Monday, August 13, 2007

Hezbollah, billboards and free speech

Last week a billboard popped up in Windsor that had all kinds of people in a tizzy - a local group of Lebanese folks had a billboard put up depicting the leader of Hezbollah to defend "freedom fighters" in Lebanon.

Here's a link to the story in today's Windsor Star about it.

And who's saying it has to be pulled down? Why, the Jewish and Christian-Lebanese communities, that's who. Just remember that next time someone tries to tell you that Muslims are coming to this country to try to take away our freedom of speech (as was the norm following the Danish cartoon fiasco.)

Are these people really in favour of free speech? Would they be OK with a big "SUPPORT ISRAEL" retaliation billboard across the street? Who knows - and that's a separate issue, anyway. They have every right to put up any kind of billboard they want. Hopefully the government won't be intervening in this one.


kursk said...

Janet , Hezbollah has been deemed a terrorist organization by the federal govt.Tacit support of said organization is illegal be it through the print or digital media.

Freedom of speach ends when it causes civil unrest.

These groups have every right to ask that it be taken down.

Janet said...

Saying "freedom of speech ends when it causes civil unrest" is like saying "freedom of religion for everyone but --insert minority religious group here.--"

If it's causing damage to someone's person or property, they have every right to seek those damages from the people who caused it. Unless you think that looking at this billboard is somehow injuring people, I'll have to disagree. Freedom of speech means nothing if you're only allowed to say things that don't upset anyone.

Bleatmop said...

Freedom of speech works both ways. Hezbollah supporters may be free to advertise on a billboard, this is true. But others are also free to express opinions about that billboard. These opinions may take form of being in favor of said billboard or perhaps manifest by pressuring the company who owns the billboard, saying such things as "I will no longer support any product advertised by you so long as you have a Hezbollah sign up. Said group can also freely express themselves by then going to all said company's clients and reiterate the same thing.

Freedom of expression doesn't mean that you have to tolerate everything said by everyone in every context. It only means that that one cannot be legally sanctioned for said freedom of expression. There is no law prohibiting people freely responding and sanctioning others in other manners that I know of.

All that I've seen happen is that "the Jewish and Christian-Lebanese communities" responded to something they found offensive, freely expressed this, and the company that owned the billboard agreed with them, and took the offending ad down. I see nothing that is stopping the Hezbollah supporters from building their own billboard and putting whatever they so choose up there. Maybe if that's what actually happened, then their freedom of expression would have been violated.

NB taxpayer said...

You are completely right, janet. However, just as there is something known as free speech, there is also something known as common sense and good judgement.

The latter two make me not want to see such billboards supported in public, not to mention, the musings of an alleged murderer published. Although, the former makes me realize they do have the right to express themselves freely under the constitution.

Good post btw.

Janet said...

bleatmop - maybe it didn't make it clear in the article I posted, but the mayor of Windsor has been contacted and asked to have the billboard taken down, which is why I felt the need to say something. Other than that, I think we agree 100% - a private company choosing not to do business with someone because of complaints and public opposition to a billboard, book, statement, etc. are all completely within the limits of and to be expected with free speech.

nbt - I think we agree, too. There are a lot of things I have no interest in seeing, funding or supporting (Hezbollah would fall into this category). However, since this is a private group funding the billboard, their bad taste is unfortunate, but I don't think we should trying to legally prevent them from doing it.

NB taxpayer said...

Hey janet, I was hoping to make the LSS this weekend but commitments at work left me unable to attend.

It's quite disappointing because I've been thinking of freedom and liberty a lot lately (still quite an amateur compared to you folks though) and would have liked to hear and share ideas with some good [wholesome] libertarians. lol

Btw, I don't know if you caught the Charlie Rose interview with Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas. Quite comical!! He attempts to dig his way out of his "twisted libertarian" theory. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but he claims to be an individual that believes government and corporations should stay out of a person's (his)business. OK. Rair enough. But where it starts to get wacky is when he explains his solution as a "twisted libertarian": more government regulation on private industry. Huh?

Watch it when you get a chance as I'm certain you'll get a good chuckle. (I don't think the video is up from monday's show yet)

Janet said...

Drats! It's a real shame you can't make it! Hopefully next year.

Ugh - yeah, 'Kos' is not a libertarian, nor does he have any idea what libertarians believe. He has this idea he's come up with of what a "hardcore libertarian" is and he despises them, which makes the fact that he seems to have decided to call himself a libertarian just because it sounds good really, really confusing.

I read a good blog going over exactly what Kos thinks of libertarians (and why it's flawed), but I can't remember where.