Race And Free Speech-From Volokh: ‘Philadelphia Mayor Suggests Magazine Article on Race Relations Isn’t Protected by the First Amendment’

Full post here.

From Bob Huber’s piece, Being White In Philly:

‘Fifty years after the height of the civil rights movement, more than 25 years after electing its first African-American mayor, Philadelphia remains a largely segregated city, with uneasy boundaries in culture and understanding. And also in well-being. There is a black middle class, certainly, and blacks are well-represented in our power structure, but there remains a vast and seemingly permanent black underclass. Thirty-one percent of Philadelphia’s more than 600,000 black residents live below the poverty line. Blacks are more likely than whites to be victims of a crime or commit one, to drop out of school and to be unemployed’

Following below is a quote from Mayor Nutter’s letter to the Philadephia Human Relations Commision after he read the piece:

‘Finally, I ask that the commission consider specifically whether Philadelpia Magazine and the writer, Bob Huber are appropriate for rebuke by the Commission in light of the potentially inflammatory effect and the reckless endangerment to Philadelphia’s racial relations possibly caused by the essay’s unsubstantiated assertions.’

As Eugene Volokh points out:

‘But the Mayor’s rationale wasn’t just, “this speech is constitutionally protected but so is our response.” Rather, the Mayor expressly suggested that the speech in the article was unprotected, and therefore punishable outright and not just worthy of public disapproval.’

A public and well-made response by Nutter, say, offered in the same publication, might have actually persuaded a few people.

Fortunately, we have stronger traditions of free speech in our country then the rest of the Western world, but this blog maintains that the logic inherent in 60’s political activism and Civil Rights organization will inevitably lead to future strains upon those traditions.  The Human Relations Council is a natural outgrowth of the same political activism, generally under the same Left-Of-Center secular humanism.

This is probably why Obama is trying to set up his legacy of permanent activism through Organizing For Action, as what he doesn’t achieve through legislation, he will do through other means:

‘Organizing for Action will support the legislative agenda we voted on, train the next generation of grassroots organizers and leaders, and organize around local issues in our communities’

In other words:  Good for some, especially those who get political power and who organize, but not for all.  The common good has to be defined on the activist’s terms, and through the activist’s ideals and through his political coalitions.

It’s easy to see how the limits of this vision lead to greater contentiousness in our politics, making it a kind of sad theater and a street-fight for resources. While both parties can share in the blame, and other forces are at work in our society, it’s hard to see how more Americans will be united under such a vision, and persuaded to actually work together, especially when they disagree.

This is where the logic can lead:

Up in Canada, both Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant found out the hard way that Human Rights Commissions can align with intolerant Muslims to place the costs of free speech upon citizens who speak up:

Levant was fighting what he saw as an infringement upon his freedom of speech by the Human Rights Commission of Alberta.  As editor of the Western Standard, Levant published the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, and found himself investigated by, in his words, ”a kangaroo court.”


Here’s Mark Steyn discussing complaints brought against Macleans, Canada’s largest publication, by the President of the Canadian Islamic Congress (who sent three representatives) to TVOntario.   They were upset at the pieces Steyn had published there.  The complaints went through the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for alleged “Islamophobia” and “promoting hate:”


Rolled under the EuroLeft is where Lars Hedegaard found himself, as founder of Denmark’s Free Press Society.   He’s had to bear court costs to defend himself from charges of racism.

Here he is in his own words describing what he thinks are the failures of multicultural policies (addition: and why Islam is different).  Agree or disagree, he is threatened with his life for airing his views.  The public ought to support the right not to be murdered:


Also As Sent In:  Martin Luther King’s intellectual development came mainly through theology and seminary, social gospel (addressing social injustices), but also depended on various other sources, including Gandhi’s non-violent resistance (not acquiescence) to displace the force of the laws used against blacks for centuries.  He welcomed a broad definition of rights enacted into law to include black folks, and a vast involvement of Federal authority…that libertarians have trouble with philosophically:


Related On This Site:  Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

What about black people held in bondage by the laws..the liberation theology of Rev Wright…the progressive vision and the folks over at the Nation gathered piously around John Brown’s body?: Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”

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