January 23, 2007

Free Speech Works Both Ways!

The public's reaction to the response from Bargan Suppliers at Discount-Mats.com (I wrote about it here)has been nothing short of stupendous, perhaps even supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." But, it has also engendered the "What do you have against Free Speech" from the left.

Of course, the left has no idea of what free speech is, they try to squelch it as often as possible. In point of fact, the looney left (not all are members of the Democratic Party, some are just plain ole loonies) wouldn't recognize the free speech of others if it slapped them in the face like a wet fish.

Wisconson seems to have their fair share (maybe more?....ed!) of loonies, especially in the "peace movement." You know the peace movement don't you, that sub-set of raggamuffins who think that if we stop the war in Iraq, bring our troops home that the islamofacsists will say "Oh, gee, we can stop trying to destroy the Great Satan now! Let's all hold hands and sing Kumbayah!" Yeah, and I have a chance to live another 20,000 years!

But, I digress, one member of the WLL (Wisconson Looney Left), one Julie Enslow was quoted as follows:

This is a matter of free speech,” said Julie Enslow, an organizer with Peace Action Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “It is totally irresponsible for radio stations and bloggers to attack a person for his personal political views.”

[In addition]Othman Atta, president of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, said he would fault the worker for his lack of tact but defended his right to speak his mind."
Now, I ask you, can any rational, clear thinking individual not see the disconnect here? No, some of my leftish readers? OK, let Uncle GM explain it for you.

Free speech is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It says very clearly:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Need more help? OK, here it is... "CONGRESS HAS NOT PASSED A LAW RESPECTING THE 'ABRIDGEMENT' OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH." Clear enough? No? OK, try this on for size. NO ONE IS SAYING THAT THE IDJIT DIDN'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NASTY THINGS TO SGT. HESS. His free speech is intact, he is free to send Sgt. Hess more emails saying all kinds of things. He can say "No blood for oil." He can say "Baby Killers." He can even say "If you don’t get an education, you could end up in Iraq." But we can also respond because Ms. Enslow, we also have free speech.

I don't get it, the Democrats are already trying to reinstate that failed policy called the "Fairness Doctrine" because liberal talk radio always falls flat on its face or, am I mistaken and Air America is a powerhouse with tens and tens of millions of listeners; and Mario Cuomo has the number one talk show in radio and even Prairie Home Companion is still drawing the listeners. Nope, none of those are operative. But, again I digress. Liberals just can't stand it when conservatives or others exercise their rights to free speech. They call it censorship to call an obnoxious emailer on his crap. The owner of the company (well, the putative owner) one Faisal Khetani is "upset" (yeah, that's putting it mildly...ed!) that he has received thousands of emails and phone calls castigating him for his employees stance. Granted some of those were doubtlessly over the top and are not only inappropriate, but undeserved as well. Be that as it may, each writer, caller was exercising HIS rights to free speech as well. It works both ways. What Mr. Khetani wants is free political speech without any consequences. It damn sure doesn't work that way sir!

When the left learns that free speech (and I don't mean threats to injure or harm) means that political speech has consequences, then they will be well on their way to understanding what the 1st Amendment really is all about. Until then, do not expect to be able to say outrageous things and not have any feedback. Got it?

Posted by GM Roper at January 23, 2007 10:00 PM | TrackBack

Great post GM!!

I'm nervous because I think the Democrats will try to mess with the very definition of free speech. Just watch.

Posted by Raven at January 23, 2007 11:07 PM

The right to swing your fist ends at my nose. The law protects me. The right to express your free speech ends when you break the law. Last time I checked DNS (denial of service) attacks are against the law. In fact they are a Cyber Crime. The bloggers and the conservative media have encouraged people to write to this gentleman and express their outrage specifically email. Which has caused his site to crash etc, thus costing him sales and possibly his ISP will charge him more, and the list goes on.

You are absolutly right that his free speech hasn't been abriged by the government. But as I said the government has abriged your right to freedom of swinging your fist at my nose. They have also made it illegal to conduct DNS attacks.

I didn't agree with what he said but I used my free speech and let the hateful comment stand on its own and robbed it of all the power that it has been invested with. Two Live Crew enjoyed noteriety when the same level of attention was lathered upon them, but where are they now?

The better path would have been if the blogosphere would have rallied around to help these soldiers obtain the mats that they needed. Instead of pretending that they support the troops, actually going and supporting the troops. It really shows me how hollow the "Support the Troops" call really is.

Posted by psyberwolfe at January 23, 2007 11:17 PM


And you have given one helluva lesson on what Free Speech actually is.

One can say what they will, with some legal exceptions, however they must be prepared for reaction. Rather like tennis, Free Speech can work in both directions.

Natch, the Left want their Free Speech protected, but want the rest of us to shut up.

Nice Lesson, GM....really nicely done.

Posted by tad at January 23, 2007 11:18 PM


If the Discount Mats site was the target of a concerted DNS attack, then you're right that the perpetrators have gone beyond the limits of free speech, and they should be subject to the consequences of their lawbreaking. However, I haven't read any such claim yet in the reports I've read.

However, if the site crashed due to many individuals genuinely expressing their outrage, that's just the natural consequence in our internet age of making a gratuitious insult against our soldiers.

Of course, illegal threats do not enjoy free speech protection either.

You wrote:
The better path would have been if the blogosphere would have rallied around to help these soldiers obtain the mats that they needed. Instead of pretending that they support the troops, actually going and supporting the troops. It really shows me how hollow the "Support the Troops" call really is.

I'm afraid you're factually wrong on this point. If you follow Woody's previous link to the Snope article, you will find the following refutation to your claim here:

He [Sargent Hess] also said that he appreciates the support of the many people who have asked us [Snopes] for his e-mail address in order to provide him with the mats he was seeking, but he asked that we not give it out as has already found a supplier and is being bombarded with e-mail.

The updated Snope article goes on to note that a sacrificial lamb has been found. I suspect that this incident will shortly blow over. GM's points about free speech, however, will remain valid.

Posted by civil truth at January 24, 2007 12:23 AM

Psyberwolfe, no doubt your disdain for the right has caused you to speak of what you know little. A deliberate attack by someone to shut down a site would be illegal. However, as you can find in Wikipedia, a large number of people responding to a given incident on the net is not a deliberate attack. Hence:

Unintentional attack This describes a situation where a website ends up denied, not due to a deliberate attack by a single individual or group of individuals, but simply due to a sudden enormous spike in popularity. This can happen when an extremely popular website posts a prominent link to a second, less well-prepared site, for example, as part of a news story. The result is that a significant proportion of the primary site's regular users — potentially hundreds of thousands of people — click that link in the space of a few hours, having the same effect on the target website as a DDoS attack.
News sites and link sites — sites whose primary function is to provide links to interesting content elsewhere on the Internet — are most likely to cause this phenomenon. The canonical example is the Slashdot effect. Sites such as Digg, Fark, Something Awful and the webcomic Penny Arcade have their own corresponding "effects", known as "the Digg effect", "farking", "goonrushing" and "wanging"; respectively.
Routers have also been known to create unintentional DoS attacks, as both D-Link and Netgear routers have created NTP vandalism by flooding NTP servers without respecting the restrictions of client types or geographical limitations.
When I posted on the Katrina flooding of New Orleans I included a photo of Lt. General Honore and the number of requests for his photo via Google and other search engines caused my site to shut down on two occasions because I exceeded my bandwidth. Was that a "DNS attack?" No, it was thousands of people wanting to know what I and others had posted about General Honore.

Similarly, if you go on vacation and your mailbox gets "flooded" with circulars and other mail while you are gone and the Post Office can't "stuff" any more in your box, this causes the Post Office to hold your mail until you come get it. Is that caused by "me" because I wrote you a letter and encouraged others to do the same? Not hardly. So the issue comes down to an egregious comment made by Discount-Mats.com and people (a lot of people) hearing about it and emailing Mr. Khetani to express their outrage. Again, this is an issue of freedom of speech and speech not having consequences. If you encourage all of your friends, and their friends and their friends of friends to comment on this post and I lose bandwidth as a result, it is an Unintentional Attack not a DDoS attack. Learn the difference my young friend. I didn't hit Khetani in the nose, nor did anyone else even if the cumulative effect was that he got a bloody nose out of this.

When one uses the internet to make outlandish comments and call it "freedom of speech", one might expect others to respond in kind and you don't get to say that your freedom of speech is being abridged. That is the real world and liberals have a very difficult time handling it. So when Ms. Busybody from the "Wisconson peacenik association" says “It is totally irresponsible for radio stations and bloggers to attack a person for his personal political views,” she is full of crap, it is exactly responding to his personal political views that is also and exactly a freedom of speech issue.

Posted by GM at January 24, 2007 07:15 AM

GM said it well, Psy. A DNS is a concentrated effort, usually by one person or one organization, to attempt to attack, disrupt, or bring down a server. A DDNS is the same effort, but using more computers.

When you put your web site up on the internet, it's open for people to view it. If you don't want people to view it, don't put it on the internet. If you don't want a lot of people to view it, maintain a low profile and don't do things to draw attention to it.

If this is what you call a DNS attack, then when eBay advertises on TV and people visit their site, that's a DNS attack and is against the law. If this is a DNS attack, then when any news web site posts a link to another site they talk about, that's a DNS attack and against the law.

Then again, if you agree with the loony judge in Texas that recently declared hyperlinks illegal, then perhaps you really do think that no one should be able to link to or mention any site, ever, because that would be a DNS attack.

Posted by Ogre at January 24, 2007 08:00 AM

Great post and an education on the right of free speech. Unfortunately, the left does to free speech what it does to the right of people to practice relidion (another guarantee) and that is, restrict it.

I agree with the others. There was no intent, no malice. They simply asked people to let this guy know what they felt. As GM pointed out, free speech goes both ways. The Dixie Chix found that out. Maines was FREE to say what she wanted but there were consequences. Are you telling us that people violated the rights of the Chix by exercising their right not to buy their music and attend their concerts? When protesters exercise their right and the crowd causes congestion and traffic tie ups are the protestors responsible (unless they maliciously tried to stall traffic)? This is the same as what happened to the flying carpet company, a worker said something and people responded. Unfortunately for them the result was a huge increase in traffic.

Now, let us look at one other thing. A worker for a company said something that hurt the company's business (and was reportedly fired). Regardless of what the left thinks, the employer is responsible for the actions of the employee. I know the natural tendency of the left is to look for a victim or assign victim status but the fact is this guy needs to accept responsiblity and make it right or he will go out of business. People refusing to do business with him is not illegal and neither is asking someone not to do business with him.

You gave advice on what the right and its hollow support the troops manta could do. First of all, we support our troops more than you can ever imagine, the very troops who give you the right to express an opinion. You see free speech is not free. Those men and women in uniform paid for it with their blood. I will give the sound advice so you will understand. If you own a business keep your political views to yourself or be willing to accept the consequences when you tick someone off. Regardless of what side of the issue they fall on, a political issue can hurt a business.

I hope this clears things up and if you ever need any other sage advice you discuss it with GM so he can straighten you out. If you are uncomfortable with that contact me and I will put you on the RIGHT path.

Posted by Big Dog at January 24, 2007 08:24 AM

With few exceptions, every citizen living in a democratic society should have the right to express their point of view. Our Bill of Rights guarantees it. As you have pointed out, however, there is very often a “cost” of exercising that right. For example, by making a statement, one might alienate a large number of people – important if you happen to be a public official or one who depends on the good will of a large number of people. We all know this, so there’s no lesson here. My point is that while everyone has the right to speak freely, not all opinions are equally valid because some opinions lack factual support. I could assert the moon is made of green cheese, but that doesn’t make it so.

Common sense should prevail. If the individual who offered his unsolicited opinion to Sgt Hess staunchly opposes the war, that is perfectly okay with me. On the other hand, if that person worked for me and while being paid to look after my business decided to express that personal point of view, especially when in doing so might have a negative impact on my bottom line, I’d fire that person. In this scenario, is this person’s point of view “equally valid?” No.

Members of Congress have the right to pass a resolution in opposition to Mr. Bush’s “new strategy” in Iraq – but should they? Is their “sense of the Congress” equally valid if those who are dedicated to the death of Americans will receive “aid and comfort” from such expressions? No.

So then, while I support free speech, there are consequences to it . . . and I think everyone ought to consider a better option: engage brain before starting mouth.

Posted by Mustang at January 24, 2007 11:25 AM

I don't see how anyone could make it more clear and simple than you have. But leftists still won't get it.

I must point out something though. Milwaukee, Wisconsin is on the east coast of the United States! Truly. More than half the population of the US is crammed into an area a few miles deep along the coasts, including the coasts of the Great Lakes (inland seas connected with the Atlantic).

All densly populated and left-wing. The University of Wisconsin at Madison makes the city of Madison a little island of left-wing extremeism about 70 miles inland in the state capital of Madison. It's as left-wing looney as San Francisco. People have been complaining about the communists on the faculty since the 1960s. In fact, Senator Russ Feingold moved to that area and plays to that "progressive" area with its rabidly lefist City Council and press.

And the liberal-elitist airs they put on! A real embarrassment to the rest of us in Wisconsin.

There are a bunch of fruitcakes at the UW, and people in the inner city of Milwaukee (and throughout the metropolitan area that stretchs along the coast all the way from Green Bay to the Illinois border) vote for them because they promise ever greater handouts of other people's earnings.

They think the Democrats really care about them, but they somehow just don't see that the Democrats fight anything that would lift them out of poverty so they don't need those handouts anymore.

Posted by Possum at January 24, 2007 11:31 AM

The employee in question has the right of free speech, of course, but on company time he doesn't have the right to say certain things to a customer and do harm to the business without losing his job at the very least and possibly even suffer a lawsuit from the owner when the financial damages he causes are extreme. This was done on company time, through the company's email.

So yes, exercizing free speech can often have consequences. Dire ones.

Posted by Oyster at January 24, 2007 03:43 PM

Hey GM!..back from skiing..lol..and in one piece too!..great overview here: the left has no idea of what free speech is, they try to squelch it as often as possible....as in the case of the Army who tossed out a chaplain for Christian services but welcomed the Musss-lim ones..hmmm?

Posted by Angel at January 24, 2007 06:22 PM

Oyster touches on it - what about the denial of service from the discount mats establishment to Sgt. Hess? If someone had refused to sell him rugs because of his race or ethnicity, people would see pretty quickly why this action was unacceptable. But when it fits our own prejudices, we see less well.

There is a point at which psyberwolfe is correct, BTW. Before I know it is crashing the company's site and am simply expressing my opinion, I don't see that I have moral culpability for the crashing. But - once I know that the site is being crashed by the emails, my moral obligation changes somewhat. I don't know if there is a legal difference.

Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at January 24, 2007 08:31 PM

Ah so I'm to be lectured to about free speech? Let us talk about free speech. You don't believe in free speech. I can say that as plain as day. Here is why. The tactic of flaming him, calling him, flinging spit wads at him, or whatever you chose to do is the conservative version of the Jerry Springer Show's shout so loud that they aren't able to get a word in edgewise. Thus the person feels that their right to freely express themselves is being denied. You are correct that freedom of speech also includes freedom of rebuttal, but at what point did you think that your tactic would change his mind? At what point did you think that you would cause a change of heart? All you did was help yet another "Liberal Looney" become more ensconsed in their beliefs.

As for Slashdoting a web site. Usually after 20 minutes some one would post on Slashdot that they had killed a site and after an hour it would come back up. AVI makes a good point that once it is known that the site has crashed what is my responsibility?

As for the notion of if you do not support Bush's plan to bring us to victory you don't support our troops: it is such slippery hill nonsense that I can't fathom where it came from. Supporting our troops can be supporting a plan of getting the heck out of Dodge.

Posted by psyberwolfe at January 27, 2007 01:28 AM

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