

Cyril,

Also, you apparently are more enthusiastic about free speech than the Constitution is.

I have no problem with Freedom of Speech and believe everyone has the full and complete right to say whatever they want. But that does not make what they say right.

If someone is telling a deliberate lie, he in fact doesn't have the full and complete right to say whatever he wants (defamation law, truth in advertising). Also, if he is giving up national security secrets, threatening another individual... there's plenty of speech that the law has tagged as a "wrong." Complaining about mistreatment by the police, particularly mistreatment that actually occurred, isn't one of those speech acts that's "wrong," though.

Cycle Cyril said...

PG

How can something be protected under the First Amendment but wrong? Communism. Anyone can be, and all too many are, an ardent advocate of communism and yet that system has long be shown by reality to be wrong. And communism was deadly wrong for about 100 million in the 20th century.

But is gangsta rap comparable to communism or an outright criminal act? Of course not. That is a convenient straw man but irrelevant to my point. Many, more able than I, have complained of the glorification of violence and the misogyny of gangsta rap and how it undermines society especially portions of it. I suspect that society as a whole will survive it however.

In raising children I've had to discipline two kids at a time when one bit the other and then the other broke a toy of the first. The two wrongs are not comparable but did not make a right.

The girl in question, now and in the future, has the opportunity to vent her anger in many ways that are constructive, let alone compensatory.

Finally you are correct that there are legal limits to Freedom of Speech. But I was talking about speech that is wrong but not illegal (e.g. holocaust denial).

PG said...

Cyril,

Um, communism itself isn't protected under the First Amendment. What is protected, is advocacy of a political system that has shown itself not to work well. Even if X turns out to be wrong (say, thalidomide for pregnant mothers), that doesn't inherently make my advocacy for X wrong.

Also, even the advocacy of Communism became First Amendment protected speech only once the U.S. felt safe that communism wasn't much of an internal threat to it (remember McCarthyism and HUAC?). So your example is lousy.

I think you're the only person here who imagines that this girl's becoming a gangsta rapper would somehow correct or compensate the wrong done to her. That isn't what David said at all. Rather, he pointed out that this girl's anger, expressed as "gangsta rap" (i.e. music about the mistreatment of minority communities by the larger society, particularly through law enforcement), would be justified given how she was treated. For you to say that he is wrong, you would have to explain why her anger is unjustified.

Cycle Cyril said...

Perhaps the phrasing of the first line of my last post needs a little revision so that it could be understood better.

As you stated in your second paragraph advocacy of communism is protected under the First Amendment, not communism itself.

But your statement that advocacy of communism was restricted is only half true. The communism party of the USA remained in existence and was allowed to advocate despite the Venona operation showing that they were foreign agents. So yes foreign agents (whether citizens or not) were sought and rooted out where possible in the 1940's and 50's but advocacy continued. If anything communism is a very good example of something that is wrong, deeply wrong, but protected under the First Amendment.

Finally her anger is understandable and justified, as I made clear earlier. But I'm talking about the mode of expression. It is my opinion that it should not be expressed in a potentially destructive manner.

David Schraub said...

I'm not sure what would be "destructive" about her yelling "fuck the police" (to a catchy, rhythmic beat). It would both seem to be appropriate and deserved. Artistic depictions of actual police brutality are probably, on net, a good thing for our society.

PG said...

The communism party of the USA remained in existence and was allowed to advocate despite the Venona operation showing that they were foreign agents. So yes foreign agents (whether citizens or not) were sought and rooted out where possible in the 1940's and 50's but advocacy continued.

Please explain, with reference to statute, regulation and caselaw, how this works. Advocacy can't exist without people to perform it (unless there were Marx-spouting Soviet robots roaming the landscape). If American citizens could be penalized under law for advocating Communism, then advocacy of Communism was illegal and not protected by the First Amendment. The fact that some advocacy happened despite the legal prohibition is about as much an argument for its having First Amendment protection, as saying that the Ninth Amendment protects shooting up heroin, because people do manage to shoot up heroin even though there are enforceable laws against it.

If anything communism is a very good example of something that is wrong, deeply wrong, but protected under the First Amendment.

There you go again. It's the advocacy that currently is protected, not the political system itself.

Cycle Cyril said...

PG

I'm going to have to hire you as my proof reader.

I think you would agree that advocacy is different from sedition. Under the Smith Act it is illegal to advocate the violent overthrow of the USA. Thus a communist like Gus Hall was arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned in the 1940's/50's for advocating the violent overthrow of the US government.

But after he got out of prison he ran for president of the US, an attempt to non-violently overthrow the government from within. This form of advocacy was and is clearly protected. You may say that was because the CPUSA was no longer a threat. And I would agree with you - it was no longer a violent threat and thus allowed.

I await your response indicating my lack of references to the nuances of regulation and case law and why Gus Hall was railroaded for plain advocacy.

David

Police brutality and stupidity and arrogance need to be exposed and punished. The problem I have with gangsta rap and other such "artistic" depictions of the above is that it promotes the idea that all police personnel are brutal, stupid and arrogant and undermines the rule of law since it all too often glorifies lawless behavior. It aint called gangsta for nothin'. That is one reason why I consider it destructive.

PG said...

I think you would agree that advocacy is different from sedition.

If the Smith Act is your idea of being clearly non-advocacy, then no. Heck, the statute has the word "advocate" in it. Once Communism no longer seemed a probable internal threat, the Supreme Court declared most Smith Act convictions to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment. See Yates v. U.S. for the distinction between incitement to violence, which has a "clear and present danger" aspect and is not First Amendment protected, and advocacy of an idea that contains within it the belief that our government should be overthrown.

If people were trying to achieve Communism by committing violence themselves, there were and are laws to punish them for doing so (or even conspiring and attempting to do so). We don't need the Smith Act for destruction of life and property to be a crime.

For that matter, you probably are much more opposed to "sedition" than I am. From what I have seen of American history, there's much more danger in empowering the executive to arrest and imprison people for sedition than in letting people make false, scandalous, and malicious writing about John Adams.

Cycle Cyril said...

Yates v. US using technicalities and citing (or perhaps creating) imprecise language, which are important - after all you've caught some of my imprecise terms - actually did not declare the Smith Act unconstitutional and sent back most defendants for retrial. However the defects it found/created precluded the use of the Smith Act there after.

Yates certainly protected the advocacy of an idea that contains within it the belief that our government should be overthrow in the abstract.

But I don't have a problem with that.