Monday, May 05, 2008

Maher v. Horowitz: the False Dichotomy

The moonbat Left moans that McAdams, Patrick, and others are "intolerant" of free speech, and compare David Horowitz' speech at UW-M with Maher's upcoming bile-fest.

Umnnnhhh... nice try, but no ringer.

Let's leave aside the evident difference of "sponsorship." In the case of Horowitz, there are no commercial enterprises supporting his speechifying; Maher's appearance is underwritten by a radio station and some mattress-and-refrigerator merchant.

Differences, but not germane.

At the heart of the argument from the Left (and, by the way, from Mark Belling) is the claim of "free speech." To these folks, curiously, all "speech" is sacred. It's possible that there are SCOTUS decisions which agree.

But in a rightly-ordered society, not all "speech" is sacred. In such a society, the operative principle is that "Error has no rights." Lying and/or scurrilous semi-truths are not permissible--which would make Maher's currency counterfeit, or small change, at best.

What sparks the angst from the Right about Maher (or Ayers, or Wright, for that matter) is not that they speak--but that some would dignify their bilious excreting with the mantle of "a right."

Wrong.

No matter who says so--Belling, Folkbum, the Supreme Court, or the 1st Amendment--it's not "a right." Or better defined, it is a civilly-granted 'right', but not a Natural Right. The principle that 'error has no rights' is the logical consequence of the principle that 'There is no Right to do Wrong.' Disagree if you wish, but (if you think about it) it's perilous to do so.

Civility, of course, demands that Maher be allowed to befoul Milwaukee's atmosphere with his yammerings, and most likely civility will prevail. After all, it is the Right which is unhappy with him, and the Right is inclined to grant civil deference to error unless it is immediately and grievously harmful. Maher is no longer "grievous." He's a flyweight annoyance, albeit he may lead a 4-year-old mind astray.

But that concept--civility--doesn't seem to restrain people who attended Horowitz' lecture.

That's very telling, don't you think?

27 comments:

capper said...

Excuse the question, but who sponsored Horowitz? Was it the college group, using tax payer dollars? If so, then the tax payers would have the right to criticize how their money is spent. Lord knows that the right does this more than enough.

But what gives you and your ilk to force your beliefs down the throats of others. That kind of goes against the "natural right", God-given by the way,of free will.

That is, if you believe the Bible.

Amy said...

capper:

I'm calling BS on this (and pretty much everything you say).

The taxpayers have the right to criticize - but NO ONE has the right to silence. Which is what the lefties did to Horowitz (and what they always do to conservatives).

Please explain to me how the conduct of LIBERALS - you know, your ilk - shouting down Horowitz was in any way acceptable. No one was held at gunpoint and forced to listen to Horowitz's speech.

No one was force to accept Horowitz's point of view.

So nice straw man.

There are many things my tax dollars go to - like abortion - that I do not support. Yet folks like you would tell me to shut up and sit down.

I can bet that no one will bum rush Maher on stage and force him to end his despicable performance early.

So can it unless you can come up with a coherent argument.

Dad29 said...

Don't know who sponsored Horowitz, and I don't care.

As I said in the post, that is not germane to the discussion.

And "forcing my beliefs"?

You're becoming unhinged, Capper.

capper said...

Not at all, Dad.

Amy, I never condoned and do not condone poor behavior, unlike many of the extremists on both sides of the aisle.

But last time I checked, there was freedom of speech AND freedom of religion. That means that people can believe or not believe as they choose, not as others choose for them.

You don't like Maher or what he says, fine. Don't go. Don't shop at American. But don't infringe on the rights of others by forcing your religious beliefs on them. That's the sort of thing that caused the pilgrims to leave England in the first place.

Amy said...

But don't infringe on the rights of others by forcing your religious beliefs on them.

How, exactly, are we doing this? If we spread the word about American's support of Maher - and his direct, vicious, and (most of all) inaccurate attacks on Christianity and especially Catholicism - and people *choose* to agree with us, how are we "forcing" our beliefs on others.

Colleges and Universities are - without a doubt - liberally biased. So one student organization invites a speaker to campus and - because lefties disagree with him - it's "forcing" our beliefs on others?

Time was, something like that was called "discourse"...

I'd rather set my eyebrows on fire than sit through one of Maher's routines, thankyouverymuch. I wouldn't waste my money listening to a guy who thinks I'm a drooling, illiterate ape.

But many on the left don't seem satisfied to do that. They'd rather throw food at, bum rush, or otherwise shut down a speaker they disagree with.

And this isn't a new tactic. Nearly 20 years ago, my husband saw the same thing at UW-M where liberal students shouted down Mark Belling.

And while I commend your condemnation of those who disrupt speech, I find the double standard of many on the left side of the aisle telling.

There seems to be an irrational fear by many on the left that even *hearing* conservative viewpoints will cause untold damage to their cause. And rather than debate the issues, they resort to censorship, hysterical condemnation, and inappropriate behavior to silence the opposing point of view. Which leads any logical person to the conclusion they're afraid of letting others hear opposing viewpoints because people might *agree* with those points of view.

PaulNoonan said...

Your definition of "rights" sounds alot like my definition of "obligations." It's a bit dizzying. Does 2+2=5 in your world too?

Free speech is a natural right. Outside of society you can say whatever you want. Hence, the preservation of free speech in society is a natural right.

It's a good thing I'm right about this or society would be terrible.

Anyway, the Horowitz silencing is worse, but but they are similar. Both resort to an attempted silencing instead of counter-speech.

3rd Way said...

Nice analysis Amy.

There seems to be an irrational fear by many on the "----" that even *hearing* "----" viewpoints will cause untold damage to their cause. And rather than debate the issues, they resort to censorship, hysterical condemnation, and inappropriate behavior to silence the opposing point of view. Which leads any logical person to the conclusion they're afraid of letting others hear opposing viewpoints because people might *agree* with those points of view.

The censorship and hysterical condemnation you speak of can be seen in Daddio's comment.

At the heart of the argument from the "----"(and, by the way, from "----") is the claim of "free speech." To these folks, curiously, all "speech" is sacred. It's possible that there are SCOTUS decisions which agree.

But in a rightly-ordered society, not all "speech" is sacred. In such a society, the operative principle is that "Error has no rights." Lying and/or scurrilous semi-truths are not permissible--which would make "----" currency counterfeit, or small change, at best.


Justification of attempts to stifle others speech rights by claiming they don't fit into your "rightly ordered society" has been historically referred to as fascism.

3rd Way said...

The attempted silencing of anyone's speech should be condemned by anyone that loves the liberties afforded to us by some really smart guys hundreds of years ago.

The big difference between the Horowitz and Maher comparisons is that one instance has defenders and the other does not.

Amy said...

The attempted silencing of anyone's speech should be condemned by anyone that loves the liberties afforded to us by some really smart guys hundreds of years ago.

I'll remember that the next time someone like Don Imus gets fired for racial slurs, or those Canadian bloggers are sued by an ego-maniac "human rights" champion, or when Ann Coulter opens her mouth.

So far as I'm aware, Maher's performace is still going on. And - if I remember correctly - the First Amendment does not prohibit our right to air our grievances.

Maher's comments on Christianity are beyond the pale. Not only are they vitriolic, they are wholly inaccurate and untruthful. It show's Maher's ignorance and true character that he cannot and will not make an effort to either *truthfully* understand what he doesn't like or refrain from commenting when he clearly is incapable of doing so rationally or in a mature fashion.

Dad29 said...

You will note that I created a 'codicil' graf for Erroneous Speech--under "civility."

When attempting analysis, please use distinctions now and then...

Error has no rights. But people have "rights" to speak Error--that is the effect of the 1st Amendment and an understanding of Free Will (as Cap reminded us).

However, Error does not "have a right" to subsidy--by anyone.

It is inaccurate to conclude that I would "suppress" speech (as any clear-minded reader would have discerned.)

Given 'druthers, I'd 'druther that no Error be voiced--but civility compels us to allow such speech. Civility is, sometimes, a burden, but it must be borne. No problem.

Error, of course, should be refuted and, if necessary, ridiculed.

Maher simply makes it easy to ridicule Error.

PaulNoonan said...

It is impossible to determine if words are in error if words are never spoken.

This is why your definition of freedom is ine error.

Thanks for speaking it, you helped make my point.

Dad29 said...

Actually, Paul, Maher DID speak--often and loudly.

So while he retains the right to speak, the error(s) in his speech have no rights.

Especially to financial support, which is the position American TV took when they yanked their money.

PaulNoonan said...

Errors have no rights because they are abstract, non-living things. Only the rights of the speakers are at issue. Saying that errors have no rights is as meaningless as saying that unicorns have no rights.

He has no right to financial compensation, that much is true. My quibble was with your definition of rights.

Tactically, when confronting someone like Maher, you have two options.

1. Counter their points with better points.

2. Attempt to silence that person in advance.

While Maher will probably still go on, boycotting his sponsors is an attempt at the latter. It may not be as rude as the idiotic protesters faced by Horowitz, but it is the same tactic.

And it is the cowardly tactic.

Plus, you will deprive atheists of vital knowledge about where to purchase their next sofa.

Dad29 said...

Hmnnn.

You think that boycotting sponsors is exactly the same as "silencing"?

Let's leave aside the fact which is operative here--that the SPONSOR made the decision to pull the money, NOT McAdams, et.al.--even though that fact is germane.

"Silencing" Maher is not a result of boycotting. You operate with a false premise.

In fact, he would be "silenced" only if he kept his mouth shut (which he does not do.)

You are confusing the effect with the predicate. Find another way to be offended.

apc said...

This is an aside to the ongoing conversation more than an attempt to make any kind of point, but it seems if there is any error here (and I'm not granting that point one way or another), it's in Bill Maher's close-mindedness about religion. I watch his show regularly, and he seems fairly open-minded about most things, which makes his refusal to listen to any kind of opposite opinion on religion to be fairly striking. He has had ministers of various faiths on his show, as well as lay people of faith, and he just won't listen to reason/imagination (take your pick). It's puzzling.

capper said...

Amy said, "I'll remember that the next time someone like Don Imus gets fired for racial slurs, or those Canadian bloggers are sued by an ego-maniac "human rights" champion, or when Ann Coulter opens her mouth."

Um, freedom of religion is protected, freedom of racism isn't.

PaulNoonan said...

I really don't get offended, in general. And I didn't say this:

You think that boycotting sponsors is exactly the same as "silencing"?

So no, I don't think that. What lefties do on campus is worse. I wrote as much in my first comment:

Anyway, the Horowitz silencing is worse, but but they are similar.

Your last point isn't even really a point. You seem to be saying that it would be OK if lefty college protesters spoke more softly when they were attempting to shout down David Horowitz.

At least, that's what you are saying to those of us who think logically.

And they are similar in that the prevent the message instead of responding to it.

Dad29 said...

Huh?

My point, "...silencing Maher is NOT a result of a boycott" is absolutely true.

You elide the actors when you make your accusation.

Maher speaks regardless--thus he is not "silenced."

A boycott has nothing--NOTHING--to do with "silencing" Maher.

Do you understand that?

PaulNoonan said...

Then what is the point?

Dad29 said...

The point IS:

Your claim that boycotting "suppresses speech" is wrong.

Your logic is flawed.

PaulNoonan said...

What is the point of the Boycott?

Dad29 said...

The point of the boycott is to inflict some pain on the sponsor.

So what?

The EFFECT is pain for the sponsor. Not the same as the act of the sponsor pulling the money.

But whether the sponsor does or does NOT pull the money, Maher is not "silenced."

Maher is not the sponsor. He is another actor entirely, and may speak (or not speak) entirely independent of "sponsorship."

Your flaw is called "consequentialism."

PaulNoonan said...

By that "logic," David Horowitz should simply speak louder. After all, idiot college students are not STOPPING him from speaking, they are just adding noise.

Dad29 said...

You are being obtuse, and I can only assume that it's intentional rather than typical.

Note, please, that in the Horowitz case, the students are NOT "suppressing" by boycott.

They are acting directly on the speaker.

Do me a favor and draw a picture for yourself to study.

PaulNoonan said...

That's not obtuse. It's very, very clear. You know, one of the things that libertarians and conservatives are theoretically supposed to agree on is that taxes, when you get down to brass tacks (that's a joke), are collected via force, and aside from screwing up the economy, are also immoral.

Part of this belief requires a definition of violence that includes violence against you though your property. It is violence to take your things against your will, at least if you have any notion of property rights.

And here is where the actual disruption of David Horowitz by idiots is similar to the disruption of Bill Maher by the likes of you. Through corporate sponsorship, American is hoping to reach fans of Bill Maher. It is not trying to reach you. When you take such offense to this sponsorship, you do real damage to Maher, who would have a little more money, to his fans, who are probably going to pay nominally more, and lose info about American, and American, who will miss out on a customer base.

You are perfectly entitled to pursue this action, so don't bother piping up that it's your right. It is. I don't care.

The point is that by doing so, you will make the world worse. You will also lose information that may be valuable to you. You don't think it will be, but it's difficult to know without hearing it.

The logical end of pressuring sponsors is to remove all funding and forum from Maher even though a market clearly exists for his performance. As I've said about 4,000 times before, the Horowitz crowd is worse, but you're in the same business.

Dad29 said...

libertarians and conservatives are theoretically supposed to agree on is that taxes, when you get down to brass tacks (that's a joke), are collected via force, and aside from screwing up the economy, are also immoral

No Conservative in his right mind believes that "taxes are immoral" ipso facto

You may so believe, but I don't think you are in your right mind, as evidenced by the rest of your babbling of 8:27 PM.

Good night, Paul. Your argument is void and occasionally inane. Admit it and go to bed.

PaulNoonan said...

I was merely pointing out that conservatives tend to have a wider definition of coercion. Most would, when push comes to shove, see a connection between shouting down and denying funds.

You're wrong about conservatives and taxes. If I had a nickel for every time a conservative referred to tax revenue as "my money" I would be taxed at a much higher rate. Everyone knows this.

Yeah, even libertarians see the need for some taxes, just as conservatives do. Not the point. You're good at arguing against imaginary people who have not commented.

I was a bit obtuse last night, to use one of your favorite words, so I thought I would clarify this morning. I wll trouble you no more on this issue.

Also, I stay up later than 8:37, as I am not like 100 years old.