McCain and Palin guilty of “criminal incitement”?

by Walter Olson on October 15, 2008

[Cross-posted from Point of Law]. I’ve got a new piece just up at City Journal in which I examine last week’s boomlet of interest around the liberal blogosphere in the notion that by riling up campaign crowds about Obama’s links to Bill Ayers, John McCain and (especially) Sarah Palin have engaged in “incitement to violence” of a “borderline criminal” nature that perhaps should even draw the attention of the Secret Service or FBI. (For examples of this boomlet, look among the several hundred occurrences of “Palin + incite” at Technorati between October 7 and 13; I also include a sampling as links in my piece). The article originated in a short post at Point of Law that City Journal asked me to expand into a longer treatment. I must say I find it fascinating that many bloggers, Huffington Post writers, etc. could so casually jettison the hard-won victories of free-speech liberalism, which fought long and hard against “incitement” theories by which criminal penalties might be applied to inflammatory speech. The idea of exposing your opponents to investigation or even arrest because you don’t approve of the contents of their speeches doesn’t seem like a particularly liberal one to me.

More: Stephen Bainbridge takes note.

{ 3 trackbacks }

#99: McCain/Palin Rallies are Violent Mobs | Explorations
10.16.08 at 12:37 pm
Unfair Doctrine › Political Speech as “Criminal Incitement”?
10.18.08 at 1:43 pm
In which I get called “Thought Police”
10.20.08 at 10:31 am

{ 7 comments }

1 Eric Turkewitz 10.15.08 at 8:30 pm

… so casually jettison the hard-won victories of free-speech liberalism…

Interesting. I never really thought that free speech was a liberal idea. I thought conservatives also wanted the government to stay out of peoples’ business as much as possible.

2 John Cunningham 10.15.08 at 8:44 pm

It’s not a liberal idea, it is a socialist/communist idea. Just a brief preview of what the Obamasiah’s storm troopers have in store for us starting Jan. 21.

3 Richard Nieporent 10.15.08 at 10:40 pm

The idea of exposing your opponents to investigation or even arrest because you don’t approve of the contents of their speeches doesn’t seem like a particularly liberal one to me.

Au contraire that is exactly what liberalism is all about. That is why universities impose speech codes on their students.

4 Jason Barney 10.15.08 at 11:46 pm

Eric,

I’m not certain Walter was using the word “liberal” in the political definition of the word (i.e.: liberal vs. conservative). Perhaps he meant liberal in the permissive, laissez-faire or libertarian sense of the word. And I think Walter’s point is that sometimes “liberals” are anything but.

5 Bumper 10.16.08 at 12:16 am

No I think he meant liberal, like Obama and his henchmen and all their hangers-on. It’s only hate speech if it did not come from a liberal’s mouth. There are plenty of examples of Pelosi and Company, et al (the main stream media), attempting to stifle free speech by characterizing anything a conservative says as racist, hateful, hurtful or just plain mean spirited; all the while actually saying all sorts of crap that is racist, hateful, hurtful and just plain mean spirited. And if that doesn’t work then they will try pass some laws or make some rules to end it once and for all.

A true liberal believes that the great unwashed masses are just too stupid to do anything for themselves, and sadly the liberals amongst those great unwashed masses seem to like that idea just fine.

Google Lufkin, TX and secret service.

Check out the words of Rep. Lewis from GA.

Try a little Tongue Tied 3 at

http://snorphty.blogspot.com

The current lead article should give you an idea. Note: graphic not for sensitive eyes.

6 Deoxy 10.16.08 at 11:50 am

Interesting. I never really thought that free speech was a liberal idea.

It is one of the foundational classic “liberal” ideas. Unforunately, the term “liberal” has been redefined to mean, essentially, collectivist, which is pretty much the opposite of what it used to mean. Invoking Orwell always seems a bit like Godwin’s law, but it certainly fits in this case (a word now used to mean opposite of what it used to mean).

7 Bumper 10.16.08 at 4:37 pm

And now we learn that the whole deal was made up:

Secret Service says “Kill him” allegation unfounded

http://www.timesleader.com/news/breakingnews/Secret_Service_says_Kill_him_allegation_unfounded_.html

So where’s the call for an investigation of reporter David Singleton, of the Scranton Times-Tribune, who first reported the alleged incident. Scranton, isn’t that located in that racist state of Pennsylvania? Where’s Murta when the libs need him the most!

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