September 28, 2012 by Julia
I know, I know, there wasn’t a Two Minutes Hate last week. Busy week was busy.
1. New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) adds a new ban on ads that would “incite or provoke violence.” My first response to this development? “Holy shit, you idiots, you just created a REASON for people to be violent as a strategy, so that the MTA has to reject any negative ad against their group in the future for fear of more violence!” Why in the hell isn’t the criticism of the PEOPLE WHO ACT VIOLENTLY? Whoever they are, they are human beings with control over their own choices and actions. Why blame certain speech for “inciting or provoking” violence (provided that speech does not expressly call for violence, which is justifiably illegal) and not the people who choose to be violent in reaction to speech they don’t like?
2. On a related note, Mona Eltahawy attacked one of the signs with spray paint, and got arrested for it. Here is a very interesting piece on what the ad even means in the first place, so I’m not going to discuss that here. Rather, I’m going to talk about this tweet:
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) September 28, 2012
MTA was ordered to post the ad because even (especially) offensive speech is protected by the First Amendment. Eltahawy spray-paints the ad, and calls it “civil disobedience ” According to Wikipedia, civil disobedience is “the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power.”
Okay, so, was Eltahawy refusing to obey the laws against graffiti? The laws against vandalism? Or . . . the First Amendment? All of her statements on the matter have focused on the content of the ad, and how that content justified her actions–i.e. she frames her actions as “fighting racism and hate,” not something like, “fighting laws that forbid spray painting things.” She was specifically addressing and protesting against the speech in the ads, so if she was really “refusing to obey a law,” inasmuch as it is a law, the only one that makes any sense is the First Amendment. Practically, if she was really committing “civil disobedience,” her actions stood for the proposition that the First Amendment should not have allowed the ad to be posted.
You all know by now that I am a strident defender of the First Amendment. Even though I am not a believer in incorporation, the New York State Constitution also protects free speech, in Section 8. The ad could not be rejected by the MTA, which is a government entity. A private company could absolutely have rejected it, and I would not have complained from a free speech perspective.
Here’s the thing: free speech would allow Eltahawy to post her own ad disagreeing with the first ad. Absolutely, no disagreement here, I completely support her free speech right to post her own ad. What is not protected by free speech is vandalism. You quite simply do not have the right to damage someone else’s property, including public property (after all, you only own a small portion of it as a taxpayer–other taxpayers own the rest). There is also a reasonable argument to be made that the people who paid for the ad space had an ownership interest in the physical space for the life of the ad. In the end, there is no Constitutional protection for physically defacing, obscuring, or removing other people’s speech, only for making your own speech (with the possible, and very situation-specific, exception of the fair use doctrine in copyright law, which does not apply here).
3. In the category of “creepy things on Etsy,” check out the Obama Reusable Cloth Pantyliner Pad and the Thor and Loki Snuggle Blanket. The second link goes to an article about it, because Marvel apparently (and rightly) sent the seller a C&D letter.
4. Even if you’re not a habitual reader or fan of Japanese manga, if it ever gets a license, you may be interested in Saint Young Men, which is about (I’m not kidding) Jesus and Buddha living in a Tokyo apartment, which is of course the best premise for anything, ever. It was in the news this week because it’s getting an anime movie and an OVA. Unfortunately, the manga has not been licensed for North American release yet, much to my regret, but maybe if the anime movie is licensed and it does well, we will get the manga too.
(On a side note, check out the comments on the OVA link. People think Saint Young Men isn’t getting a North American release because Christians will be offended and protest it. Based on previous experience, the poster who pointed out that companies probably don’t want the hassle of explaining all the jokes and historical references may be correct [exception that proves the rule: Excel Saga; rule application that proves the rule: School Rumble], but the thread is a good example of how otaku set up Christians as villains. I am actually SHOCKED to see so many people all like, “Er, no, American Christians will probably think it’s funny,” because you don’t usually see that many people injecting reality into the victimization-fest)
(Side note to the side note: I am a conservative Christian, and I think Saint Young Men sounds like the best thing EVER. I’m not sure what about it I’m even supposed to find offensive, actually. Definitely not worth storming the Japanese embassy for)
5. Union Contract: Teachers Can Be Caught In School Drunk Five Times and On Drugs Three Times Before Being Fired I don’t think I really need to say anything about this; it’s pretty self-evident. I hate unions.