Eugene Volokh has a few things to say about things that aren’t supposed to be said. Volokh, a professor of free speech law at U.C.L.A., has seen books banned, professors censored, and the ordinary expression of students stifled on university campuses across the nation.
Volokh believes free speech and open inquiry, once paramount values of higher education, are increasingly jeopardized by restrictive university speech codes. Instead of formally banning speech, speech codes discourage broad categories of human expression. “Hate speech. Harassment. Micro-aggressions,” Volokh says. “Often they’re not defined. They’re just assumed to be bad, assumed they’re something we need to ban.”
Volokh spoke at Reason Weekend, the annual event held by Reason Foundation.
- KCON XII Schedule for Saturday, February 25 (Day Two) (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
THE HORROR: Majority of Democrats–and an Increasing Percentage of Republicans–Support Criminalizing Free SpeechPosted: May 22, 2015
John Sexton reports: A new poll shows that a majority of Democrats want to limit free speech with laws that would prohibit so-called “hate speech.”
A clear example of this desire to limit speech can be found in the New York Times editorial board’s reaction to the attack in Garland. In a piece titled, “Free Speech vs. Hate Speech,” the Times criticizes Pam Geller, the organizer of the cartoon contest and the intended victim of the attack. Speaking of Geller, the Times wrote, “she achieved her provocative goal in Garland — the event was attacked by two Muslims.”
The Times goes on to argue that no amount of violence—not the Charlie Hebdo attacks, not the theatrical brutality of ISIS, not even 9/11—can justify “provocations” (i.e. cartoons) of Islam. This is the severely limited view of the 1st amendment the left-leaning NYT has already embraced.
In contrast, the opposing view, held by most Republicans and independents according to this YouGov poll, is probably best exemplified by a piece Eugene Volokh published at the Washington Post:
Eugene Volokh writes:
I keep hearing about a supposed “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment, or statements such as, “This isn’t free speech, it’s hate speech,” or “When does free speech stop and hate speech begin?” But there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas. One is as free to condemn Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans….(read more at Washington Post)
The 1st Amendment protects all speech, but there is no doubt the left is increasingly comfortable with limiting this…
Unmentioned in John Sexton‘s analysis however, is that Republicans and Independents, not Democrats, are increasingly warming to the idea of free speech bans, while Democrat support is relatively unchanged. For example:
Democratic support for banning hate speech hasn’t increased at all; on the contrary, Dems are a bit more likely to oppose a ban than they were seven months ago, a rational reaction to the creepy spectacle of western media outlets self-censoring images of Mohammed cartoons after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. It’s Republicans and independents who are slowly warming to hate-speech bans. Indie opposition has dropped 12 points, with an increase of eight points in support. GOPers are now 12 points more likely to support hate-speech bans than they were last year.
Allahpundit‘s exit question:
I can understand why progressives would want a legal cudgel to silence their enemies but I can’t understand why conservatives increasingly would. Even if you don’t value free speech enough to abhor that sort of cudgel on principle, surely you understand that the “politically incorrect” will be the main target of prosecutions. Why on earth would you enable this?
…Hillary Clinton has said that overturning Citizens United is a priority for her if elected President. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s the deal:
1. In all states, shooting someone who is simply impeding you, shouting at you, and moving towards you loudly and aggressively (absent more), is a crime. The crime is called, assuming you shoot and kill the person, “murder.” (It could also be attempted murder if you miss, or aggravated assault if you hit and injure the person.) Yup, same crime as if the person wasn’t impeding you, shouting at you, or moving towards you loudly and aggressively (though in some states, it’s conceivable that if the person is shouting insults at you and that is viewed as “adequate provocation” — unlikely, but conceivable — you’d get lucky and get off with a voluntary manslaughter charge).
This is because “stand your ground” simply means that, if you reasonably believe that you face imminent death, serious bodily injury, rape, kidnapping, or (in most states) robbery, you can use deadly force against the assailant, even if you have a perfectly safe avenue of retreat. In non-stand-your-ground states, when you face such threats outside your home (and, in some states, your business), you can only use deadly force against the assailant if you lack a perfectly safe avenue of retreat. In no states are you allowed to shoot someone who is simply shouting at you or moving towards you loudly and aggressively, unless you reasonably believe that you’re in danger of death, serious bodily injury, or the other harms I listed. (When the person is coming into your home, in many states you can indeed shoot, but that doesn’t apply to confrontations on the public street.) Read the rest of this entry »
EUGENE VOLOKH writes:
The New York Times Bits blog reports:
Google on Wednesday released statistics on the makeup of its work force, providing numbers that offer a stark glance at how Silicon Valley remains a white man’s world.
But wait — just a few paragraphs down, the post notes that non-Hispanic whites are 61 percent of the Google work force, slightly below the national average. (That average, according to 2006-10 numbers, is 67 percent.) Google is thus less white than the typical American company. White men are probably slightly overrepresented; assuming that the 30 percent number it gives for women Google employees worldwide carries over to the U.S. (the article gives no separate number for U.S. women Google employees), white men are 42 percent of the Google work force, and 35 percent of the U.S. work force — not a vast disparity. Indeed, if the goal is “reflecting the demographics of the country” as to race –
Google’s disclosures come amid an escalating debate over the lack of diversity in the tech industry. Although tech is a key driver of the economy and makes products that many Americans use everyday, it does not come close to reflecting the demographics of the country — in terms of sex, age or race.
– Google can only accomplish that by firing well over three-quarters of its Asian employees, and replacing them with blacks and Hispanics (and a few whites, to bring white numbers up from 61 percent to 67 percent). Read the rest of this entry »
The press release from the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office is here. For more on the case, see here. Perhaps the incident will indeed “set a good example for [the professor’s] students” (the professor’s views, stated to the police, of what she was doing) — or at least teach them a good lesson — though perhaps not in the way the professor intended.
Here’s the alleged assailant:
Defendant: UCSB Professor Mireille Miller-Young
Areas of Study: Pornography; Sex Work; Black Film, Popular Culture and Art; Feminist & Queer Theory; African American & African Diaspora Studies; Visual Archives; New Media; Ethnography; Oral History
Education: PhD. New York University (American History and History of the African Dispora)
M.A. New York University (American History and History of the African Dispora)
B.A. Emory University (History)…read more…
Theft, Assault, and Vandalism Charges: The People vs. Mireille Miller-Young
— Glenn Reynolds
From the news report in the independent.com:
Joan said that at around 11 a.m., Dr. Mireille Miller-Young — an associate professor with UCSB’s Feminist Studies Department — approached the demonstration site and exchanged heated words with the group, taking issue with their pro-life proselytizing and use of disturbing photographs. Joan claimed Miller-Young, accompanied by a few of her students, led the gathering crowd in a chant of “Tear down the sign! Tear down the sign!” before grabbing one of the banners and walking with it across campus….
So holds Tuesday’s Delaware Supreme Court decision, says the Washington Post‘s Eugene Volokh, in Doe v. Wilmington Housing Authority) (Del. Mar. 18, 2014). The court applied the Delaware Constitution’s right to bear arms provision — “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use” — and the court noted that this language may justify broader protection than that given by the Second Amendment. Still, the precedent is likely to prove influential in other states as well, since the case deals with having guns for self-defense, which D.C. v. Heller has held is covered by the Second Amendment. (If the case had dealt with hunting and recreational use, for instance, the matter might well have been different.) An excerpt:
WHA argues that an accidental discharge of a firearm may have serious fatal consequences and that dangers inhere in the increased presence of firearms. But these same concerns would also apply to the area within any apartment — interior locations where the WHA concedes it cannot restrict the possession of firearms for self-defense. The Revised Policy does more than proscribe the unsafe use of a firearm. It also prohibits possession in the public housing common areas except where the firearm is being transported to or from an apartment. In this context, WHA must show more than a general safety concern and it has not done so….
[A]n individual’s interest in the right to keep and bear arms is strongest when “the weapon is in one’s home or business and is being used for security.” Residents have a possessory interest in both their apartments and the common areas. And although Residents cannot exclude other residents or the public from the common areas, their need for security in those areas is just as high for purposes of Section 20 as it would be inside their apartment or business. The common areas are effectively part of the residences. The laundry rooms and TV rooms are similar to those typically found in private residences; and the Residents, their families, and their guests will occupy them as part of their living space.
Eugene Volokh reports:
So holds today’s Peruta v. County of San Diego (9th Cir. Feb. 13, 2014) (2-1 vote). The court concludes that California’s broad limits on both open and concealed carry of loaded guns — with no “shall-issue” licensing regime that assures law-abiding adults of a right to get licenses, but only a “good cause” regime under which no license need be given — “impermissibly infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense.”
Noah Rothman writes: Even President Barack Obama’s administration has acknowledged that “private sector velocity” is much closer to optimal swiftness of action than anything the public sector can achieve. If only the political class could match the private sector’s ability to respond promptly to observable trends. Politicians and political organizations often exhibit the worst elements of both divisions of society, featuring the public sector’s lethargy with the private sector’s elitism and lack of inclusiveness.
As such, political organizations are slow to respond to developments and often find themselves flailing gracelessly in the effort to accommodate trends that actors in the more responsive private sector are quick to embrace. One recent and unavoidable trend is the speed with which libertarianism is catching on. Polling has indicated that voters, particularly the youngest American voters, are adopting a libertarian philosophy which rejects the paternalism displayed by members of both parties and instead places its faith in the ability of the individual to best manage their affairs.
Writing in The Federalist on Tuesday, David Harsanyi parses trends in recent polling data which suggest a libertarian shift in the electorate. This is a shift, he notes, which has been mistaken by both Democratic and Republican partisans as an indication that younger voters are embracing their respective philosophies in droves. In fact, as Harsanyi adds, it is more likely a broad rejection of both political parties as they are currently constituted.
More on the Ninth Circuit decision from The Volokh Conspiracy:
Eugene Volokh writes: So holds today’s Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox (9th Cir. Jan. 17, 2014) (in which I represented the defendant). To be precise, the Ninth Circuit concludes that all who speak to the public, whether or not they are members of the institutional press, are equally protected by the First Amendment. To quote the court,
The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable: “With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media … the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.” Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 352.
Such statutes don’t put anyone at risk, and rest on sound legal principles.
By dint of an unholy marriage between genuine ignorance and political opportunism, the Zimmerman trial has this week led to a peculiar dispute as to the propriety of so-called Stand Your Ground rules. “It’s time,” attorney general Eric Holder told the NAACP on Tuesday, “to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods.” Fittingly, the crowd broke into applause before Holder had even finished his sentence.
Others have eloquently argued that the conflation of the Zimmerman trial and Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute is nonsensical, and none so sedulouslyas Reason’s Jacob Sullum. They are correct, of course; one’s “duty to retreat” evaporates as an option when one’s back is on the concrete. Nevertheless, if the likes of Eric Holder are set against the law, it probably is a good time for its advocates to take a second look, and to answer its critics, too.
In this pursuit we might begin by denouncing as demonstrably false the popular idea that Florida is a legal backwater and Stand Your Ground an outré legal novelty. Reviewing American state law, the constitutional lawyer Eugene Volokh did a quick headcount this week and revealed that:
The substantial majority view among the states, by a 31-19 margin, is no duty to retreat. Florida is thus part of this substantial majority on this point. And most of these states took this view even before the recent spate of “stand your ground” statutes, including the Florida statute.
In essence, “Stand Your Ground” is a blanket term for any legal regime in which individuals do not have a duty to run away in the event that they are attacked. In states with such systems, juries are not expected to consider whether an individual could feasibly have retreated before resorting to violence in his defense; in states that do not, juries must inquire as to his chance of safely fleeing. In other words, in most of the country the Castle Doctrine has been extended to the village.
The primary argument against such a law is that the mésalliance of concealed firearms and permissive self-defense rules affords those with evil intent a legal loophole to murder. There is, it must be repeated ad nauseam, no evidence whatsoever that George Zimmerman was possessed of anything approaching evil intent. But I suppose that this isn’t to say that others might not be. Florida’s law, which is fairly typical on this front, holds that:
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Thus, critics such as Eric Holder charge, one individual simply needs to provoke another into taking the first swing, and then, ostensibly acting in self-defense and without a duty to retreat, he will be able to kill whomever he wishes. In an otherwise excellent reaction to the Zimmerman verdict, TheAtlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates hinted at this last week, imagining that “an intelligent, self-interested observer of this case, who happens to live in Florida, would not be wrong to do as George Zimmerman did — buy a gun, master the finer points of Florida self-defense law, and then wait.”
Superficially, there is certainly some logic behind this claim. Firearms are a means by which the weak may put themselves on at least an equal footing with the strong. People with guns tucked quietly away may certainly become less risk-averse and more confrontational. The vast majority of gun owners are responsible, of course, and almost all holders of concealed-carry permits have gone through a training program of some sort. But not everybody is a good guy. In a country that enumerates the right to bear arms and promises equal protection of its laws, there is little way to weed out those who might one day commit a crime — and it is never a good idea to restrict liberty because it could be abused. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it’s not a potential problem.
Eugene Volokh • December 14, 2012 3:32 pm
Backers of laws that let pretty much all law-abiding carry concealed guns in public places often argue that these laws will sometimes enable people to stop mass shootings. Opponents occasionally ask: If that’s so, what examples can one give of civilians armed with guns stopping such shootings? Sometimes, I hear people asking if even one such example can be found, or saying that they haven’t heard even one such example.
Naturally, such examples will be rare, partly because mass shootings are rare, partly because many mass shootings happen in supposedly “gun-free” zones (such as schools, universities, or private property posted with a no-guns sign) in which gun carrying isn’t allowed, and partly for other reasons. Moreover, at least some examples are contested, because it might be unclear — as you’ll see below — whether the shooter had been planning to kill more people when he was stopped. But here are instances that I have seen, not counting killings stopped by people who were off-duty police officers (or police officers from other jurisdictions) at the time of the shooting.
- 1. In Pearl, Mississippi in 1997, 16-year-old Luke Woodham stabbed and bludgeoned to death his mother at home, then killed two students and injured seven at his high school. As he was leaving the school, he was stopped by Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, who had gone out to get a handgun from his car. I have seen sources that state that Woodham was on the way to Pearl Junior High School to continue shooting, though I couldn’t find any contemporaneous news articles that so state.
- 2. In Edinboro, Pennsylvania in 1996, 14-year-old Andrew Wurst shot and killed a teacher at a school dance, and shot and injured several other students. He had just left the dance hall, carrying his gun — possibly to attack more people, though the stories that I’ve seen are unclear — when he was confronted by the dance hall owner James Strand, who lived next door and kept a shotgun at home. It’s not clear whether Wurst was planning to kill others, would have gotten into a gun battle with the police, or would have otherwise killed more people had Strand not stopped him.
- 3. In Winnemucca, Nevada in 2008, Ernesto Villagomez killed two people and wounded two others in a bar filled with three hundred people. He was then shot and killed by a patron who was carrying a gun (and had a concealed carry license). It’s not clear whether Villagomez would have killed more people; the killings were apparently the result of a family feud, and I could see no information on whether Villagomez had more names on his list, nor could one tell whether he would have killed more people in trying to evade capture.
- 4. In Colorado Springs in 2007, Matthew Murray killed four people at a church. He was then shot several times by Jeanne Assam, a church member, volunteer security guard, and former police officer (she had been dismissed by a police department 10 years before, and to my knowledge hadn’t worked as a police officer since). Murray, knocked down and badly wounded, killed himself; it is again not clear whether he would have killed more people had he not been wounded, but my guess is that he would have.
- So it appears that civilians armed with guns are sometimes willing to intervene to stop someone who had just committed a mass shooting in public. In what fraction of mass shootings would such interventions happen, if gun possession were allowed in the places where the shootings happen? We don’t know. In what fraction would interventions prevent more killings and injuries, as opposed to capturing or killing the murderer after he’s already done? We don’t know. In what fraction would interventions lead to more injuries to bystanders? Again, we don’t know. Finally, always keep in mind that mass shootings in public places should not be the main focus in the gun debate, whether for gun control or gun decontrol: They on average account for much less than 1% of all homicides in the U.S., and are unusually hard to stop through gun control laws (since the killer is bent on committing a publicly visible murder and is thus unlikely to be much deterred by gun control law, or by the prospect of encountering an armed bystander).
Still, people have asked for examples of some shootings in which a civilian armed with a gun intervened and brought down the shooter — so here they are.