Read My Lips: No Heckler’s Veto

I sure wish those Faux News pundits who claim to revere the Constitution actually knew what was in it.

Evidently, Satanists in Oklahoma City are planning to hold a “black mass.” Whatever that is. Now, insofar as we can tell, these folks have been entirely peaceful–however much their views may offend  adherents of more traditional doctrines, the only “harm” they’ve inflicted has been to religious sensibilities.

Enter know-nothing Tucker Carlson.

Tucker Carlson opined that the Satanic leader “clearly just wants publicity.” He asked if “Christians are playing into his plan” by protesting. In response to whether Christian should ignore him, Fr. Morris said that everybody needs to do what they think is best, such as talking about it on Fox. He encouraged prayer for the Satanic leader’s soul. When Clayton Morris interjected that the city is standing on free speech, Fr. Morris asked “what about if I want to desecrate a Koran…and speak pro-Nazi stuff right in front of my church and get people all fired up on a public sidewalk.”  (The Satanic mass is not being held on the street). Despite his (and Fox’s) belief about limited government, he opined that “government has to step in and say you can’t incite violence in the name of free speech.” The chyron validated his point: “First Amendment Foul, City: Constitution Protects Right to Gather.”

This approach–oh, no, we can’t let [fill in the blank] speak, because what they have to say will anger people and spark civil unrest. We have to shut them down in order to preserve the public peace!–was the argument used across the American south to shut down people like Martin Luther King. It’s called the Heckler’s Veto, because it allows “hecklers”–people who disagree with what is being said–to veto the message.

The courts have consistently ruled that they can’t do that. The message from the bench has been clear: If the authorities are genuinely worried about breaches of the peace, they need to beef up security, not shut the speaker down.

Isn’t it interesting how many pompous frauds want the protections offered by the Bill of Rights for themselves–but don’t want those same rules applied to others?

I have news for Tucker Carlson: It’s only freedom when it applies to everyone. Even people you don’t like. If the government gets to pick and choose who gets to assert a right, it’s no longer a right. It’s a privilege.

And privileges can be revoked.


  1. Why is it surprising that people accept the heckler’s veto argument at face value? Given the lack of understanding about how rights do and should work, I’m surprised when people reject the argument in favor of protecting free speech. (I’m not surprised when Sheila does it, of course.)

  2. When you were talking about the “heckler’s veto” I thought you were referring to speakers getting shouted down by hecklers. There are so many people who think they have a right to interrupt and try to shout down other people’s speech that they disagree with.

    You talked about a variant of that. And, yes, you are right. However, you cite an example of someone on the right not knowing the law and wanting to limit free speech. Most of the times when I see people wanting to limit speech, it’s coming from the left. I’m talking about attempts to limit speech that is found to be offensive or racist or sexist or make people angry.

  3. Really struggling to find the right term. What is it called when someone has disconnected themselves from alternative viewpoints so much that they are surprised to learn the opposite is actually in the majority? Paul must know what I’m talking about.

  4. Most of us like the word “freedom” because it implies that we can live relatively unrestricted lives. It’s probably closer to the truth to view it as, others can live relatively unrestricted lives.


  5. ” Most of the times when I see people wanting to limit speech, it’s coming from the left. I’m talking about attempts to limit speech that is found to be offensive or racist or sexist or make people angry.”

    Paul; what I see coming from the “left” is thinking people rebutting, refuting, correcting misconceptions and/or offering proof against those offensive or racist or sexist comments that make people angry, whichever direction they are coming from…but you are right that it comes more often from the left. They are not trying to limit the speech of others; they are using their freedom of speech hoping to be heard, understood and accepted by all who have an open mind and heart. Contrary to that old saying, “Stick and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”; words and ugly comments and most especially lies are words that do hurt, often causing irrepairable harm to entire groups of people. It is words that lead to actions. We are being inundated with those ugly racist and sexist words and videos of the harm being done by those who spout the words inciting or leading others to action. The media seems to shy away or skim over the few issues they do address; if not for social media and thousands of people with camera phones, we would not be aware of the extent of the harm that words can do.

  6. But those on the left have to understand, as well as those on the right, that there is no right to try to interrupt someone else’s speech. A person doesn’t have the free speech right to shout down or heckle a speaker they disagree with. Too often we see that, even on college campuses where people should know better.

  7. Paul’s right. There’s a difference between a thoughtful rebuttal and shutting someone down. I would argue that rebuttal is important–it’s what free speech is all about–but suppression, even when it isn’t by government and thus not technically a First Amendment violation, undermines the whole purpose of free expression.

  8. Al-Mansour a female pilot for the United Arab Emirates, led joint air strikes against ISIS this week. FOX News commenter’s – The Five on Fox News.

    “The problem is, after she bombed it she couldn’t park it,” quipped presenter Greg Gutfield.

    Mr Bolling then asked: “Would that be considered boobs on the ground, or no?”

    FOX News always a reliable Media out let for more bombing and violence, could not resist a sexist comment.
    I completely disagree with our New Bombing Campaign in the Middle East.

  9. Our legal right to free speech is one thing, considerate discourse another. People are free legally to be rude and stupid on every side of every issue. People who are annoyed by rude and stupid discourse can reaction in rude and stupid ways.

    We all know of folks who’ve made millions through rude and stupid behavior over the air.

    Personally, I think that that’s a complete waste of time on everyone’s part, but it’s one of the prices that accompany freedom.

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