Jumping on the current media trend that all newsworthy human activity can be tied to the Arizona shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Melanie Zoltan reviews the book, Degradation: What the History of Obscenity Tells Us About Hate Speech by law professor Kevin W. Saunders.
I have not read the book, so I am only going on Zoltan’s review. The first half of the book defines how sex was transformed into a shameful activity by religious (particularly protestant) powers and defines obscenity:
Church believed that respect for clergy was diminished by depictions of monks, nuns, and higher-order officials acting in sexual ways. Stories that portrayed church officials as such were slowly banned, increasingly so after the printing press allowed for wider dissemination of these stories. By the 13th century celibacy was required for Church clergy. By the mid-17th century, in the post-Cromwell era, as a more Calvinistic Protestantism took hold, sex was viewed as shameful.
Obscenity, then, derives from sexual depictions that degrade, or dehumanize humans.
It’s the second half of the book that gets our attention:
Saunders spends the second half of his book, having beautifully laid out the foundation for his argument in the first half, arguing that hate speech is the modern version of obscenity, and that the courts should treat hate speech under the First Amendment in the same manner as obscenity is treated.
“If hate speech is the current form of degrading speech, then past experience with the regulation of degrading speech would be valuable in examining how to regulate hate speech,” (99) Saunders posits.
Of course, I would argue that there is no exemption for obscenity in the First Amendment. The Supreme Court pulled that invention right out of their collective asses. The First Amendment was intended to protect speech that offends. To say it doesn’t apply to offensive speech insults the intelligence of anyone with an IQ that reaches beyond the single digits.
Saunders concludes that: “Obscenity law is the law of offense, and hate speech is offensive for the same reasons as sexual obscenity. One has been seen as offensive because of the degraded view it presents of humanity. The other should similarly be viewed as offensive because of the degraded view of its target population.”
And as we all know so well, donning the mantle of victimhood by claiming to be offended is a scam intended to give some people the power to control what other people say and do.
Other books by Saunders include “Violence as Obscenity” and “Saving our Children from the First Amendment”.
Sounds like another crusader whose mission is to force everyone into a third grade level cultural conformity. I won’t even dignify the supposition that we should all rush to throw out the First Amendment because of what happened in Tucson. That job has already been covered exceedingly well my the mainstream media.