Correcting Rollo, Again

Rollo: You criticize me for criticizing the reasons given by the police when they arrested the demonstrators in Providence. Your error is in assuming I mean that all that is realistic or graphic should be allowable. I mean no such thing. My criticism is based on the fact that outlawing such expression sweeps in perfectly lawful expression, and for that reason is dangerously broad. Now, displaying pictures of obscene sex (and obscene has a specific legal meaning) would be both realistic (people do do it, after all) and graphic (I mean, it’s obscene), and hence can be banned from a public street corner. But I can also think of much expression that, while realistic, should be allowed — case in

point, pictures of aborted children, or displaying the atrocities of the communists.

Likewise, I can think of much expression that, while graphic, should be allowed — case in point, again, pictures of aborted children, or displaying the atrocities of the communists.

Such a broad standard really should trouble you. Imagine, for instance, if the police said that speech that was “racially offensive” language was prohibited. I think it’s pretty apparent that “offensive” is about as ambiguous a standard as “realistic” or “graphic” (I actually think it’s a stricter standard; but if you disagree, you can find your own adjective to suit). Now, you wouldn’t “sorta hope” that such a law would be enforced, much less upheld, would you? You can see how some nutjob would interpret your criticism of affirmative action as “offensive.” If that’s the case, then bye-bye free speech. We’d be no better than Germany.

As for your ACLU crack: for the record, I can’t stand the ACLU. They ignore certain civil liberties (ever heard of the Second Amendment?), and they are actively hostile to other amendments (we don’t need religious liberty anyway). They’ve done good work, but they’ve done a LOT of bad work too. They need to get their act together, in my mind, and stop playing to their donor base.