Governor Howard Dean, I Hate You

2017 April 21
by Mike Parmele

Here we are again, one of those days where we must recycle arguments which were, seemingly, settled. It’s hard not to feel like I’m stealing the words of writers far more talented. Writers of such renown as Milton, Madison, Paine, Voltaire, Mill, Hitchens (both of them), and many others, have done the math and expressed the points far more articulately than I ever could.

However, many people don’t seem to be getting the point and are dangerously smug in their missing it, so let’s show our work again.

Recently, Ann Coulter, that putrid windbag who exudes vileness every time she opens her mouth or puts pen to paper, was scheduled to speak at UC-Berkeley. Groups opposed to her brand of disingenuous, whoring schtick mobilized and organized to protest this appearance. Taking pleasure in the possibility of shutting down the peddling of her useless tripe, those organizing action against this mouthpiece of vacuous nonsense made the administration of UC-Berkeley rather nervous. There has been of late a reactionary cowardice among those who choose to allow demonstrations to dip into violence such that opinions are silenced.  The cowards in the administration of the university then decided that they would abdicate their obligation to be a bastion of thought, education, and enlightenment and canceled the engagement. Those opponents of Ms. Coulter basked in their victory over her ideas with a mighty yawp from the rooftop of the world that her views would be given no hearing and those young minds at UC-Berkeley would not need to be subjected to positions which they, rightly, find abhorrent, asinine, and poorly made. After some amount of time, the administration seemingly recovered from their aneurysm and announced that they would host Ms. Coulter in a venue more easily secured from the protests they know she will engender.

Speaking directly to those opponents of Ms. Coulter who would turn to violent action, instead of counterargument and peaceful demonstration – go fuck yourselves!

Specifically, Governor Howard Dean, go fuck yourself with the hands which President Trump has said he uses to sexually assault women.

Why does the Governor earn my specific disdain? Because last evening, he spoke – as is his right. In a shockingly stupid remark on Twitter, he said that, “hate speech is not protected” by the First Amendment of the Constitution. He referenced a remarkably incendiary comment Ms. Coulter once made expressing her regret that the New York Times was not the target of the bomb placed at the Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh.

Gov. Howard Dean being a danger to himself and others

I concede that is offensive and hateful. It demeans both the victims of the actual bombing and the journalists and staff at the New York Times.

However, to declare a category of opinion as outside the shelter of the First Amendment is a far more dangerous thing than anything Ms. Coulter could think of saying in her flailing attempts to remain relevant in the masturbatory echo chamber of her audience. In fact, it is precisely that type of speech – let’s be honest, what is meant by “hate speech” is speech with which one disagrees or finds unpalatable to a severe degree – which the First Amendment protects. Why would speech with which everyone agrees or finds soothing need protection at all?

The Freedom of Speech includes all expression of opinion; speech with which you agree, speech which makes you comfortable, speech which makes you uncomfortable, speech which you strongly dislike, and speech you hate. Yes, speech so disgusting as to offend any reasonable minded person. Speech so hateful, shocking, and insulting that anyone within earshot would recoil in horror and dismiss as lacking any capacity for empathy or sympathy.

Voltaire’s position on the freedom of speech, summarized by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, is, perhaps, the most elegant defense of this principle, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Milton, in his Areopagitica, argued against the licensing and censure of publications in England as that licensing and prior restraint degrades the ability of a society to better itself through open discussion and airing of grievances. That Ms. Coulter’s views are less enlightening than fraternity brothers lighting their farts is immaterial. It is only with the contrast of the shadows that one may find the light.

Christopher Hitchens boldly summarized Messrs. Milton, Paine, and Mill by suggesting that the freedom of speech is not only the right of the speaker to speak, but the right of the listener to hear. It is rather presumptuous that the Governor chooses to decide, for me, what I am allowed to hear.

Madison wrote, well, the First Amendment to the Constitution which states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,” a fairly straightforward statement. It makes no exception for Ms. Coulter’s vomit. The Governor should be grateful that it makes no exception for his either.

What boggles my mind, is that the Governor does not seem to understand that by declaring any opinion outside the protection of the First Amendment, he is surrendering his own opinions to censorship at some future date. He should be thankful, indeed, that those of us who respect the principle will defend his freedom against his own attempts to subvert it.

Of course, in addition to the many ways in which his statement fails philosophically and endangers the foundation of civilization, Governor Dean is wrong as a matter of law. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on this issue specifically. By correctly ordering that Nazis be allowed to march the streets of Skokie, Il (a town populated by numerous survivors of the Shoah and their families), it declared that the First Amendment does, in fact, protect hate speech. While she may be a courtesan to those who aspire to fascism and should be selling pencils from a paper cup on the street, Ms. Coulter falls well short of the hatred of the Nazis. She’s not even good at hatred; she’s a caricature of hatred to be rebuked, mocked, and dismissed – or, if Governor Dean should find the fortitude to stifle his cowardice, engage in counterargument and debate with those who hold and express opinions he finds revolting.

It feels plagiaristic to have to recite the reasons that the freedom of speech and protection of the First Amendment, which should be self-evident to any thinking person, must defend all categories of opinion and the expression of same; however, Governor Dean seems to require the refresher.

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