Thursday, May 04, 2006

Update: Sedition in Montana.

Back in December I had a couple of posts about a group of law students in Montana who were seeking clemency for people convicted under a World War I law criminalizing public speech criticizing the government and war efforts. Those posts can be found here and here. In the second post, which was a brief update, I noted that Colin over at Infamy of Praise had also picked up on the story, and I noted that Colin, while arguing that clemency was appropriate because such speech should not have been criminalized, also recognized the difference between criminalizing speech and noting that speech might be unpatriotic. To say that the speech should be "legally allowed" is not the same as defending the speech or somehow implicitly suggesting that the speech is not rightly characterized as unpatriotic.

Colin has an UPDATE on what's going on in Montana on his blog today. It looks like the current governor is going to go ahead and grant the clemency requests. Go read the excerpts from NY Times article that prompted Colin's latest update. And, once again, I don't disagree a bit with Colin's commentary:

Notwithstanding, I think that those commentators who equate the official repression of unpatriotic speech with a more generalized societal disfavor of unpatriotic speech are misguided. The former is dangerous and unconstitutional; the latter is an entirely appropriate promotion of widely-held group norms. Protecting the constitutional right of each American to virulently criticize our nation's government during wartime does not require that we as a society actively encourage or reward such criticism.


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