It has taken me a few days to decide whether to write this entry. I read TJIC’s original post the day he posted it and I thought it was in very poor taste. When I got the news that his Massachusetts gun permit was suspended, I still could not defend what he said. I’ve asked myself a number of times over the last few days: do I want to associate myself with speech with which I disagree? I decided that it doesn’t matter if I agree with TJIC because ultimately I still believe:
- TJIC had the right to say what he said.
- TJIC’s constitutional rights have been violated by the Arlington Police Department and the State of Massachusetts.
For those reasons, I am TJIC.
I’ve been trying to explain the second point on the xkcd forums for the last few days. The thrust of it is the same thing Borepatch (and everyone else) has been saying; basically, that if he hasn’t even been charged with a crime then due process for denying an individual his constitutionally protected rights has not been served. As I wrote there:
Would you be cool with it if all the government had to do to limit your freedom of speech was suspend a license? A license they don’t even have to grant you in the first place, the issuance of which is entirely up to the policies of your local chief of police or sheriff? Maybe it’ll be a graduated license. It’ll be easy to get one if all you want to do is talk about sports, but if you want to talk about politics or religion you need to get a Class A License to Offend, for which you need to show cause and take an anger management class. And even then you can’t use hate speech or any words that aren’t on the Massachusetts Approved Diction Roster. You can get one without trouble in the suburbs, but in Boston you had better be a professional journalist or, well, I guess you won’t be talking about politics because the Chief of Police there is a hardass who thinks only the Right People need the freedom of speech. If you get caught spouting off about the Governor without a license that’s a felony. Does that sound like an individual right with constitutional protection to you?
I fail to see how TJIC’s First, Second, and Fourth Amendment rights were not violated by confiscating his property without due process. I hope that something good can come of this, namely that we can get a judgment against the Arlington PD and the State of Massachusetts stating in no uncertain terms that their restrictions on constitutionally guaranteed rights are Not Okay. Perhaps a measure of freedom will be restored to its birthplace. I am cautiously optimistic, but I think it is more likely that the governmental bodies involved will try to sweep this incident under the rug as it enters the judicial system and settle the case without conceding anything.