gay bashing and laws

Jim heartfield jim at
Thu Oct 22 00:07:37 PDT 1998

In message < at>, Chris Burford <cburford at> writes
>This placard

> is an invitation to physical assault, and with ideas
>like this in circulation 1 in 500 hundred confrontations will lead to

Yes, it is. But people who act on such an invitation are the ones who are committing the crime. You cannot supress speech on the grounds of what it might lead to. That trivialises the culpability of those who decide to act on such ideas. That's the difference between a dog and a man. If I say 'kill' to a trained dog, he has no choice. If I say it to a man, he does.

> But the right to make physically
>inflammatory remarks about a minority means there is no right for that
>minority to be free of inflammatory taunts.

There is no such right as to be free of inflammatory taunts or insults. Those things must be fought throught he weight of public opinion. The desire to abolish prejudice procedurally underestimates the need to challenge such ideas by popular action.

>This is about a law that consciously restricts the right to completely
>abstract equal free speech. An equal bourgeois right typically isolated
>from the context is unequal because people are in unequal situations.

You call teh right 'bourgeois' to make light of it. But augmenting the powers of state censorship of any kind undermines the sovereignty of the only real authors of progressive change, the mass of ordinary people. Marx said that the presupposition of all censorship is the infantilisation of mankind. The point is that it is more valuable for people to make bad choices for themselves, and to learn thereby, than for government to make good choices on there behalf.

Rights, as Marx explains in the Critique of hte Gotha programme, by their very nature abstract from social differences. It does not follow that rights are unsupportable. On the contrary, it is the very fact of social inequality that makes it all the more important to defend equal rights.

>What is this intense radical libertarianism that regards bourgeois
>democratic rights as some abstract higher value, that should prevail over
>the concrete social situation?

What is it that makes the left so indifferent to freedom and liberty? How can progressive change come except through the free decisions of ordinary people? -- Jim heartfield

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