The Left’s War on Free Speech
By Bruce Walker
The left pretends to be the biggest champion of free speech. When the New York Times wrote articles about how our government was tracking the activities of terrorists, journalistic behavior which directly endangered the lives of Americans by providing intelligence information to those terrorists who are at war with us, the sanctimonious left insisted that this newspaper was simply exercising its constitutional right of free speech and free press.
In 1977 and 1978, Illinois Nazis planned a march Skokie, Illinois. That predominately Jewish community was home to many Holocaust survivors. The city, noting the intentionally provocative and malicious nature of this march, adopted ordinances to prevent the march. The perennially leftist ACLU took the side of the Nazis, citing the First Amendment rights of these disruptive goons.
The left at Berkeley in 1964 rallied around the “Free Speech Movement,” which was intended to be disruptive. By 1965, this movement had become known as the “Filthy Speech Movement,” because it asserted the right of students on campus to yell obscenities with impunity. The left had no problem with that at all, even when the speech inspired — almost called for — riots that destroyed property, frightened people, and produced numerous minor crimes. Hear what one of its “heroes,” Mario Savio, said at the time: “Government insults its citizens and denies their moral responsibility when it decrees that they cannot be trust to hear opinions that might persuade them to dangerous or offensive conduct.”
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, every effort to impose restrictions upon pornography met with loud screeches of censorship by the left. Even when government funds are used to create “art,” like crosses in glasses of urine or nude women smearing chocolate over their bodies before audiences, the left sighs and tells Americans that this is the price of free speech.
All this devotion which the left pretends to have for free speech is just like every other profession of values by the left: it is pure fraud, smirking lies, and measured injustice. Consider the position that Elena Kagan has taken toward free speech. She wrote in 1996 that free speech could be restricted if it directly or indirectly incited people to do harm, and Kagan noted the famous example of someone yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. She equates that with the notorious “hate speech” invented by the left.
The arguments of the left are always specious. The person yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater is protected if he believes that there is fire. It is only if he lies — if he knows that there is no fire but yells “Fire!” anyway — that his speech is restricted. So-called “hate speech” is precisely protected because the speaker believes what he is saying. Kagan may think that he is wrong; you or I may think that he is wrong; our opinions do not matter: the expression of honest belief or opinion is absolutely protected by the First Amendment, with no exceptions at all.
What this deformed interpretation of the First Amendment means, in fact, is that Americans are forced into silence, or worse, into lying about their beliefs. The channeling of expression into politically correct ravines means that the entire purpose of the First Amendment, which is to have speech that is the product of free minds and consciences, is lost.
The left displays a very curious attitude toward the rights of different sorts of speakers. “Hate speech” is almost always directed against the lonely individual conservative, who has no wealth or power to protect him. Conservatives have been noting for forty-one years that government licensed television network channels lie about conservatives, defame conservative leaders, and construct crude caricatures of conservatives as a group. Worse, for most of those forty-one years, the networks scrupulously avoided criticizing each other for ideological bigotry, acting like a true monopoly. The left defended the right of multi-billion dollar corporate giants to savage the lives of conservatives by malicious mendacity. The left never said a word about these mammoth business empires hurting the public.
So when does the left get concerned about opinions reaching tens of millions of Americans? When someone like Rush Limbaugh takes the largely ignored and financially modest medium of A.M. talk radio and, against a torrent of abuse and many boycotts, finds a profoundly resonating voice among the conservative majority of America. Then — only then! — the ancient “Fairness Doctrine” rears its peculiar head. When the identical triplets of CBS, NBC, and ABC had the same news, the same entertainment slant, the same everything — which meant conservative ideas and beliefs were scrupulously purged, the left thought the Fairness Doctrine something akin to censorship. Only when the other side gets heard does the doctrine have meaning.
The left is utterly wedded to thought control. Like all sibling totalitarianisms, the left in America is addicted to power and repelled by truth. The creation of officially defined oppressors and officially defined victims determines who has rights and who does not. The totalitarian narcotic of “Social Justice,” the drug of choice for Hitler, Stalin, Father Coughlin, and Sir Oswald Moseley, dulls the people into a twilight land in which “Freedom is Slavery” and free speech too.