Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Free Speech must make sense.

I you are going to exercise your right to free speech, you have to put together a message that makes sense. NPR reported this morning that the editor and chief of "The Rocky Mountain Collegian" may be disciplined because he ran an editorial in the paper that read simply, "Taser This . . . F--- Bush."

The free speech issue aside. I object to this editorial simply because it makes no sense. What does that mean exactly? I understand what first part means in isolation. I understand what the last line means in isolation. Together they make no sense. I'd fire the editor-and-chief simply for being a poor speaker of English.

This seems to be a trend in Free Speech advocates under the age of 30. Make messages that are inherently random. "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" comes to mind. What the hell does that mean? Are bong hits some sort of sentient beings that have volition to be "for" something? Obviously those who use bong hits think so. The rest of us are stuck wondering . . . wha?


Dr. Strangelove said...

I seem to recall the nonsensical nature of "Bong Hits for Jesus" was actually one of the reasons the students used it, attempting to push the envelope. It was also cited by the 4 dissenting justices on the Supreme Court as a reason why a reasonable person would not interpret as a pro-drug (or pro-anything) message. The conservatives saw "bong" and that was all she wrote.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I agree with USWest's assessment: it's just a bad editorial. Unlike the Bong Hits, however, I think the editorial is clearly some form of Bush-bashing... very poorly expressed. The profanity, however, is totally irrelevant to me. To quote D.H. Lawrence's poem "Conundrum":

Tell me a word
that you've often heard
yet it makes you squint
if you see it in print!

Tell me a thing
that you've often seen
yet if put in a book
makes you turn green!

Tell me a thing
that you often do
which, described in a story
shocks you through and through!

Tell me what's wrong
with words or with you
that you don't mind the thing
yet the name is taboo.

The Law Talking Guy said...

My response is: Dada is art.

Dr. Strangelove said...

For "bong hits" the "Dada" defense works for me. (Although I thought the meaning was not so obscure... something like "raise a glass" for Jesus.) But the "Taser" remark is puerile, not Dada.

The Law Talking Guy said...

po-tay-toh, po-TAH-toh

Dr. Strangelove said...

You truly see no distinction?

USWest said...

I agree with Dr. S. I thought of the "raise a glass" thing as well. But still, stupid. But yes, so is Dada. Maybe I am too literal.

Dead Parrot said...

I shake my head at how arguments are made nowadays. On one side - f*** Bush! On the other - 9-11! 9-11! Never again! Support the troops!

And yet some of these messages score big points. Look at the enduring belief that Iraq and September 11th are related. I just read this in a NY Times article about a new, well-funded conservative advocacy group, "Several of the group’s spots suggested that Iraq, rather than Al Qaeda, was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, even though the independent Sept. 11 commission investigation and other inquiries found no evidence of Iraq’s involvement . . In August, when the organization rolled out [an advertisement in which an Iraq veteran pleads with Congress and the American people not to surrender in Iraq] to two focus groups in Pennsylvania, its upbeat, patriotic message was well received, even causing a few viewers to weep."

We are going to see and hear a lot more of this stuff over the next year. None of it is persuasive for either point of view. It is really difficult to stay interested and engaged amid all the inane back-and-forth.

USWest said...

Everything is just a bumper sticker. That is how all communication in the US is going these days.

Street protests have given way to covering the back of your car with slogans.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I thought "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" was a juvenile juxtaposition of something their parents hated (pot) with something they always blathered about as uber-wonderful (Jesus). The "Taser this" remark is actually less clever, demonstrating that it is actually posible to be less clever. But the key to free speech isn't the wisdom of the remarks, but the right to speak in contadiction to the Accepted Truth and Conventional Wisdom. The right to flip the bird to the President is, in my view, near to the heart of American liberty. The bumper sticker, which is the equivalent of "hit and run" free speech, is perfectly in line with a tradition of free speech that has as much to do as stinky-pants cartoons as it does with teaching John Locke. And I do enjoy it. Liberty is, after all, about being free. And if liberty means anything (to quote Justice Brennan) it means the right to be let alone.

USWest said...

I have no problem with bumper stickers as free speech. But all talk, no action, that I have a problem with. It is lazy.

Let's not confuse noise with action or slogans with thoughtful discussion.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Down with Bumper Stickers!!!

USWest said...

Stick this!