civil liberties say what

Boston Judge Rules Free Speech Doesn’t Count If Cops Need To Beat You

Is this sort of scenario 'before' or 'after' free speech is nullified?

Judge Frances McIntyre lifted the restraining order preventing Boston Mayor Thomas Menino from gleefully sending in his minions to tear down the Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square, although the camp hasn’t yet been raided. Here’s the creepy stand-out line from the judge’s ruling: “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.” Uhhh. So new memo to everyone! You can “express” yourself all you want, up until the cops/nervous mayors/freaked out bank executives decide your face would look a little more friendly to them with pepper spray in it. Thanks for clarifying!

The fun doesn’t stop there! In Washington, at least 62 protesters were arrested yesterday after hundreds gathered to stage a non-violent action blocking intersections along K Street — you know the place, it’s where all the lobbyist orcs dwell — amid heavy rain:

In San Francisco, cops gave protesters an entire five minutes to vacate their encampment during an early Wednesday nighttime raid and then arrested 85 people. So polite! The order came after Police Chief Greg Suhr threw up his hands and declared that no one from the Occupy SF camp was, um, returning his emails? Sure, that sounds legit. [Garrett Quinn's Boston.com blog/YouTube/SFGate]

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233 comments

    1. yrbmegr

      Of course you can. The judge said that the constitution does not "outlaw" much in the way of expression. It's a free country, after all. And the police are free to beat you up any time they want.

      1. OneDollarJuana

        Chet, how about :

        "I guess those awful colonists Chinese deserved to get shot squished for wanting independence"?

        or

        "I guess those awful colonists slaves deserved to get shot for wanting independence"?

  1. bureaucrap

    Ya gotta love the reasoning behind the decision: "Speech is not protected if I decide I want to hit you because of it." Wow…just…wow.

    1. Swampgas_Man

      No, this is GOOD news. ANNOYING SPEECH IS NO LONGER PROTECTED! I'm gonna find the nearest GoOPer and punch 'im in the throat.

      1. horsedreamer_1

        I'm going to start a black-market Medicare scooter ring in Poland. Teatard says something to piss me off, I take out his teetering legs (not made to support 400#) & steal his wheels. Then, ship them out, & profit.

  2. SexySmurf

    I'd say this is good news for Vladimir Putin, but the State Department has always been immune to irony.

  3. Spurning Beer

    So it is constitutionally protected free speech for a corporation to contribute unlimited amounts of money secretly to politicians, and to spend money on K Street hustlers and take it as a business expense. But citizens who want to assemble peacefully to call for redress of grievances have no constitutional protection from governmental arrest and detention.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    1. yrbmegr

      We have a fundamental breakdown in progress. Separation of powers was thought of as a way to ensure the federal government adheres to the constitution. After all, absent any real separation of powers, there is no incentive for the federal government to limit itself, and the constitution provides no remedies. The breakdown that is in progress is that parties, not branches of government, are governing us now. And they are more concerned about each other, specifically the leadership of the two parties, than they are about us. The only reason they pay any attention to us is because we can vote. That is an annoying distraction, so they are motivated to minimize it. We are witnessing the clearing of the political field in the US, and our constitutional republic rapidly devolving into a despotism before our very eyes.

      1. V572 the Merciless

        Wait a minute, hold on…you can still take your issues to the Supreme Cou — uh…never mind.

    2. jakegittes

      You just don't get it. The times have so changed on you.

      Money = speech.
      Swinging a baton = speech.
      Pepper Spraying = speech.
      Speaking about unacceptable concepts and ideas ≠ speech.

    3. Beowoof

      Oh yeah like any of those assholes care what it says even if they bothered to read it. The constitution and freedumb are only important when claimed by fat rich white guys. (See Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump etal).

  4. Pragmatist2

    The good news is that speech AFTER a forceful act is still permitted. So you can yell "Ouch" after you get hit with a baton without fear of retaliation, other than by force.

    1. pdiddycornchips

      That's only if you're not brown skinned. Police are allowed to shoot you at their leisure because brown skin frightens them. When brown skinned people yell "ouch" cops hear, "I have a gun and I'm gonna rape your wife". BRAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTT!

    1. sbj1964

      Our own Government seeks to be able to use the Military to arrest and detain without charge anyone they consider a threat? That's it they have gone too far !Every American must stand with the Constitution,and reject this evil attack on everyone's liberty.

  5. ProgressiveInga

    When are OWS protesters going to issue an apology to law enforcement before they cause a forceful response!?!

  6. KathrynSane

    Menino is giving them 'til midnight to evacuate. I've never been to an Occupy camp, but I've been gnashing my teeth over that sentence so much I might go down there tonight.

  7. paris biltong

    Other than "being Jewish" which incited Kristallnacht, do you know what other acts have incited forceful responses?

      1. proudgrampa

        Gleiwitz Incident: "It was intended to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany in order to justify the subsequent invasion of Poland"

        Boy, the Bushies sure stole from THAT playbook. Can you say "Weapons of Mass Destruction?"

    1. V572 the Merciless

      Not allowing a de facto invasion of your country to "prove" that you don't have weapons of mass destruction?

      Ah, OIF — now that was a forceful response.

    2. Nothingisamiss

      Being poor, of any color, on the streeet (or culvert, hiding under a bridge) is especially an incitement of our hero law police fellows.

  8. Not_So_Much

    A whole bunch of obese mouth-breathers occupied the parking lot of a new local Chick-Fil-A the last two days to win a year of free "food". I'm sure there a couple of coronary episodes, but no SWAT beatings.

  9. SayItWithWookies

    So sitting in the park is now an act that incites a forceful response? I'm glad we're back to "them hippies was askin' for it" as a justification for police action now — it makes the world so much simpler when anything you do is wrong.

    1. tessiee

      Yeah, if only those troublemakers had been camped outside of Walmart in the hopes of buying some made in China crappolla.

  10. GuanoFaucet

    You have the right to free
    Speech as long as you're not
    Dumb enough to actually try it.

    -The Clash

  11. SorosBot

    You know, this judge's ruling has incited me towards a forceful response, that of wanting to kick him in the balls; therefore it is unlikely to be protected by the First Amendment.

      1. BigDumbRedDog

        Kick her in the vag! I know its not quite the same, but it will get the point across. Especially with those giant metal robot feet.

      2. SorosBot

        Ah, didn't click on the article; damn those names that are used for both men and women. I want to kick her in the got then.

        1. flamingpdog

          Didn't your mamabot teach you that Frances is fer gals and Francis fer boys, and talking mules?

          Try typing an italicized i correctly, the first time, sometime.

      3. tessiee

        As I learned the hard way after an *extremely* unpleasant incident with the pommel horse in high school gym class, a blow to the ladybits can be debilitatingly painful.

    1. chicken_thief

      I heard on the radio that a MA school district ruled that a victim who kicked a bully in the groin so the bully would stop choking him is to be handled as a sexual assault.

      So kick 'em in the face, just to be safe.

      1. Puffperney

        Knee. People never think of this most vulnerable target. Easier to hit than the crotch (larger, can be struck from any angle) but just as effective, perhaps more so, in immobilizing. Also, can be used with either gender.

      2. Steverino247

        That's pretty stupid. The idea of sexual assault is that the perp uses a sexual organ as a weapon because anybody who would do that obviously needs to be kept away from the public and sharp objects.

          1. GOPCrusher

            I hate Martha Stewart with the heat of a thousand suns, but I'll give her a "thumbs up" for that one.

  12. weejee

    Sitting/standing in a Dewey Square incites a forceful response? Appears Judge McIntyre is looking to get police over-reaction to incite a response that will allow the cops to shoot with real bullets all those dirty hippies.

    Though in real time it can be very hard to keep a lid on, try to remember OWSers that almost always it is the guy who throws the second punch who draws the flag. Hold the vision and remember that non-violence will eventually win out.

    1. V572 the Merciless

      Ah, the NFL. Are there any useful life lessons it doesn't teach us?

      For instance, when one of your teammates is writhing in agony on the turf, don't look at him or talk to him.

  13. Steverino247

    What about the Occupy the Tournament of Roses parade route. The Pasadena fuzz don't beat up the people trying to get a good location to watch the parade from.

    1. Callyson

      With a "We are the 99%" float, made of fair trade roses…love it! I would haul my ass out of bed and drive up to Pasadena in the middle of the night to get to see that gem…

      1. Steverino247

        You might even volunteer to put the petals on the float, too. Petal to the metal, so to speak…

        I know a guy who runs a business along the parade route and he tells me about how people relieve themselves on his property while camping over night. Yeah, people are swine.

        1. yyyaz

          Politicians are swine. This same scenario has been playing for a hundred years in Pasadena, yet the douchebags who see only $$$ heading in their general direction somehow cannot bring themselves to redirect some of those munniez to — horror of horrors! — public welfare, i.e., port-a-potties. This is why we can't have nice things. Or events. Or civilized society.

          1. Steverino247

            Agree that this is the solution. There was a guy, formerly homeless and then successful businessman, who arranged for such a facility near his place of business. Of course, the city gave him shit about it. He went to the press and described what it was like to be homeless and needing someplace to go. He was paying for it and these things are all over during construction anyway, so what the hell. Nope, it's the Chamber of Commerce view of your city that matters, not what you really do for your citizens.

  14. dadanarchist

    You don't have any rights as citizens in this country, only as consumers. Our entire model of citizenship is built around a consumer model. You can assemble until "closing time." You can speak but only through money. You can exercise political power but only through "choosing" a "product."

  15. slithytoves

    So this is what our troops are fighting for. I'll keep that in mind the next time some republican variant of a tapeworm pontificates on how our troops die to protect my constitutional rights.

    1. DaRooster

      Since 9/11 I have had a hard time with the whole,"They are in Iran/Afghanistan protecting our freedom" shit.

      1. tessiee

        I have to give them credit for a job well done, when you consider that no Iraqis/Afghanistanis have ever pepper sprayed me.

  16. An_Outhouse

    You have the free speech right to say "Ouch!!" , "Quit it!!", "Stop, that hurts", and "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh".

  17. Dudleydidwrong

    "…an act which invites forceful response" is not protected. OK, judgie. If I say that your ruling is full of shit, is that an invitation to you to send forth the troops? I'll never invite you to my fucking birthday party again. Never. And your wife and rent-boy are off the list, too. And that framed and signed copy of the Constitution–I want it back. You sure aren't using it.

  18. Ruhe

    Judge McIntyre's clerk, Winston Smith, noted that the language the judge used in his ruling was surprisingly found to be actually in the Constitution all along.

    1. SorosBot

      It's the kind of hypocracy where you claim to support "freedom" and "liberty" but think the government should ban same-sex marriage (abortion too).

      Wait, not that Paul?

  19. ttommyunger

    " …but an act which incites forceful response is…" This is made up out of thin air. A "forceful response" by a cop requires three things: 1. The stated or perceived intent to harm. 2. The actual ability to harm. 3. An overt act. Cops do not have the right to use force (forceful response) on a person not exhibiting ALL THREE of the foregoing. I taught arrest procedures, the service revolver (this was in the 70's) and unarmed defense at a Federal Law Enforcement Academy for seven years. It's one thing being on the slippery slope to Martial Law, it's another to give a shove, as this asshole Judge has done.

      1. ttommyunger

        Federal Protective Service Academy, SE Region,Marietta, Ga. (pre-FLETC). I was acquainted with the Treasury Dept. 13 week Police School in DC, having completed it in '74. Was offered a slot at FLETC when FPS Academy was slated to close, but opted for early retirement rather than moving family (3 kids in school) to Glynn County, Georgia Schools. Wasn't impressed with what I'd seen coming down the pike, anyway. Never regretted the decision.

        1. V572 the Merciless

          We once (1997?) aspired to do their master planning, but didn’t get the job. Lieberman’s beloved DHS swallowed up the operation now and has expanded it all over the place, as is their wont.

          1. ttommyunger

            I care less about any of it. Just want to fly under the radar for the rest of my life. Fuck-em!

  20. DahBoner

    an act which incites forceful response is unlikely to pass as express speech.

    Massive fraud leading to massive Main Street unemployment incites a "forceful response"?

    HELL YEAH!

  21. RadioYKWE

    You can “express” yourself all you want, up until the cops/nervous mayors/freaked out bank executives/Fatherland Security decide your face would look a little more friendly to them with pepper spray in it.

    Because this doesn't seem to be a coordinated effort at all to suppress OWS and hope it goes away.

    1. Callyson

      Red Sox? Try being a Pirates fan…you'll find that freedom of speech business comes in handy when your team collapses yet again…

  22. Tundra Grifter

    I haven't passed the bar in California (heck, I haven't passed a bar anywhere in years) but here's my question. Why is this seen as a First Amendment freedom of speech issue, rather than a First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances issue?

    1. LettucePrey

      My guess is because the protestors do not have permits to protest on public property, and given their orders to evacuate, they are technically trespassing. Their speech is protected, but their right to assemble (in that particular location) is not.

    2. bureaucrap

      That's what's so distressing about this. Usually if a law enforcement entity wants to stop protesters, it can cite "time, place and manner" restrictions or trespass. Instead, this is just a post-hoc "if he hit you, it's because you did something wrong" justification. I haven't read the opinion yet, but it suggests that the police walked into the situation without even a plausible legal rationale they could subsequently present to the judge. Generally state or municipal court judges maintain perhaps excessively cordial relationships with local law enforecement authorities, but this just takes the cake.

  23. rocktonsam

    in other news, in Scott Walker" s Wisconsin , now you have to have a permit to occupy/assemble and be on the hook financially for police protection and clean up.

    Apparently this pertains to Tea Party rally's as well.Probably.

    Free $peech indeed.

    1. bagofmice

      Free unneeded apostrophes as well? Seriously that is some shit ass grammar. Failing to capitalize at the start, attempting to use a quotation mark as an apostrophe. And then the spacing around the commas and periods? Are you on a bus and phone or something?

    2. OneDollarJuana

      But there haven't been any TP rallies lately, have there? I'm guessing that they have been figured out, and are seen to be the shills that they are.

    3. Chichikovovich

      If I recall correctly, there was some language about "not more than four people". So I guess less than that is OK. SOLUTION: OWS can incoporate! Then it won't be 3000 people gathered. Just one corporate person, exercising the corporation's right to free speech.

  24. kissawookiee

    You have the right to say "USA!" and "I am the one percent!" just like everybody else. Saying stuff like "income inequality" and "Wall Street blows goats" and expecting not to get a Defense Technology 56895 MK-9 Stream, 1.3% Red Band/1.3% Blue Band facial as a result? Well, that's some special rights you're asking for there, son.

  25. sbj1964

    It has come to this .The Constitution of the United States is under attack by the 1% ,and the corrupt Judges,and Politicians they have bought ,and payed for. If the government can do such to one man;it can do unto many.

  26. Mumbletypeg

    CNN experts build/ draw upon/ barf-up the following observation:

    "Letting disgruntled citizens vent is important to national security, experts say, but some messages emanating from angry Americans in recent weeks have pressed the boundaries of free speech."

    Except this was in April 2010 and Jim Newell was having fun at CNN's expense for half-baking their hasty conclusions at the Tea Party's expense. (Mind you, 'baggers: non-violent protest does not encase vandalism nor threats phoned or emailed to public officials, spitting on Congressmen nor cutting the gas lines on their private property.. )

  27. SpiderCrab

    “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.”

    -Judge Frances McIntyre

    Fran, I'm no lawyer, but I know a moron when I read one, and you're a moron.

    1. Negligently_Joe

      You'd better watch out, talk like that might incite a forceful response from Judge McIntyre.

  28. mookwrthwilson

    So the Civil Rights protesters weren't protected by the 1st Amendment because Bull Connor turned the hoses and dogs on them??? Good to know.

  29. neiltheblaze

    Mayor Mumbles is tired of Boston being thought of as "liberal" – and why should the Mayor of Oakland have all the fun?

  30. sbj1964

    Congress is trying to pass a law that will allow the military the ability to arrest anyone who opposes the government just by claiming that person is a terrorist ,and will be able to hold them without trial indefinitely. Vote these corrupt evil bastard out ! They are attacking the fundamental rights of all Americans.

  31. mavenmaven

    I sadly see this as a precedent for rape cases. Wearing that short skirt incited a lawful forceful response, etc. Very sad days for us all.

  32. sunmusing

    To the Wonketeers, here is a music video, from a group of talented folks who live in a small mountain town in Colorado. Thanks to all the Wonketeers, whos unfailing humor, and brilliant insight, are helping to frame the debate in our country. Well, at least being able to laugh at the absurdity of the situation in our country. http://youtu.be/hfhy-4VF8rA

  33. spends2much

    Visa keeps telling me to pay my credit card bills. It incites a forceful response from me, so, YAY, now they have to stop asking me!

    Thanks Judge Fascist!

  34. Callyson

    an act which incites forceful response is unlikely to pass as express speech.
    So, if I want to drop – kick the Republican presidential candidates every time they say something hateful, that's OK? Thanks judge!

    1. GOPCrusher

      To be fair, Bernard Goetz looked like the kind of guy that had taken a few ass whoopings in his day. When was the last time you heard of Charles Bronson being accosted by a gang of thugs?

  35. donner_froh

    /snark off/
    If there are enough people with the courage and patience to oppose/protest/occupy the current power structure there will be continued mass arrests, beatings and eventually much worse.

    It's the only way they know how to respond to any significant provocation.

  36. Antispandex

    What America Stands For

    Nazis marching through a Jewish neighborhood – Protected free speech.
    Protesting dirty and dishonest banks and business practices – A brutal assault demanding violent retribution.

    If you disagree, maybe you need to be beaten too. Not too Hopey, huh?

  37. Generation[redacted]

    American Free Speech 101: You are not allowed to yell "You're fired" in a crowded room of bankers.

  38. Chet Kincaid

    When the TSA grabs Grandma's boobs and irradiates the family jewels, we call these efforts ineffective "security theater." When OWS protestors get the inevitable beat-down, we are all outraged. But since the movement doesn't have a practical goal or plan beyond letting the world know that we are pissed, is this not "protest theater?" (I know, I'm lower than a boil on Neilist's ass for even asking.)

    1. donner_froh

      Sometimes it takes a while for discontent with the political/economic system to coalesce into a coherent movement with some form of structure, goals and worked out methods. Sometimes it doesn't happen at all and the level of general animosity and uneasiness just goes up a bit. I think that OWS challenging wealth distribution and banker insanity is a good first approximation of organizing.

      It may not go any farther but we certainly found out the pressure points that can be prodded non-violently.

      Whatever happens it is way too late–the downward spiral of collapsing capitalism is unstoppable and conditions will continue to get worse.

    2. sati_demise

      oh for gods sake. Just join the Occupy Wall Street facebook page and STFU.

      The real problem is all of our governmental regulatory agencies, our media, our elections, and our politicians have been corrupted by Multinational Corporations.
      These Multinationals are creating MORE inequality all over the world- they privatize the profits and socialize the losses (in environmental degradation among other ways).

      This has to end. Kick Monsanto out of the FDA, kick Exxon, the Koch Bros, et al, out of our Energy policy, kick all the lobbyists out of K Street . Kick the banks out of DC.
      (Occupy Wall Street protested there yesterday).

      Just don't keep blaming your lazy ignorance on 'Occupy' not having a message. They have one. And they drive it home in various ways all over the nation.

    3. prommie

      "I used to think I was alone, I ain't alone any more. . .
      Hollow box
      Steel string
      Union made
      Let freedom ring
      Me and my people are hungry
      Me and my people are through
      Me and my people are ready
      Me and my people are just about due
      I'm a massive air strike on a beautiful night
      Yeah this is my song I'm singin
      Somebody better start countin
      We're comin out and we're comin
      Out swinging"

      I think its enough of a purpose to show all the people out there who think they are alone and powerless, that they are not.

    1. Negropolis

      No shit. Apparently, it costs as much as an expensive Supreme Court case that rules that money is speech.

  39. hagajim

    Boston Judge Rules Free Speech Doesn’t Count If Cops Need To Beat You Needs To Read The Fucking Constitution – fixed.

  40. HarryButtle

    Did Judge McIntyre base his opinion on Judge Julius Hoffman's Bobby Seale ruling in Chicago?

    Though your brother's bound and gagged, and they've chained him to a chair…

  41. V572 the Merciless

    Continuing our off-topic discussion of flying military hardware, it appears that Iran "electronically hijacked" the drone they're now showing the world, and the fact that it appears to be intact would bear that out. Ruh-roh! — watch out for drones with HELLFIRE missiles under their wings. There's no way to tell who's driving em!

    Also: brave 2nd Amendment proponents at VA Tech have started shooting cops or whoever's around. Two dead so far.

    1. GOPCrusher

      Iran "electronically hijacked" our drone?
      Thank the Dieties that we weren't using them around civilized nations.

  42. OneDollarJuana

    What galls me is that the police are always whining (yes, whining) about how badly they are perceived by the public they are working so hard to protect, then they go off and beat the shit out of anyone who looks cross-eyed at them. For example, the Feds are investigating the Seattle Police. The Feds don't do this for no reason.

    1. GOPCrusher

      I think the apologists are worse. I always want to throat punch some asshole that says "If you don't want the shit to be beat out of you, then do what the Police tell you to do."
      They're usually the same assholes that say that they will refuse to pay when the insurance mandate kicks in.

      1. Negropolis

        And, they usually say it meaning "those people" (insert name of minority), but when a cop so much as stop them they are screaming unlawful arrest/brutality/discrimination.

  43. fitley

    Why is anybody surprised? Being elderly, black, pregnant, injured, or mentally challenged is good enough reason for PIGS to taser people. Sometimes tasering till death. Why should this be any different? PIGS will be PIGS.

  44. anniegetyerfun

    Well, don't make your face so soft and smashable, if you don't want to cops going after it with a baton.

  45. HogeyeGrex

    At least the typos in the linked article are appropriate.

    The testimony of the paintiff

    No doubt.

  46. fletc3her

    Because we all know the government would never make a bad decision. They're the government for chrisakes.

    1. prommie

      Just like our most valued legal axiom, the presumption of guilt, because hey, the police wouldn't have charged them if they weren't guilty.

  47. Swampgas_Man

    No worries, this will be quietly overturned– AFTER the cops go wild on the 99ers and people are looking the other way.

  48. Negropolis

    I have a feeling that sooner rather than later this, too, shall pass…

    Don't know if they noticed, but OWS hasn't gone away. It's not going away. You're not pushing that genie back in the bottle. They'll be at every townhall, every immoral fundraiser, every suburban WalMart,…everywhere. They'll be at the Santa Clarita EconoLodge conference room, they'll be at any community center, anytime, they'll be at the Tulsa waterpark, the Plano Sportsplex, every exurban shopping mall, every public square…everywhere…they'll be there.

  49. Negligently_Joe

    So, the force used by the police against non-violent protesters proves that the police were justified in using force against non-violent protesters?

    Wow, there's absolutely nothing at all specious, self-referential or tautological in this ruling whatsoever.

  50. tessiee

    "an act which incites forceful response is unlikely to pass as express speech.”

    Have I completely lost my command of the English language, or did this assmarmot just rule that, if the cops beat or mace you for it, it is by definition not Constitutionally protected free speech?

Comments are closed.