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January 10 2011

Shooters & Hate Speech

Heather R. Higgins

Maybe the Giffords shooting hit closer to home for the political class than say, the Maj. Hassan or Hinckley attempts, because it targeted one of their own.  These same folks didn't get worried about radical Islam, nor did they try to ban pretty actresses whom disturbed people might want to impress, but now they want to go after speech that might offend someone.  

Leave aside the fact that there is ZERO evidence that it was the tenor of public discourse that triggered the shooting in Tuscon, or that if this fellow were political, someone who burns the flag and objects to the idea of being "under God," that he is unlikely to ally himself with the Right, or that the Left is loaded with hate speech and targeting metaphors.

Hey, let's even ignore the idea that whatever the effect of heated rhetoric, how it affects an irrational person will have nothing to do with objective norms and standards.  

The larger point is that legislating what's acceptable moves you from an objective to a subjective standard that is not properly the realm of law -- that's what social conventions are for, and why I miss a society that wasn't afraid of having normative judgments.



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