First Amendment, Schmirst Amendment Redux

San Antonio is in the forefront of First Amendment news yet again, regrettably. The Higher Education Council of San Antonio, which includes among others the presidents of Texas A&M San Antonio and the University of Texas at San Antonio, has promulgated a letter that includes this passage:

As members of the Higher Education Council of San Antonio (HECSA), we — the presidents of colleges and universities throughout this community and supporters — feel that it is important for us to speak out and make a distinction between diversity of thought and disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech. We further attest that hate speech has no place at our colleges and universities. Inappropriate messages, banners and flyers that are meant to provoke, spread hate, or create animosity and hostility, are not welcome or accepted.

Disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. As such, if it is an exception to free speech, free speech is gone. Hate speech, however deplorable, is not an exception to free speech and it cannot be if we are to have free speech.

I prefer to counter speech with more speech, but our society is experiencing a concerted effort by those who consider themselves our betters to stifle speech they find uncongenial. The constitutional protections we all enjoy are always  established by the treatment of those we abjure. If we do not protect them, we will have no protections.

As with the previous post, if you want to read more, read the discussion on the Volokh Conspiracy.

First Amendment, Schmirst Amendment

It appears that my fair city, San Antonio, Texas, is home to an establishment called the Bottom Bracket Social Club. I am unfamiliar with it, but it has intruded into national news. In an exercise of utter tastelessness, one of the owners of the Bottom Bracket Social Club’s owners wrote “f*&^ the police” and “f*&^ the TABC” on a Facebook post not long after the club was cited for a Alcoholic Beverage Code violation.

The violation, even coupled with past ones, was not the sort typically resulting in liquor-license forfeiture. But because of the owner’s crude post, The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission moved to block renewal of the club’s license. The club appealed through an administrative process and prevailed. The administrative law judge observed:

[The State Office of Administrative Hearings] has no jurisdiction to address constitutional claims, and Bottom Bracket has not made one. That said, the ALJ is concerned about the request to deny a permit based on speech that criticizes police. See, e.g., City of Houston v. Hill (1987) (“the First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers”); United States v. Poocha (9th Cir. 2001) (yelling “f*&^ you” or “that’s f*&^ed” at police officers during an arrest constituted protected speech).

Indeed. If crudity were grounds for withholding constitutional rights, lots of people would be without them. But I would prefer for San Antonio to make the news in other ways.

For more information, see the discussion on the Volokh Conspiracy.

Net Neutrality

I just noticed that WordPress wants me to post a banner, which they will provide, to support net neutrality. The internet is awash in such efforts to reverse the recent repeal of the relatively recent net neutrality rules.

I do not pretend to grasp all the problems that may arise without net neutrality. Neither do I pretend to grasp all the problems that may arise with it. I do grasp, however, that the voluminous opposition to repeal did not happen by itself. It had to be fomented and supported by big players. WordPress is a case in point.

To suppose that such people act in the public interest instead of their own is fatuous. When one side so frantically urges me to support them in a public policy dispute, I am naturally cautious. Of course they will benefit if they win.

Net-neutrality repeal obviously doesn’t have as much money supporting it, which I find peculiar. We are exhorted with tales how big money will take advantage of us without government-imposed neutrality. But, if so, those who would profit are not mounting a counter campaign. You may wonder why that is so. I do.

You may support whichever side of this dispute you wish. I’m indulging my native skepticism and am willing to risk that repeal will work out fine. The hysteria supporting neutrality has led to nonsenical and inconsistent arguments. That’s not persuasive,

Keeping the government out of something is my default preference anyway.