A government lawyer in Florida would like courts to impose community service and forced speech on you if you're unpleasant, and a prominent Florida newspaper is taking it seriously. Wait. Taking it "seriously." No. "Taking it seriously." Shit. "Writing about it without open ridicule." There.
The government lawyer is one Mikki Canton, "chief strategic adviser and global affairs counsel" to Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and manager of a government program that encourages foreign investment through immigration. Apparently recent incidents like a rude (and crazy) Trump-voting Starbucks customer inspired Ms. Canton to suggest that the government punish rude speech:
Besides mentioning that basic civility guidelines could be drawn up, Canton also spoke of establishing “civility courts” that would be empowered to hand down noncriminal punishments like community work.
“I had talked to the judges about getting civility courts,” Canton said. “Sometimes what you do doesn’t rise to the level of breaking the law, but it sure does break civility rules.”
Asked what types of punishment she envisioned, Canton provided a specific example.
“Making them do some community outreach work, where they actually get a chance to interact with people and be civil,” she said. “If I were the judge I’d say, ‘What was it?’ and ‘Where did he commit this offense that didn’t rise to the level of breaking the law,’ and I would put him out there and make him be the spokesperson and make him work some community hours.”
At the risk of being sentenced to community service in Florida, I must inform you that Mikki Canton is an unserious imbecile and that the Miami Herald is guilty of shoddy post-factual journalism for running a story about her proposal without any critique whatsoever. As the As the Miami New Times' vastly more professional story suggests, Canton's proposal is a legal travesty. Rude and uncivil speech is protected by the First Amendment. Only a narrow range of speech falling into specific historically established exceptions can be punished. The state cannot get around the First Amendment by imposing only community service and "spokesperson" duty; if the state imposes any forcible consequence for speech, it must meet First Amendment limits.
I'm not a fan of lunatics shouting at barristas about Donald Trump. But honestly, I am far more offended by lawyers — especially government lawyers — promoting civic illiteracy by proposing patently unconstitutional policies. Lies are not polite, and Mikki Canton is lying about what the state is allowed to do to its citizens when it doesn't like what they say. Civility is nice, but civics — the adherence to core ideas about the rule of law — is nicer.
Ms. Canton, with all due respect, and without any intent to cause offense, and with sincere hope that it will not disquiet you, kindly fuck off until you've read the Bill of Rights.
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