Cognitive Dissonance

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

Posts tagged Freedom of speech

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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?

Cheers,

Meg

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

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GOP Congressmen Put Constituents Who Asked Tough Questions On A “Watch List” By Marie Diamond on Aug 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm
In recent weeks GOP congressmen have resorted to all sorts of underhanded schemes to avoid interacting with their angry constituents back home over August recess. Now two Republican freshmen, Reps. Daniel Webster (R-FL) and Tim Griffin (R-AZ), are taking this trend one step further, using disturbing intimidation tactics and “watch lists" to discourage constituents from asking them questions.…In April, ThinkProgress reported from Webster’s home district about a town hall where he faced a barrage of criticism for defending his support for tax breaks for the rich and the Medicare-ending Paul Ryan budget. One of the constituents ThinkProgress interviewed, Tamecka Pierce, ended up as #5 on the “Watch List.” 

So disagree with them and get your face and info distributed? This is disgusting and a little bit terrifying. Further, who cares if there are paid activists in attendance? Does that mean they don’t have the First Amendment right to ask a question at a public venue? The amount of effort put into the flyer, with the photos and research, is ridiculous. I would like to know if the staffers were paid with federal money to run opposition research on activists. <sarcasm> This isn’t COINTELPRO v. 2.0 - leave that to the FBI </sarcasm>.
This serves to do nothing more than have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and on holding elected officials responsible to their constituents. Shame on any media outlet that enables this charade.

GOP Congressmen Put Constituents Who Asked Tough Questions On A “Watch List”
By Marie Diamond on Aug 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm

In recent weeks GOP congressmen have resorted to all sorts of underhanded schemes to avoid interacting with their angry constituents back home over August recess. Now two Republican freshmen, Reps. Daniel Webster (R-FL) and Tim Griffin (R-AZ), are taking this trend one step further, using disturbing intimidation tactics and “watch lists" to discourage constituents from asking them questions.

In April, ThinkProgress reported from Webster’s home district about a town hall where he faced a barrage of criticism for defending his support for tax breaks for the rich and the Medicare-ending Paul Ryan budget. One of the constituents ThinkProgress interviewed, Tamecka Pierce, ended up as #5 on the “Watch List.” 

So disagree with them and get your face and info distributed? This is disgusting and a little bit terrifying. Further, who cares if there are paid activists in attendance? Does that mean they don’t have the First Amendment right to ask a question at a public venue? The amount of effort put into the flyer, with the photos and research, is ridiculous. I would like to know if the staffers were paid with federal money to run opposition research on activists. <sarcasm> This isn’t COINTELPRO v. 2.0 - leave that to the FBI </sarcasm>.

This serves to do nothing more than have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and on holding elected officials responsible to their constituents. Shame on any media outlet that enables this charade.

Filed under Daniel Webster Tim Griffin Politics freedom of speech First Amendment watch list conservative conservatives chilling effect just plain wrong ThinkProgress