Friday, 18 July 2008

More Fuel For The Hypocrisy Fire

I notice that once again, to no-one's surprise, the free speech defence that I've shot down before has come crawling out of the woodwork.

Donation to same-sex marriage opponents draws boycott calls.

This is a slight wrinkle on the endlessly recycled fallacy that free speech is the right, not to say whatever one wishes, but to say whatever one wishes without fear of any negative consequence. Ricky Bobby's unique interpretation of the Geneva Convention notwithstanding, of course, this is a pretty idiotic argument, as I've said before.

It's patently ridiculous to argue that the paying money in the hopes of curtailing other peoples freedom is free speech, but calling for a boycott in opposition to those payments is a “bullying” tactic [1]. If the flow of money for political purposes is free speech, then the withholding of money for political purposes is also free speech. Frankly I'm not sure I subscribe to the former anyway, although I recognise that in this case the aim is to fund a signature drive to force a vote on the issue, rather than to bribe anyone into taking a given direction. Still, short of trying to put together a similar drive on the other side (which I'm not sure would even work, I'm not up on the methods used for amending the California constitution, and would certainly be hard for anyone who doesn't have $125,000 lying around the house for a rainy day), what options do opponents have but to remind these high-level donors that choices have consequences? No-one's talking about bombing the hotels, or roughing this guy up, or even suing him. They're just saying "This guy is a dick, don't give him money which may end up being used to constitutionally disenfranchise a group of citizens".

Nope. If this guy gets to do what he wants with his money, then so do his customers, and everyone else gets to pass comment on both if they want to. That's free speech.

[1] This is skipping over the fairly obvious point that there are a lot more people opposed to gay marriage (to varying degrees of strength) in California than there are gay people, which makes the former hoping to tell the latter that they cannot marry under the threat of legal consequence a lot closer to the definition of bullying that a bunch of people refusing to use your hotel does.

Update: I just realised that this was my ninety-ninth post. What can I do for the one hundredth, I wonder.


Oh, and my computer still isn't fixed.


Gooder said...

But the guy is also free to say that call for boycotts is a bullying tatic - as you point out they could be making a counter-drive to raise funds instead of calling for boycotts.

Plus it's not even the hotel owner that's quoted as saying it's a 'bullying' tatic but another pressure group.

Don't actually see any hypocrisy, nobody has actually said that other side are rgiht out of order.

SpaceSquid said...

Ah, you're quite right, it's not Manchester himself who made the "bullying" argument, just
supporters of the same drive. Which means that we're still talking about people who think giving (or taking) money in order to curtail civil rights is entirely fine and dandy, but people stopping hanging out in their lobbies because of it somehow constitutes "bullying". Still seems like hypocrisy to me.

I already pointed out that a counter-drive may not work (unless you know more about the way the California State Legislature modifies the Constitution than I do), and moreover fund-raising makes sense when your horribly rich, but a boycott is probably more useful when you're a bit lighter of pocket.

And of course he or they or anyone else is free to say the call is a bullying tactic. My point is that they're hypocrites and they're wrong. My commitment to free speech in no way requires me to not point out when people are idiots, which is kind of the overall point of these rants.