- Kathryn Patterson
A New Type of Obscenity? I Hope Not.
Earlier this month, Adam Lamparello from the Indiana Tech - Law School published a research paper titled "'God Hates Fags' is not the same as 'Fuck the Draft': Introducing the Non-Sexual Obscenity Doctrine". Basically, Mr. Lamparello wants to create a new class of obscene language out of hate speech. On the surface, this doesn't sound too bad. I mean, everyone is against hate speech, right? I can hear some people now, thinking to themselves that they would like statements like that to be illegal. Everyone knows what hate speech sounds like, why don't we call it obscene and be done with it? The problem comes from the fact that obscene language is legally not protected by the First Amendment. So expanding the definition of obscenity restricts everyone's right to free speech. If I never hear the words 'God hates fags' again, I will be quite happy. But that doesn't mean I consider the words obscene, just obnoxious. But we need an example that explains my position better. Let's say the words " hates " is considered obscene. Then every kid who in a moment of anger shouts "I hate you!" to her parents is now using obscene language. Or saying "God hates Marry Poppins" becomes obscene language. Really, KatFrog, aren't you being a bit ridiculous? After all, Mr. Lamparello only means phrases that we all consider obscene. He even says, "In short, we not only know obscenity when we see it. We know where we see it as well.". I can hear you saying this now. But a quick look at history shows that that relying on the general public's common sense is a slippery slope down to witch trials, book burning, sterilization of innocent people, and other shameful events.
In other words, give the general public an inch, and it turns into a raging mob that tries to one-up itself in how restrictive it can be.