Vanderslice post-script

My two hours as a guest on Rick Vanderslice’s e-radio program was a hoot. The co-host was Queerliberaction’s Blake Wilkinson, and we got into a bit.

The first half of the show, we talked in part about Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives, and we were all in agreement: Censoring the movie, especially without seeing it, is over-reaction. But free speech issues took a turn in the second half. That’s when Blake advocated prior restraint laws that would prevent certain forms of what he called “hate speech” — not hate crimes, but speech itself. As a lawyer and an adjunct professor who has lectured on first amendment issues at SMU, this worries me. How is calling someone a “tranny” not hate speech but calling someone a “fag” (as in “God Hates Fags”) is? To be clear, I do see the distinction; I just don’t know how you legislate it before the fact. And I explained my position.

“I guess everyone at the Voice hates me now,” Blake said on the air. “Of course not — I don’t hate you,” I responded, and I don’t. All good.

Then we went off the air. That’s when Blake began muttering about how he tired of the “damned condescending attitude of everyone at the Voice,” or words to that effect. He stormed out without saying goodbye. (The callers and the engineer all voiced their concern about limiting speech, too.)

Personally, I don’t think it’s condescending to disagree with a political activist, who uses the term “queer” in his group, that it’s a slippery slope to worry about banning speech. There’s a lot of speech I’d prefer not to hear, but we have to endure it in this society. Blake was drawing many distinctions about how far the ban would go — for instance, whether a gay person could use anti-gay hate speech (he can, he said, if he’s “part of the community”), and whether any hate speech is directed at an historically oppressed class (which he defined as gays, blacks and women, among others, but not gypsies or the Irish in the U.S., at least; the military is fair game as well). Frankly, I am concerned that calling a woman “a bitch” could land me in lockup, especially if she is one. And honestly, I don’t want someone who calls me a “dirty homo” to go to prison … otherwise, I’d never be able to interview Lisa Lampanelli.

Anyway, it was a fun debate, sorry if you missed it. I’d tell you to listen the next time I’m on, but guessing my invitation to be a regular guest is revoked now.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones