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Harmonizing with Only One Note

Ed Kozak in his Lifezette article yesterday notes that one prominent crowdfunding site turned its back on police officers targeted for murder because the lawsuit they aim to file does not promote "harmony:"

The website YouCaring, which describes itself as a company fostering "compassionate crowdfunding," has sent a loud and clear message to law enforcement officers across the country: It finds pro-police causes to be too "controversial" to host.

On Sunday the crowdfunding site removed donation pages set up by Donna Grodner, a lawyer who is suing Black Lives Matter and its leaders. Their legal action is on behalf of Baton Rouge police officers who were targeted for assassination by assailants inspired by Black Lives Matter rhetoric.

"In alignment with our mission, we removed this fundraiser because it was not within our community guidelines around promoting harmony," YouCaring chief marketing officer Maly Ly told PBS in an email. "We are not the right platform to air grievances, or engage in contentious disputes or controversial public opinion."

As you might expect, there is more to this story.

But despite Ly's claims that YouCaring does not support content that "promotes discord," the site is currently host to nearly 30 fundraisers tied directly to Black Lives Matter.

These fundraisers are seeking money for activities and organizations such as: BLM Cambridge's Summer 2017 Action Plan, Black Lives Matter DC, Black Lives Matter LA's "Youth Activist Camp & Resistance Space," and Black Lives Matter Gary's (Indiana) "Malcolm X community celebration." Of particular note, YouCaring continues to host a fundraiser seeking $10,000 for Baton Rouge's Black Lives Matter chapter.

My goodness!  So harmony is allowed, as long as it's a monochrome song.

Heather Mac Donald and I chimed right in with some notes sure to be considered off-key:

"If YouCaring has indeed funded Black Lives Matter campaigns, then its rationale for canceling the anti-Black Lives Matter fundraiser -- that YouCaring avoids 'promoting discord' -- is the height of hypocrisy," said Heather Mac Donald, Manhattan Institute fellow and author of "The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe."

"Black Lives Matter calumnies have sowed anti-cop hatred that officers now regularly encounter as they try to bring safety to inner-city neighborhoods," Mac Donald told LifeZette. "Officers getting out of their cars to conduct a pedestrian stop or to investigate an accident scene find themselves routinely surrounded by hostile, jeering crowds, cursing at them, sometimes throwing things at them."

My view went beyond noting the mere hypocrisy.  YouCariing had defended its actions by saying, "We exist to empower people and communities to rally positive financial, emotional, and social support...While different viewpoints are a part of life, you should make efforts to ensure that the content of your fundraiser does not promote discord."  My retort was:

"The idea that we ought to avoid 'discord' in public debate, and still less in facilitating accountability in court, is the equivalent of the idea that we ought to avoid thinking and take tranquilizers instead," Otis said. "That might be a good thing for promoting an electorate of Happy Face sheep, but is poorly suited for a marketplace of ideas."

Otis warned that the silencing of voices that do not fit the Left's preferred narrative will continue to do damage to social cohesion.

"It is not the debating and testing of ideas that undermines a healthy society. It is the chilling of that debate," he said. "It's bad enough when the chill starts to take over on our elite campuses. It is worse still -- much worse -- when it starts to strangle what an ordinary citizen can ask a judge to consider."

If avoiding "discord" were really the idea here, YouCaring would also have refused to allow solicitations for funding to support desegregation suits in the 1940's and 1950's, and for marriage equality suits over the last 20 years.  Would it have done that?

Very likely not, nor should it have.  The reason has only secondarily to do with the merit of these ideas.  The reason to promote the ability of advocates to test their ideas in court is  that a healthy society and healthy change thrive on debate; "discord" is simply a derisive name for "debate."  

Even if one thinks that the avoidance of "discord" is a worthwhile objective for YouCaring, however,the way to achieve that objective would be to support the opposition to BLM rather than BLM itself.  BLM is the real source of discord here.  It uses incendiary and sometimes hateful rhetoric about the police, and generally promotes the view that cops are a quasi-fascist bunch that cannot be trusted or respected.  But that view is held by a very, very small segment of the population.  According to a Gallup poll late last year, respect for the police is widespread, near a 50-year high.

Thus, if it's discord YouCaring is concerned with, it should be seeking to de-fund the strident voices of BLM, not those who support police or want BLM to answer in court.

But that would be wrong, too.

My own view is that it should allow funding for any group that seeks, in any lawful way and without incitement to violence, to advance citizens' debate about important public issues.  That would include both those who peacefully support BLM and those who peacefully oppose it.  Excluding either side from seeking to raise funds for questions to be brought before the courts dis-serves the country's interest.


The crowdfunding site should have justified its actions by saying that the officer's lawsuit chills free speech rights.

Depending on the actual words said and the surroundings, I have no problem with chilling speech. For example, if the words are "Kill the pigs," and the surrounding is a large, agitated mob during the Ferguson riots, then it OUGHT to be chilled. Indeed, there are some circumstances where speech (incitement, solicitation, perjury) should be a crime, discouraged before the fact and punished afterward.

The remedy portion after a successful suit here should take account of specifics like that. We need balancing, absolutely, but we do not need paralysis.

I don't believe that First Amendment protected speech ought to be chilled by lawsuits (i.e., the coercive power of the state).

When the line is crossed, then by all means--I'd prefer, though, that those of us on our side use every means to make those who coyly support this filth or make common cause with these jackals (e.g., Democrat politicians) pay the political price.

How many people know that 'rat politicians (including President Obama) posted on that anti-Semitic and anti-American sewer, the DailyKos? Why didn't the GOP make them pay politically for that?

Lawsuits against protected speech aren't the answer--if for no other reason that the courts are always going to be more sympathetic to people like Michael Mann than a cop shot in the head.

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