“Speech is not violence, and violence is not speech”

From Matt Enlow on Twitter, in response to my request:

Not only did I put it to use as a avatar, but so did two of the staunchest free-speech advocates on Twitter, Popehat and Christina Hoff Sommers.

I’ve noticed that many who seek to blur the speech-violence distinction believe that doing so will enable more effective social disapproval of hurtful speech. But perhaps its more salient effect is to undermine the basis for drawing lines against frank violence of action, as is already happening.


  • I disagree. If giving money is speech, so is violence. Although violence is reprehensible speech that can, should be, and is regulated.

    • Giving money is not speech. Direct campaign contributions can be and are limited.

      However. Restricting money spent on independent political advocacy, even if directly supporting a particular candidate, burdens multiple 1st amendment rights; free speech, free press, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

      You may not realize this, but every major news organization, TV, magazine and newspaper is a corporation.

      If the Citizens United decision had come down any other way than it did, the government would have gained the power to censor news about political issues.

  • OK, Allan, I am willing to be trolled, once at least…

    Justice Roberts took on unnecessary trouble by identifying money with “speech.” He should have identified money as a means for mass dissemination of speech, ie “the press.”

    Nevertheless, despite my instinctive fear of “campaign control” theories that might require me to consult a lawyer before posting about an election, I share widespread dismay at the simple self-interested corruption (as distinct from ideological commitment) behind much of Congressional campaign finance. Our increasingly dysfunctional copyright and patent law is one example of the results. Might it be possible to raise contributions from the ideologically committed in an anonymous way, so the candidate would not realize that a crony-capitalist quid-pro-quo was due?

  • Allan the First Amendment supports you:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of reprehensible religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of reprehensible speech, or of the reprehensible press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”