Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is There a Human Right to Be Free From Offense?

The title of this post is inspired by Blazing Cat Fur, who links to the homepage for the upcoming conference of the Canadian Constitution Foundation: "Race, Religion, Equality and Freedom: Current Canadian Legal Controversies." The event is scheduled for this coming weekend, with one of the panels titled, "Is There a Human Right to Be Free From Offense?"

The answer's obvious: No, there's no human right to be unoffended. Human rights are generally considered those protections guaranteeing life, liberty, and property -- i.e., Lockean safeguards for the protection human dignity and survival. How those safeguards are defined is a political question, of course, and in postmodern societies, where constitutional protections for traditionally disadvantaged groups have become the sine qua non of hardline leftist ideologues, to be seen as opposing human rights for freedom from offense would immediately be considered "racist."

Anyway, I wasn't going to write about it until I saw a couple of posts right now online. First is Mark Steyn's essay, "
What They're Telling Us":

This piece by Lloyd Marcus, a black conservative, is called "Stop Allowing The Left To Set The Rules", and deals with the alleged racism of the anti-Obama opposition. As Mr Marcus notes:

The Left published a cartoon depicting former black Secretary of State Condolezza Rice as an Aunt Jemima; another depicted Rice as a huge-lipped parrot for her Massa Bush. Neither were considered racist by their creators or publishers, or even widely condemned on the Left.

In opposition to black Republican Michael Steele's campaign torun for U.S. Senate, a liberal blogger published a doctored photo of Steele in black face and big red lips made to look like a minstrel. The caption read, "Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house". Not one Democrat denounced these racist portrayals of black conservatives.

True. Nobody minds liberal commentators expressing the hope that Clarence Thomas "will die early from heart disease like many black men", etc. Contemporary identity-group politics are prototype one-party states: If you're a black Republican Secretary of State, you're not really black. If you're a female Republican vice-presidential nominee, you're not really a woman. What's racist and sexist here is the notion that, if you're black or female, your politics is determined by your group membership.

But, if we're talking about letting the left "set the rules", Mr Marcus' column reminded me of a larger point: Don't take your opponents at face value; listen to what they're really saying. What does the frenzy unleashed on Sarah Palin last fall tell us? What does Newsweek's "Mad Man" cover on Glenn Beck mean? Why have "civility" drones like Joe Klein so eagerly adopted Anderson Cooper's scrotal "teabagging" slur and characterized as "racists" and "terrorists" what are (certainly by comparison with the anti-G20 crowd) the best behaved and tidiest street agitators in modern history?

They're telling you who they really fear. Whom the media gods would destroy they first make into "mad men". Liz Cheney should be due for the treatment any day now.

I almost had to laugh at the brilliant accuracy of the description - that's postmodern leftism to a "T". And there's more at the link.

But that's not all. It turns out, via
Glenn Reynolds, that we have a pretty good example of this in the case out of Richmond, Virginia, where residents have taken offense to a the use of the "Obama Joker" poster by a local strip club. Glenn titles his post, "FREE SPEECH: Only For Members of Officially Recognized Aggrieved Groups." He links to this story from NBC Connecticut: "NAACP Protests Obama Joker Banner at Strip Club":
While the NAACP and other groups protested a banner depicting President Barack Obama as the Joker from Batman on the side of a Richmond, Va., strip club on Monday, a dancer from the club walked through the crowd with a sign that read "Strippers for Obama" as a drummer kept a steady beat.

The banner hangs outside Club Velvet, and the club's owner, Sam Moore, said in a statement that the display is not intended to make a racial statement, but rather to express his displeasure with the Obama administration, according to WTVR-TV.

"This country is going to hell in a hand bag and the current administration is making things irreversibly worse," Moore said.

Some locals said they were offended by the banner, while others said it is a sign of freedom of speech.

Representatives from the NAACP, the Nation of Islam and other groups gathered outside Club Velvet at noon Monday to protest what they called an affront against the nation's first black president and "veiled attacks on all African people."
There's more at the link, plus a video.

I'm linking this video below, however, from Richmond's WWBT-NBC12, "
Legal Analyst Speaks to Depiction of Obama as 'Joker' ":


The Griper said...

what ever happened to that old,
"i may not agree with what you are saying but i'll defend your right to say it", attitude?

this politically correct attitude which is suppose to bring about greater civility between people seems to have caused just the opposite attitude.

Mark Harvey said...

"Is There a Human Right to Be Free From Offense?"

The answer is NO! There are no protections in the US Constitution for this and for good cause. If you don't want to hear a certain thing, DO NOT LISTEN!

It would help if people ACTUALLY read the constitution.

shoprat said...

We can be free to tell the truth and express honest opinions, but it is impossible, as long as we have to share this planet with others, to be free from being offended.

Mark Harvey said...

I have never read in the USC where anyone has the right to be unoffended any where.

Mr. D said...

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If the left can't take the heat, kindly hand us back the reins of power.

If you are in a position of authority in a free democracy, you are subject to the verbal slings and arrows of your opponents, regardless of your viewpoint. Even old George Washington had haters. Is Obama to be treated better than Prez Number One?