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Hate speech III: Analysis of alleged Tea-Party examples

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Preamble: This is the third (and likely concluding) part in a series. For an understanding of the motivations, rough criteria, terminology, general take on the topic, etc., please read the first part (and, optionally, the second part).

Remarks:

  • The examples are taken from http://samuel-warde.com/2012/07/tea-party-hate-speech-10-shocking-examples/, original title “10 Shocking Examples Of Tea Party Hate-Speech”.
  • The numbering is preserved from the original. Some amount of change might have been made to formatting and typography. The contents themselves have been copy-and-pasted, and (barring accidental over-correction with the spell-checker) all language problems, bracketed comments, and whatnots were already present.
  • The quotes are given by an opponent and have often traveled over several instances, both of which imply that they might have been distorted before they arrived here. Below, I will silently take the quotes as correct, but I extend the warning that this is not necessarily the case.
  • There is minimal or no context, which makes the exact interpretation tricky. While I do repeatedly address context below, I am unlikely to have done so consistently at all points where it is needed, and the reader is encouraged to keep this problem in mind. (Note that the same sentence, even individual words, can have very different interpretations depending on context. Consider “One more step and you are dead!” said by a robber to a victim, by an explosives expert to someone standing in a minefield, and by one child to another.)
  • Through a copy-and-paste action into a text file, I overlooked that the HTML original contained a number of links to other sources (unlike the examples given in the second part). Unfortunately, I only discovered this when I had already prepared what I considered the to-be-published version of this text. Of these links, only six worked (link rot?). I have reviewed these six and added a corresponding addendum to the respective item below. (Not much changes.)

1. Tea Party leader Mark Williams mocks the NAACP.

“We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People, and we demand that it stop…

The tea party position to “end the bailouts” for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare, and isn’t that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bailouts directly to us coloreds…

Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?…

Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.”

Mocking the NAACP is hardly hate speech. The quote is an example of (admittedly crude) satire; not of hate speech. I would agree that this type of satire, especially the putting of words into the mouths of others, is inappropriate, childish, and better avoided, but that is about it—and putting words into the mouths of others is by no means a rare method in the PC and Leftist movements… Indeed, as will be seen, the collector of these examples does so again and again himself.

We might discuss to what degree the mockery does or does not reflect reality (after correcting for exaggeration). I do not feel well-informed enough to judge this, but my own impression of the modern NAACP is at best mixed, and much of the implied criticism does apply to at least some parts of the modern Black movements (whether specifically to the NAACP, I leave unstated). This includes a “complaint mentality” and a “someone else is to blame mentality”.

If the text had been mocking “We Colored People” directly, a stronger case could have been made—but the hostile collector, who knows more about the context, and who would have gained from switching to a more general target, still claims that it is aimed only at the NAACP.

The one iffy point is “Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.”, especially the second half. Indeed, in the context of colored people in general, this could have been taken as a statement supporting slavery or racism; in the context of the NAACP, however, it merely is a case of taking satire too far.

Overall, not hate and not worthy of censorship. If it is worthy of condemnation then for being unfair argumentation—not for being hate speech.

2. Preceding President Obama’s speech before a group of leading Democrats, Tea Party protesters heckled members of Congress, subjecting them to racist and hate filled epithets as well as physical abuse.

“A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a ‘ni-er.’ And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a “faggot,” as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams.”

This is certainly not hate speech. It is worthy of condemnation, and the spitting, if it actually hit, might conceivably even be a legitimate cause for involvement of the law. However, we cannot just take any evil deed and refer to it as “hate speech”. The worst part, the spitting, is not speech at all, of any kind; and even the shouting of slurs are barely speech to begin with. It would be unreasonable to extend the definition of hate speech to include such; and if it were included, it would make any discussion of hate speech seriously muddled.

This even assuming that the events are given with sufficient truthfulness, considering that there are several steps of hearsay involved, at least one involving someone partial (the “staffer”). Credibility is lost by obvious speculation (“deliberately lisp-y screams”).*

*Note to non-U.S. readers: There appears to be a U.S. stereotype of a “gay lisp”, which I, frankly, had never heard of myself until a few weeks ago.

The introduction by the collector is at best misleading*: It speaks of “racist and hate filled epithets” and “physical abuse”—the core description cites two instances of slurs and one instance of spitting… The “hate filled” part is, obviously, further speculation.

*Considering that this repeats again and again, I have to assume that it is deliberate.

I note that this type of behavior is otherwise common among the Left, the PC crowd, and whatnot—and is then often lauded as e.g. showing civil courage… (Cf. e.g. various U.S. events on college campuses, or Swedish events around the much attacked SD party.) It appears to be less fun when the tables are turned…

Addendum based on https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/20/tea-party-protests-nier-f_n_507116.html:

There is no additional information truly significant for this analysis. There are additional statements made, but these speak in generalities, without specific examples.

It appears that “The man who spat on the Congressman was arrested, but the Congressman has chosen not to press charges.”.

3. Michelle Bachmann signs pledge that says that black children were better off during slavery.

“Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

The quote given has no aspect of hate or otherwise inappropriate speech—it merely points to one thing that a child in slavery might have had that a modern might not. (As a divorce child, I can personal vouch for the negatives involved even for a child who is White and leaving in Sweden, with its extensive social-security protections.)

Moreover, in my best interpretation (in the lack of context), the intent is to criticize modern U.S. society and how it has failed these children. Slavery appears to be introduced as a means of contrast because it was bad—not as something that should be rehabilitated.

The introduction is grossly misleading and intellectually dishonest, likely implying the reverse of what Bachmann actually intended. The claim “signs pledge” is particularly atrocious (unless some type of pledge actually was signed). This is far worse than the NAACP mockery above: That was obviously an at least hyperbolic and exaggerated version of what the NAACP might have claimed and done. Here, in contrast, the claim is obviously intended to be taken entirely at face value.

4. Sharron Angle calls for “2nd Amendment Remedies” telling the Reno Gazette-Journal that people are quietly stockingup on ammunition in case they need to resort to insurrection or “fight for liberty” as she put it.

“Angle: I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. This not for someone who’s in the military. This not for law enforcement. This is for us. And in fact when you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical… Manders: If we needed it at any time in history, it might be right now. Angle: Well it’s to defend ourselves. And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.”

Again not a sliver of hate or otherwise condemnation-worthy speech. To boot, the interpretation of the Second Amendment, which could have been a weakness, matches my own impression of standard interpretation. (In other countries, the situation might have been very different, but not in the U.S.) I note the explicit expression of hope that “Second Amendment remedies” will not be necessary.

Again the introduction is highly misleading: Nothing in the quote implies that Angle calls for action—she merely justifies the action she and others might have taken or prepared to take. I repeat the observation that she hopes that action will not be needed—which is close to the opposite of calling for such action.

5. Tea Party hate speech runs amok in Wisconsin over their senatorial recall elections.

“I will tell you ladies and gentlemen, I detest and despise everything the left stands for. How anybody can endorse and embrace an ideology that has killed a billion people in the last century is beyond me,” said Tea Party Nation CEO Judson Phillips.

The quote largely expresses a personal political opinion and does not go beyond anything countless Democrats have said about the Republicans or the Tea Party. There might be hate, but if he actually had hated, chances are that he would have said “I hate” rather than “I detest”.

There are some potentially problematic aspects, largely hinging on exactly what he means by “left”, including whether “everything the left stands for” can be seen as narrow-minded (likely, if the U.S. Democrats are given consideration; but need not be the case, if he has his eyes set on more extreme parts of the left), and whether ascribing the killing of a billion* people to a single ideology is justifiable (depending e.g. on whether the U.S. Democrats are included and put on a level with Soviet Communists**). Here more context would be needed. However, even with a worst-case assumption, there is nothing that would justify actions like censorship. I note that there is no hint of e.g. a call to action to harm members of the Left, to limit them in their rights, whatnot.***

*This number seems exaggerated and its use could be another point of criticism, depending on why this number was used: Was it a deliberate lie to mislead the audience? (Very bad.) Was it just a hyperbolic expression, possibly in the heat of the moment, based on the at least tens of millions that have been killed by various Communist and Socialist dictatorships? (Poor style.) Does he have some type of reasonable calculation that does indicate this number to be true, e.g after including premature deaths by factors like hunger or a weak health-care system? (Possibly OK.)

**I note that the Left rarely hesitates when it comes to associating various opponents with far extremer opponents, e.g. those calling for reduced immigration with Nazis. Even if he were grouping e.g. U.S. Democrats and Soviet Communists together, he would not have been the one to start the abuse. (Which is not to defend it—just to point out that many accusations are more appropriate when raised at parts of the Left than when raised by them.)

***All things that the members of the Left have often suggested regarding their opponents.

Again, the introduction is highly misleading: Even if we were to consider this hate speech, there is nothing that can be considered running amok, even in a highly metaphorical sense.

Addendum based on https://www.politico.com/blogs/david-catanese/2011/08/tea-party-nation-the-lefts-killed-a-billion-people-038167:

There is no real additional information concerning the above, especially no actual discussion of “billion”.

There are some other claims made of (out of context) statements by Tea-Party supporters, but none that would qualify for e.g. censorship.

6. U.S. Rep. Steve King attacks Obama because of his middle name, Hussein.

“…his middle name (Hussein) does matter,” King said. “It matters because they read a meaning into that in the rest of the world. That has a special meaning to them. They will be dancing in the streets because of his middle name. They will be dancing in the streets because of who his father was and because of his posture that says: Pull out of the Middle East and pull out of this conflict.”

Not a shred of hate, not of obvious factual error (barring hyperbole and metaphor), nothing to condemn.

Again, the introduction is misleading: King has in no way attacked Obama with this statement.

Addendum based on http://www.spencerdailyreporter.com/story/1316727.html:

This is a fairly lengthy article, and I have only skimmed most of it. The parts surrounding the above quote (read in more detail), however, appear to conform my thoughts: King does not object to (let alone “attack”) Obama, per se, but is concerned with the impression of his possible* election on the rest of the world—in particular, the Islam world. We might see some of his concerns as exaggerated (“[Islamists] will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11 because they will declare victory in this War on Terror.”); however, being wrong is not a crime.

*The article is dated “Saturday, March 8, 2008”.

7. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas, member of the Tea Party Caucus), is a birther who equated homosexuality with all kinds of insane behavior — too horrible to write here — during a debate on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Followed by not one shred of evidence. Some type of video appears to be linked, but does not play. Recall the repeated exaggerated introductions of those items where a text is actually given.

The claim “too horrible to write here” is a particularly weak excuse: By giving the video (had it worked) his words would still be included in the page, except that the reader now has a ton of extra effort to get to the point… To boot, a sensitive reader would likely be better of reading a claim that hearing it.

I note that exactly this type of attack, where a strongly negative claim is made and left without proof, is a very severe problem with accusations of hate speech.

Addendum based on https://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/debating-hate-crimes-gohmert-rambles-on-about-bestiality-sex-with-corpses-voting-for-a-black-man:

The contents are confusing and incoherent. The text is obviously partial (as is seen by e.g. “rambles on”, in lieu of a more neutral formulation).

My best estimate of events is that Gohmert spoke against a ` “wide open” definition of sexual orientation’ (possibly as a reaction against homosexuality) by pointing to e.g. “bestiality” as something that must (also) be considered acceptable if a laissez-faire attitude was taken. This, in and by it self, is not worthy of criticism. It does, in particular and unlike implied by the collector, not necessarily put those who engage in homosexual acts and acts of bestiality, respectively, on the same level. Generally, trying to find fault with something by pointing to extremes that could be justified by the same type of reasoning is a perfectly valid method.

It also points to a recurring actual problem of arbitrariness of sex vs. sexcrime: Not long ago homosexuality was widely considered a gross perversion and/or outlawed even in the Western world (elsewhere this is still the case). Some countries have bans on bestiality; others do not. Some have bans on prostitution; others do not. Some historical societies (including some ancient Greek) have allowed pederasty or other cases of child–adult sex. Some Churches ban masturbation or extra-marital sex; others do not. Etc.

Now, I do believe that homosexuality should be perfectly legal; however, we have two basic alternatives: Either we do not draw a line anywhere (except for requiring consent) or we must make an ultimately arbitrary choice of where to draw that line. Who is to say that homosexuality should be legal and bestiality* not? If in doubt, it will boil down to a matter of numbers… We certainly cannot argue e.g. that “bestiality is obviously revolting”, because many will say the same thing about homosexuality, and then homosexuality is forbidden again…

*Considering that there are plenty of instances of dogs being the sexual pursuers towards humans, the need for consent cannot be used to rule out bestiality in a blanket manner.

I note that there was nothing in that article that was “too horrible to write here”.

8. Sarah Palin’s PAC puts gun sights on Democrats.

“This is just the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington. Please go to sarahpac.com and join me in the fight.”

?????

This is not only a claim free from anything that can be criticized as e.g. hate speech—it is positively tame by the standards of U.S. election campaigns! (Or is the collector stupid enough to believe that Palin actually implied aggressive use of real guns?!?)

Again, the introduction is misleading. Whether just a little or enormously so depends on whether “gun sights” is intended to be understood metaphorically or literally. If metaphorically, there is not even an unfair accusation of Palin that is worthy of inclusion; if literally, the entire page is discredited—either the collector is deeply, deeply stupid or horrifyingly intellectually dishonest.

Addendum based on https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/24/sarah-palins-pac-puts-gun_n_511433.html:

Apparently, “Palin’s Facebook page now carries a map featuring 20 gun sights, one for each of the Democrats targeted this year by her political action committee SarahPAC.”, which makes the claims by the collector potentially less insane: If these gun sights were overlaid on a portrait of the respective target, I could see how this might cause offense. However, this is not stated, and the use of “map” could imply that the gun sights were aimed at the respective state. (If so, nothing changes.)

However, even if portraits were used, this is on the outside tasteless; and unless someone interpreted this as a wish to literally shot political opponents, claims of e.g. “hate speech” are overblown. (Even discounting the question whether this can count as “speech” to begin with.)

To boot, if these gun sights were the concern of the collector, why did he not quote the sentence about the Facebook page?!?!

9. At the state level, we have Alabama state senator Scott Beason referring to blacks as “aborigines,” while wearing a wire. Its recording was later played at a bingo-related trial in Montgomery.

I am surprised Beason was so carelessly dense as to allow himself to make disparaging remarks about blacks while he was wearing the undercover wire he so wanted to wear.

And it wasn’t just Beason making the comments. A group of Republicans were sitting around, making jokes about the customers and employees of gambling establishments. At one point, state Rep. Ben Lewis of Dothan said the people at Greenetrack are “y’all’s Indians.”

Beason responded: “They’re aborigines, but they’re not Indians.”

In another incident, after opening a speech by saying that “illegal immigration will destroy a community” he closed it by advising his listeners to “empty the clip, and do what has to be done”.

There is too much speculation, with no reasonable support in actual quotes, and too little context for a certain interpretation; however, going by the text it self, the most likely interpretation is that Lewis said something about a group of “native Americans” (not Blacks!) using the older word “Indian”, and Beason corrected him by, correctly-but-unusually, saying that they were “aborigines”. This interpretation is strengthened by Greenetrack appearing to be some form of casino, and casinos often being a matter for “Indian reservations”. If so, there is nothing remarkable at all in the words used. (Except for “aborigine”, while perfectly correct, being an unusual word in the U.S.)

Even had they, however, been talking about Black people, this would merely have amounted to ignorance of terminology, which might be a reason to doubt competence levels—but not to ascribe e.g. hate speech.

The later claim that “illegal immigration will destroy a community”, points to a real potential problem with (large scale) illegal immigration. Had the claim been “could” instead of “will”, there would have been no reason to object; even the “will” falls within the realm of typical-for-a-politician exaggerations and over-generalizations, that are just as, or even more, common on the Left.

The one point that could be problematic is the concluding “empty the clip, and do what has to be done”. However, here the full context would be needed for interpretation, including whether he was metaphorical or literal, spoke of a legal or an illegal act, spoke of a gun clip (potentially: shot them down) or a money clip (potentially: give me money to build a wall), …

(This is an excellent example of why it is so important to have a reasonably large context—especially with people like the collector of this alleged “hate”, who seems very keen on distorting the actual events/statements/whatnot to unfairly attack or discredit his opponents.)

I stress that there is a major difference between legal and illegal immigration, as well as between the respective resistance to them.

Addendum based on http://blog.al.com/jkennedy/2011/06/joey_kennedy_scott_beason_hurt.html:

This is an amateur blog post, apparently with no journalistic or other aspirations. The contents have little more than what is given above, which appears to have been a direct quote. There is no new information, but plenty of derisive and insulting statements. The one interesting take-away is that the above language and likely errors of interpretation belong that blog post—not the collector.

10. Hate Filled Racist & Anti Semitic Signs

Again followed by nothing, except a non-playing video….

I note, however, that certain groups love to use phrases like “hate filled” that amount to speculation about the inner state of other people, and that can usually neither be proved or disproved… To boot they are, in this case, misapplied grammatically—a sign, unlike its maker or carrier, cannot be filled with hate (be racist, be Anti-Semitic, whatnot).

Summary: In all, there is just one example (item 2) that actually comes across as so bad as to warrant intervention—and that example is still not hate speech. Most of the rest are nonsense or rely on additional, unproved and often unstated, assumptions, to even be relevant. This in a text that promises “10 Shocking Examples Of Tea Party Hate-Speech”…

If these examples are taken as a basis, hate speech is not much of an issue. Certainly, the common claim that the “Right” would be the source of most hate speech would fall flat on its back, because the Left and the PC crowd (feminists in particular) do worse quite often.*

*Unfortunately, I have probably never treated this topic in detail, usually being more interested in faulty or intellectually dishonest argumentation and censorship. However, [5] provides an example of feminist “debating” where I was involved myself—as might some similar or related texts. At least two texts briefly mention death wishes towards opponents: [6], [7]. Some texts, including [8], discuss other problems, including physical misbehavior, that the collector might have (mis-)defined as hate speech.

I also note that the page contains the claim “Yet, if one takes a look at some of their statements over the years – one is reminded of the admonition to beware of pointing a finger at someone because 4 are pointing back at yourself.”, to which I feel forced to answer: One should sometimes take one’s own advice.

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Written by michaeleriksson

July 21, 2018 at 12:40 pm

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