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More confusion on "free speech" and protest. (My previous posts here and here.)

Two new data points to add. First, a black mass apparently designed to satirize religion has been cancelled after complaints and protests:

A reenactment of satanic rituals known as a “black mass” that had been scheduled for Monday evening on the Harvard campus was abruptly canceled amid a chorus of condemnation from Catholic groups and university officials and students. [...] The initial plan to hold a black mass on the Harvard campus prompted widespread outrage.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston held a eucharistic procession that began at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology chapel in Cambridge Monday evening, followed by a holy hour at St. Paul Church in Harvard Square. Jon Swedberg, 64, of Taunton and a marcher in the procession, said he was strongly opposed to the black mass and that he wanted to “pray to the Blessed Father on behalf of what’s happening.” “I find [the black mass] offensive as a Catholic,” he said. “I find it goes directly against the faith of my church, the faith of the church of my choice.” More than 1,500 people packed the church for the holy hour, including Drew Faust, Harvard president.

“Tonight, my friends, we gather in this moment of prayer, as a parish, a university community, to celebrate the greatest gift that God has ever extended to us, His son Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Michael E. Drea, who led the holy hour prayers. He said people of faith “all recognize the message of the Satanic black mass, they recognize it for what it is: an act of hatred . . . for the Catholic church.”

I wouldn't have protested it nor would I have participated in a Black Mass, which strikes me as sophomoric and ineffective. But it's not hate imo. It's ridicule. But to my larger point, everyone has a right to protest everything. You can agree or disagree with a protest as your views lead you.

For example, my views are not in accord with the protest of the choice of IMF head Christine LaGarde as Smith College commencement speaker:

The commencement speaker purity bug has hit Smith College. The Northampton, Mass., women’s college announced Monday that International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde has withdrawn as the school’s 2014 commencement speaker due to faculty and student protests over the IMF’s policies. The decision to withdraw — announced by Smith College President Kathleen McCartney — comes less than a week before the ceremony on May 18. [Emphasis supplied.]
Love the contemptuous "purity bug" moniker attached to a "straight" news story. Anyway, funny how the WaPo is so protective of Establishment figures. How dare they be protested!?!! To be sure, I disagree with the protests and believe there is no nuance to what Lagarde is about, but the protesters have a right to be wrong (imo of course.) Just as the protests of the Black Mass at Harvard have a right to be wrong.

In both of these cases, the speakers, the sponsors of the Black Mass and Lagarde, chose to withdraw from their original plans. But even if Harvard and Smith had chosen to not associate themselves with these speakers, their speech was not infringed. They are free to speak. As are the protesters.

This misunderstanding of free speech and protest continues to baffle me.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Touchy Christians, chapter 6,237,895 (9+ / 0-)

    Catholics offended by a "black mass"?  That's pretty damn funny.  Where are the Catholic protests against black-robed priests coddled and protected by the Church from consequences for their child abuse?  Satanic rituals at Harvard are satire; priestly abuses of children are crimes.  

    True believers of any stripe are dangerous and blind to the flaws in their belief system.  I suspect that's what the Harvard satirists are probably pointing out.

    Free speech clearly includes the right to make an ass of oneself.  That's one of its most valuable traits.

    We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

    by Dallasdoc on Tue May 13, 2014 at 05:53:22 AM PDT

  •  Free to worship; free to have black mass (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Armando, a2nite, whl, avsp, BMScott, wader

    Just as the pious church-goers are free to join together to express their religious feeling in accordance with the religious traditions, the holders of a black mass are also  free to gather together and express their religious feelings.

    Just as the president of the IMF is free to speak to a public gathering about finances and economic policy, adults are free to speak out against economic policies they feel are hurtful and non-productive.

    It is not freedom to allow only one group to state its economic policy or practice its religion and not allow all groups to state their economic policy or practice their religions.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue May 13, 2014 at 05:54:13 AM PDT

  •  I don't think you should have written this piece. (3+ / 0-)

    I hope you choose to withdraw it from publication.

    "Bob Johnson doesn't have special privileges, because really, why would I entrust that guy with ANYTHING?" - kos, November 9, 2013

    by Bob Johnson on Tue May 13, 2014 at 06:04:20 AM PDT

  •  These occurrences are why I support our (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    1st Amendment and its supporting caselaw (better word for 'supporting caselaw') than some European versions that have laws against 'hate speech', etc...because isn't hate really a 'I know it when I see it' concept?

    While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Tue May 13, 2014 at 06:14:16 AM PDT

  •  1st Amendment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    This limitation on Congress has been extended to all levels of government--if the Federal legislature can't do it then neither can state assemblies, county commissions, city councils, etc.

    It does not prohibit Harvard Univ. from abridging the freedom of speech. It may prevent Rutgers Univ. from abridging speech because it is a taxpayer funded operation of the "state."

    I recall scores of battles decades ago during the Vietnam war. My little funky state college hosted Robert M. Welch, founder of the John Birch Society and notorious jerk. He was one of many rightwingnutjobz in a campus speaker series. Our Committee for Peace in Vietnam and Veterans Against the War were not "permitted" to independently host Abby Hoffman, Sen. Ed Muskie, Gen. David M. Shoup, and similar.

    Our protests at the nearby Federal Building were required to obtain permits from the city and the federal protective service as well as the US marshals. Parades had to have permits and were highly restricted--never on 2nd Avenue which was the busiest but always on 5th Avenue, etc.

    Yuppers, freedom of speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition for redress are strictly controlled. Recently, the so-called "free speech zones" at political conventions make it very clear how the powers don't want to see dirty hippies.

    Occupy anyone?

    We're all just working for Pharaoh.

    by whl on Tue May 13, 2014 at 06:39:19 AM PDT

  •  i got some emails about the "Black Mass" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    i was so sleepy when I read the first message that I thought it was something to do with black folks at Harvard who are Roman Catholics--satanism was the farthest thing from my mind

    i got a later email saying that it was not cancelled, it was moved to a location off campus

    no word this morning about whether it actually happened, but emails were flying around Cambridge yesterday from concerned religious officials

    my feeling is that fundies give Satan too much credit.  If you are a hardcore Christian, one of the things you are supposed to believe is that Satan's power was vanquished by the resurrection, but maybe that's just me

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:14:47 AM PDT

  •  You have a right to speak / demonstrate / protest (0+ / 0-)

    but there's nothing anywhere that says you have to be listened to / agreed with / supported.

    That's why you have to express your view effectively and persuasively.

    Otherwise you're like the Westboro Baptist agitators.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:39:12 AM PDT

  •  I guess I'm a bit confused now. (0+ / 0-)

    In either of these cases has anyone claimed their free-speech rights were being violated?

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