• Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    It is a great honor to be part of the target population which attracted the prize winning American massacre to date. The Gold Medal! Mere discrimination earns not even honorable mention, let alone 3rd place bronze. Don't know, of course, how long the honor will last. A week? A year? A decade? 49 dead and as many seriously wounded is no 3 minute mile. The latest record can and will be surpassed.

    Apparently the Pulse Bar shooting was the expression of at least one man's homo hatred. Does it represent any sort of trend? The New York Times thinks gay progress has been fitful. Yes? No?

    Yes, in the sense that when generally oppressed groups make progress, there is often a reactionary rebound in hostility toward that group. Not all religious groups condemn homosexuality, but many do. Not al Moslems condemn homosexuality, but some do. Not all Christians condemn homosexuality, but some do; etc. Those that do are those which hearken back to the most conservative interpretations of religious codes. A recrudescence of conservative religion, and possibly a recrudescence of any sort of religious flavor bodes ill for previously marginalized groups.

    MAYBE YES, MAYBE NO in the sense that this was not a pogrom. Omar Mateen is like Anders Breivik: a lone congregant imbibing the transforming drink from the larger chalice of traditional hatreds. There are lone wolves, but there is also the hatred which is in the common cup.

    NO, in the sense that the progress gay rights have made is extensive, and the progress in social acceptance is deep. I'd say the formal goals of the gay rights campaign have been fulfilled. (emphasis on "formal goals")

    YES, in the sense that while gay rights progress has been great, social acceptance is limited to a supermajority of the population (60%, + / -) but that leaves 40% pretty much unwilling to assent to normalization of concrete gay people who have sex among themselves.

    A 40% minority of mobilized citizens is capable of swaying the future. Rights and acceptance can be rolled back, modified, reinterpreted, shaved down to very thin veneers, painted over, and outright revoked. At this point, so soon after SCOTUS rulings which were surprising to even many gay advocates, one wouldn't expect an anti-gay mobilization. There is plenty of time to build one.

    There is also the matter of "acceptance". The pubic scope for usual and customary gay life-styles has been greatly limited. There are now fewer bars. Bathhouses, cruisy parks and beaches, adult book stores, gay movie houses, and such didn't just dry up for lack of patronage: they were actively suppressed. The urban elite ($, power, real estate, etc.) wanted gay riff-raff out of sight. Not just "inside gay establishments" but gone -- go someplace else altogether. Other groups have gotten and get the same treatment. Ghetto youth are also not a welcome sight in better-business-districts.

    Sex among gay men has been privatized: Grindr (and the like) allegedly allow one to locate pre-defined attractive and willing subjects in the immediate vicinity. One can then resort to private spaces to complete erotic transactions. Gay Communities were built through face to face encounters in public group settings--like bathhouses, bars, and cruisy parks. Grindr leads to atomization; cruisy parks and bars lead to community. Repeatedly meeting the same people in a group context builds connections more than meeting isolated individuals one by one.

    Of course, there are many ways of building community these days... But 99% of young gay men do not enter the gay population as experienced community building agents. If there is no extant community to be welcomed by and be admitted to, then they stay more or less isolated.
  • Hanover
    3.9k
    I really refuse to allow a madman's expression to be representative of anything other than that particular madman. That is, whether gay rights are sporadically surging forward and backwards (so to speak) is a question, but it isn't one that should be raised by the recent events. Even our most ardent opponents of gay rights would condemn the massacre in the harshest terms.

    I suppose today's young gays are quite different than the older gays. They've grown up in relative peace, seeing their rights protected and even honored. They don't have to resort to the restrooms, the bathhouses, and the cruisy parks that you mention. They can simply text and grind (I suppose that's how it works).

    And sex among gays isn't the only thing that has changed. It seems from my vantage point that technology and changing mores have changed the behavior of the hetero population. I'm to understand that Tinder is the straight counterpart to Grindr. The point being that sex generally is easier to get and more accepted in all its splendid forms due to the miracles of technology.

    When I was young and single, internet dating was just starting to emerge. You were generally considered a loser if you had to resort to such dating services. Today it's mainstream and accepted. One now must develop one's online social skills to procreate, which, honestly, are far easier to develop than face to face social skills.
  • Arkady
    658
    One now must develop one's online social skills to procreate, which, honestly, are far easier to develop than face to face social skills.Hanover
    I'm not so sure about that. Face-to-face interactions generally induce in people pressure to adhere at least tangentially to some sort of social decorum. This is not true in the online realm, where the cloak of anonymity can bring out the very worst in people, leaving them feeling uninhibited to give voice to whichever insane or hateful thought burbles up in their consciousness.

    It arguably requires more maturity, discipline, and self-restraint to comport oneself in a polite and reasonable basis in an online setting than in the real world, where one risks ruinous damage to one's reputation (not to mention a punch in the face) if one acts in the manner of an internet troll.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    I don't know that Omar Mateen was a madman. So far I have heard that he was volatile and violent (that according to his ex-wife). Even if he suffered from mental illness (a madman) that alone (without more detail) would not fully account for his behavior.

    I am inclined to disagree with the viewpoint of the New York Times, and some Gay Community political types who expressed sweeping conclusions about what the attack meant. I don't see a war on queers here. (That is not to say that in several parts of the world there isn't a great deal of overt hostility toward gays.) What I see is a one-man attack that was probably inspired by both personal feelings and by propaganda he watched on line.

    I was just about too late for bulletin boards, and was definitely too late from on-line dating and Grindr. The trouble with Tinder and Grindr is that the scope for deception is wide. Many a hunter have excitedly followed the screen prompts and arrived at the right location to find that the delicious hunk or fair damsel they were expecting is actually a decade or two older, quite a few pounds heavier, and less socially sophisticated than they had been led to believe.

    There might have been young thugs in the park, trolls in the adult book store, and several old fat guys at the baths -- but it was all quite clear from the get go. Its the WYSIWYG interface. (And quite often, mind you, real honest to goodness hunks were on the scene, and available!)
  • Arkady
    658
    Apparently the Pulse Bar shooting was the expression of at least one man's homo hatred. Does it represent any sort of trend?Bitter Crank
    I think it represents a trend of young men and women who have enjoyed the fruits of a modern Western life (no pun intended, really...) being swept up in the crazy hate-mongering of radical Islamist groups such as ISIS (the shooter was a second-generation Afghani). Your post, while paying lip service to negative religious views towards homosexuality, ignores the elephant in the room. One might name that elephant "radical Islam." The late shooter's father, while apologizing for his son's actions, was also quick to make a point which will no doubt be parroted by left-wing Western apologists in the coming weeks and months, namely that this attack "had nothing to do with religion."

    I've read that the attack was praised on jihadist forums. I wouldn't know: those are the sort of things I'd avoid for any reason whatsoever, even to satisfy my curiosity (I am sometimes curious as to what goes on on pedophile forums, for instance, but that's just not the sort of thing I want in my browser history, no matter how thorough a scrubbing I can give it). One wonders how the apologists will spin this event to say that the massacre of nearly 50 innocent, unarmed gay men (who were targeted specifically because they were gay) was somehow a result of drone strikes and Western hegemony and imperialism.

    I'm also aware that an Indiana man was recently apprehended with a small arsenal and plans to attend a Los Angeles gay pride event. One doubts that his intentions were pure. So, extremists come in all shapes, sizes, and cultural affiliations. It is ironic that the far-right wingnuts who most detest Muslims (whether radical or not, it seems, if the widespread enthusiasm for Trump's "ban all Muslims" plan in some quarters is any indication) are most prone to acting like them in some instances.

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/12/us/california-west-hollywood-suspect-aresenal/
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    the elephant in the roomArkady
    certainly includes radical islam, but I think the elephant also includes Christian and Hindu conservatives too. A plague comes from all their houses because religions define what is moral and immoral for a lot of people, and conservative religions have a fairly long list of immoralities, which include homosexuality, transsexuality, feminism, and so on.

    In the mid-1970s it was the fundamentalist Christians who were preaching against gays in the U.S. Granted, they weren't proposing the lethality which ISIS 'justice' hands out, but they were bitterly opposed to gay rights. A lot of those conservatives are still around, and many of them are still very opposed. My knowledge of Hindu haters is sketchier, but they are capable of fairly violent actions too. In East Africa, for instance, some Christian groups are calling for the death penalty for being, and acting on, one's gay sexuality.

    So while I loathe radical islam, I also loathe other traditions which in their conservative mode resemble radical islam all too much.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    I am sometimes curious as to what goes on on pedophile forums, for instance, but that's just not the sort of thing I want in my browser historyArkady

    I understand. Actually, I'd be surprised if there even was such a thing as a pedophile forum, these days.

    One of the areas I would like to research as part of gay history is the North American Man Boy Love Association. I have zero interest in pedophilia, but there was a strain of pedophilia in the gay community, and it was an extremely divisive political issue back in the 1970s, early 1980s. Whether the principals of the organization are still alive, don't know. But as you say, digging this stuff up even if for academic purposes leaves a trail.

    There was a three way fight among the lesbian-feminists, gay men, and gay pedophiles. The LFs didn't have much affection for gay men to start with, and suspected we were all GPs. Most of the gay men, whatever else they liked, couldn't stand the LFs. The GPs found company in some groups of GM, and were shunned in others.
  • Arkady
    658
    In East Africa, for instance, some Christian groups are calling for the death penalty for being, and acting on, one's gay sexuality.Bitter Crank
    Absolutely. And the fact that some of them are American Christian groups is all the scarier. (Such movements even seem to have at least the tacit approval of certain members of Congress.) Christianity was made to modernize by the forces of secular rationalism, forces which are considerably weaker in certain parts of the world (not that the West occupies some exalted position of ideal rationality).

    However, rather than deploying this inevitable tu quoque, perhaps let us focus on the motivations of this particular shooter. Though the facts on the ground will likely shift as more information comes to light, as it appears right now, he had sympathies with ISIS-affiliated ideologies (even supposedly calling 911 to pledge allegiance to this group before the shooting), and had been under surveillance by American law enforcement for such proclivities for some time prior to the attack. Christianity or Hinduism had nothing to do with it (even though I suspect that at least some American Christians are silently approving of the massacre, thinking it to be the "wages of sin").
  • Arkady
    658
    Actually, I'd be surprised if there even was such a thing as a pedophile forum, these days.Bitter Crank
    Oh, there is, even if they've been relegated to the "dark web." I've seen reporting on this phenomenon, and it is quite disturbing.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    Anyway, getting back to islamic jihadis shooting up gay bars...

    Should there be more of such events, (and there might well be) all sorts of targets are likely to be chosen. This guy apparently found queers especially offensive, but somebody else might find straight strip clubs, or American feminists, or California porn studios, the government, or who knows, maybe the ACLU to be unbearable. Not to mention Christians and Hindus here. There is a well established 3-way antipathy among Christians, Moslems, and Hindus, depending on where one is. While they haven't all been killed, a good share of the Christians occupying the religion's homeland have been driven out. India is a mess of internecine hostilities.
  • swstephe
    109
    Don't forget, this is Florida you are talking about. I spent some of my teenage years there, and my best friend at the time was closeted gay, (disowned by his family for a long time after he came out in college). There is a huge contrast even between neighborhoods. My friend's family were the types who prayed in King James Bible English, (just like Jesus did!), but got really drunk every weekend playing poker where all the family feuds were rekindled and christened with flying home appliances. The cities were pretty progressive. I remember driving past Coconut Grove outside Miami a few times, which was popular with everyone for the amount of vice available around there. You drive 10 miles out of town and you are surrounded by the Anita Bryant types. So I don't think it is "fitful", as much as there are stark contrasts between those struggling or refusing to adapt. I haven't been back in decades, but I've heard that many down there have embraced that whole "your lifestyle infringes on my religious beliefs" excuse. From my experience, it is more testosterone than dogma, and I suspect the bad motivations are more just attempts to "fit in".
  • WhiskeyWhiskers
    151
    Any kind of progress is going to seem "fitful" when Islam is involved. If not for one particular ideology, gays wouldn't really have it much better or worse than any other demographic in America. Not to say it's a perfect situation for them, but everyone's got their issues.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    A previous mass murder of gays, 1973 in New Orleans, has either been forgotten or people didn't know about it to forget. I can't remember whether I knew about it at the time. The New York Times ran a story on it this morning.

    "...before Sunday that grim distinction was held by a largely forgotten arson at a New Orleans gay bar in 1973 that killed 32 people at a time of pernicious anti-gay stigma.

    Churches refused to bury the victims’ remains. Their deaths were mostly ignored and sometimes mocked by politicians and the media. No one was ever charged. A joke made the rounds in workplaces and was repeated on the radio: “Where will they bury the queers? In fruit jars!”

    Minneapolis did not have any such events in the early 1970s, but there were several brutal murders of gay men in Loring Park near downtown. The gay community organized a response: a demonstration (our anger), and set up safety patrols, and alerted the community (such as we could -- no gay papers, no internet). There was no outpouring of support from the larger community. It was a matter of most people thinking, I suppose, "This just isn't our problem."

    In the beginning of AIDS, there was a similar response: "This isn't about us. It's not our problem. We don't do those sorts of things."

    Now, every heterosexual Tom, Dick and Jane flocks to this park to watch the drag queen stage acts, buy rainbow trinkets, and look at each other. There's hardly room for the faggots and queers.

    Back to Orlando: Some media are trying on an interpretation of the Pulse Bar massacre as specifically anti-latino. Was it? I don't know. It seems far more probable to me that it was an anti-gay attack and that the crowd that night was largely latino gays. On another night it might have been more anglo or black. I bet there are bigger and more crowded bars patronized pretty much exclusively by straight latinos in Orlando, and throughout Florida. If Matteen had wanted to attack latinos... there were plenty of targets.

    I'm not quite sure what goes through the minds of producers who decide to seek out families of victims and then interview them about how this might really have been an attack on latinos. Is there some sort of aristocracy of oppressed groups that I wasn't aware of?
  • csalisbury
    1.4k
    I looked up pulse on google street view. I was struck by how nondescript it was, and how depressing the setting was - a dingy dunkin donuts next door, that sense of endless sprawl where dollar store follows fast food restaurant follows gas station. When I first heard the reports, I imagined a chic luxurious place, on a street with a distinct personality.

    I know that's all beside the point, but it felt strange to me and somehow made it all that much sadder.
  • Arkady
    658
    If not for one particular ideology, gays wouldn't really have it much better or worse than any other demographic in America.WhiskeyWhiskers
    If not for Islam, gays in America would have it no tougher than heterosexual white men, for instance? As a heterosexual white man myself, I somehow think that swapping places with a gay guy (a Latino gay one, no less, in the case of this massacre) probably wouldn't be a lateral move for me.
  • Arkady
    658
    before Sunday that grim distinction was held by a largely forgotten arson at a New Orleans gay bar in 1973 that killed 32 people at a time of pernicious anti-gay stigma.Bitter Crank
    Attempting to burn down bars full of gays is not relegated to the 1970s, it seems. One recent attempt to burn down such a bar in Seattle was committed by Libyan immigrant Musab Mohammad Masmari.

    https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2015/08/10/arson-hits-gay-nightclub-seattle-third-time
  • WhiskeyWhiskers
    151


    Ah, the "straight white male" angle. You might as well throw 'CIS-gendered' in there at that point. What I'm saying is that the gay lobby has 'won the culture war' (for better, no doubt). Every demographic has problems, but they manifest in different ways. The recent events in Orlando have certainly made matters worse, for gays and everyone.

    edit, and to claim to know that x group has a particular disadvantage or advantage over the rest is to assume an omniscience no one is entitled to.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k


    I don't know where you live, but the exterior appearance of the Pulse Bar struck me as entirely normal. In many parts of the country, straight and gay bars alike are refurbished only on the inside. The exteriors are maintained in whatever state they were in to start with.

    New bars, these days, aim higher on the design scale, even in the backwaters of the Midwest. And in the largest metropolitan areas, efforts to achieve curb appeal are apparent.

    And sure, lots of bars are in dingy neighborhoods. The property taxes are cheaper there. Toni neighborhoods result in higher property valuations and more taxes and higher insurance fees.
  • csalisbury
    1.4k
    I live in Portland, ME, so that probably has something to do with it. I guess I've always maintained a half-conscious metal separation of sprawl-y areas and social hubs, probably because I associate the former with the transit and the latter with downtowns (with fixity and centeredness.)
  • Hanover
    3.9k
    Don't forget, this is Florida you are talking about.swstephe

    That some people in Florida are accepting of gays and others not hardly makes Florida unique. In Florida, you have a large retired population, a large Hispanic (especially Cuban) population, and some of the old traditional southern US Floridians in north Florida. None of this really has anything to do with the massacre, as if there needs to be an analysis of the mindset of Floridians to try to figure out why it happened there. It's just as likely to happen anywhere, and it's just as likely the target will be some other minority or even America generally next time.

    All it takes is a disturbed guy with a gun.
  • Hanover
    3.9k
    Pretty much off topic, but if you ever quit drinking, you'll realize how boring bars are, how boring drunk people are, how much less it costs to eat a meal, how much earlier you wake up on the weekend, how much more energy you have, how much more you will exercise, how much more you can accomplish in a given week, and how you'll start having a different sort of group of friends. And I say this never having been a big drinker anyway.

    Try it a month and see and report back to me.
  • Arkady
    658
    Ah, the "straight white male" angle. You might as well throw 'CIS-gendered' in there at that point.WhiskeyWhiskers
    Sure, throw it in, as I am cis-gendered, insofar as we need a term to describe that. I'm not sure what "angle" I'm working, though. My point could have been made with any heterosexual white male, or even just a hypothetical one.

    What I'm saying is that the gay lobby has 'won the culture war' (for better, no doubt). Every demographic has problems, but they manifest in different ways. The recent events in Orlando have certainly made matters worse, for gays and everyone.
    I'm not sure I agree: it seems to have produced an upswelling of support and sympathy for gays.

    edit, and to claim to know that x group has a particular disadvantage or advantage over the rest is to assume an omniscience no one is entitled to.
    Why does it require omniscience? Do all knowledge claims require omniscience in your view (such a view would entail that one either knows everything, or one knows nothing)? Or does this particular knowledge claim require omniscience for some reason?

    Gays suffer from any number of sociocultural, personal, and medical maladies at disproportionate rates: in some states they lack protection from being denied a job (or being fired from one) on the basis of their sexuality, being denied housing, etc. LGBT individuals also remain the targets of violent hate crimes, despite social progress being made. They are disproportionately represented among homeless youth, and often face rejection and ostracism from their families for their sexuality. I could go on, but suffice to say that gays (and Latino ones, particularly, as I pointed out above, and which are germane here) and heterosexuals do not have it equally easy in America.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    Here are two graphs from the NYT regarding race and hate crimes. Not pointed out in the accompanying article, but shown in the graph, is that there were fewer hate crimes in 2014 than in 2005, a good thing.

    Terrorism, hate, and violence without ideology are on a continuum, and it is of academic and policy significance where a particular crime is located. It may not make any difference to the victim, however. If he survives the bullet in the gut, and is paralyzed because it lodged in the lower spine, the motivation of the bastard who pulled the trigger won't matter that much.

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    Gay liberation "destabilized" what traditionalists wanted carved in granite. Consequently, violence against gay men, particularly, has tracked their increasing visibility. Gays men were subjected to high rates of expulsion from the armed services during WWII, and when and where gay men became numerous and visible enough to shift the paradigm, attacks increased. The advent of Gay Liberation in 1969 and following led to a sharp increase in discrimination -- violent and otherwise. Over time, room for gay men to be part of the acceptable traditional role of men increased, at least provisionally. Butch was more acceptable than being too pouffy or fagotty of course.

    The same process went for lesbians and transgendered persons. Except, of course, this is the moment where transgendered persons are becoming prominently visible, even if the total numbers of transgendered persons is not very large:

      Since the Social Security Administration started in 1936, 135,367 people have changed their name to one of the opposite gender, and 30,006 also changed their sex accordingly, the study found. Of Americans who participated in the 2010 census, 89,667 had changed their names and 21,833 had also changed their sex. New York Times, June 8, 2015

    "Transgender" has been applied to all sorts of sub-divisions, so the term has become less specific in meaning, and much harder to quantify. Still, the numbers aren't large (compared to at least 2 million gay men).
  • Hanover
    3.9k
    It seems 2005 was a particularly bad year for Jews and hate crimes. It also looks like overall hate crimes were reduced from 2005 to 2014. I'd suspect there is an inconsistency with the definition and identification of a "hate crime" over the decade as well, making the comparison somewhat difficult.

    The courts have weighed in on the hate crime issue over the years with regard to whether they violate free speech rights, so it might also be the case that such laws have been re-drafted more narrowly over the years to comply with the various court opinions.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    There are a host of issues in hate-crime statistics, arising from loose definitions. If you and I went to a bar together, and I grabbed a guitar and led the drunks in a rousing rendition of "Throw the Jew Down the Well (a la Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat) that should qualify as a hate crime, or at the very least, a crime against good taste. If I were to beat you up because I suspected you were a Jew, that would qualify as a hate crime. Maybe if I was a professor and a student thought I pronounced "Jew" in the alleged tone a concentration camp guard, that would probably not be a hate crime (just on the student's say so). And if I walked into a bar full of Jews and killed 49, that would be hate crime. Or terrorism, or mass murder, or a psychotic episode.

    Are statements reflecting homophobia (in the psychoanalytic sense) hate crimes? I don't think so. Are making speeches about why homosexuals should not be allowed to marry a hate crime? I don't think so. Are making speeches about how homosexuals should be rounded up and executed hate speech? I'd count it as hate speech. Is some teenager driving past a gay bar and yelling "Faggots" committing a crime? I don't think so. If he gets out of the car, starts calling guys faggots, and appears to want to pick a fight, that might be a hate crime.

    It depends on content, context, and suggested consequence.

    Advocacy groups that specialize in hate crimes have a vested interest in counting as many acts as hate crimes as possible, else they lose their raison d'être.
  • Hanover
    3.9k
    The First Amendment issue as it relates to hate crimes prohibits illegalizing the expression, but allows the prohibition of the conduct. Some examples (and you can Google the cites) from the Supreme Court: The Court ruled that laws prohibited flag burning were unconstitutional to the extent the law was prohibiting the expression of displeasure against the US. Obviously a state could prohibit burning things in public places as a matter of safety, but not flags specifically. The Court ruled that Minnesota could not prohibit the burning of crosses in people's yards specifically. People have the right to express their racism. Obviously the person could be charged with trespass and certain fire related crimes, but not a specific crime forbidding the racist expression. There was a crazy religious sect that would protest at the funeral of marines, somehow linking them to gay marriage (http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/thugs-try-to-stop-a-marines-funeral-then-bikers-show-up-watch/). The Supreme Court ruled they could do that.

    The point being you have a God given right to hate, so it's hard to properly count hate "crimes" because they won't show up in an official count of "crimes" because the Court doesn't allow us to punish haters. Whether h8rs can be punished is another matter. I h8 h8rs.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.3k
    You are right (of course). I was conflating the term hate "crime" with hate "speech". What the Supreme Court thinks is or is not a crime, is or is not allowable speech, is one thing -- but what advocacy groups count as a hate crime and as hate speech is something else.

    On campus, for instance, some topics are verboten. Wearing a swastika pin would be counted as at least a hateful act, if not a crime, by several different Sensitive Sally groups. Burning a cross at a fraternity BBQ would probably start a riot by SS groups. Some topics on some campuses are supposed to be accompanied by a weather advisory so SS students can take cover.

    I disapprove the category of "hate speech". If people have the right to speak, then they have a right to express views others will call appalling, which they too have a right to do. Several countries in Europe forbid expressing certain views about Nazis -- like, they were nice people, really, and didn't kill all that many people. Total rubbish, of course, but I don't quite understand why people there put up with such a rule.

    I don't like the category of "hate crime" either. Assault, battery, arson, attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm, and murder are crimes already. If you beat me up, that's a bad thing whether you were motivated by hate or by entirely utilitarian, practical objectives. You can call me all sorts of offensive terms (stupid jerk, asshole, son of a bitch, scum filth and dirt, etc.) and not be guilty of hate, but if you mention "fag", then you might be. It just doesn't make sense to me.
  • Hanover
    3.9k
    Several countries in Europe forbid expressing certain views about Nazis -- like, they were nice people, really, and didn't kill all that many people. Total rubbish, of course, but I don't quite understand why people there put up with such a rule.Bitter Crank

    For all that might be said by Europe of the US backwardness, we are extremely progressive when it comes to free speech, largely because it's enshrined in our Constitution, which we hold to be sacred. We can openly lie about politicians with impunity and we can burn our own flags while chanting racist slogans.

    Of course, one must understand the European Nazi rule within the historical context and appreciate why the line may be drawn there. That regime almost ripped the continent apart and sent Western civilization on a very different course. The US, though, which was just a ripped apart by slavery, does not see it that way. In explaining why it struck down the anti-cross burning law as unconstitutional, it said, "Let there be no mistake about our belief that burning a cross in someone's front yard is reprehensible. But St. Paul has sufficient means at its disposal to prevent such behavior without adding the First Amendment to the fire."
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