I was thinking I would make my second post a reflection on working with MiUI this semester, since it's been interesting in a way if not exactly satisfying. Then this morning Wonkette posted something interesting regarding the lifting of an injunction preventing Boston cops from removing Occupy Boston.
The thing that caught my eye was what the blogger called the creepy stand-out line: “Little in the way of expression is outlawed in the United States Constitution, but an act which incites forceful response is unlikely to pass as express speech.” That sure is an awful line, which made me think there had to be more context. I read the opinion itself, and there is indeed something more. There's a missing word that is just a wee bit important. What it actually says is “Little in the way of expression is outlawed in the United States Constitution, but an act which incites a lawful forceful response is unlikely to pass as express speech.” P. 14, emphasis added. The blog Wonkette links as a source made the same omission.
That little word, lawful, changes the impact of the quote just a bit. It helps give meaning to Judge McIntyre's entire opinion; her conclusion is that the occupation itself is not protected speech, but the living activities the occupiers are using to express their idea that an egalitarian society away from our corporate overlords is possible are. You can take issue with her conclusion that the two are separable, since the protected expression is somewhat lacking without the occupation. You can argue all day long about what lawful force is; people have, continue to do so, and will until human beings are no longer capable of force. If you're going to be outraged, though, at least be outraged about the right thing.
Normally this is the sort of thing where I'd just move past it or maybe comment noting the error, depending on if I felt like registering. This struck a nerve though. It's just such an easy thing to check; failure to do so is the sort of thing people you expect from places like Fox. It's kind of symbolic of one of the problems with the national discourse: going for the easy anger to get people on your side, regardless of accuracy. It just doesn't help.