Happy 4th of July, Slants and Redskins!

July 04, 2017

I would put every cent I have on the fact that Aoki, a man who tried to influence public policy though a virtual unknown, a self-appointed leader who claims to speak for the majority of Asians, had zero comprehension of the irony and hypocrisy in his screed. In any event, for a man supposedly dedicated to standing up for Asians who are demeaned, Aoki is certainly quick to demean “his people” if they dare step out of line.

Of course, Aoki was hardly alone in lamenting the court’s decision. Writing in USA Today, Manhattan attorney Daniel Kornstein condemned the ruling as “a victory for government-sanctioned bigotry,” adding that the court “should have more carefully balanced the interests of free speech with the strong public policy against prejudice and discrimination.” No, it shouldn’t have. As Justice Alito bluntly stated, free speech is more important than the left’s mushy-headed crusade for “racial tolerance.” 

As most legal experts pointed out after the decision, Tam will undoubtedly lead to the Washington Redskins football franchise being able to regain its trademarks (trademarks that were canceled by the government in 2014 because they were deemed “racially offensive”). So thanks to Tam, I can now trademark the name of my new Native American/Chinese-fusion restaurant, Big Chief Prairie Nigger’s Chinky Chinaman Rice & Buffalo Bowls. That’s a joke, of course. But what matters to me on this July 4th is that we live in a country in which I can make a patently offensive joke like that and not be hauled off to jail or a “human rights tribunal.” The Founding Fathers had a lot of ideas that were radical at the time. Challenging the divine right of kings, the right of a colony to break free from its mother nation, etc. Those ideas aren’t radical anymore. But the notion that unpopular, hateful, or inflammatory political and ideological speech should be given absolute protection from government censorship is still every bit as radical today as it was back then (indeed, perhaps more so). Even a nation like New Zealand, which regularly flaunts its love of free speech, has hate-speech laws. Ditto Iceland, Denmark, etc. “Free” countries, to be sure. But to a point.

People like Guy Aoki also routinely say they love free speech…to a point. And, to me, “to a point” means not at all, because the moment the government has the power to censor speech based on the offensiveness of the content, that’s the moment you no longer have free speech.

A couple of years ago, I wrote ominously about how the Supreme Court may soon consist of enough justices who are sympathetic to the concept of “group defamation” that we might one day in the not-too-distant future see “hate speech” restrictions here in the U.S. The Tam decision makes me regret my pessimism. Frankly, it’s nice to be able to write about good news every now and again.

So, to all my readers—slants and redskins included—have a happy 4th of July!

Daily updates with TM’s latest