I have a lot to say about my experiences Friday and Saturday at the Coral Gables Library polling location. I spent many hours handing out Taddeo literature and answering voters' questions about her stands on the issues. And just before seven p.m. on Friday I joined the end of the long line in order to vote.
Much (but not all) of both experiences were good, and in the end, after a couple of scares, I think I did get to vote.
But I'd like to start by putting up a copy of a particularly disgusting leaflet that someone else was handing out. I never got a look at him, but many voters told me how horrified they were by this. (My reaction was to laugh very loud, and to encourage others to do the same.)
I'm copying just as it looked — it appeared to be a photocopy literally copied crooked on a 8.5 × 5.5 sheet of paper.
You can click on the picture for a bigger copy.
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So if I understand correctly, you opposed the extending of early voting hours by Florida’s governor, but availed yourself of the opportunity? Way to stick it to the man, man.
More importantly, could you do those of us who support Freedom of Speech a favor, and explain why the handout was “evil”. Because when I think of evil, I think genocide, serial murder, pedophilia, etc. If the person had been handing out child porn, well I’d say that’s evil. I tend not to think of political satire as evil. I see nothing in the handout but political satire, which some voters might find disagreeable, others legitimately humorous.
You availed yourself of political freedom by speaking with interested voters around the polling place. Good for you. You found humor in someone else’s political speech. Good for you. But you nonetheless characterize the flier as “evil”. Which is perplexing, because the expression of diverse viewpoints is healthy for democracy. Should a professor of the law ever reference political speech as “evil”? I can’t give an answer for every case, but “evil” is an inappropriate label here.
I find your blog schizophrenic of late, and can only conclude you have, knowingly or not, allowed bias to blind otherwise critical thinking. You have now gone on record referring to harmless political satire as “evil”. Sad.
Regarding Crist and the voting hours — From a utilitarian perspective, I am very glad he did it. I questioned his motives. I also have some doubts about the particular invocation of emergency power used to override the legislature, bad as its decision was.
On the more general point, I (like many others) constantly avail myself of legal benefits that I argue ideally ought not to exist. When Bush cut my taxes by a few dollars, I didn’t send it back to the Treasury. When I lived in a neighborhood which gave excessive parking privileges to residents I didn’t refuse to park there.
Most of the time there’s no shame in playing by the rules while at the same time arguing for better rules. There are extreme cases which are exceptions, but we don’t at present live in one.
Now to the most important thing: The flier is “evil” (not, note, “illegal”) because it is full of angry, mean, lies. I think it is entirely appropriate to characterize some speech as evil. It may even in some cases be a moral duty.
Meanwhile, yes, I defend the legal right of people to say many evil things (including, without question, the lies in that flier). I am impugning their judgment, wisdom, and in some cases sanity, in choosing to exercise that right to free speech in that way. But not their right to do it. And, yes, I find those two positions wholly consistent.
(Why do my fiercest critics always hide behind pseudonyms?)
“The flier is “evil” because it is full of angry, mean, lies”
The flier is titled “Obama’s to do list” printed in faux cursive script. All but the most rabid partisan is immediately on notice that the document is not authentic, and aims at satire. Only the most moronic could expect to find Truth in such a document, and thus its exaggerations cannot be construed as lies. The document exaggerates, parodies and presents satire.
The author clearly intends to express her anger and mean-spirited sentiments towards Obama and/or his policies. So what? Your refuge in not opposing the legality of the behavior is irrelevant to the discussion, as no such charge was leveled. All you have done is narrow the discussion to your belief that angry and mean-spirited political discourse is “evil”.
Which brings us full circle to the nature of evil. I would hope that you like all men would resolve yourself to fight evil, stand up to it, defeat it. And yet, an entire political season now sunsets on us, and despite your obviously voracious appetite for politics, you drew your readers’ attention to only one instance of “evil” speech. A single example which coincidentally criticizes the candidate you unequivocally support. Ahem.
So you will forgive me if I do not find “Obama’s to do list” printed in faux cursive to be “evil”. I do find it unpersuasive, and I am sure many Obama supporters feel the same. But I do not find it “evil”. No political candidate is, or ever will be, above satire, criticism, and mockery. Your supposition of a moral duty to protect a politician from speech in this way is deeply disturbing.
I just read your glee in being heard on the BBC. But Sir, this is a former colony and in this country we do not challenge a man to a duel at 10 paces for besmirching the Queen’s honor. Obama has not been anointed King just yet, and G-d need not save him.
If you can demonstrate the “to do list” is racist, sexist, threatening or otherwise beyond expression of opinion and satire, then I will listen. But right now you sound like a fascist and really aren’t doing Obama any favors with this rhetoric. No man is beyond critique, not even you.
Otherwise, we are all evil.