Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Answer to Paint You Disagree with is "More Paint"

The UNC System convenes a panel of luminaries to debate whether the Free Speech tunnel does, or does not, mean "Free Speech."

From the N&O Story: The 11 members of a task force considering a hate crimes policy for the UNC system began their work Wednesday with a crash course in the First Amendment.

Among the lessons: The four N.C. State University students whose bigoted messages related to President-elect Barack Obama spurred the UNC system's introspection at least got the venue right for their invective.

"The free expression tunnel at N.C. State is the quintessential example of a designated public forum," First Amendment lawyer Hugh Stevens told the group Wednesday. "Whatever else they did, the students who posted these sentiments at least put them in the right place. If they had put them on some building on campus, they probably would have been charged with vandalism."

Wuhl....yes, of course. But what about the CONTENT of the speech? The kids would have been charged with vandalism if they had painted "Go Wolfpack!" or "Obama is the MAN!" on a school building. The question before the luminaries (and by that I mean little sacks full of sand with a candle in it to produce hot air but not much light) is whether Free Speech means you can write what you want.

Interesting solution to the problem in Charlottesvulle, VA, home of Mr. Jefferson's University and a whole passel of leftist enforcers of thought conformity. It is the "1st Amendment Monument," a big chalk monolith. (Some call it the "1st Amendment Memorial," to honor the death of that important provision of the Constitution, I should note).

The rule in Charlottesville is that you can write ANYTHING, and erase ANYTHING, on the monument. A kind of free speech wiki, caveman style. You can write, you can edit, you can dance around and yell stuff.


Anonymous said...

ummmmm...not to be master of the obvious, but is UNC convening a panel on whether a free speech wall allows others to actually write what they want to?

If so, this opens the door to a plethora of other obvious, and meaningless, questions this panel should explore. Such as, does urinating in a public restroom constitute indecent exposure?

In all seriousness, as I may have mentioned in my rants on this comment board previously, there is no such thing as a hate crime. It is simply a penalty enhancement when an individual is convicted of an actual crime. It is impossible to violate a hate crime statute without actually committing a crime. Therefore, if anyone and everyone is allowed to paint, deface, of mark the wall in any way, then there is no crime. EVEN IF (and this is important) the prosecutor can show "hate" was a motivation to commit their non-criminal act.

For those that are still reading this, as I've said before, motivation is not actually an element of any criminal act. Thus, even if the prosecutor could prove that their artwork was motivated by hate, there is no underlying crime. The thought police are out of luck.

I must admit, these "inquiries" do motivate me to actually return to grad school and finish my neglected dissertation, if for no other reason than the fun I can have as a member of one of these panels.

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Anonymous said...

Mungowitz, when you were at UNC, did you ever go to any meetings of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies?

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