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Lame Commentary on the Stevens Case

A TV host and columnist, Bonnie Erbe, is upset that the Supreme Court seems willing to come down on the side of the First Amendment in the Stevens case, which had oral arguments earlier this week. She’s upset, because she obviously did not listen to the oral arguments, nor did she bother researching the case before mouthing off about it.

The biggest fear Justice Antonin Scalia registered was that the law could be used to ban hunting videos. When one reads the language of the statute, it seems to say that hunting (or making or selling videos of same) is not the kind of activity it was enacted to ban. Is hunting illegal under federal or state law? Of course not! State law regulates and licenses hunting, but does not make it illegal.

Except hunting certain kinds of animals is illegal in some states and not in others. For instance, Michigan and a few other states ban hunting of morning doves, but which are popular game birds in the South. By plain reading of the statute, it would be illegal to make a hunting video depicting morning dove hunting in Texas, and sell it to someone in Michigan, where dove hunting is illegal. The video doesn’t have to be cruel, it just has to depict someone killing an animal. It would be unlawful to put a dove hunting web site up, because someone in Michigan might read it. If Ms. Erbe had done research, she would have realized this, but it gets better:

My concern regarding Justice Breyer’s question extends beyond the plain language of the law. When he asks whether Congress can just go ahead and pass another law, he underestimates the enormity of such a task. It can take decades to re-enact a law the Supreme Court strikes down willy-nilly.

I’m sorry that Ms. Erbe is upset that we live in a Constitutional Republic that has limits on the power of government, and makes it difficult for Congress to pass laws that touch on important constitutional rights. I really am. Utterly distraught.

When I think of free speech I think of political protest or whistle-blowing or espousing unpopular positions. I don’t think of a constitutional right to make and sell violent, bloody videos of animals maiming and killing each other in a way that is designed to appeal to the lowest human instincts.

So you’re OK with banning nude art then? Certain types of dancing that people find appeal to the lowest human instincts? Depictions of violence in movies and video games? I’m sorry we have a First Amendment that protects these things, but we do. If Ms. Erbe is so upset by this concept of broad protections on freedom of speech and expression, perhaps she should consider relocating to a country where such rights are not taken seriously, like China, Russia, or Canada.

7 Responses to “Lame Commentary on the Stevens Case”

  1. Roberta X says:

    “When he asks whether Congress can just go ahead and pass another law, he underestimates the enormity of such a task.”

    I’m pleased she thinks this: “enormity: 1. an outrageous, improper, vicious, or immoral act […]; 2.: the quality or state of being immoderate, monstrous, or outrageous […].” (see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enormity ).

    Yep, just about right for Congress passing another law. And yet another bit of moronic over-glib slickness from bobby Bobbie Erbe. Her wrongness is well-nigh holographic.

  2. Roberta X says:

    Er, “bobby” should have been “bonny.” …Speaking of wrongness.

  3. illspirit says:

    After she suggested “rounding up promoters of hate” (which I guess means building concentration camps for Obama critics..), is it really any surprise that she hates what she called “so-called ‘freedom of speech’ rights” in this article?

  4. Chris says:

    Would not a hunting video fall under the educational exceptions of the law?

    Dog fighting is obviously not educational in any way except perhaps as a tool for law enforcement and veterinary purposes. In that aspect a dog fighting video could be regulated much the same way as the educational videos used to train child porn investigators are.

  5. Sebastian says:

    It depends on interpretations. The problem with the law is the Courts generally frown on rules where someone can’t clearly tell whether their speech is protected or not. In this case, would, say, a marketing brochure on Dove hunting be lawful? Can you post a depiction of deer hunting in DC where it’s illegal as part of a marketing brochure?

  6. elmo iscariot says:

    “Sometimes one wonders what goes through the minds of Supreme Court justices.”

    One would get the impression that their job is to apply the law, not to be “sensitive”.

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum.

    “The problem with the law is the Courts generally frown on rules where someone can’t clearly tell whether their speech is protected or not.”

    Exactly the same issue as with laws against “obscene” speech. Maybe Ms. Erbe would care a bit more about the issue if it was framed in terms of the legal chilling of sexual-minority expression rather than hunting videos. ‘Cause, y’know–it’s about _sensitivity_, not principle.

  7. B Woodman says:

    Too bad, Ms Bobby/Bonnie.
    The First Amendment gives all of us the right to be offended, as well as offensive. After all, aren’t they two sides of the same coin?

    The Bill of RIGHTS (not privilidges, not suggestions, not licenses, not even laws) can be such a bitch. The Bill of Rights is merely a written codification of our natural, God-given rights. Live with it. Or you and your profession could be next on the “legal” chopping block.

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