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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Ward Churchill and the Limits of Free Speech

As I've said before, if Ward Churchill did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. He consistently stakes out the far left edge of the leftist barking moonbat crowd and can be used as a reliable gauge of where that crowd is shuffling off to next.

Well, he staked out some new ground in as-yet untrampled grass way out past third base this week:

Churchill: "For those of you who do, as a matter of principle, oppose war in any form, the idea of supporting a conscientious objector who's already been inducted in his combat service in Iraq might have a certain appeal. But let me ask you this: Would you render the same level of support to someone who hadn't conscientiously objected, but rather instead rolled a grenade under their line officer in order to neutralize the combat capacity of their unit?"

"...Conscientious objection removes a given piece of cannon fodder from the fray. Fragging an officer has a much more impactful effect."

The audio is here. (Bow to Trey Jackson.)

At what point will the University of Colorado, which employs Churchill as a "Professor of Ethnic Studies," do the decent thing and fire this guy? At some point their silence and lack of action on this matter will become (or at least be taken as) complicity. That is a matter for the university, however, not one that relates to public discourse in general.

In a larger sense, at what point does stuff like this become "hate speech?" I suspect that the threshold is much lower for the right than the left. Right-wingnuts like Fred Phelps have celebrated "God's killing of fags" and such, but has never openly advocated murdering them. I suspect that he would be behind bars already if he had--as he should be. I doubt, however, that Churchill will ever be called to account on that basis. "Hate speech" is a crime only a non-leftist can commit.

At what point do these statements constitute "fighting words?" An open threat of violence or advocacy of murder might be taken seriously by the intended victims. In this case, the intended victims are well armed and quite capable of harming "Professor" Churchill. Would his incitement constitute mitigating circumstances for the perpetrator, should something happen? Again, I suspect the answer would be "no," since Churchill is on the same side of the political fence as most of our judges.

At what point would such statements constitute conspiracy or complicity should someone on Churchill's side take action against military officers? It's not far-fetched at all. We expect fragging from muslims in uniform and have just sentenced one to die for doing it back in 2003. (The left loves this case, incidentally, since it helps "prove" that this war is "a quagmire" and "just like Vietnam.") Still, no tinfoil-hat-and-scrotal-inflation types have taken such action that I know of. But...if someone did...?

At what point does such speech become actionable treason? He's not just advocating something as prosaic and common as giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Heck, if that were a crime these days, we'd have to lock up just about every news reporter in the country. No…he's advocating murdering Americans in uniform. If Churchill had been a member of the Bund back in, say, 1943 and had advocated shooting Allied officers, what would have happened to him? Ah, but that kind of thing didn't happen back then. And ah, but back then, we also shot traitors. Not in today's One Nation Under Therapy. I'm not sure the concept treason even exists in the law any more.

Surely there must be some reasonable limits to "free speech"?

I know, I know….no there aren't and don't call me Shirley….


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