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My Heart Bleeds Over This Outrageous "Harass[ment]":

The Great Falls Tribune reports:

The arrival of a white nationalist family, including 14-year-old twins who perform music as the group Prussian Blue, has prompted neighbors to distribute fliers that say, "No hate here."

Lamb and Lynx Gaede, their mother April and stepfather Mark Harrington moved to Kalispell from Bakersfield, Calif., which was "not white enough," April Gaede told ABC's "Primetime" in a show that aired last fall....

[Neighbors recognized the Gaedes from the television program, and] printed information sheets about the family and went door-to-door passing them out.

"This letter is not written as a means to harass the family or to begin a witch hunt," the flier said. "We wish the family no harm. Our goal is to peacefully communicate that this kind of hate and ignorance will not be accepted here in our neighborhood where we live and raise our families."

"No hate here," is printed on the one side of the brightly colored fliers. Residents were asked to display the signs in their windows.

Prussian Blue's music includes a song called "Sacrifice,"which praises Nazi leader Rudolf Hess, a deputy to Adolf Hitler. The girls have performed at rallies for white nationalist causes.

"The music that Prussian Blue performs is intended for white people," the girls' Web site says. "They hope to help fellow Whites come to understand that love for one's race is a beautiful gift that we should celebrate." ... [T]he police said the family called to say they were being harassed by the neighbors' efforts to post fliers. Officers explained that the neighbors' free speech rights made distributing the fliers legal.

I'm with the officers -- and the neighbrs -- on this one. If you praise Nazis, don't expect your neighbors to welcome you with open arms, or to sit quietly by as you publicly explain that you're moving next to them because they're "white enough" for you. You have the right to speak your mind. They have the right to speak theirs, and to remonstrate with you over your views.

Anderson (mail) (www):
The neighbors are harassing them by ... denouncing hate?

Poor kids. Maybe they should follow a distinguished example and move from California to Virginia, where they could play at George Allen rallies.
9.19.2006 6:45pm
NewSisyphus (mail) (www):
Well, sure, that much is obvious. (Or, it should be. I guess I'd have to admit that fewer people actually seem to understand the concept of free speech than I once believed.)

The Gaedes have the right to put forth their views and their neighbors theirs, so long as that is all that is going on here. I certainly have the right to put a sign on my lawn that says "No Hate Here" directed at someone in my neighborhood who is an open and loud member of some pathetic neo-nazi group.

But this is an easy stance to take, one the liberal establishment feels comfortable allowing expression. Who is going to object to this?

On the other hand, what happens if I and other Americans come to honestly believe that Islam is a threat? Can I post signs on my lawn directed at the Muslim family across the street that says "No Hate-Filled Religions Here"? Can I pass out flyers accusing Muslims of hewing to an anti-American ideology near their house? Can I attempt to urge burkha-wearing women at the mall to give up the veil?

I think the good professor is absolutely right on the law. As a matter of culture, however, I think anyone who did to a family of radical Muslims what these people are doing to the Gaedes would be vilified and labelled practitioners of hate themselves.
9.19.2006 6:48pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
So you're saying we can never condemn ANYBODY, Sisyphus? What a bizarre philosophy. The neighbors aren't denouncing a religion, but a philosophy of racial supremacy. Your counter-example is simply not an accurate reflection of what is going on here. These specific individuals (the Gaedes) have made specific pronouncements in favor of racial hatred and racial superiority of whites. If a Muslim who expresses sympathy for Osama and hatred of the West and superiority of Islam over Christianity moves in next door, then definitely we should direct signs at him, too. But if a Muslim who doesn't favor such things moves in, that's a different story, which is not illustrated by what's happening with the Gaedes.
9.19.2006 6:52pm
BGates (mail) (www):
Anderson, is that the same George Allen whose Jewish ancestry his opponents have been eager to highlight? Why do Democrats insist on referring to him as 'George Felix Allen'? What was that reporter insinuating this morning when she asked "whether [his] forebears include Jews and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?"
9.19.2006 6:55pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Hey, I've got an idea. Let's take up a collection and work with the neighbors on either side to sell their homes to African-Americans or Jews. Or maybe Adam &Steve... Better yet, let's find a gay couple, one of whom is a Muslim black male and the other is an Hispanic convert to Judaism, and get the next door neighbor to sell to them. That might even make for a good reality TV show!
9.19.2006 6:55pm
NewSisyphus (mail) (www):
PatHMV's response to my post above proves the point I was trying to make: applauding free speech principles when they are directed against openly admitted Nazis is one thing, using them to denounce Islam is quite another.

Legally, there is no distinction so long as individual are involved. One may be, as PatHMV states "a religion" and the other "a philosophy of racial supremacy," but so what? PatHMV posits a test where I can use free speech to denounce Muslims who praise Osama Bin Laden but may not denounce Muslims who do not.

Says who?

What if I believe Islam is even more dangerous than whacked-out neo-nazism?
9.19.2006 7:07pm
Mark Field (mail):

Anderson, is that the same George Allen whose Jewish ancestry his opponents have been eager to highlight?


Perhaps you have a cite to demonstrate this claim.


Why do Democrats insist on referring to him as 'George Felix Allen'?


Because it so obviously irritates him? Because it prevents voters from confusing him with his (perhaps) more popular father?
9.19.2006 7:16pm
Medis:
NewSisyphus,

I don't quite see the problem. I support the legal rights of these people, and I would also support the legal rights of your hypothetical "No Hate-Filled Religions Here" people.

And as a private citizen, I might praise these people for their actions, and I might condemn your hypothetical people for their actions (although I'd want to get more details first). But of course, that is MY legal right to praise and condemn others, and using that right is not inconsistent with my wanting to protect that right in others.
9.19.2006 7:19pm
Realist Liberal (mail):
Sisyphus, I think your comparison (anti neo-Nazi flyers to anti-Islam flyers) is a fair one but the point you are trying to make is not (that some people's messages are more preferred). The point of free speech is that you have a right to say what you feel and people have a right to respond. Whether a person is a neo-Nazi, a neighbor opposing the neo-Nazi, a person who denounces Islam or a defender of Islam they have the right to free speech. The very nature of a majority is going to make some speech more favored.
I may denounce the person who spreads anti-Islam messages but I will never denounce their right to spread their message. I will simply use my free speech rights to try to counter theirs. The problem with your comment is that you don't make that distinction (at least you don't seem to).
9.19.2006 7:20pm
Medis:
By the way, the whole Allen issue baffles me. Is merely asking if a person has Jewish ancestors an attempt to insult them? Has anyone actually suggested it would be a bad thing if he did have Jewish ancestors?
9.19.2006 7:22pm
Nobody Special:
Where do you fall on the similar use of information to discover, harass, and remove released convicted sex offenders out of neighborhoods?
9.19.2006 7:25pm
Caliban Darklock:
PatHMV, what exactly is a religion if not a philosophy?

NewSisyphus makes a point. It is easy for us to say that the Gaedes represent a particularly odious philosophy and we are justified in ridiculing them for it.

But the Gaedes did not get to present their philosophy. Their philosophy was presented instead by a hostile third party with a vested interest in driving the community to a specific conclusion. The mass media have a vested interest in driving the community to that same conclusion - that anything which doesn't support diversity and equality is bad.

Essentially, one of their new neighbors decided to poison the well, destroying the Gaedes' ability to introduce their own opinions and philosophies to the community in their own words and in their own time. An important part of having unpopular views is keeping your mouth shut when people won't understand them, and thoughtful people do so. While the Gaedes may understand that and be discreet around people who don't "get" their position, someone else has robbed them of that ability.

This is very much a "first they came for the Jews" situation, because situations like this are all the same. First they come for whatever nobody will stand up to defend, knowing that once you can do it to SOMEONE, you can - with enough patience - do it to ANYONE.
9.19.2006 7:33pm
Randy R. (mail):
George Allen has made much in his campaign about 'heritage'. He talks about his heritage of being a child of Virginia, and he talks a lot about the heritage of Virginia. So he has raised this as a legitimate issue for discussion: what, exactly, IS his heritage?

And his response should have been that yes, one of his grandparents is Jewish (which, apparently is true) and that he is proud of his heritage. Instead, he got very irritated, and condemned the reporter for 'casting aspersions" upon him. Asking someone about their jewish heritage is an asperion? Only if you are anti-semitic, or are playing for an anti-semitic crowd, I suppose.
9.19.2006 7:37pm
NewSisyphus (mail) (www):
Medis and Realist Liberal -

Sorry, guys, I'm not being clear enough. We completely agree that both instances I outlined (speech directed against neo-nazi neighbor/speech directed against Muslim neighbor) are legal and that, whatever our thoughts on the merits of the case may be, a commitment to free speech requires tolerance of either scenario. And I also completely agree that in either case anyone is then free to remonstrate with the speaker on say how he feels about the action taken.

What I am trying to say is what Realist Liberal comments on when he/she says that I am saying "that some people's messages are more preferred."

"The point of free speech is that you have a right to say what you feel and people have a right to respond." Entirely true. As a matter of law, correct. As a matter of theory, correct. However, does anyone here imagine the police's response to the issue would be exactly the same here if the Gaede's were Muslim and their neighbors militantly anti-Muslim?

Would they just lecture the Muslim Gaedes about the American principle of free speech and retire to the station?
9.19.2006 7:38pm
Caliban Darklock:
Medis:

I think the main issue is getting lost in this thread, and people are teaming up on either side of "should the neighborhood display flyers". What concerns me is that someone launched a smear campaign against the Gaedes, which is subject to a whole lot more scrutiny than just saying "these people are racists". This isn't individual speech we're discussing, but an organised grassroots political effort to damage and disparage the reputation of a family. That isn't really a freedom of speech issue, it's a harassment and privacy issue.

WRT the Allen question, what exactly does it have to do with his campaign? It's not the Jew aspect that is offensive to me, but the concept that his candidacy would be somehow impacted by his race, heritage, or religion. (Of course, he was very quick to announce that both he and his mother are and to the best of his knowledge always have been christians... so perhaps he understands all too well that it IS relevant.)
9.19.2006 7:43pm
NewSisyphus (mail) (www):
Caliban Darklock -

I completely disagree on your main point. The right to free speech does not require that we hold back our opinions on the matter at hand until the other side gets a chance to present their case, nor does it compel us to hold our fire until the opponent speaks. The neighbors did not "poison the well" or spoil the Gaede's chances to convince people by speaking strongly and first. They simply expressed their views and invited others to share them. There is nothing wrong with that.
9.19.2006 7:43pm
Mark Field (mail):

WRT the Allen question, what exactly does it have to do with his campaign? It's not the Jew aspect that is offensive to me, but the concept that his candidacy would be somehow impacted by his race, heritage, or religion.


The question seemed clearly inappropriate, but his reaction suggested he was very eager to hide the fact.
9.19.2006 7:51pm
VFB (mail):
Caliban Darklock:

I agree with you that as an ethical matter, if not necessarily a legal matter, one should not make an issue of the views of someone who does not want to discuss his or her views in public. However, you are factually wrong when you state, "the Gaedes did not get to present their philosophy." The Gaedes were on national television and written up in national magazines. Once they chose to participate in the public forum, it is unreasonable for them to expect that they would never have to hear any criticism.

I just saw the music videos of the Gaede twins on Youtube. I thought their voices were awful. (One was noticeably worse than the other, but I do not know which was which.) Their music will only appeal to hard-core racists and pedophiles.
9.19.2006 8:03pm
Jeek:
The question seemed clearly inappropriate, but his reaction suggested he was very eager to hide the fact.

I thought his angry reaction to a bizarre, hostile and irrelevant question was entirely understandable.
9.19.2006 8:03pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
but his reaction suggested he was very eager to hide the fact.
But surely everyone in Virginia reads the Volokh Conspiracy, no? Anybody who does already knows that fact.
9.19.2006 8:12pm
fishbane (mail):
Caliban: But the Gaedes did not get to present their philosophy. Their philosophy was presented instead by a hostile third party with a vested interest in driving the community to a specific conclusion. The mass media have a vested interest in driving the community to that same conclusion - that anything which doesn't support diversity and equality is bad.

I get what you're saying, and it might be impolite (though hardly illegal) in other circumstances. In this case, the Gaedes' views have hardly gone unpresented - they write songs about them and self-publicize.

Flipping this around, one of the reasons given by the Gaedes for moving to the neighborhood is that it was more white. It is hardly unfair of the neighbors to want to distance themselves from the implication.
9.19.2006 8:22pm
MarkM (mail):
The substance of the "smear campaign" appears to be the pamphlet quoted as follows: "This letter is not written as a means to harass the family or to begin a witch hunt," the flier said. "We wish the family no harm. Our goal is to peacefully communicate that this kind of hate and ignorance will not be accepted here in our neighborhood where we live and raise our families."

That is remarkably mild. Given the nature of race relations in the U.S., it is entirely reasonable that a community considered "white enough" by neo-nazis would be touchy about having those neo-nazis move there to be close to their "white brothers." Moreover, these people are not exactly being pursued by the secret PC police for thoughtcrime. They are being criticized for beliefs they have openly expressed on national television.

If the hypothetical Muslim family had gone on TV and said Israel should be driven into the sea, America should pass a law saying women must wear hijab, etc., etc. then sure, pass out flyers calling them intolerant. Drawing the conclusion that a family, by virtue of following some variant of Islam, must be following a "religion of hate" would of course be an ignorant reaction. Distributing flyers equivalent to the ones being quoted would be legally protected but in extremely poor taste.
9.19.2006 8:22pm
Minipundit (mail) (www):
I think that, with exception of Caliban Darklock, we all agree that in both this case and NewSisyphus' hypothetical scenario the neighbors have a First Amendment right to distribute materials against their neighbors. What we disagree on is in which case this would be defensible. I find it defensible with Prussian Blue because, well, I have a visceral dislike of racism. I find it indefensible with a normal Muslim family because their views are not in and of themselves offensive, and indeed their neighbors would be espousing a disgusting form of bigotry. Apparently, NS finds it defensible in both cases, as he dislikes both regular Muslims and Neo-Nazis equally. That says a lot more about him than it does about this case.
9.19.2006 8:48pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Of course the neighbors can post their condemnations of hate. They can even say "no rootless cosmopolitans here." However as a practical matter one needs to get along with one's neighbors because you live near them. Fights or even bad feelings between neighbors can seriously impact the enjoyment of your property and your peace of mind. In my opinion, you should bend over backwards to avoid conflicts even when your neighbor is wrong. Now of course you don't have to be chummy with people you regard as reprehensible, a polite and calm indifference will work just fine. Dragging in politics, race, religion etc is counterproductive to a peaceful neighborhood. In other words, don't do what you commonly find in Berkeley CA, an intolerant highly conflicted place, where neighbors will sue each other over dog poo.
9.19.2006 8:48pm
FlimFlam:
As long as New Orelans stays a chocolate city, I really do not care what happens elsewhere.

Thanks,

The Mayor
9.19.2006 8:51pm
Mark Field (mail):

I thought his angry reaction to a bizarre, hostile and irrelevant question was entirely understandable


I think it would have been more effective to respond, "Yes, my grandfather was Jewish. I'm proud of my heritage. Are you suggesting I shouldn't be?" By losing his temper (again), Allen just created more doubts.
9.19.2006 8:57pm
fishbane (mail):
In other words, don't do what you commonly find in Berkeley CA, an intolerant highly conflicted place, where neighbors will sue each other over dog poo.

Oddly enough, exactly that lawsuit is playing out as we speak in a gated community in Nashville, TN.
9.19.2006 8:58pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
The distinction I see between the example discussed by the Professor and the hypo regarding the muslim family is that I think you can always condemn the views espoused by someone but simply condemning them for their religion is inappropriate (albeit lawful).

As for George Allen and questions regarding jewish ancestry, the context of the questions is relevant to how I view them. A reporter, asking if Allen is jewish, at a news conference with a bunch of other reporters is one situation (and here, I wonder what legitimate reason there could be for the question), but if Allen was asked about this during a one-on-one interview during part of a "get to know you" type interview (e.g., a Barbara Walters or Ed Bradley type of interview), I would probably view it as innocuous. The reason why political operatives aligned with the Democrats might ask the question is because they believe that a significant portion of potential Allen supporters might be less inclined to support him if they thought he was jewish.

The dilemma that many white Christian Republicans face is that they want to appear open-minded and tolerant of other races and religions, and in fact may be very tolerant, but many of their die-hard supporters, at least since Nixon instituted his Southern strategy to capture the disaffected southern white voters, are not so tolerant. But, of course, the Democrats also have supporters whose views on race or religion are sometimes contrary to, and perhaps equally repugnant to, their candidates' personal views. The problem I have with a campaign is when it starts to appeal to the baser side of their supporters (e.g., the Willie Horton ad), or by embracing symbols that reflect such views, while pretending they are not doing so (e.g., the Confederate Flag).
9.19.2006 9:05pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The Willie Horton ad had nothing to do with race; the fact that Democrats pretend it did is one of their political problems. (It may have been unfair, but that's a different issue; all political ads are, aren't they?) It was about crime. Most people dislike rapists, and respond positively to anti-rapist ads. Democrats went around telling people that the ad was racist. But most people agreed with the ad, and didn't think they were racist. So most people figured Democrats were completely out of touch.
9.19.2006 9:38pm
Medis:
I agree the question at the debate was a bit obnoxiously worded. But as I understand it, there is a bit of a back story. I guess people looked into his mother's heritage following the Macaca incident, and Eve Kessler wrote in "The Jewish Daily Forward" that it appeared Allen's mother's parents might both be Jewish, which might make Allen Jewish by rabbinic law. This doesn't seem like an odd topic for "The Jewish Daily Forward" to me.

Ryan Lizza at TNR then reported he interviewed Bob Gibson, a political reporter for the Charlottesville Daily Progress a local paper in Virginia, who apparently told Lizza:

"It's funny, but the only time that George Allen ever wanted a correction from me in 27 years of covering his races was when I wrote about his mother's Jewish family origins. He insisted, through a press secretary, that his mother was raised a Christian."

This was all back in August.

I don't know what happened between then and now, but it seems to me it wasn't entirely out of left field to simply ask Allen a question about all this. Sure, it is hardly a matter of great substance, but I'm sure more trivial questions have been asked in debates before.

And it maybe it is just me, but Allen does seem a bit defensive about all this. Which is fine if he sincerely thinks people are trying to imply there is something wrong with having Jewish ancestors, but I'm not sure anyone was implying that.
9.19.2006 9:42pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):

"The Willie Horton ad had nothing to do with race."


If so, then why did Lee Atwater insist on showing Willie's picture all over the TV? I think it obvious that the ad was a coded message to white voters, who were fearful of crime and of black males. I imagine they ran a demographic study, and found the ad worked especially well with this group of voters. It doesn't mean that Bush 41 was racist, just that his very smart campaign manager knew how to play the Southern Strategy.
9.19.2006 9:44pm
EricRasmusen (mail) (www):
Has this kind of free speech issue come up before? I can imagine the neighbors in some city of circa 1970 posting signs saying "No Negroes Wanted Here" and sending a new black family leaflets telling them they're not wanted. And I can imagine efforts to suppress the neigbors' speech. Did this ever reach the courts?

Something I find rather less plausible is that in the days of supposed conservative intolerance anybody ever posted signs telling a new Stalinist family that they weren't wanted in the neighborhood. Or does anybody know of examples of that?
9.19.2006 9:56pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
The neighbors are being somewhat threatening when they say that the Gaedes' views "will not be accepted here in our neighborhood". What does that mean? That the Gaedes have to change their views, shut up, or move out?

The Gaedes' music might offend people in the same way that punk rock or rap music might offend people, but the Gaedes have free speech rights.

What if a black rap music performer moved into the neighborhood, and people circulated flyer disapproving of rap music and telling the performer that his views will not be accepted there? It would sound like a threat to me. Who here would cheer the neighbors? Why?
9.19.2006 10:00pm
Mark Field (mail):

Something I find rather less plausible is that in the days of supposed conservative intolerance anybody ever posted signs telling a new Stalinist family that they weren't wanted in the neighborhood. Or does anybody know of examples of that?


Something very like this actually happened to my wife's stepmother's father. Jewish socialists weren't very popular in some areas, though one never knows which part of that duality the neighbors found more offensive.
9.19.2006 10:02pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
Let us take a hypothetical Bob and Joe living in this neighborhood.

I don't have a problem with Bob saying to Joe, "did you know the people in that house think this?" - that is freedom of speech and assembly. That is entirely within Bob's rights. Joe can then mention it to anyone he likes. In this way, the entire neighborhood will learn about it, and they can form their own opinions.

But I have a problem with Bob knocking on Joe's door for the explicit purpose of distributing a propaganda flyer about the people in that house, and requesting that the flyer be prominently displayed to ensure that those people do not feel welcome there. Bob is not simply providing information, he is also dictating the acceptable response to that information. This is a fundamentally different activity, and it is absolutely not acceptable.

And I really do not give a rat's ass WHAT the people in that house think. It simply does not matter. Bob's behavior is simply outrageous, and it is directed toward the public humiliation of his neighbors. Whether his neighbors deserve humiliation is irrelevant: once we say that Bob can humiliate his neighbors, we are saying that ANYONE, ANYWHERE can humiliate his neighbors - for ANY reason.

If you don't understand why this is bad, you need to get a clue.
9.19.2006 10:05pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
If so, then why did Lee Atwater insist on showing Willie's picture all over the TV?
1) He didn't. (Floyd Brown, who was not affiliated with the Bush campaign, showed an ad with Willie Horton's picture. Lee Atwater did not.)

2) Even if he had, so what? It reminds me of Jonah Goldberg's response to liberals who accused Peter Jackson/JRRTolkien of racism because of the orcs in the movie:
One is tempted to ask who is the real racist here? On the one hand we have people — like me — who see horrific, flesh-eating, dull-witted creatures with jagged feral teeth, venomous mouths, pointed devilish ears, and reptilian skin, and say, "Cool, Orcs!" On the other hand we have people, like Mr. Yatt, who see the same repugnant creatures and righteously exclaim "black people!" Maybe he should spend less time vetting movies for signs of racism and more time vetting himself if, that is, he free-associates black people with these subhuman monsters.
When you see Willie Horton, why do you think "black man" rather than "Willie Horton"? When you hear talk about crime, why do you hear "black males" rather than "criminals"?

I think it obvious that there was no need for any "code." Willie Horton didn't need to stand for anything except an actual specific person who raped an actual specific woman after being actually specifically furloughed from a Massachusetts prison. Not for all black men (or all Detroit Tigers outfielders), merely because he shared a characteristic with them.
9.19.2006 10:07pm
John (mail):
This pamphlet campaign, if directed against a black family ("we don't want anyone to burn crosses on their lawn. This is just a peaceful statement that we don't think that this particular race belongs here"), would plainly constitute some form of hate speech, fighting words, etc. etc.

And turning to the actual pamphlet, what, for example, does, "this kind of hate and ignorance will not be accepted here in our neighborhood" mean? How do they plan "not to accept" it? Hmm.

I'm no fan of Nazis, but getting a community to gang up on a family because of the family's, let's see, race, creed, etc., is not right.
9.19.2006 10:12pm
JohnAnnArbor:

If so, then why did Lee Atwater insist on showing Willie's picture all over the TV? I think it obvious that the ad was a coded message to white voters, who were fearful of crime and of black males. I imagine they ran a demographic study, and found the ad worked especially well with this group of voters.

Hmmm. At the time, I heard a radio version of the ad. I had this great picture in my head of some grizzled redneck criminal. And Dukakis let him out on a weekend?!?! I remember thinking. How dumb can he be?

Only later did my betters in the media instruct me that it was a racist ploy. I mean, had Horton been white as I described, they wouldn't have used the issue that Dukakis was cool with giving violent criminals little mini-vacations from jail, right?
9.19.2006 10:17pm
frankcross (mail):
I believe Lee Atwater eventually apologized for his campaign use of Willie Horton, on the grounds that it sounded racist.
9.19.2006 10:31pm
Mark Field (mail):

Something I find rather less plausible is that in the days of supposed conservative intolerance anybody ever posted signs telling a new Stalinist family that they weren't wanted in the neighborhood. Or does anybody know of examples of that?


I meant to add that the history of HUAC doesn't lend support to any conservative "tolerance" of Stalinists (or anyone within a few light years thereof).


Even if he had, so what?


The "so what" is context. Many Republican candidates had been using coded racism for 20 years. A particular feature of that campaign involved stoking fears of black criminals.
9.19.2006 10:32pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Many Republican candidates had been using coded racism for 20 years. A particular feature of that campaign involved stoking fears of black criminals.
I reiterate what I quoted Jonah Goldberg as saying above: if one sees A black criminal and think "blacks," then one should look in a mirror, not point fingers at other people.

---

Roger:
What if a black rap music performer moved into the neighborhood, and people circulated flyer disapproving of rap music and telling the performer that his views will not be accepted there? It would sound like a threat to me. Who here would cheer the neighbors? Why?
I don't understand all these attempts at "gotchas" we see here in this thread. The government has to be viewpoint neutral. But the rest of us neither have to be, nor should we be. If people ostracize a neighbor for bad reasons, we should condemn them; if they ostracize a neighbor for good reasons, we should cheer them.

Caliban makes the same mistake here:
Whether his neighbors deserve humiliation is irrelevant: once we say that Bob can humiliate his neighbors, we are saying that ANYONE, ANYWHERE can humiliate his neighbors - for ANY reason.
That's right. Anyone, anywhere, can do so. For any reason. If they do it for a good reason, then it's a good thing; if they do it for a bad reason, then it's a bad thing.

Bob is not simply providing information, he is also dictating the acceptable response to that information. This is a fundamentally different activity, and it is absolutely not acceptable.
But wait a minute: now YOU'RE dictating! So by your own logic, your argument here must not be acceptable. (In fact, Bob is not "dictating" anything. He is stating his view. Joe is free to agree or disagree.)
9.19.2006 10:47pm
JohnAnnArbor:

The "so what" is context. Many Republican candidates had been using coded racism for 20 years.

The charge of "coded racism" is clever. It means, we will analyze all of what you say, and we WILL FIND something that can be construed as racist, and WE WILL blare it all over.

Crime as an issue? RACIST!
Testing in schools? You horrific racist!
Welfare issues? RACIST!

Note the position the person takes is irrelevant. Once you claim there's a racist "code" out there, you can dream up anything as being racist. All it takes is a bigoted opposition researcher, which the Democrats have many of.
9.19.2006 10:51pm
Mark Field (mail):
The sad fact is that racism appeals to some US voters (US voters aren't alone in this, they're just the ones I'm talking about). Both major parties have, at different times, tried to exploit that (Democrats far longer than Republicans; the latter are just more recent). There's no point in denying this fact, any more than there is in denying, as some leftists do, that there was flirtation with Stalinism in the '30s.
9.19.2006 11:34pm
Toby:

I believe Lee Atwater eventually apologized for his campaign use of Willie Horton, on the grounds that it sounded racist

Someday, perhaps, Al GOre will apologize for introducing Willie Horton into that campaign. Until then, we will understand that the un-repudiated twice VP, Presidential nominee from 6 years ago was indulging in "coded racism" that was accptable to nd embraced by his party.
9.19.2006 11:45pm
therut:
Some people look for commies under all beds and some look for racists. If no commies or racists are found they demand that they are there but YOU just refuse to see them. Racism as a word means nothing to me. I have heard it used so many times that I am numb to the suggestion.
9.19.2006 11:50pm
The River Temoc (mail):
In other words, don't do what you commonly find in Berkeley CA, an intolerant highly conflicted place, where neighbors will sue each other over dog poo.

Not just dog poo, either. I went to law school in Berkeley, and my neighbor had a hissy fit because I once put out a bowl of milk for her cat, who would come hang out on my lawn in the morning. (I have since discovered that cats are often lactose intolerant, but if that cat is that fragile I have to wonder what she was doing letting it wander around at all...)
9.19.2006 11:59pm
frankcross (mail):
I'm not sure why people insist on corner solutions. Either everything is coded racism or nothing is. That doesn't follow. I will generally give people the benefit of the doubt and take their words at face value, but Lee Atwater (personally no racist) pretty much admitted the nature of his appeal. How hard is it to figure out that sometimes these things are coded racism and other times not?

I understand the conservative frustration, because some fairly held opinions have been called racist. But that doesn't mean there are no racist appeals.
9.20.2006 12:02am
Jeek:
By losing his temper (again), Allen just created more doubts.

There shouldn't be any doubt that despite all his efforts to seem as affable as Reagan, there is a nasty streak in him.

it wasn't entirely out of left field to simply ask Allen a question about all this.

Because now the most important issue for Virginia voters is "who's the Jew"? I sure am glad our ever-vigilant journalists are aggressively getting to the bottom of this. Their goal is to determine the facts of the case, and not to stir up right-wing anti-semites who might otherwise vote for Allen, or anything.
9.20.2006 12:22am
Suzy:
If we can prosecute other forms of child abuse, shouldn't there be a law against naming your children Lamb and Lynx?
9.20.2006 12:41am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Eugene: According to your quotation, they moved into the neighborhood because it was NOT white enough. This seems like an important distinction.
9.20.2006 12:56am
Ken Arromdee:
I don't understand all these attempts at "gotchas" we see here in this thread. The government has to be viewpoint neutral. But the rest of us neither have to be, nor should we be. If people ostracize a neighbor for bad reasons, we should condemn them; if they ostracize a neighbor for good reasons, we should cheer them.

The question in this example isn't just "wouldn't it be just as bad if it wasn't done to Nazis"? It's also "is the fact that it was done to Nazis blinding you to what is being done?"

Saying "this will not be accepted here" is a threat. It's a carefully worded statement that the speaker knows very well will be understood to imply violence, but which provides plausible deniability to the speaker, who could always claim that he has peaceful intentions in mind because he didn't explicitly say "we'll hurt you". It's as much a threat as saying "wouldn't it be a shame if something happened to your nice home here", another statement which carries no explicit mention of violence.

And if it was being used against blacks, Muslims, Jews, or just about anyone except Nazis, we'd immediately understand that it's a threat.
9.20.2006 1:02am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
If you read the Wikipedia entry on Willie Horton, it is true that a purportedly independent Republican operative aired the TV ad with Horton's picture. However, it is also true that Lee Atwater apologized, when terminally ill, over the Horton episode because of the pandering to racist instincts (my point) and that Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist, said that this was a blatant attempt by Bush 41 campaign to play the race card. I think it was, but maybe they would have used it regardless of Horton's race. For example, the Republican campaign later produced a TV commercial purporting to show a revolving door of "prison" inmates, all of whom were actors, and almost all of whom were black (2 were hispanic). So, I think they were speaking in code.

As far as the Great Falls article, I don't agree that the authors of the flyer meant to threaten the family, by stating "this will not be accepted here." They could have meant accepted, in terms of gaining adherents to the family's white supremacist viewpoint, as opposed to 'tolerated." Anyway, I see no illegal harassment; here, the police were right, this was protected speech.
9.20.2006 1:19am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Saying "this will not be accepted here" is a threat. [...]

And if it was being used against blacks, Muslims, Jews, or just about anyone except Nazis, we'd immediately understand that it's a threat.
Doesn't this actually show the problem with this whole "coded" nonsense? There was no threat. Not only did the flier not "explicitly say" that he'd hurt them; the flier explicitly said that they wouldn't.

To the extent we'd think it about blacks, Jews, etc., (1) there's historical context which may make us concerned, whereas there's really no epidemic of people lynching neo-Nazis in the U.S., and (2) isn't that exactly my point about "bad reasons" vs. "good reasons"? It's hard to think of "good reasons" to put up fliers about "blacks" generally.

It's also "is the fact that it was done to Nazis blinding you to what is being done?"
What "is being done" is that fliers are being put up. That's it.

------

Eugene: According to your quotation, they moved into the neighborhood because it was NOT white enough. This seems like an important distinction.
Daniel, you misread. They moved from a place that was not white enough.
9.20.2006 1:25am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Oh yeah... thanks.
9.20.2006 1:32am
Steltek:
I live in Kalispell, and as someone who's up on local issues, I'd like to say that no one is very happy about this development. We don't want to be known as the "home of Prussian blue", in this town. That said, this press-whoring march against two teenage girls with crazy beliefs going on (spearheaded by the ultra-left wing Montana Human Rights Network, a close ally of the ACLU) is going to get us just as much bad press as Prussian Blue themselves will.

I find their views repugnant, but I find a lot of views repugnant -- would it be acceptable for someone to start holding meetings about members of a differing political party moving in next door? Are I and my neighbours allowed to put up a big "No Democrats Here" sign in our window to let the world know how much we disagree with our new Liberal neighbour moving in? It's free speech, yes, but I think it's also extremely poor taste, and in the case it's just an excuse for media leftist love fest in a place where they're generally outnumbered.
9.20.2006 1:56am
MarkM (mail):
Was there a threat of violence? Apparently, local police didn't think so but I guess there will always be creative interpretations of ordinary language on legal blogs.

Again, the pamphlet said, "this kind of hate and ignorance will not be accepted here." The common sense interpretation of this is if anyone in this family shows hate or intolerance against anyone in the community, it will not be accepted (accept: v.t. 1) to receive willingly. 2) to agree to.). I don't see how this translates to, "We're going to burn that confederate flag-covered pick-up truck of yours the minute you hicks have your backs turned! Keep out Nazis!" The only implicit threat here is about not receiving Christmas cards or welcome baskets from the neighbors.
9.20.2006 3:37am
Ken Arromdee:
Not only did the flier not "explicitly say" that he'd hurt them; the flier explicitly said that they wouldn't.

If you have to put in a disclaimer saying "this isn't a threat", that's a pretty good sign that you're saying something which is typically seen as a threat. Otherwise there's no point in having a disclaimer.

"It would be a *shame* to have this store burn down in the middle of the night."

"It would be a *shame* to have this store burn down in the middle of the night. Of course, I am not suggesting any illegal activity on my part."

Is there any real difference between these two?
9.20.2006 3:37am
David M. Nieporent (www):
[This comment began by responding (quite aptly, in my view) to an off-topic comment; I deleted the off-topic comment, and therefore deleted the response. -EV]

If you have to put in a disclaimer saying "this isn't a threat", that's a pretty good sign that you're saying something which is typically seen as a threat. Otherwise there's no point in having a disclaimer.
I'm sure civil rights protesters also emphasized how peaceful and non-violent they were. It wasn't to deny the truth; it was to emphasize it so they couldn't possibly be misinterpreted by anybody.
9.20.2006 3:45am
Cornellian (mail):
The Willie Horton ad had nothing to do with race; the fact that Democrats pretend it did is one of their political problems.

Does anyone seriously think the Republicans would have run that ad if Willie Horton had looked like Orlando Bloom? The Willie Horton campaign had everything to do with race.
9.20.2006 3:51am
Cornellian (mail):
The question seemed clearly inappropriate, but his reaction suggested he was very eager to hide the fact.

I thought his angry reaction to a bizarre, hostile and irrelevant question was entirely understandable.


Being annoyed is understandable. Being as angry as he clearly was (I saw the video) and claiming that the question was "casting aspersions" on him suggests a strong desire to hide the fact that one of his grandparents was Jewish. I doubt he cares one way or the other but "Mr. Macaca" panders to a crowd that contains a significant percentage of people who do care about such things, and he's well aware that they care. If George Allen were running in New York instead of Virginia he'd be putting pictures of his Jewish grandparent in his campaign ads.
9.20.2006 3:55am
Malvolio:
Does anyone seriously think the Republicans would have run that ad if Willie Horton had looked like Orlando Bloom?
Hmmm, your opponent furloughed a convicted killer, who spent his vacation raping and brutalizing an innocent couple. But, darn the luck, the killer looked like Orlando Bloom. So you are just going to have to forget about it. It isn't like the average voter actually minds having white burglar-rapist-murderers strolling around free. In the words of Ann Coulter, "Oh, wait a minute..."

Oh, and in the revolving-door ad, only three of the thirty criminals were black, according to Wikipedia
9.20.2006 7:02am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Not just dog poo, either. I went to law school in Berkeley, and my neighbor had a hissy fit because I once put out a bowl of milk for her cat,…

Yep that's Berkeley for you. While we find problems with neighbors everywhere, it seems to occur more frequently there where neighbors have been known to run up $50,000 legal bills (1980s dollars) fighting over some absolutely trivial matter.

I had a neighbor complain that my cat was killing (wild) birds. I explained that's just what cats do; after all, they're predators by nature. He immediately apologized. Of course this wasn't Berkeley.
9.20.2006 7:14am
abb3w:
Steltek: there's a difference between finding views "repugnant" and "inexcusable". The former can be tolerated; the latter compels open opposition.

From where I sit, Prussian Blue's advocated political views qualify as "inexcusable". Fortunately for my laziness, they aren't in Virginia.
9.20.2006 9:48am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
"But, darn the luck, the killer looked like Orlando Bloom."

Not that they were as good looking as Orlando Bloom, but both Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer were decent and normal looking guys. Certainly, given the public's fascination with their cases, they could have been used in a similar propagandistic manner as the Horton ads, if some official managed to furlough them.
9.20.2006 10:22am
Medis:
Jeek,

In that same post, I already agreed this should be trivial matter. But biographic trivia about candidates is often a minor aspect of reporting on campaigns.

But maybe there is indeed some attempt by some people to drive a wedge between Allen and some of his supporters. And maybe Allen is indeed worried it might work, which would explain his reaction. Which, of course, would reflect poorly on all of these people.

But again, so far I haven't seen anyone actually suggest that there is something wrong with having Jewish ancestors. So, I really do wonder if Allen's reaction may be unwarranted.
9.20.2006 10:29am
Anderson (mail) (www):
What concerns me is that someone launched a smear campaign against the Gaedes

LOL! No one has done that more effectively than the Gaedes.

They're Nazis, fer cryin' out loud!
9.20.2006 10:57am
Ken Arromdee:
I'm sure civil rights protesters also emphasized how peaceful and non-violent they were. It wasn't to deny the truth; it was to emphasize it so they couldn't possibly be misinterpreted by anybody.

Civil rights protestors may not have threatened violence, but they did threaten violation of rights, which we only accept because of the extreme circumstances faced by blacks before civil rights. In any other circumstance, we would see such people as criminals, and their threats as threats. If the protestors here are merely threatening to block the door of the white supremacists, to camp out on their lawn, or to conduct sit-ins in their house, to passively refuse to provide services to them, or even to blare loud music at them 24 hours a day, I would still call that an unacceptable threat.
9.20.2006 11:16am
Joshua (www):
Re: comparing this campaign against the Gaedes over their white supremacist views to a campaign against Muslim neighbors over their Islamic supremacists' views

There's one other angle that hasn't been considered yet: religious discrimination (or lack of same).

One does not have to be Christian (or any other religion, except maybe the World Church of the Creator) in order to be a white supremacist, nor is the reverse true. Since the Gaedes' white supremacist ties (as far as can be gleaned from Wikipedia) are with secular organizations, and non-religious views are fair game to be challenged in this manner, any legal claims of harassment by the Gaedes likely wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

On the other hand, you do have to be a Muslim to be an Islamic supremacist, and Islamic supremacists believe that the reverse of that is true - that the notion of Islam's right to literally rule the world is part and parcel of their religion. They also believe that the central text of Islam, the Koran, backs them up on it. While this viewpoint itself isn't legally shielded from confrontation any more than the Gaedes' viewpoint is, the Islamic supremacists themselves, if subjected to a similar campaign, may have a case that the neighbors are attempting to chill their First Amendment "free exercise" rights. That case may or may not necessarily prevail in court, but the threat of a lawsuit on these grounds is still viable enough that neighbors might think twice before doing something like this. Again, there's no analog for this with the Gaedes because their views don't involve religious belief.

Interestingly, BTW, there's a British blues-rock band, apparently still active, that's also called Prussian Blue. In fact their Web site claims to have recently registered the name as a trademark. This little spat with the neighbors may soon turn out to be the least of the Gaedes' worries...
9.20.2006 11:25am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The dems could have proven the Horton issue was racist by finding a more egregious case involving a white criminal.
They didn't. From which we can reasonably deduce that Horton was used because he was the worst case. And using the worst case is reasonable.

IMO, the dems shot themselves in the foot by insisting--knowing they lied--that their fellow citizens who were concerned about crime, punishment and general liberal foolishness were racists. The voters who were invited to shut themselves up and stop thinking about crime, punishment and general liberal foolishness by being called, falsely, racist, resented it.
9.20.2006 11:47am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Has anyone looked into the background of that macaca guy? Maybe some simians there?

That would be all of us, actually. Unless you really wanted to suggest that the nonwhite guy has simian ancestors more recently than whites do? That would be *real* classy, Houston.
9.20.2006 11:48am
anonVCfan:
Reminds me a bit of this.
9.20.2006 12:25pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
BGates: I think one reason he's referred to as George Felix Allen is to distinguish him from his late father the football coach, who would be a lot more popular than the son. Wouldn't want anyone voting for him out of nostalgia for Sonny Jurgensen.

I've heard one reason Thomas Kean Jr. is doing so well in the NJ Senate race is confusion with Kean Sr.
9.20.2006 1:35pm
r4d20 (mail):

What if I believe Islam is even more dangerous than whacked-out neo-nazism?



Then you are stupid and should refrain from voting for the good of the nation.
9.20.2006 2:16pm
raj (mail):
BGates 9.19.2006 5:55pm

Why do Democrats insist on referring to him as 'George Felix Allen'?

As far as I know, Democrats didn't start doing that until after Allen had referred to the dark-skinned fellow from the Webb campaign who was at one of Allen's rallies by the racial epithet "Macaca." Perhaps you know otherwise, but I suspect not.

BTW, I don't know that "Felix" is a particularly Jewish name.
9.20.2006 2:17pm
raj (mail):
Caliban Darklock

But the Gaedes did not get to present their philosophy. Their philosophy was presented instead by a hostile third party with a vested interest in driving the community to a specific conclusion.

Obviously, the Gaedes had made their philosophy public, otherwise, your "hostile third party" would not have known of it.
9.20.2006 2:19pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
So, it's a matter of good manners? We are all agreed the neighbors CAN do it, the question is, should they have?

The Kalispellese might have come off better if they had taken a positive approach. Flyers or yard signs reading something like:

'You are entering Piney Woods Manor, a welcoming community for all colors of people'

As a newspaperman, I can guarantee that Kalispell would not have been bothered by reporters if they'd done that.
9.20.2006 2:30pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
raj, if the philosophy was public, then there would have been no reason to distribute flyers. The philosophy was not public enough for this hostile third party, and the reaction was not strong enough, so a political movement was started.

The Gaedes get to decide what they say and where they say it. They release CDs voluntarily. If you buy or hear the CD, you learn what they think. If you watch or read an interview with them, you learn what they think. But in all of these cases, you hear what the Gaedes want to say, not what someone else has decided they are "really" saying. This message is given to a self-selected audience, which seeks out their work and evaluates it in a fair environment.

And the negative reaction is by no means universal. Ear Candy, April 2006:

"If you believed just half of the bad press this teen duo has had to endure, you would picture them as Neo-Nazi's, whose only talent is inciting hateful lyrics. [...] If you weren't prejudiced by the press and knew nothing about their bad rap, you would think that they were just another of the variety of present-day pop bands fronted by female singers."

We need to consider not only what is being said, but why it is being said. Protected speech is not just anything you want to say; your speech is not protected when you are telling a lie, for example, or when you are attempting to incite a riot or cause public unrest. Obscenity is not protected.

Likewise, speech with the intent of causing emotional distress is not protected. The people distributing these flyers intended to distress the Gaedes; there is no other reason to display the flyer. I would with some trepidation accept that someone has the right to distribute flyers, but I cannot accept that they have the right to call for a public display of signs whose sole purpose is to castigate a specific neighbor's philosophy.

Incidentally, raj... Felix is not a particularly Jewish name, but most people associate it with Felix Unger, from television's "The Odd Couple", who was played by Tony Randall, who was born Arthur Leonard Rosenberg. Which is a *very* Jewish name.
9.20.2006 2:51pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I'm sure civil rights protesters also emphasized how peaceful and non-violent they were. It wasn't to deny the truth; it was to emphasize it so they couldn't possibly be misinterpreted by anybody.


Good point, we do live in an era where many people believe that they have to bend over backwards with disclaimers that they seem obvious or redundant for fear of being (sometimes deliberately) misinterpreted.
9.20.2006 3:21pm
Medis:
Thorley,

Has there ever been a different era?
9.20.2006 3:48pm
Seamus (mail):

Does anyone seriously think the Republicans would have run that ad if Willie Horton had looked like Orlando Bloom?



Orlando Bloom, no. But if Charles Manson, or someone who looked like him, had been given the weekend parole, and then done what Willie Horton did, the Republicans would have plastered his picture all over the place.
9.20.2006 3:54pm
Seamus (mail):

Where do you fall on the similar use of information to discover, harass, and remove released convicted sex offenders out of neighborhoods?



That's bad too. Even though I suspect there's a greater probability that the sex offender will commit crimes against his neighbors than that Lamb and Lynx will round up *their* non-Aryan neighbors and send them in sealed railroad cars off to camps in the East.
9.20.2006 4:17pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
Thorley, when you offer a disclaimer, it's because you think it likely someone would assume these are your intentions.

So when you need to specifically disclaim harassment, beginning a witch hunt, and causing harm to the family, you are actually saying: "We know you want to harass these people or begin a witch hunt, because that would be reasonable. We know you wish harm to this family, because that would be reasonable. But we would like to put in writing that we do not condone this activity, so nobody can blame us for it."

There is a moral judgment and imperative between the lines of these statements. It says that you *should* feel this way, and if you don't, something is wrong with you. It exerts community pressure to conform. You are either with them, or against them. What? You don't like these signs? Then you agree with the Gaedes and their platform of white supremacy and racism!

Wrong. I find their politics completely abhorrent. I consider the parents' efforts in putting these values into the heads of their children both abusive and terrible. But this is America, and you are *allowed* to have bad politics and be bad parents. And I think that is a good thing; I *like* that nobody can tell me the "right" way to vote or the "right" way to raise my children. Freedom is good.

But we are turning a blind eye toward an unacceptable behavior because we don't like what the Gaedes are saying. We cannot do this. It is a betrayal of everything our first amendment was designed to protect. The ends do not justify the means. They never do. The Gaedes need to be protected even more than the things we normally protect, if only to underscore that your recourse to the law is not subject to the whims and opinions of the majority, and we will not let people be mistreated and abused simply because we do not like them.
9.20.2006 4:27pm
nogodzone (www):
The neighbours got it right I think. Don't threaten but speak out in opposition. People seem to know nothing about these Nazis. They ARE Nazis. It isn't that they are being misrepresented at all. Does anyone know the origin of their name: Prussian Blue? It's the colour the gas chamber walls turn after the cyanide gas is introduced! Get it!! They are serious. Our site blogged on them, their ideas and their name quite some time ago here.

You will note that they were playing themselves up as victims back then as well.
9.20.2006 5:11pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
But we are turning a blind eye toward an unacceptable behavior because we don't like what the Gaedes are saying. We cannot do this. It is a betrayal of everything our first amendment was designed to protect.

Caliban, my friend, I have no clue what you're talking about. Would you please explain which entities are bound by the First Amendment? (Hint: it ain't the Gaedes' neighbors.)
9.20.2006 5:22pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
The government is so bound, and the police officers which opined that the signs were protected speech are wrong. Harassing speech is *not* protected under the first amendment, and there is simply no purpose to these signs *except* to harass. (Lacking the Gaedes' presence, no signs would have been posted.) They have stated this opinion not because they do not believe the Gaedes are being harassed, but because they do not believe the Gaedes should be protected from this harassment. This amounts to a governmental endorsement of the situation, and emboldens the Gaedes' harassers.

Furthermore, I am not talking about the first amendment directly, but the ideals and principles the first amendment was designed to protect - which *should* be binding on *everyone*.
9.20.2006 6:32pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The Gaedes get to decide what they say and where they say it.
That's true. And everyone else gets to decide what to say about the Gaedes, and what they are "really" saying. There really isn't, despite what you seem to think, any right to not have other people talk about you.

And the negative reaction is by no means universal. Ear Candy, April 2006:
Well, I guess the person who writes for "Ear Candy" managed to miss their songs entitled "Aryan Man Awake" or "Victory Day" or "Ocean of Warriors."

I guess he didn't look at the links on their website to the National Vanguard or Holocaust denial websites, along with Stormfront and other neo-Nazi outfits. Or the band that he contrasts them with -- Screwdriver? -- how they sell "tribute" CDs to Screwdriver on their website.

And then there's -- you know -- the name of the band?

If you didn't know what the KKK was, you might think they were just people carrying their laundry to the cleaners. But most people would be embarrassed to make such an argument; apparently the reviewer who works for the prestigious publication "Ear Candy" was not.

But enough dancing around the bush, "Caliban." Come out and say what you think. Do you think they're not neo-Nazis? Or do you just think that even though they are, we shouldn't say it?


Likewise, speech with the intent of causing emotional distress is not protected.
In fact, that's simply wrong. Any law which banned "speech with the intent of causing emotional distress" would be struck down in ten seconds by any court in the country as facially overbroad.
The people distributing these flyers intended to distress the Gaedes; there is no other reason to display the flyer. I would with some trepidation accept that someone has the right to distribute flyers, but I cannot accept that they have the right to call for a public display of signs whose sole purpose is to castigate a specific neighbor's philosophy.
Fortunately, what Caliban Darklock can or "cannot accept" is not relevant to the law regarding speech in the United States. In fact, we are free to criticize people as much as we want. And trying to relabel criticism as "harassment" does not allow you to evade the first amendment.

Of course, if they feel they have been slandered or libeled, they are free to sue those who they believe are responsible.
9.20.2006 8:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Furthermore, I am not talking about the first amendment directly, but the ideals and principles the first amendment was designed to protect - which *should* be binding on *everyone*.
The ideal and principle is "no censorship." Not "no social opprobrium." These signs are fully consistent with the ideals and principles of the First Amendment.

The fact that someone is bothered by seeing or reading something does not make that "harassment," even if it was the intent of the author to bother the target.

I'll help. Here's what seems to be the relevant statutes in Montana: Malicious intimidation or harassment relating to civil or human rights (ironic, isn't it?) or Intimidation. (There may be another applicable statute, but these seem closest from a quick perusal of Montana's criminal code.)

Your statement that the signs are not protected speech is simply wrong.
9.20.2006 8:34pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
@David M. Nieporent:
> But enough dancing around the bush, "Caliban."

Yes, quite, "David". If that's your REAL name. And have you stopped beating your wife yet?

I mean, if we're going to be clandestinely nasty to one another, why keep "dancing around the bush"?

Your mama!

> Come out and say what you think.

I did. You just don't like it.

> Do you think they're not neo-Nazis?

I think it is irrelevant whether they are neo-nazis, a term which IMO does not deserve the dignity of a capital 'n'. Perhaps you sympathise with them a little too much, hmm? Maybe your REAL name is... ADOLF?!

(Godwin's law invoked deliberately, with foreknowledge of its reputation, does not have the usual effect of ending all rational discussion. Unless, of course, there is no rational discussion in the first place.)

> Or do you just think that even though they are,
> we shouldn't say it?

I believe you should say it in a way that is protected speech, so nobody gets confused over whether the problem is what you said or how you said it.

There is this stupid idea that pops up every now and then, which is that you can have a license to do anything at all in the name of some widely accepted ideal. This is not true. The first and foremost purpose of the first amendment is to prevent the silencing of the minority by the majority. The fact that this ideal is widely accepted flatly contradicts the idea that it enjoys greater protection: it enjoys LESS protection.

> The ideal and principle is "no censorship."

No, the ideal and principle is "free and unrestricted exchange of ideas". Censorship is only one of many ways a government or other power group may prevent or restrict that exchange.

The neo-nazi idea may be a repellent idea, but we must continue to discuss it so people can see how stupid it is. We can't just say "this is a stupid idea" and expect people to believe us, we have to let them examine the idea in all its moronic glory so they can see exactly HOW stupid it is.

> The fact that someone is bothered by seeing or reading
> something does not make that "harassment," even if it was
> the intent of the author to bother the target.

This is true. It must be the PRIMARY intent of the author. There must be no substantial purpose to it except to bother the target.

And in this case, there is not. The purpose of these flyers is to incite outrage and disapproval in the community, directed squarely at a known victim.

There is no further purpose for them, because Prussian Blue are not exactly reticent about their beliefs and their message - so the flyers serve no significant informative purpose. They are propaganda, designed to skew the information presented and inspire an emotional response that the author deems acceptable.

If Prussian Blue were to distribute such flyers about another family, we would not accept it. The only reason this behavior is defended is because we feel more kinship with the aggressor. We do not like the victim. We may, indeed, feel the victim deserves punishment.

> Here's what seems to be the relevant statutes in Montana

I don't agree. The latter has much higher requirements than could be shown in this case - the sign does not promote or endorse any harm to life, limb, or property, nor does it incite the commission of any felony. The former is evidently a statute relating to "malicious harassment" as opposed to simply harassment; however, the preceding statute (45-5-220) refers to "repeatedly" harassing someone. Harassment in and of itself is not, to the best of my ability to discern, directly covered under Montana law... but the body of the law appears to repeatedly presume an understanding of what constitutes harassment.

> Your statement that the signs are not protected speech
> is simply wrong.

It could be argued that the signs constitute "fighting words", which are not protected speech per Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. While it is certainly debatable, it is not "simply wrong".

What is, however, "simply wrong" is the idea that there is any relevance whatsoever to the views the signs protest. It doesn't matter whether we like Prussian Blue or their message. It only matters whether we respect their right as American citizens to exercise their first amendment rights and still be secure in their homes and in their persons, as guaranteed under the fourth amendment.

The words on the sign are not the issue. The sign stands for membership in a coalition of neighborhood residents who do not like the Gaedes and do not want them to live there. It is not the speech written on the sign that matters, but the symbolic speech of the sign being in many windows.
9.21.2006 12:16am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Fighting words, per Chaplinsky and progeny, must have a high likelihood of inciting an immediate, violent reaction. I hardly think the flier qualifies, and no, this isn't debatable.

As for the neighbors' intentions, maybe they want (1) to persuade the Gaedes of the error of their ways, and are not trying to drive them out, (2)to send the Gaedes a message their views are not shared by the neighbors, even though the neighbors are white, and /or (3) to make clear to other neo-Nazis that this is not a pro-Nazi place. I remember the Nazis used to gather each year to march in Santa Rosa, California. The non-Nazi citizens (almost all of the town) hated the march, because they didn't want everyone to assume they were Nazi sympathizers.
9.21.2006 1:13am
Caliban Darklock (www):
Of course it's debatable. If a black man were to go into his new neighborhood and find his neighbors' windows plastered with signs that said "no monkeys here", that would be likely to incite an immediate and violent reaction - even if the signs were supposed to identify to firefighters that nobody in that house owns a pet monkey, so if there's a fire the firemen don't have to look for one.

So why is it not likely to incite an immediate and violent reaction when neighbors say "no hate here"? The stated intention of the neighbors isn't the only thing at issue; they need to consider the likely interpretation of their neighbors. Just because it says "no hate here" instead of "nazi go home" doesn't mean it reads any differently to the Gaedes. Posting signs in as many windows as you can sends a message, even if the sign doesn't have any established meaning.
9.21.2006 1:30am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Caliban:
I think it is irrelevant whether they are neo-nazis, a term which IMO does not deserve the dignity of a capital 'n'.
If you think it's "irrelevant," then why did you quote a ridiculous online music review which had as its main theme the fact that these people weren't really neo-nazis? Why did you put scare quotes around "really" when you were criticizing people who talk about what the Gaedes are "really" saying, implying that you don't think it is what they're "really" saying?

This is true. It must be the PRIMARY intent of the author. There must be no substantial purpose to it except to bother the target.

And in this case, there is not. The purpose of these flyers is to incite outrage and disapproval in the community, directed squarely at a known victim.
Uh, you managed to contradict yourself in the space of two consecutive sentences. Which is it? Is the purpose to "bother the target" or "to incite outrage and disapproval in the community?" (In either case, it doesn't rise to the level of "harassment" merely because it "bothers the target." I can say a lot of things that "bother" someone, fully protected by the first amendment, as long as they are not defamatory. The first amendment allows me to express the view that I hate my neighbor's guts and don't want him in the neighborhood. Now, the manner in which I say that may cross the line -- I can't repeatedly call said person at 3 am and yell it into the phone. I can't write it on a piece of paper, tie the paper to a rock, and throw it through his window. But I can certainly put up a sign in my window expressing that view.)

There is no further purpose for them, because Prussian Blue are not exactly reticent about their beliefs and their message - so the flyers serve no significant informative purpose.
First, your underlying assumption is wrong. Just because something is public does not mean it is known to everyone. (Consider the 1/3 of the public that purportedly believes that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11.) And the identity and views of the Gaedes family are hardly as well known as the fact surrounding 9/11. Second, even if all neighbors did already know, it still serves an informative purpose: it informs the Gaedes what the neighbors think of them.

If Prussian Blue were to distribute such flyers about another family, we would not accept it.
And there we're back to the silly idea that we shouldn't/can't evaluate people based on their viewpoints. If the Gaedes were to distribute such fliers about a family merely because that family was black or Jewish, we would rightly condemn them. Motive matters. Condemning someone for being a neo-nazi is not the same as condemning someone for being black.
9.21.2006 5:54am
David M. Nieporent (www):
It could be argued that the signs constitute "fighting words", which are not protected speech per Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. While it is certainly debatable, it is not "simply wrong".
It could be argued such in the sense that it could be argued that ice cream is a type of fish -- that is, you can say anything. But it wouldn't be a valid argument, and that isn't "debatable."

Even to the extent that Chaplinsky is good law -- and keep in mind that it's a 60 year old case that has been severely narrowed in that time -- it doesn't come close to applying here. Fighting words are words that "tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." It's difficult to imagine that any printed words would come under that ambit, but empirically we know that these words do not do so, since the Gaedes have been living there for weeks without reacting violently to these fliers.

The fighting words doctrine is not license for the heckler's veto. It doesn't say that if the listener threatens violence -- which again, did not happen here, so it's moot -- that the speaker is thereby liable to be prosecuted. Think flag burning, or Fuck the Draft.

What is, however, "simply wrong" is the idea that there is any relevance whatsoever to the views the signs protest. It doesn't matter whether we like Prussian Blue or their message. It only matters whether we respect their right as American citizens to exercise their first amendment rights and still be secure in their homes and in their persons, as guaranteed under the fourth amendment.
And I do. I would Voltaireishly defend to the death the Gaedes' right to spew hate without fear of prosecution. And if people tried to attack the Gaedes physically, I would defend them as well. But they have no right to be free from criticism or condemnation. You seem to care about only one side's first amendment rights here.

The words on the sign are not the issue. The sign stands for membership in a coalition of neighborhood residents who do not like the Gaedes and do not want them to live there. It is not the speech written on the sign that matters, but the symbolic speech of the sign being in many windows.
And the neighbors have the right to that speech, as much as the Gaedes have the right to theirs.
9.21.2006 6:12am
Falafalafocus (mail):

It could be argued that the signs constitute "fighting words", which are not protected speech per Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. While it is certainly debatable, it is not "simply wrong".


Wow, and I thought that I was on shaky (though defensible) ground for positing that we need not decide if flag burning was speech based on issues related to Chaplinsky.

I simply don't see the fighting words here. Let's assume that there is a threat (which I personally don't see). Where, oh where, is the obvious implication that the Gaedes are going to go to the neighbors ready to fight?

At any event, what you seem to be saying is that one private citizen has the absolute right to shut down the speech of another private citizen because the speaker is in the majority. Or to put it in your words:


Censorship is only one of many ways a government or other power group may prevent or restrict that exchange

I'm having trouble finding a case where "other power group" was found to be sufficiently close to "government" to allow the state to stop the speech. The Gaede's were engaged in free speech. So were the neighbors. Now, if the neighbors are lying, there may be a suit for liable or defamation.

In the alternative, if we assume that there is some veiled threat here, then you propose to simply shut down the speech? Why not go to the court and seek a restraining order keeping the threating neighbors away? If the fear is that the neighbors are threatening the Gaedes, there seems to me to be a lot of responses that don't require the police shutting down free speech.

Nor do I think that the neighbors activities were in especially poor taste, as some of the commentators here have argued. But that is an issue of pragmatism, not an issue of free speech.
9.21.2006 2:10pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
> If you think it's "irrelevant," then why did you
> quote a ridiculous online music review which had
> as its main theme the fact that these people
> weren't really neo-nazis?

Because there are several questions at issue here, one of which is whether the Gaedes' public conduct is in fact overtly racist.

> Why did you put scare quotes around "really"

To indicate that it doesn't really mean really. People frequently say "X said Y but really meant Z", and then proceed to attack Z as something X shouldn't have said. Well, that's as may be, but X never said that. He actually said Y, and that's what he really said. No quotes, because it really means really. Z, on the other hand, is what he "really" said. Quotes, because it doesn't really mean really. It means something more like "allegedly but in direct contradiction to the recorded facts".

> you managed to contradict yourself in the space of
> two consecutive sentences.

No, I didn't. You simply don't understand what I'm saying.

> Which is it? Is the purpose to "bother the target"
> or "to incite outrage and disapproval in the community?"

Both. Connect the dots. The sole purpose of inciting the outrage and disapproval is to bother the target. You might as well say it's a contradiction to say both "the insurgents wanted to kill civilians" and "the insurgents wanted to shoot rockets into major population centers"; since the only reason they wanted to shoot rockets was to kill civilians, there is no dilemma here.

> it doesn't rise to the level of "harassment"
> merely because it "bothers the target."

That's true. It rises to that level when it has no other significant purpose. It rises to that level when instead of one person posting one sign, fifty people post fifty signs. The law clearly recognises that the statement of one man on your sidewalk is fundamentally different from the statement of fifty men on your sidewalk, because that disparity in numbers can turn an otherwise protected statement into an unprotected threat.

The three disparities which naturally transform the nature and character of a conversation are disparity of size (The Rock says something mean to you), disparity of skill (Jet Li says something mean to you), and disparity of number (the Manhattan Symphony Orchestra says something mean to you). These are also the federally recognised criteria for the use of deadly force in a self-defense scenario.

> Just because something is public does not mean
> it is known to everyone.

And there's the contradiction. We have on the one hand no violation of the Gaedes' privacy because the information was public, but on the other hand a justification for deliberate campaign because the information was not public enough. If the information was public, you can't justify the campaign as informational. If the information was not public enough, it is an invasion of privacy.

What is also missing from this is the idea of discretion. The Gaedes should and do exercise an amount of discretion in the public pronouncement of their beliefs. When that level of discretion is demolished by an interested party, whose interest is solely in causing the Gaedes personal hardship and discomfort, that interested party is violating their rights.

> And there we're back to the silly idea that we
> shouldn't/can't evaluate people based on their
> viewpoints.

I'm not talking about people, I'm talking about victims. It wasn't that long ago that a woman could be raped, and the rapist found, but no conviction would result - on the grounds that she was "asking for it" because she was known to be sexually active, wore provocative clothing, and behaved in an alluring fashion. We have quite rightly decided that this distinction is generally irrelevant except in truly unusual circumstances.

> If the Gaedes were to distribute such fliers about a
> family merely because that family was black or Jewish,
> we would rightly condemn them. Motive matters.

What if they distributed such fliers because a black family was critical of whites, or a Jewish family was critical of christians? Now that it's about behavior and not race or religion, is it okay?

Well, no, it's not.

> it wouldn't be a valid argument, and that
> isn't "debatable."

I think it is. The courts have repeatedly recognised that symbolic speech is indeed speech (e.g. flag burning), and I propose that by posting many signs in many windows, the community symbolically formed a mob chanting a slogan in the street.

A mob chanting a slogan in the street is fundamentally different from a neighbor walking up and relating a point of view, and the expectation of the community appears to be that the Gaedes will be goaded into an ill-considered response - because there is certainly some expectation that this effort will have an effect, and the flyers explicitly request that no direct action be taken against the Gaedes by the community.

This is, in essence, an admonition to let the Gaedes throw the first punch. The community wants to start a fight, because they are betting that they can win in the court of public opinion. And if this comment thread is any indication, they're right.

This may not be what YOU think, but it's certainly not some stupid thing I pulled out of my ass. There's a valid reasoning behind it.

> empirically we know that these words do not do so,
> since the Gaedes have been living there for weeks
> without reacting violently to these fliers.

So if I can restrain myself from punching someone no matter what he says, he can say whatever he likes? Wrong. Just like my decision to punch someone doesn't make what he said before that "fighting words", a decision not to retaliate does not legitimise the preceding attack.

> they have no right to be free from criticism or
> condemnation.

If everyone in the neighborhood found out that the new family was Jewish and hung crosses on their doors to demonstrate that they personally were christians and believed in christian values, would that be okay?

I believe that a campaign to ensure everyone in the neighborhood publicly expresses disapproval of one family has the ultimate effect of removing that family's sense of security in their home.

> You seem to care about only one side's first
> amendment rights here.

I believe every single person has the right to approve or disapprove of the Gaedes individually. However, I am shocked at the idea that someone would organise the community into a single group whose entire focus is to express disapproval.

It is one thing for a third grader to start the "Joey is a doodie-head" club, but it is quite another for adults to do what amounts to the same thing. Most people wouldn't let their children participate in the aforementioned club, and if they found their children to be involved, they would probably feel the children owed Joey an apology. It doesn't really matter whether Joey eats his boogers or whatever, the club is simply mean, and you don't do that to people.

There has yet to be a single defense of the neighbors' behavior that doesn't revolve around what kind of victim they've damaged. You cannot make that distinction. It is simply not acceptable to say that a flyer campaign is okay against neo-nazis, but not against Jews. The campaign is either okay or not okay. To draw distinctions is to create a de facto limitation on free speech by identifying speech which, while not actively obstructed or prevented, will not actually be protected.

Essentially, it's a chilling effect. If otherwise unprotected speech is protected in response to unpopular speech, then unpopular speech is actively discouraged. This is directly contradictory to the essential thrust of the first amendment.
9.21.2006 8:03pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
> what you seem to be saying is that one private
> citizen has the absolute right to shut down the
> speech of another private citizen because the
> speaker is in the majority.

No, I'm saying that the popular group does not enjoy any special privilege over the unpopular group in our society. They are not exempted from normal standards or provided with rights denied to unpopular groups. You don't get to say that the community is allowed to do this because the Gaedes are repulsive and deserve it. They may indeed be repulsive, and they may indeed deserve it, but that cannot be what makes the community's behavior acceptable in the eyes of the law.

> I'm having trouble finding a case where "other
> power group" was found to be sufficiently close
> to "government" to allow the state to stop the
> speech.

There have been many cases where a non-government entity is enjoined from restricting its members' speech. A corporation, for example, may not take action against an employee for criticising its products in private. This is not in any way a statement that a corporation is like the government, but that the corporation has a certain power to make demands of its employees.

> If the fear is that the neighbors are threatening the
> Gaedes, there seems to me to be a lot of responses that
> don't require the police shutting down free speech.

They're not shutting down free speech, because the speech in question is not free. It is unprotected speech. You do not have a right to express unprotected speech. In a very real sense, posting "no hate here" signs across the community is a form of terrorism: while it harms few or no victims, it expresses a hostile sentiment with the explicit intent of causing the fear that one COULD become a victim.
9.21.2006 8:22pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
No, I'm saying that the popular group does not enjoy any special privilege over the unpopular group in our society. They are not exempted from normal standards or provided with rights denied to unpopular groups. You don't get to say that the community is allowed to do this because the Gaedes are repulsive and deserve it. They may indeed be repulsive, and they may indeed deserve it, but that cannot be what makes the community's behavior acceptable in the eyes of the law.
Indeed. It isn't. The First Amendment is what makes the behavior acceptable in the eyes of the law. The Gaedes' repulsiveness is what makes the behavior acceptable in the eyes of society.

There have been many cases where a non-government entity is enjoined from restricting its members' speech. A corporation, for example, may not take action against an employee for criticising its products in private.
Where are you coming up with these things? Sure it can.

They're not shutting down free speech, because the speech in question is not free. It is unprotected speech.
This is simply wrong. You're making up legal doctrine with not the slightest basis.

In a very real sense, posting "no hate here" signs across the community is a form of terrorism: while it harms few or no victims, it expresses a hostile sentiment with the explicit intent of causing the fear that one COULD become a victim.
Then you need to talk to your therapist. But it isn't "a form of terrorism."
9.22.2006 1:26am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Because there are several questions at issue here, one of which is whether the Gaedes' public conduct is in fact overtly racist.
That "question" exists only in your mind. Their public conduct is in fact overtly racist. The fact that some reviewer found a few songs that were not racist in no way demonstrates anything; nobody claimed that racists spend 24/7 saying racist things. They make clear on a regular basis that they are neo-nazis. (which, incidentally, the spell checker auto-capitalizes).

it doesn't rise to the level of "harassment" merely because it "bothers the target."

That's true. It rises to that level when it has no other significant purpose. It rises to that level when instead of one person posting one sign, fifty people post fifty signs. The law clearly recognises that the statement of one man on your sidewalk is fundamentally different from the statement of fifty men on your sidewalk, because that disparity in numbers can turn an otherwise protected statement into an unprotected threat.
No, it can't. There may be a distinction between one person and fifty people from a traffic control point of view, but not from a speech point of view. A threat is a threat. A non-threat does not become a threat merely because there are more people saying it. (And there's nobody "on your sidewalk." The signs are at people's houses.)

These are also the federally recognised criteria for the use of deadly force in a self-defense scenario.
No matter how many people say mean things to you -- and keep in mind that here the number is "zero," because what they're actually doing is putting up fliers, not saying anything to the family -- it doesn't become a "self-defense scenario." Unless they're the Knights Who Say Ni, words do not equal force.

Just because something is public does not mean it is known to everyone.

And there's the contradiction. We have on the one hand no violation of the Gaedes' privacy because the information was public, but on the other hand a justification for deliberate campaign because the information was not public enough. If the information was public, you can't justify the campaign as informational. If the information was not public enough, it is an invasion of privacy.
There is no contradiction. "Public" does not mean "universally known." I gave an example already, wrt 9/11 and Iraq. I guarantee you that the vast majority of Americans do not know the names of all 43 U.S. presidents. Notwithstanding that, the information is public. Nonetheless, it would be 'informational' to put up fliers providing this information.


What is also missing from this is the idea of discretion. The Gaedes should and do exercise an amount of discretion in the public pronouncement of their beliefs. When that level of discretion is demolished by an interested party, whose interest is solely in causing the Gaedes personal hardship and discomfort, that interested party is violating their rights.
Although some states recognize some variety of invasion of privacy tort, in no state is it broad enough to encompass already public information (they went on 20/20 to discuss their views!), and if it was, it would run afoul of the first amendment. You are imagining "rights" that simply do not exist. There is no right not to have people talk truthfully about you.

What if they distributed such fliers because a black family was critical of whites, or a Jewish family was critical of christians? Now that it's about behavior and not race or religion, is it okay?

Well, no, it's not.
It may or may not be, depending on the facts of what the black family or Jewish family had done. But it's legal.

it wouldn't be a valid argument, and that isn't "debatable."

I think it is. The courts have repeatedly recognised that symbolic speech is indeed speech (e.g. flag burning), and I propose that by posting many signs in many windows, the community symbolically formed a mob chanting a slogan in the street.
You've talked yourself in circles here. Even if this weren't an absurd equation (fliers to a mob), "symbolic speech" being speech makes it protected, not unprotected.


empirically we know that these words do not do so, since the Gaedes have been living there for weeks without reacting violently to these fliers.

So if I can restrain myself from punching someone no matter what he says, he can say whatever he likes? Wrong. Just like my decision to punch someone doesn't make what he said before that "fighting words", a decision not to retaliate does not legitimise the preceding attack.
A decision not to retaliate effectively makes it not fighting words. The very essence of fighting words is that they're so outrageous that they essentially provoke an unthinking violent reaction. The point of the doctrine isn't to prevent people from being bothered -- many ideas bother people -- but to prevent a situation where people react without having a chance to stop and think. (The test is "tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace"; the fact that they did not in fact produce one is conclusive evidence that they don't rise to that level.)

they have no right to be free from criticism or condemnation.

If everyone in the neighborhood found out that the new family was Jewish and hung crosses on their doors to demonstrate that they personally were christians and believed in christian values, would that be okay?
If they were trying to express negative views towards Jews it would not be "okay," but it would be legal.

I believe that a campaign to ensure everyone in the neighborhood publicly expresses disapproval of one family has the ultimate effect of removing that family's sense of security in their home.
And you are free to believe that. But belief does not a legal cause of action make.

I believe every single person has the right to approve or disapprove of the Gaedes individually. However, I am shocked at the idea that someone would organise the community into a single group whose entire focus is to express disapproval.
Individually or group, doesn't make a legal difference.

It is one thing for a third grader to start the "Joey is a doodie-head" club, but it is quite another for adults to do what amounts to the same thing. Most people wouldn't let their children participate in the aforementioned club, and if they found their children to be involved, they would probably feel the children owed Joey an apology. It doesn't really matter whether Joey eats his boogers or whatever, the club is simply mean, and you don't do that to people.
Some people deserve it. Joey, being a child whose worst sin is apparently poor grooming habits, probably does not. Neo-nazis, on the other hand, do. But in any case, "owing him an apology" is a social issue, not a legal one.

There has yet to be a single defense of the neighbors' behavior that doesn't revolve around what kind of victim they've damaged. You cannot make that distinction.
Ah, but that's where you're wrong. I can, and do. (The government can't -- but I am not the government.)

Your first statement, however, is incorrect: I've defended the neighbors' behavior on First Amendment grounds. Those do not "revolve around what kind of victim they've 'damaged'." ("Damaged," of course, being some sort of metaphor, because nobody has been "damaged" at all.)

It is simply not acceptable to say that a flyer campaign is okay against neo-nazis, but not against Jews. The campaign is either okay or not okay. To draw distinctions is to create a de facto limitation on free speech by identifying speech which, while not actively obstructed or prevented, will not actually be protected.

Essentially, it's a chilling effect. If otherwise unprotected speech is protected in response to unpopular speech, then unpopular speech is actively discouraged. This is directly contradictory to the essential thrust of the first amendment.
You're right in your logic; it's your premise -- that it would be unprotected if they were Jews rather than neo-nazis -- that's wrong. It would be socially unacceptable if they were Jews, but it would be legal.
9.22.2006 1:45am
Caliban Darklock (www):
David, the fundamental problem you have with my statements is that you do not like them.

You do not have a single counterargument.

I have said that the signs are not permissible because of their context: a community has posted signs in many windows throughout a neighborhood for the explicit and exclusive purpose of publicly castigating a specific family in the neighborhood. They do not have any other use. It is that lack of other use that makes them unprotected speech.

Saying "you're wrong" over and over again does not make it so. Asking where I come up with my arguments does not make them wrong. Claiming I have no basis does not make them wrong. Suggesting that I need therapy does not make them wrong.

But if you believe you are right, then you should be able to explain why. Otherwise you may as well just be making things up... which, ironically, you accused me of doing. So put up or shut up.
9.22.2006 1:49am
Caliban Darklock (www):
> Individually or group, doesn't make a legal difference.

Wrong.

"Picketing by an organized group is more than free speech [...] since the very presence of a picket line may induce action of one kind or another, quite irrespective of the nature of the ideas which are being disseminated."

Bakery &Pastry Drivers Local v. Wohl, 315 U.S. 769, 776 -77 (1942) (concurring opinion by Justice Douglas)

Group speech is different. It symbolises something that individual speech does not. It may represent a threat where the words alone do not. We have recognised this for over sixty years.

And yet, you do not seem to understand this simple principle.
9.22.2006 2:23am
dweeb:
this kind of [hate and ignorance] will not be accepted here in our neighborhood where we live and raise our families

Try substituting the following for the words in brackets:

"heresy and blasphemy"
"Christ denial"
"unnatural love"
"miscegenation"
"pinko hippy degeneracy"

If you won't defend the right to a similar campaign with any of the above substitutions, but you defend this one, then you're a free-speech-is-about-whose-ox-is-being-gored hypocrit.

Moreover, these people are not exactly being pursued by the secret PC police for thoughtcrime.

Aren't they? Thoughtcrime is exactly what they're essentially accused of, and they're being subjected to pretty much the same treatment as a convicted child molester would be upon moving in.

Apparently, NS finds it defensible in both cases, as he dislikes both regular Muslims and Neo-Nazis equally

I suspect it's more likely because he places the spirit and principle of free speech above his personal likes and dislikes. He realizes that, if one man passes out fliers saying, "be nice to others" and another one passes out fliers which claim that left handed people are an affront to the three brass monkeys who created and rule the universe, any differences between them are a matter of personal taste,

is that I think you can always condemn the views espoused by someone but simply condemning them for their religion is inappropriate

But their religion is nothing BUT the views they espouse on certain subjects, like the reason for existence, right and wrong, etc. I suspect that most of the Gaedes distasteful views are religiously motivated.
9.23.2006 3:43am
dweeb:
But I have a problem with Bob knocking on Joe's door for the explicit purpose of distributing a propaganda flyer about the people in that house, and requesting that the flyer be prominently displayed to ensure that those people do not feel welcome there.Bob is not simply providing information, he is also dictating the acceptable response to that information.

Excuse me Caliban, but I missed in your scenario description where Bob held a gun to Joe's head. Perhaps "suggesting" is a better word than "dictating" and thus, you see why it's still free speech and association.

once we say that Bob can humiliate his neighbors, we are saying that ANYONE, ANYWHERE can humiliate his neighbors - for ANY reason.

And yes, anyone can humiliate anyone. You've just gone more PC than the people you are contending with.
Also, humiliation lies in the reaction of the one humiliated. I suspect that, if the Gaedes have held their views this long, they are not embarrassed about those views.
9.23.2006 3:44am
dweeb:
The government has to be viewpoint neutral. But the rest of us neither have to be, nor should we be.

However, if one wishes to honestly wear the mantle of tolerance, one needs to be truly tolerant. Tolerant people do not attempt to dictate what sort of thinking is acceptable in their neighborhood. Tolerance, like liberty, is a two edged sword; consistent application isn't always going to dovetail nicely with your personal esthetics.
9.23.2006 3:46am
dweeb:
They could have meant accepted, in terms of gaining adherents to the family's white supremacist viewpoint, as opposed to 'tolerated."

The verb with those connotations is "embraced" or "adopted"
9.23.2006 3:50am
dweeb:
They're Nazis, fer cryin' out loud!

Actually, no - racists, white separatists, yes, but, despite certain parallels on the social issues surrounding race, I don't believe they've expressed any of the political philosophies of the party that came to power in 1930's Germany, most of which were decidedly leftist. The racial purity beliefs were but one facet of their regime.

It's probable that all nazis are racists, but not all racists are nazis.
9.23.2006 3:53am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Dweeb:
However, if one wishes to honestly wear the mantle of tolerance, one needs to be truly tolerant.
But I don't wear any such mantle, and don't wish to do so. I wish the government to wear such mantle, yes. But not me. I am not "tolerant" of neo-nazis (or racists, white supremacists, or whatever other term you prefer). If I found out someone I knew was a neo-nazi, I wouldn't speak to that person anymore. I'd kick him out of my house if he tried to come over. I'd let other people know this person was a neo-nazi. To the extent possible, I'd stop doing business with the person. I'd cross him off my Rosh Hashanah card list.

Again: the government has to tolerate distasteful viewpoints. (And I'm very glad it does. If the government tried to punish this neo-nazi for speaking, or prevent him from speaking, I'd oppose it. ) But I do not have to do so.
9.23.2006 5:11am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Caliban, that's pretty desperate of you. Pulling random quotes out of court decisions doesn't really tell us much of anything about the law. Pulling random quotes out of court decisions regarding speech in the 1940s doesn't really tell us much of anything about the law, because speech is far more protected now than it was in the 1940s. Pulling random quotes out of judges' opinions that don't even constitute court decisions (that is, this was merely a concurring opinion) doesn't tell us anything about the law. Pulling random quotes out of judges' opinions that would be dicta even if they came from court decisions tells us less than nothing about the law. And pulling random quotes out of judges' opinions that are dicta and which don't even hold what you claim the law is -- the decision protects the picketing as speech -- tells us nothing about the law, but does tell us that you didn't even read the opinion.

And you completely misunderstand the issue in that case/this one. Picketing by groups can be regulated -- but not banned -- because picketing physically blocks a public space. That issue doesn't come into play here.

David, the fundamental problem you have with my statements is that you do not like them.
The fundamental problem I have with your statements is that they're completely untethered from anything resembling the actual law. The First Amendment protects all speech, unless it falls in certain extremely narrow categories. Obscenity, defamation, copyright infringement, fighting words, true threats. None of those categories are met here. Moreover, even if the speech is potentially unprotected, it doesn't become illegal unless there's a law against it. I even cited the Montana statutes closest to this situation for you pointing out that nothing these neighbors are doing is illegal.

All you do is claim that if you don't like why people are speaking, it becomes "unprotected." That's wrong. You haven't cited anything to show that, because you can't. It's not my burden to prove to you that the first amendment really means what it says, and you can't just go around inventing exceptions to it whenever you don't like the motives of people speaking. Read NAACP v. Claiborne, if you want to see why you're reading the First Amendment ridiculously too narrowly.
9.23.2006 5:24am