I my previous entry on this subject, I noted the safety valve theory in support of unfettered free speech. In researching this article, I came across an article in some law journal which dismissed the theory along with three others. They deserve some mention here along with the reason the Left summarily dismisses them. Their reason is mind-boggling.
Besides the safety valve theory, there is, in the words of the author, the “reverse enforcement” theory which states that the laws designed to protect minorities from “hate speech” could end up restricting their right to free speech. The “best friend” theory states that free speech has been a powerful tool in the arsenal of minorities in their quest for civil rights. Finally, there is the “talk back” theory which states that since racism is a form of ignorance, the best way to address that ignorance is by talking back to the alleged racist.
The author dismisses all these theories out of hand because they label them “paternalistic.” What can be more paternalistic than shutting down all discourse and debate? That is like the stern father saying the conversation is over and his decision stands. That, not the actions or theories of true free speech advocates, is paternalistic.
We have recently been witness to political correctness run amok on our college campuses. Speakers have had their invitations rescinded, trigger warnings are the new normal, pictures of Shakespeare have been torn down and names of buildings changed. College administrators have turned campuses into oases of anti-Trump rhetoric. They have become a boring, hollow echo chamber of the Left. Today’s college protester of a speaker’s presence is tomorrow’s Washington bureaucrat…or clerk at Forever 21.
The more they clamp down on free speech, the sooner eyes, ears and minds will be opened to the ludicrous actions of academia. Today’s colleges are less places of learning and now more the great incubators of tomorrow’s social justice warrior.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the musings of feminist activist Joyce Arthur who said:
Hate speech has no redeeming value, so we should never pretend it occupies a rightful spot in the marketplace of ideas, or has anything to do with ‘rational debate’. Challenging hate speech through education and debate is not enough. Governments have a duty to protect citizens and reduce discrimination and violence by criminalizing hate speech.
Unfortunately, in practice it works thus in the words of gay activist Peter Tatchell:
Several Christian and Muslim street preachers have been arrested in Britain for hate speech. Their crime? They said that homosexuality is immoral and that gay people will go to hell. I disagree with them but opposed their prosecution. What they were saying was hurtful but not hateful. They did not express their views in a bullying or menacing tone.
True conservatism by its very nature invites debate in order to arrive at fundamental truths. Where truths are not obvious, then debate is essential. It is one of the things that draws me to conservatism. Not every conservative idea is great and some are better than others and we know that because we encourage debate; we do not shut it down. But, in order to have debate, then all views must be aired no matter how heinous or outrageous or “hateful” it may seem to others. In fact, when we on the Right seek to stifle debate and act like the Left, we are no better than them.
A perfect example is some reactions on the alt-right to the sucker punch endured by Richard Spencer that inspired the “Punch a Nazi” phenomena. Some have suggested that they return the favor in kind. Instead, consider an alternative response.
WeSearchr, a crowd-funded journalism site founded by Chuck Johnson, recently posted a bounty on finding out the identity of whoever punched Spencer. Another bounty was placed on finding the identity of a black bloc member who set a Trump supporter’s hair on fire. Seeking the identity of criminals- something the police should be doing- is beyond the pale and WeSearchr’s account with Twitter was suspended. Meanwhile, Twitter-based memes and YouTube video of the actual assaults remain and the assaults have become the butt of late night comedy jokes (and cheers). Johnson is suing Twitter for violation of his First Amendment rights and all the more power to him.
A common refrain of those on the Left is the verbal equivalent of venue denial: “Hate speech is not free speech.” Speech is speech is speech. Either you are for free speech or you are not for free speech and that works in both directions. There is no free speech if you only allow acceptable expressions.
Instead, the Left is repulsed by thoughts, ideas, proposals and facts that contradict their worldview and agenda. Their goal is to keep from arriving at truths- other than their truths- by stifling debate and restricting speech. They are enforcing their vision of reality even though that reality may be at odds with actual reality. Liberalism can only survive if it functions to keep people from debating in an effort to reach universal truths. It is the most basic and fundamental form of oppression.
We are well beyond 1984 and Orwell’s rendition of it, but the words of Alexis de Toqueville in Democracy in America ring loudly today when he said that public opinion can be as tyrannical as any government. He expressed hope in the vision of America because we enshrined free speech into our Bill of Rights. But today, we have angry mobs in the streets of our major cities chanting silly slogans and breaking window panes. As they do so, they perform a vital function for conservatism by confirming in the minds of millions of Americans what most suspect- they are hypocrites.
They profess to care about the poor, minorities and illegal immigrants, but these groups are nothing but tools to be exploited and used by the Left. These people are fodder for an attack on the Constitution all veiled in maternal rhetoric. Even those in these groups who dare not tow the party line are cast off and mocked worse than the rest of us. But the more they scream the more they display their ignorance and, more importantly, their intolerance.
As free speech and the will of the people as expressed by the Electoral College come under attack and as the radical Leftist agenda becomes unquestioned and unchallenged dogma in academia and the media, we have a real world example of what results. Long before Australians were demanding that the US censor the Internet of hate speech (as they define it), China had their “Great Firewall.” Before the Left starting “doxxing” people on Tumblr and Twitter, the Chinese were conducting “human searches” and subjecting people to public shame and ridicule. Before Twitter and Facebook were open forums for speech, the Chinese had 500 million users on Weibo. Today, Facebook and Twitter have entered into censorship agreements with European nations. They have contracted out “truth checkers” to determine what is real and what is not.
And with all due respect to Australia, the United States has been a player in the democracy game longer than they. In fact, while the United States was ratifying the Bill of Rights, Great Britain was depositing criminals in New South Wales. While we were fighting a Civil War, England was still depositing criminals in Australia. Perhaps Australia is the perfect location for those who propose hate crime legislation here.