Hey, remember Jan Butler, the writer with the tenuous grip on logic and history? You know, the one who wrote that incredibly asinine letter to the RWR? Not only did she reply at Kate Rothwell’s blog, but she wrote a reply on her own blog, too.
I initially composed a point-by-point rebuttal on her blog, only to find it doesn’t allow comments by people without Blogger profiles. I’m posting my reply to her entry here instead:
But I find it both funny and very UNfunny that many of the people who are slinging the most vituperous arrows at ME are the same people who *claim* to stand for Free Speech in this Country, By Golly. You can’t censor us! How dare you! The culture demands diversity!
You know, free speech? First Amendment? The one that enables them to make a book or a website or a movie or a joke as smutty as they like, and I don’t dare tell them they can’t?
Yeah, THAT First Amendment. But what has happened to MY First Amendment protection?
First of all: If your reply to the claim that “you can’t censor us” is to point to the First Amendment, which indeed guarantees the freedom of speech (among other things), may I say that there’s something seriously wrong with your logic? It sounds like you’re saying the First Amendment protects your right to censor our opinions, and really, it doesn’t. It’s sloppy reasoning, sloppy writing or both on your part.
Second of all, if you could point to posts that cried for you to be censored, or even that the RWR should never have published your letter, I’d greatly appreciate to you linking to them. I’ve read quite a few of those posts, and while the “wow, this woman needs to get a clue and learn some history” responses loomed large on the landscape, I read precious few that seriously argued that you had no right to your (asinine and poorly-reasoned) opinion.
In short, there weren’t any serious calls for you to be censored. What you got instead, dear lady, were a whole slew of people disagreeing with your point of view—vigorously, and yeah, oftentimes rudely. But vigorous disagreement does not constitute censorship. You disagreed with an aspect of our culture, you wrote a letter, a whole hell of a lot of people disagreed right back, and all of a sudden, you’re being denied your right to free speech? I call bullshit. What you’re witnessing, in fact, is other people exercising their First Amendment rights.
When you take a crucifix and dip it in urine, I’m supposed to bite my tongue and consider that art. It’s NOT. It’s smut, and a sacrilege. But I don’t dare SAY so, or I’m interfering with your freedom of expression, I’m a fascist, I’m a right-winger nutjob…
That first two sentences are so flagrantly untrue, I’m somewhat flabbergasted. Critics disagree all the time on what constitutes art and what doesn’t. You’re certainly free to express your take. I’d like to point out that what you did in that letter to the RWR, however, wasn’t just expressing that opinion: you actively called for the RWA to enact and enforce certain standards—standards that would’ve been de facto censorship within the organization. And THAT’s why we’re calling you a conservative asshat. Mind you, we (or at least, I and all the other bloggers I read who responded to you) didn’t say you didn’t have a right to that opinion. We just thought it was an excessively fuckwitted opinion—a poorly-argued one that would be a very bad idea to pay attention to.
…which brings me to my point. Which is, that First Amendment provisions apparently only cover those who are espousing a point of view which is NOT to the right of center. Those of us who have even the whisper of conservativism about us? We’re nutjobs.
Funny, I don’t find it there, either. But you certainly wouldn’t know it by the reception I’ve gotten to my remarks. I’ve been called hateful and bigoted. I’ve been made fun of for being a Christian, for having conservative interests listed under my blog profiles, and even for supporting the President…as if those very beliefs and practices are not only distasteful, but somehow mark me as somewhat less than human.
Again, if you could point to the piece of legislation that prevents you from having or expressing an opinion, either positive or negative, about an artwork, I’d greatly appreciate it. Hell, if you can find that sort of opinion expressed in the blogs that disagreed with you, I’d appreciate it if you’d point that out, too.
The First Amendment protects your right to free speech—that is, unless it’s deemed obscene, or unless it constitutes a nuisance, such as yelling on a bullhorn in a residential neighborhood at 3 a.m., or unless it’s speech that’s a form of conduct, such as fraud or incitations to violence. It also protects the speech of everyone who disagrees with you. Is this so hard to grasp? And yeah, that means that if we want to call you a nutjob, we can—oh, that wacky First Amendment. If you really do seek redress, and if what we say provides you with sufficient fodder for a libel suit, then by all means, you can attempt to sue.
And frankly, your beliefs and practices ARE distasteful to me. That’s why I disagree as violently as I do—contempt and outrage are pretty powerful fuels. I don’t, however, think of you as less than human for holding such different core beliefs. Now, if I wrote to the RWR asking that books featuring monogamous heterosexual Christians falling in love not be labeled “romance” because Christianity is such a blight on reason and secularism, and look, look, so many pedophiles identify as Christian, this must mean there’s something wrong with Christianity itself—now, if I did that, you’d have a much better case for that assertion.
And some of you went to a lot of trouble to find something to pick on me for, which means that…just maybe…there really weren’t a lot of holes in my letter to begin with.
Actually, lots of people pointed out lots of different holes in your letter—none of which you bothered to address. Feel free to refresh your memory by reading my reaction to your letter, or Kate’s, or any of a slew of other responses.
But I’d just like to know what part of the First Amendment allows you to do that to me. Because it doesn’t. And you know it doesn’t. And you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for doing it.
The part of the First Amendment that allowed us to poke fun at you for your fuckwittery is this one right here: “Congress shall make no law (…) abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
The First Amendment, alas, does not have any provisos regarding courtesy in speech or the manner in which debates should be conducted.
You know, kids, freedom of speech has to apply to everybody, or it’s not free. If I am considered “repressive” and “hateful” for being shocked at things that ought to shock anyone with a scintilla of decency…then you need to be called “repressive” and “hateful” for hating my doing so. Protection of the law works both ways, or it’s no law at all.
The unfortunate fact—one borne out by these attacks—is that we no longer have a concept of “rights” that protect anyone but those who stand on the left side of the creek. Those of us—and there are a whole lot more of us out here—who stand on the right side…well, a whole lot of you apparently just wish we’d go the hell away. Die, preferably.
Your continued insistence at conflating a disagreement carried over the internet with actual legislation would be funny if it weren’t so tiresome and, well, so completely missing the point. But then you conflated pedophilia with consensual adult homosexual relations, so that’s not much of a surprise there.
And speaking as somebody who’s a pretty dedicated pacifist: no, I don’t wish harm on people who disagree with me, much less hope that they’d die. I do wish they’d change their mind, or if they can’t do that, then at least stop meddling in private affairs that aren’t theirs to meddle with. However, your projection of that violent desire onto a whole bunch of strangers is interesting—and telling.
Tangentially: Why is it that as soon as somebody disagrees with a certain type of extremist, they start squawking about their free speech rights being trampled on? All this malarkey about free speech is a smokescreen, and an exceptionally poor one, at that, because nobody’s free speech rights have been restricted so far. If you’d address the points we made about how what you propose is de facto censorship, or provide proof for your assertions about the history of romance novels, or, hell, explain how NAMBLA and adult homos engaging in consensual sex are connected, that’d at least give us a chance to get to the heart of the disagreements, instead of crying about having one’s free speech repressed. Debating the finer points of the morality of homogaiety would actually give me something to really dig into and provide me with an opportunity to sound like a pedantic asshole in new and interesting ways on this site, instead of my usual pedantic assholery.