Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Freedom from Speech is What You Want

You may have heard recently about the Supreme Court case (McComish vs. Bennett) that found that when I disagree with you, I am violating your right to free speech because you then have to speak more, you see, to express yourself. You see, more speech is actually less speech. This goes along with Antonin Scalia's homage to 1984's Ignorance is Strength mantra in the stay of the Florida recount in Bush v. Gore. ("Count first, and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance democratic stability requires.")

Now, you might say, arithmoquine, that's totally unfair to the Roberts court because, after all, they surely found some flimsy pretext by means of which to protect the interests of the wealthy and the powerful, and that's a lot of work, so let them have a little peace and quiet so they can listen to that small, quiet voice of their consciences and then drown it with a fifth of tequila. What is the law, anyway, but flimsy pretexts for outcomes predetermined by the ruling class?

The reason, you see, my speech is not violating your right to free speech when they are inconsistent is that my speech is not government-subsidized speech. And it is completely obvious--what are you, a pinhead?--that only the government can violate anyone's rights. I, to take just one example, held a pizza delivery guy captive in my basement for six months, slowly feeding him his own body parts until nothing was left but his mouth, and that was completely legal, and not a violation of some namby-pamby prohibition against torture that all those whiny, East-coast, elite, birkenstock-sipping, latte-wearing liberals believe in. My freedom ends, as they say, when I've punched you in the face and the police have arrested me, but not before.

It's a testament to our free society that only the government can violate a right or take away our freedoms! If I break into your home without warning, shoot your dog and your spouse, and then take your pot, that's freedom. But if the government does that, it's (waitaminute, isn't this in the conservative handbook somewhere?) murder and theft (or perfectly ok if today is Wednesday).

I think you acquire my drift.

So, you see, we need to protect the rights of the wealthy to say whatever they want without fear of contradiction, except by other wealthy people, and most definitely not let the government subsidize any speech that might contradict it. It is only when the government gets involved with our freedoms and rights that we might lose them, so we have to limit the government's power to do anything of the sort (provided that's not strip-searching 14 year old girls, which I understand is totally hot and constitutional).

The best thing about this is that, as a hate-filled bigot and certifiable moron, I frequently like to spout off about things that I know nothing about and which are factually false. And that's my God-given right. And since the government has various offices devoted to publishing accurate information, about the budget or the dangers of fluoridation in the water or what have you, they are violating my freedom of speech to say that fluoridation is a communist plot or that Area 51 contains several alien spacecraft, just because those things happen not to be true. This means these government offices must be shuttered. Down with big government information-dissemination (which totally sounds dirty)! Down with the tyranny of accurate information!

I know what you're thinking: the government has a "compelling interest" in providing accurate information about fluoridation and Area 51 and preventing widespread panic in the streets by countering inaccurate information that may stoke people's fears. Maybe so, but maybe not. If free and fair elections that are open to everyone are not a compelling government interest, then it's not obvious what could be.

Anyway, a lot of my exercise of free speech is about things that don't really do any harm: when John Quincy Adams was born, the use of "Under God" in the original pledge of allegiance, the date of the abolition of slavery or whether we clone animals to have human brains. The government currently publishes information on these harmless topics as well. The government cannot take away our right to free speech and tell us what to think! If I want to say that a monkey with John Quincy Adams's cloned brain abolished slavery and wrote the pledge of allegiance, then I have a right not to have the government contradict me. That's what free speech is all about.

Besides, the government cannot have an interest in public safety. I'm looking at the Conservo-Constitution, and I can't find anything in it that gives the government an interest in maintaining the general welfare. (I'm pretty sure we edited that part out when we said that Obamacare was unconstitutional. By now it only contains national defense--bombing people--and not taxing the rich.)

And what's government, anyway? Isn't it only a fiction, supported by a complex set of social contracts and agreements, both explicit and tacit, in order to achieve something that we individually are unable to achieve on our own? How can it have interests of any kind? It's not like it's a corporation or something.

My point is that, even if the government does have an interest in promoting the general welfare or providing for a safe and secure environment for the American people, that general duty has exceptions for the fundamental rights of individuals. We couldn't put people to death we knew to be innocent, could we? Of course not, not even if this promoted the general welfare. (Exceptions made for promoting the welfare of certain Southern politicians.) If it really is a violation of my free speech for a government-sponsored entity to disagree with me, then the presumption ought to be in my favor, and it would have to take a strong counterbalancing interest to violate the rights of all Americans to say things that are known to be untrue just because their saying them is false and harmful.

Of course, if I decided to exercise my free speech rights, for example, by spreading fear about the safety of eggs produced by America's corporate egg-titans, Roberts would surely discover that the government had an interest in supporting the egg community, and the Egg Council (a government entity supported by taxes on egg producers, but a government entity all the same) would be free to drop a PSA on us faster than a de-beaked Leghorn strapped to a nest and pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormone can pump out those little white oblongs. Then, I guess, the yolk would be on me.

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