Sunday, August 12, 2007

Free Speech, MAMZ, Skin-Color and Francis L. Holland


I posted the article below at MyLeftWing and look what happened to it!!!!!!

Maryscott O'Connor, owner of MyLeftWing, said, [Editor's Note: I have turned off the comments on Mr. Holland's post ( . . . )

[Comments are back on at this hour, 02:34, 08/13/2007]

Free Speech, MAMZ, Skin-Color
and Francis L. Holland

First-posted at MyLeftWing and cross-posted

at the Francis L. Holland Blog.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I've just read a very interesting diary by Karmafish, both in terms of the essay itself and the many, many comments to the essay, discussing my recent essays about Markos Alberto C. Moulitsas Zúñiga (MAMZ). As I read the essay, I wished that I had been able to take part in the vibrant discussion that followed in real time, but I just wasn't online at the time.

What stood out most about the essay was that Karmafish accused me of making well-sourced "lies" but did not offer a single source - not one - to prove that my MAMZ sources were incorrect, and also did not cite or discuss any of the over 200 government, university, commercial website, newspaper and blog sources upon which my previous articles were based. Unlike my essays, if we believe Karmafish it has to be because he says so, and not because he offers any sources to prove what he says.

There was considerable discussion of banning versus free speech in the comments. Some of the people urging the banning of diarists seem to be making two arguments hoping to appeal to others' fears:

(1) I happen to know, based on my perusal of the current comments at DailyKos, that some of the same people who are urging that I be banned here because my presence will drive down participation are also engaged over at DailyKos urging people not to visit MyLeftWing.

On June 9, 2007, Diane W. said at DailyKos,

But on behalf of myself and only myself, Diane W, I apologize that at MLW, ( . . . ) things have been said about Markos, ( . . . ) Please, dear readers, this is NOT an attempt to get you to go there ( . . .) Don't waste your time. Diane W. at DailyKos.
My articles arguably make people want to visit MyLeftWing to see what's going on. However, in her desperate efforts to protect Markos Moulitsas, Diane W. has urged DailyKos readers to stay away from MyLeftWing. [Editor strike-out]

(2) The argument has been made that, 'If Francis L. Holland stays then others will leave.' In fact, when I posted at DailyKos there were hundreds of comments on my diaries, which would seem to mean that people were looking forward to reading my essays and debating with me. And Karmafish's diary discussing me drew 180 comments. Far from signs of a moribund blog, these are signs of a vibrant and active blog, engaging in healthy debate.

By coincidence, I wrote and published yesterday a well-sourced article addressing one of the issues raised by Karmafish: the documented proof that people are explicitly banned at "progressive" blogs simply for criticizing and Markos Alberto C. Moulitsas Zúñiga as part of a program to limit and sculpt the information and opinions that may be presented in the blogosphere:

How to Distinguish MAMZ-Influenced Blogs from Independent Blogs

Maryscott O'Connor values the First Amendment guarantees of free speech, not only to prevent the Government from clamping down on expression ("state action") but also to prevent each of us from clamping down on one another. Back in the 1960's there was a lot of discussion about how much the government could do to further the cause of integration. It was agreed that while government could and would outlaw discrimination and segregation in its own behavior and in the behavior of corporations and other businesses, still the realm of private life had to be left to the conscience of each individual.

Our Government could not compel people to have friends of a different skin color or to otherwise integrate their private lives. Government set an example by eliminating lawful discrimination in government affairs, but private life was left to the private conscience of individuals, to hopefully be guided by government's example. (The question of whether a national blog that accepts the public participation and advertisements is "public" or "private" is a legal issue that still has yet to be resolved.)

Be that as it may, the free speech protections of the First Amendment compel the government to resist the temptation to clamp down on free speech, but the First Amendment acts only as an example to the populous in its private actions, without using the force of law to compel populous to follow this example:

Congress [and the states, it was later added] shall make no law ( . . .) abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Findlaw.Com

The US Constitution is hardly perfect, but it did set out some national aspirations that government was compelled to respect and that individuals were strongly encouraged to respect, if only because the Constitution itself is only as strong as the will of the populace to defend and support it. When the people themselves no longer support free speech, the the Constitutional protections for free speech will soon rot and die and dry, like unpicked grapes abandoned on the vine.

In comments to Karmafish's essay, Diane W. said,

So defending (6.75 / 4)

anyone's good name is not liberal enough anymore?

Is it tribal think if I tried to stop a writer at our local paper from saying my neighbor raped my other neighbor, when both deny it happened, or should I just shrug and say, "Thats his responsibility, not mine..."

Should the paper say, "Well that doesn't reflect us, its just a letter to the editor?"

When did PCness supplant honor and truth? Maybe I am lazy. Maybe I am tired. Or maybe I just don;t fit here that well anymore. I have been thinking about that long and hard lately.

I am not advocating any particular solution, but it is something that needs to be addressed and I will support whatever decision Maryscott makes. Diane at Karmafish's diary.

Clearly, Diane W. is advocating a "particular solution." If we argue in our private behavior in favor of restrictions on free speech and restrictions on private individual's right to "press" the "redress of grievances," then are we not at once arguing against the best principles embodied in the Constitution of the United States? Is discrimination bad only in the hands of the government, but good when practiced by individuals? Is repression of free speech bad only when it comes at Government hands, but good when practiced when individuals endeavor to shut each other up?

How long can our own American freedoms if we strenuously argue in our private lives that those freedoms should be strictly limited? If we endeavor to convince others that color-aroused discrimination is good in our personal lives, doesn't that simultaneously undermine the Government's efforts to end discrimination?

And if we argue strenuously for limits on free speech in the areas where we, as private citizens, have control, do we not simultaneously undermine the arguments for free speech that are necessary to defend the best and most liberal provisions of our national Constitution?

If there is anything progressives are called to do at this time, it is to defend politically and rhetorically the underpinnings of our Constitutional government when it is most under attack. And yet some of us believe that defending individual leaders from criticism is more important than defending the Constitution itself. These are dangerous, perilous times for the freedoms that all of us hold dear.

Another great concern is the "block-busting" rationales that have been offered for ending free speech. In the 1960's, realty agents would go to white neighborhood that had ONE new Black family and urge whites to sell their houses and leave the neighborhood, because having even one Black family would drive down home values.

Unfortunately, a lot of whites did panic and sell their houses for a pittance, and then the realty agents made a killing selling the houses to others. They became wealthier by sewing [Editor: sic] fear of change, fear of diversity among white people. I perceive that supporters of Markos Alberto C. Moultisas Zúñiga are employing "block-busting" in an effort to scare and intimidate Maryscott O'Connor and I want to bring these tactics to everyone's attention.

I have lately heard the argument repeatedly that having "too much" free speech (not too much Blacks in particular) at MyLeftWing will drive down the marketability of the blog, and that commercial concerns are more important than free speech.

I am not saying ban across the board, but I do think she has the right to save her business. Diane at Karmafish's diary.
Ky. Acts ch. 282, sec. 42, 344.380 Block busting.

It is an unlawful practice for a real estate operator, a real estate broker, a real estater, salesman, a financial institution, an employee of any of these, or any other person, for the purpose of inducing a real estate transaction from which a person may benefit financially:

(1) To represent that a change has occurred or will or may occur in the composition with respect to race, [FREE SPEECH?] color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin of the owners or occupants in the block, neighborhood, or area in which the real property is located;

(2) To represent that this [FREE SPEECH?] change will or may result in the lowering of property values, an increase in criminal or antisocial behavior, or a decline in the quality of schools in the block, neighborhood, or area in which the real property is located; or

(3) To induce or attempt to induce any person to sell or rent any dwelling by representations regarding the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of [FREE SPEECH? or] a person or persons of a particular race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin.

Effective: July 14, 1992

History: Amended 1992 Ky. Acts ch. 282, sec. 42, effective July 14, 1992. -- Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 167, sec. 4.

I added the phrase "free speech" in the text above to show that Diane W. is blockbusting not on the basis of "race," explicitly, but on the basis that free speech will drive people away from the neighborhood and reduce "property values." [Editor strike-out]

Defending the Abolition of the Words "Race" and "Racism"
in the Revolutionary Fight Against Color-Aroused Disorder:
A Response to Field Negro

Another issue arose that has been on my mind, and that is the use of the screenname "Jigaboo" over at DailyKos. In comments, Diane W. said,

I would ask also if any of the black people here would be offended if someone signed on with that name on mlw. Then I'd take THEIR word for it, once they all weighed in.
I am one Black person and I would like to address that question, relying also on reference to federal law. All words that whites traditionally used and still use to demean Blacks have the effect of making Blacks want to go somewhere else as quickly as possible rather than stay and be verbally abused. In a nationally recognized Federal Court case decided by the Fourth Circuit, the Court held that the persistent use of words like "jigaboo" creates an unlawfully discriminatory "hostile environment:"
[A] reasonable jury could find both Gaskins and White suffered harassment that was "sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive atmosphere."

Spriggs, 242 F.3d at 183.

In particular, White testified in his deposition, which was included as part of the record in both cases below, that through con his employment at BFI, supervisors repeatedly called him and other black employees "boy, jigaboo, nigger, porch monkey, Mighty Joe Young," and "Zulu warrior."

White J.A. 125, 127, 129; Gaskins J.A. 132, 134, 136.

Nowhere in his deposition did White state that these terms were used on only a few occasions; rather, White testified that use of these terms was "just the way they speak to you at BFI, like you are less than nothing."

White J.A. 125; Gaskins J.A. 132.

Indeed, White specifically testified that supervisors used the term "boy" on a daily basis to refer only to black employees, and not to white ones. White J.A. 128, 131; Gaskins J.A. 135, 138. White v. BFI, 2004

If even conservative Federal courts have ruled that the word "jigaboo" is offensive and its use is part of creating a hostile environment, then why are we still arguing over this reality in the "progressive" whitosphere? In fact, Black people studiously avoid any environment where they believe such words may be used. And it doesn't take several instances to keep us to stay away. As soon as we learn that people present would EVER use these words, we know we are not in an environment that will be conducive to our participation. In the last month, the "N" word has been used forty-five times in comments at DailyKos, while the "jigaboo" word has been used forty-three times in comments over the last quarter. Enough said.

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