Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged First Amendment

60 notes

On the First Amendment and its purpose

Rebloggable by request:


Been wrestling with this for a while, and realized you seemed like a good person to ask. What are you thoughts on what distinguishes free speech from verbal harassment? Is it because what free speech protects is expression for the purpose of conveying perceived truth, and harassment is not about expression but assault or intent to harm another person? It gets so damn murky.

Meg at Cognitive Dissonance:

It depends. I hate to say it, but it really does. Is it a “true threat” or simply annoying? A general threat or specific one? I’m going to turn to the First Amendment Center for this one.

First, here’s speech not protected by the First Amendment:

  • Obscenity
  • Fighting words
  • Defamation (includes libel, slander)
  • Child pornography
  • Perjury
  • Blackmail
  • Incitement to imminent lawless action
  • True threats
  • Solicitations to commit crimes

For example:

What’s the First Amendment issue with legislation against cyberstalking?

It has to do with distinguishing between protected freedom of speech and speech that is not protected. Most of the new laws passed by states require that, for online communications to be considered “stalking,” they must constitute harassment of a person that places the person in reasonable fear for his or her safety. Courts have upheld stalking legislation that deals with threats because the First Amendment does not protect true threats. But some of the measures go beyond punishing true threats and proscribe “annoying” speech.

Here’s a few scenarios I have dealt with as a radio DJ and an activist.

First, here’s a threat. Working as a DJ in Northern Wyoming, I had a man email me very specific threats about what he wanted to do to me and he included my license plate number and my home address. He claimed he’d fallen in love with my voice, and if I didn’t love him back, all these things would happen. He was arrested and jailed. Why? Because he made specific threats and indicated he could, and would, carry them out. 

Now as an activist: I had a conservative dude email me and tell me he hoped I got punched in my mouth for being a fucking liberal cunt, among other general insults/threats. Because they were general and vague, there was nothing that the police could do, even though the guy lived in Laramie. This happens often — the general insults/threats. I just quit giving a fuck. Truly.

Now, a grey area: Broadcasting one night in Laramie, a guy called in drunk and said he was sick of my politics, I should play music, or I was going to get my ass beat. I asked, “By you?” and he slurred, “Yeah.” His number was on the Caller ID and I called the police. I gave them his name and number, and they went and talked to him. Evidently, he was in his sixties, and so drunk that he could barely stand — much less leave his house — and was pretty apologetic once the cops showed up. They chose not to charge him, and I declined to press charges when asked. He really wasn’t a threat and he’s never called back.

The First Amendment has nothing to do with truth. It’s noble, but not that noble. If “expression of truth” were the case, the Westboro Baptist cultists would not have won their case before the U.S. Supreme Court and every pundit that spewed bullshit could be charged with a crime. Here’s a great summary of why the First Amendment exists.

So yes, in conclusion, it is pretty damn murky.



Filed under First Amendment ask politics ask box anonymous rebloggable

67 notes

Well, that calling for the boycott is a real — has a chilling effect on our 1st Amendment rights. And the owner of the Chick-fil-A business had merely voiced his personal opinion about supporting traditional definition of marriage, one boy, one girl, falling in love, getting married. And having voiced support for kind of that cornerstone of all civilization and all religions since the beginning of time, he then basically [is] getting crucified.

I’m speaking up for him and his 1st Amendment rights and anybody else who would wish to express their not anti-gay people sentiment, but their support of traditional marriage, which President Obama and Joe Biden, they both supported the exact same thing until just a few months ago, when Obama had to flip-flop to shore up the homosexual voter base.

Sarah Palin, continuing her desperate last gasps of trying be relevant on Fox News.

Typically, I wouldn’t give her more attention. But I’ve heard this argument so many damn times over the few days, so let’s roll.

First, what Dan Cathy said IS anti-gay and he’s donated to anti-gay organizations — groups which have helped the efforts in Uganda to criminalize homosexuality and execute gay people, are listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and who have called for harmful “reparative therapy” to be standard treatment for gay people.

Plenty of folks have pointed out that this is not the way to spread a message of love thy neighbor. I would agree. As Suzette Standring wrote, “Jesus healed, socialized, walked, and ate with the marginalized and the flawed. Peter had anger management issues. Matthew was a hated tax collector. The Samaritan woman at the well was considered off limits to talk to for racial reasons. When an adulteress was about to be stoned, it was Jesus who challenged the sinless to cast the first stone. Her attackers left and when it was clear no one stayed to condemn her, Jesus said with great gentleness, ‘Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin’ (John 8:1-11)… If Jesus had harsh words for anyone, it was against those who saw themselves as the authorities of spiritual leadership. He criticized them publicly for hypocrisy, setting bad examples, and for perverting the word of God in order to maintain their own power.”

Second, I know this is difficult, but read this, plus this, this, this, and this. That’s why you’re 100% wrong about boycotts. Boycotts are free speech. Think about money as speech. Withholding money is also speech. It goes both ways. Please see Less Than One Million Moms and their boycotts against JC Penney, Ellen DeGeneres, and the NBC show The New Normal

Third, as Meghan McCain said, being anti-marriage equality IS being anti-gay. Is being anti-interracial marriage racist? You betcha.

Fourth, if a business owner gets political, even for religious reasons, expect a backlash. You don’t get to reel back and say, “Hey, no hard feelings, homos. Buy my chicken.” If your chicken gets political, we get political with your chicken. You dig?

In summary, go back to Alaska, snowbilly.

Filed under Sarah Palin First Amendment Chick-fil-A Boycott free speech business politics religion fail GOP Republican Conservative anti-gay bigotry marriage equality GLBTQ GLBTQ Rights gay rights Christian

19 notes

This is the only education issue the anti-gay, anti-choice PAC WyWatch cares about enough to put on its candidate questionnaire. 
I’m not even going to tell you how many others support this because I lost count.
That’s it. I’m proposing using Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as an elective because it could have happened. You guys don’t know! You weren’t there!

This is the only education issue the anti-gay, anti-choice PAC WyWatch cares about enough to put on its candidate questionnaire. 

I’m not even going to tell you how many others support this because I lost count.

That’s it. I’m proposing using Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as an elective because it could have happened. You guys don’t know! You weren’t there!

Filed under Wyoming Wyoming is weird Politics Education Christian wait what? WyWatch PAC The Bible Religion Separation of Church and state rules Separation of Church and State First Amendment public schools

54 notes

On the First Amendment, the free market, and boycotts

mrpooscratch replied to your post: Dear Conservatives who think they grasp this Jesus thing:

Um, it’s about free speech and people not trying to destroy your business because they disagree with you, NOT homosexuality. Sorry you missed the point.

Nope, sorry. You’re missing the point here. Just as the CEO has his freedom of speech, we have the freedom of speech to boycott his establishments and spread the word about his business practices. In fact, a boycott is a form of free speech. 

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right to boycott in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. et al. 458 U.S. 886 (1982). The court held that the States have broad power to regulate general economic activities, but cannot prohibit peaceful political activity and organizing. This includes boycotts, which are protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments in regards to freedom of speech and association. Also, within the right to freely associate is the right to demonstrate and align one’s self with the ideals of the association or business — or not.

Also, individuals are not responsible for business losses due a non-violent boycott — even if a business fails. The First Amendment freedoms in a boycott trump the business owner’s success. Claiborne bears striking similarities to issues at the heart of the boycott of Chick-Fil-A. As the Court said in this case, petitioners, “through exercise of their First Amendment rights of speech, assembly, association, and petition, rather than through riot or revolution… sought to change a social order that had consistently treated them as second-class citizens.”

Justice John Paul Stevens, who delivered the majority opinion, wrote:

"The boycott of white merchants at issue in this case took many forms. The boycott was launched at a meeting of a local branch of the NAACP attended by several hundred persons. Its acknowledged purpose was to secure compliance by both civic and business leaders with a lengthy list of demands for equality and racial justice. The boycott was supported by speeches and nonviolent picketing. Participants repeatedly encouraged others to join in its cause. Each of these elements of the boycott is a form of speech or conduct that is ordinarily entitled to protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments."

Also, in Organization for a Better Austin v. Keefe, 402 U.S. 415 (1971), Chief Justice Warren Burger stated: 

"The claim that the expressions were intended to exercise a coercive impact on respondent does not remove them from the reach of the First Amendment. Petitioners plainly intended to influence respondent’s conduct by their activities; this is not fundamentally different from the function of a newspaper. Petitioners were engaged openly and vigorously in making the public aware of respondent’s real estate practices. Those practices were offensive to them, as the views and practices of petitioners are no doubt offensive to others. But so long as the means are peaceful, the communication need not meet standards of acceptability." [citations omitted]

In other words, even if the goal of the boycott is coercive action against a business entity, the boycott is protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments as long as it remains non-violent.

Now, beyond the constitutionality of the boycott, isn’t this how the free market is supposed to work? For example, I don’t like the business practices or views of Shop X, and they refuse to change their practices — say, puppy punching for the lulz. I hate puppy punching because it’s hurtful and unnecessary for the business to function. So I organize a boycott. Shop X refuses to quit punching puppies, and eventually closes because others decided of their own volition to stop patronizing the shop. 

Diner Y’s owner holds racist beliefs which he voices on community radio. So I organize a boycott. Diner Y closes because people refuse to eat at a place that endorses bigotry.

Chick-Fil-A’s owner actively supports discrimination against GLBTQ people via his free speech (his words and money). So I organize a boycott. The free market has yet to decide on Chick-Fil-A’s fate. 

The U.S. Constitution is a beautiful thing.

Get it?



Filed under reply mrpooscratch Free Speech Chick-Fil-A politics protest SCOTUS U.S. Supreme Court Boycott Tastes like crow Constitution U.S. Constitution First Amendment Freedom of speech Fourteenth Amendment

221 notes

Shit no one has ever said:

"Hey! Let’s piss off the internet by threatening to nuke the internet via a censorship bill! It’ll be hilarious, you guys!"

No one in their right mind would say that, right?

Oh… wait.

And then…

And then… 

And then…

And then…

And then…

And then…

And then…

And then…

And then…

And then…

We Anonymous are launching our largest attack ever on government and music industry sites. Lulz. The FBI didn’t think they would get away with this did they? They should have expected us.


The following sites were taken down in response to the FBI shutting down


  • Anonymous dupes users into joining Megaupload attack

    The Internet Strikes Back #OpMegaupload

    Anonymous Just Deleted and Took Down Universal

    Petition Seeks Probe of MPAA ‘Bribery’ Over SOPA


    Conclusion: Threatening to nuke the internet = bad, bad idea. 

    Follow Fight for the Future and for updates. Just because it’s been shelved doesn’t mean it can’t come back. Also, there’s ACTA, which is SOPA/PIPA on steroids:

    Anonymous’ hijinks may be amusing, but censorship is real. Stay vigilant and stay informed, folks. You never know what shit they’ll say next.

    (Source: cognitivedissonance)

    Filed under SOPA PIPA ACTA politics censorship the internet Anonymous Megaupload First Amendment human rights Chris Dodd MPAA

    94 notes

    Ron Paul Sues To Unmask Anonymous Internet Users

    Ron Paul’s supporters were burning up Twitter yesterday to emphasize he’s the only presidential candidate to not support SOPA or PIPA. Their claims are false - Buddy Roemer blacked out his site in support of the protest - but that’s beside the point. If you make a video in support of Ron Paul, and he doesn’t like your message, he’ll take your ass to federal court. 


    Ron Paul Trademark and Defamation claim

    How does this jive with his image as a defender of liberty again? Isn’t the right to speak out on the internet anonymously - no matter how vile the message - something a defender of liberty should protect? In this case, a supporter of Ron Paul uploaded a racist, offensive video which questioned Jon Huntsman’s values based on his speaking Chinese, and slammed him for adopting two daughters from China and India. 

    The Ron Paul campaign condemned the video quickly. However, this lawsuit brings the video to the forefront again, though Huntsman has left the race, and the suit itself seems to contradict several principles for which Paul claims to champion.

    (Source: cognitivedissonance)

    Filed under Ron Paul First Amendment Politics YouTube Jon Huntsman video Federal Court US Constitution censorship

    58 notes

    Time for a mic check?
Sheriff Joe doesn’t want protesters at his speaking gig, and we all know what Sheriff Joe thinks of the Bill of Rights.
Hey Tucson (and the rest of Arizona) - you know what to do! Go share your love of the First Amendment with America’s Toughest Worst Sheriff.
Here’s the info:
Republicans Meeting with speaker Sheriff Joe ArpaioWhere: Voyager Catalina Room, 8701 S. Kolb Rd. (I-10 and Kolb, Exit 270, go south 1/4 mile, entrance on the left hand side of street).When: Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 5:30 PM
Go Occupy Sheriff Joe!

    Time for a mic check?

    Sheriff Joe doesn’t want protesters at his speaking gig, and we all know what Sheriff Joe thinks of the Bill of Rights.

    Hey Tucson (and the rest of Arizona) - you know what to do! Go share your love of the First Amendment with America’s Toughest Worst Sheriff.

    Here’s the info:

    Republicans Meeting with speaker Sheriff Joe Arpaio
    Where: Voyager Catalina Room, 8701 S. Kolb Rd. (I-10 and Kolb, Exit 270, go south 1/4 mile, entrance on the left hand side of street).
    When: Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 5:30 PM

    Go Occupy Sheriff Joe!

    (Source: cognitivedissonance)

    Filed under Joe Arpaio GOP Sheriff crime politics First Amendment Protest injustice civil rights Sheriff Joe Arizona Bill of Rights Occupy Joe Arpaio OWS Occupy Phoenix Occupy Tucson Tucson

    42 notes

    Occupy Denver Supporter Ticketed For Honking At Protesters

    A well-known attorney said the police in Denver are going too far in their response to the Occupy Denver protests.

    David Lane said that includes one man who was cited for honking his car horn in a show of support for the protesters.

    Protesters told CBS4 Stan Bush they believe police in Denver are starting to take the protest personally. They claim officers are focusing on minor issues because of a grudge.

    Lane is a great attorney and a champion of civil liberties. I should know - he was my attorney in my suit against the University of Wyoming. Here’s details and a copy of the filing on behalf of Occupy Denver. Lane’s taking a broader approach than just the honking: 

    ​In contrast, he feels he has plenty of options in regard to filing an injunction. Over the weekend, the Denver Post reported that Lane’s actions were spurred by TV station pieces about ticketing for honks in support of Occupy Denver - items that followed Westword staffer Kelsey Whipple’s coverage of that subject and a previous offering about citations for people who pull over to drop off donations. But Lane’s efforts are broader than that.

    "We’re going after three, and possibly four, issues in this lawsuit," he reveals. "One is honking. One is ticketing people who stop to give money, food or clothing. The third is going after people who put any items down on the sidewalk in this five-foot swath that the police say has to be completely clear. And we’re looking into whether or not we can go after the curfew in the park. It’s absurd that after 11 p.m., if anyone sets one foot in the park, they get arrested and everyone’s got to stay on the sidewalk at that point."

    In addition, Lane has a strong point of view on the question of whether or not the Occupy Denver tents banned by the DPD constitute speech. “If you look back through this country’s history, back to the bonus army that marched on Washington in the Depression era, tents have long been part of protest,” he notes. “A tent is a symbol that ‘we’re in this for the duration. We’re not going away.’ So it is a form of speech.”

    I wish Occupy Denver and the attorneys of Killmer, Lane, & Newman the best and thank them for their dedication to free speech. I’ll be following this case closely.

    Filed under Occupy Denver Free speech David Lane Denver Denver PD Politics Protest First Amendment Killmer Lane and Newman civil liberties Occupy Wall Street OWS

    123 notes

    Who gave you the right to occupy America? Nobody! You wanna keep jumping up and yelling that you’re the 99 percent? How presumptuous and arrogant can you think you are?!

    Karl Rove, to Occupy Baltimore protesters on Nov. 15th at Johns Hopkins University

    ThinkProgress has the scoop:

    Last night, former Bush official Karl Rove appeared at Johns Hopkins University to speak as a part of the annual Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium. Rove soon discovered that he wasn’t going to deliver his right-wing rhetoric unopposed, as a cry of “Mic Check!” rang out among the audience.

    "Karl Rove is the architect of Occupy Iraq, the architect of Occupy Afghanistan!" yelled the demonstrators.

    Well, they’re right. He is a major reason why we are still in Afghanistan and Iraq…

    And Karl, for future reference, here’s what gives us the right to Occupy America:

    You might have heard of it before. But I doubt it.

    (Source: cognitivedissonance)

    Filed under Occupy America Karl Rove Politics Protest Occupy Baltimore Bill of Rights First Amendment Iraq Afghanistan injustice Republican republicans GOP