Free Speech

Free Speech Doesn’t Protect Nazis. It Protects Us From Nazis

Free speech has recently become a cause célèbre of the nationalist and racist right-wing in the United States, as provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos bring their roadshows to college campuses, flout the values of progressive students, and then publicize and ridicule those students’ emotional or sometimes violent responses. As a result, some on the Left have become skeptical of the benefits of the First Amendment.

Prior to last year’s violent confrontation in Charlottesville, VA, during which an alt-right protester rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman and injuring others, the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis and white nationalists to demonstrate in support of Confederate monuments. For this, the ACLU was widely criticized by progressives, and since then, some progressives have begun to argue that a society with unfettered free speech is one that fails to protect marginalized communities.

Former ACLU legal director and Berkeley law professor john a. powell recently told a reporter from the New Yorker that absolutist free speech rules in the United States fail to weigh the value of speech against the harms that speech can cause, and argued that we ought to regulate speech that can cause P.T.S.D. and “stereotype threat.”

It is probably true that the value of some speech is less than the cost of the harm it imposes. But free speech advocates don’t defend the speech rights of Nazis because they believe that Nazis have anything valuable to contribute to a marketplace of ideas. They defend the rights of Nazis because Nazis with the freedom to speak can cause less harm than Nazis with the power to regulate speech.

Rights Are a Limitation on the Exercise of State Power

The United States Constitution gives the government a lot of power to regulate commerce, to declare war, to raise an army. And the first ten amendments to the Constitution set aside some individual rights that restrain the exercise of government power. The First Amendment protects speech, the press, religion, and assembly from government regulation or interference.

The document reflects the views of the framers, who had recently fought a bloody war to throw off the yoke of a monarch who claimed absolute authority by divine right, and they were deeply suspicious of state power. The US Supreme Court has interpreted the scope of First Amendment rights to be more far-reaching than similar rights in other Western countries and, as a result, the United States Congress can pass no restrictions on hate speech unless the Constitution is amended to rein in the scope of the First Amendment, or until the Supreme Court reinterprets the text in a way that narrows its protections.

In other words, narrowing the scope of free speech protections to accommodate limitations on hate speech, or to ban Nazis, or to shut Milo Yiannopoulos up, means reducing the scope of the individual right and expanding the power of the state to to regulate speech. In order to favor expanding the power of the state to regulate speech, you have to trust the state to wield that power judiciously, and not to abuse it or use it vindictively or excessively.

Before you empower government to police speech that is hateful or offensive, or speech that is deemed violent or harmful, then you have to consider the possibility that it will not be your sensibilities that determine which speech is beyond the pale.  

University of Virginia law professor Frederick Schauer told the New York Times:

Because so many free-speech claims of the 1950s and 1960s involved anti-obscenity claims, or civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests, it was easy for the Left to sympathize with the speakers or believe that speech in general was harmless. But the claim that speech was harmless or causally inert was never true, even if it has taken recent events to convince the Left of that. The question, then, is why the Left ever believed otherwise.

But, while the Left may have believed the speech subject to previous dispute was harmless, all of it was tested in litigation because somebody thought it was offensive and dangerous. And if not for a robust First Amendment, that speech might have been censored. The same rights that protect Milo Yiannopoulos today once sheltered abolitionists, civil rights marchers, anti-war demonstrators, and gay rights activists. Progressives have needed free speech in the past, and should consider the possibility that they might need it again before they throw their rights away.

We are living in a political moment when hateful individuals are emboldened to trumpet vile ideas in public, and can find a receptive audience for their message on social media. But we are also living in a moment in which the apparatus of state power is in the hands of a president who many people believe has authoritarian leanings.

President Trump has spoken admiringly of Phillipine leader Rodrigo Duterte, who operates death squads that summarily kill people the regime claims are drug dealers, and Trump has praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un who uses anti-aircraft guns to execute people who displease him. Trump routinely fumes on Twitter about “deep state” conspiracies to undermine him, and about the “fake news media” spreading lies about him.  Many to the left of him believe the president poses an unprecedented challenge to the rule of law in the United States.

It is bizarre and misguided that people who profess to fear this president and the populist movement he leads favor reforms that would chip away at the protections that prevent Donald Trump from jailing or killing his critics. It may be true that strong individual rights prevent institutions from protecting marginalized people from the speech of other individuals, but strong individual rights also prevent the state from attacking marginalized people for exercising their own rights.  

There is little in the history of the United States or any other country that should lead marginalized people to believe that they benefit from giving up individual rights or from expanding institutional power. Institutions can’t be trusted to protect marginalized people, and marginalized people must always be cautious that institutional power will be wielded against them. That’s what it means to be marginalized.

Progressives believe that the institutional powers that would regulate speech would do so in ways that reinforce their values. But there is no reason for progressives to believe this when Donald Trump is president. Trump speaks openly of his authoritarian aspirations and his power to realize them is only bounded by the limitations the law places on the power of institutions like the ones he controls.

Other Countries’ Hate Speech Laws Are Dangerous in the Wrong Hands

Berkeley professor powell asked The New Yorker: “If our speech laws looked more like Canada’s, would that be the end of democracy as we know it?”

In Canada, “advocating genocide” is punishable by up to five years in prison, it is criminal to incite hatred that leads to “a breach of the peace,” and “hate propaganda” may be confiscated by the government.

In December of 2016, a Drexel University professor named George Ciccariello-Maher tweeted: “All I want for Christmas is white genocide.” This was a reference to a neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that Jews are advocating for open borders and mass immigration in order to foment a genocide against whites, but lots of people didn’t get the joke, or didn’t think it was funny. After months of outrage directed at the university and death threats directed at Ciccariello-Maher, Drexel placed him on leave. He subsequently resigned, but found a new position as a visiting scholar at NYU.

If the US had Canada’s criminal law against “advocating genocide,” a Trump-aligned prosecutor could have put Ciccariello-Maher in prison.  

Canada’s hate speech restrictions are actually pretty narrow; only a few progressives would get in trouble for “advocating genocide,” but Milo Yiannopoulos doesn’t advocate genocide either.  His most offensive acts—ridiculing a transgender student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and threatening to identify undocumented students at Berkeley—would be legal in Canada. Progressives would need a more robust set of hate speech prohibitions to get rid of controversial campus speakers like Milo.

In Germany, one is guilty of a crime if one “assaults the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning…a national, racial, religious group or a group defined by their ethnic origins.”

These laws were enacted explicitly to outlaw Nazis, but it would be incredibly easy to turn a rule like this against progressive activists. A majority of white Americans believe white people face discrimination in the United States, and many Republicans believe whites face more discrimination than any other group. A broader law criminalizing hateful speech creates a broader set of powers that the administration can use against those whose speech it finds hateful.

Imagine the Jeff Sessions Department of Justice turned loose on Twitter to go after progressive activists who have “assaulted the human dignity” of white people with insults. Imagine if local police could use such charges to go after Black Lives Matter activists. Empowered by a hate speech law like Germany’s, Trump could make federal criminal cases out of jokes, political rhetoric and academic critiques of whiteness.

It takes only a little foresight or imagination to see how speech codes intended to protect minorities could be used as instruments of persecution, or cudgels for an authoritarian regime to wield against its opponents. Free speech may have its drawbacks, but the alternative is much worse.

Free Speech Protects Everyone

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote that the remedy for speech used in service of “falsehoods and fallacies” is “more speech.” But even if you’re skeptical that bad speech is exposed in the “marketplace of ideas,” you have to admit that regulations on speech only work if you can trust the regulator. And right now, in the United States, the regulator is Donald J. Trump.

We must favor individual rights over institutional power, even when individuals do bad things with their rights, because institutional power is much more dangerous when it falls into the wrong hands. We protect and tolerate speech we don’t like, so that we can speak without fear that those who don’t like us will use coercive institutional force to silence us. We don’t let Nazis speak for their sake; we let them speak for ours.

 

Daniel Friedman is the Edgar Award-nominated author of Don’t Ever Get OldDon’t Ever Look Back and Riot Most Uncouth. Follow him on Twitter @DanFriedman81 

86 Comments

  1. evd says

    This is the best Quillette article I’ve read. Bully for this piece!

  2. You got this one bit wrong: The document reflects the views of the framers, who had recently fought a bloody war to throw off the yoke of a monarch who claimed absolute authority by divine right, and they were deeply suspicious of state power.

    The framers fought against a King who was represented by a Parliament elected by members of society. They decided the laws, not him. He didn’t claim absolute authority either.

    • Alan Healy says

      True . The United States also allied itself to the French and Spanish kings who did claim a divine right to rule .

    • ga gamba says

      Yes, divine right disappeared 100 years earlier during the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

      The framers fought against a King who was represented by a Parliament elected by members of society.

      Correct, but it should be mentioned there were very few actual voters in society. A survey conducted in 1780 revealed that the electorate in England and Wales consisted of just 214,000 people – less than 3% of the total population of approximately 8 million. In Scotland the electorate was even smaller: in 1831 a mere 4,500 men, out of a population of more than 2.6 million people, were entitled to vote in parliamentary elections. (Source:http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/citizenship/struggle_democracy/getting_vote.htm)

      I presume when colonials argued “no taxation without representation” many in Britain thought: “Why should they get something we don’t have, especially when our tax burden is heavier?”

    • You’re forgetting that the founders very much viewed King George as the source of their miseries and injustices. They SPECIFICALLY named him, “the present King of Great Britain,” in the Declaration of Independence and prefaced every enumerated injury by blaming it on him “He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.”, etc.

      George was a very powerful Monarch and was probably the last King to wield (at least some) power over and aside of parliament. That was the goal of his reign; to cease as much power back from parliament as possible.

      • Indeed they did, and they were wrong to do so. George III by this point was willing to delegate more responsibility to his ministers, so long as they listened to his opinions first. Furthermore, their spiel about him refusing assent to laws his nonsense, no King has refused assent to law in Britain or her colonies since Queen Anne did in 1708.

  3. LAW says

    A fantastic piece. People talk about Trump’s “fascism” and how he wants to be a dictator, but these same people want to create broad, vague hate speech laws and allow swift action with minimal presumed innocence. Do they not realize that the person at the top of the justice system is Donald Trump???

    • Sad Observer says

      The scariest thing is that the people in question already support swift action with minimal/no presumed innocence on multiple issues. They aren’t really opposed to authoritarianism. They are just opposed to authoritarianism run by anyone but them. If they had the powers described they would gladly use them.

  4. Robert Paulson says

    The crux of this argument, like many liberal defenses of free speech that try to appeal to the Left, seems to be that you shouldn’t expand the power of government to regulate speech because then it will be used against you by the Right. This isn’t a principled argument, but a tactical one, implying that the only reason to be against government regulation of speech is because the “wrong people” will use it.

    If I were a Leftist that believed we could solve all our problems with an all-powerful state in the hands of the “right people” (people such as myself), I would find the author’s argument totally unconvincing. There’s no point in keeping marketplace of ideas open if your end-game is to completely destroy your enemies, forever, and render the entire “whatabbout when we’re out of power” argument moot.

    • evd says

      Hey Robert Paulson (his name is Robert Paulson!), I actually am a leftist and I think that this is the best argument that I’ve ever read arguing against hate speech laws. Honestly, I have absolutely no sympathy for bigots and have no issue seeing their lives ruined, but I also understand American politics and realize that there will be times (liken now) when the far-right is in power. If there was an anti-hate speech initiative in my state I would vote against it because of the arguments made here. I think that a part of your problem is that you view “the left” as this caricatured monolith that is created by right-wing media. I’m a part of the left (inspired by folks who I bet you detest like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn) which fears state power and not because I inherently disagree with it but because I understand how racists like Trump can use it to enforce their goals. Articles like this actually reinforce why counter speech (even the dreaded “social media mobs”) are the way to deal with bad speech. I don’t want the goverment to arrest Milo Yiannopoulos but I certainly support people yelling at him anytime he goes in public!

      • Robert Paulson says

        @evd

        The problem is just who gets to decide who is a bigot and a racist. I’d rather take chances with law-and-order authoritarianism than letting mobs of vigilantes like antifa and BLM run wild deciding who gets to be employed and who doesn’t based on their gender, ethnic group and sexual orientation.

        I actually happen to think Noam Chomsky is a brilliant public intellectual. Reading “Manufacturing Consent” completely changed the way I see the media. Chomsky is part of the old-school pro-labor and anti-imperialism Left, which is completely marginalized. That is why he can never get on mainstream outlets, but ethno-totalitarians like Ta-Nahisi Coates can have a column at The Atlantic and fawning media coverage.

        Why is this? Because identity politics is completely compatible with the interests of powerful institutions precisely because it divides people against each other, making solidarity impossible. It also simultaneously provides convenient market segments that can be targeted.

        Examples:
        + I saw an REI advertisement featuring a Strong Independent Women(TM) climbing a mountain with the slogan “A women’s place is in the outdoors”.
        + We just finished up Pride month and I can’t count how many corporate advertisements featured pro-Pride messages.
        + Just today I just saw an advertisement for an orchestral performance celebrating Nelson Mandela. It had no less than 10 corporate sponsors.
        + Public library with pro-trans political propaganda everywhere and signs declaring the library a “safe space” for people “regardless of immigration status”, i.e. “illegals welcome” at a tax-payer funded institution.

        Any self-respecting Leftist would start asking questions as to why their movement is so easily appropriated by powerful institutions. Speaking of which, can Zinn still be considered a leftist now that his book is mandatory reading in state-run schools?

        • Robert Paulson says

          @evd at last somebody gets name reference…

        • evd says

          “The problem is just who gets to decides who is a bigot and a racist. I’d rather take chances with law-and-order authoritarianism than letting mobs of vigilantes like antifa and BLM run wild deciding who gets to be employed and who doesn’t based on their gender, ethnic group and sexual orientation.”
          Can you expand on this? Why? My experiences with social justice movements is that the right-wing perspective of these folks is way overblown. I mean, BLM is literally an organization opposed to police violence (seems like a small government stance to me) and Antifa is super tiny group of folks with an even tinier fraction that engages in direct conflict with fascists (plus, they are literally a hyper decentralized anarchist group who does not call for state action b/c, as anarchists, they don’t support state action). Why do these groups scare you so much? Is it just that those groups could target you while you think that conservative authoritarians wouldn’t? (I’m assuming that you’re a cisgendered straight white male). And I’m not saying that as an insult. I’ll be honest, a part of why I fear the autherterian right is that they would go after me for my political beliefs (and most likely will if this regime is not stopped).

          • Robert Paulson says

            @ evd

            My experience with social justice groups from college and beyond is the people in them are filled with hatred and resentment and don’t want to make the world a better place, but want to make life miserable for those they hate and use the cover of compassion to mask their true intentions. I used to be a leftist until I went to college and mingled with the campus activists, who I found be to be some of the most ignorant and hateful people I’ve ever met and who, when presented with a real opportunity to make changes to the institution, were fundamentally more interested in virtue signalling than in rolling up their sleeves and getting the work done. I concluded that these people need to be kept out of power at all costs.

            As for Antifa, I know some of these people and they live in a parallel universe in which people like my standard-issue republican aunt and uncle are transformed into menacing white supremacists that need to be cleansed. I consider these people to be a bunch of self-righteous and violent lunatics that think they are moral enough to act as judge and jury.

            I initially supported BLM because I thought it was limited to police violence, but they have been turned into a vehicle for the intersectional ethno-totalitarianism of the campus far-left. Just go to their website and its a mumbo-jumbo of critical race theory and queer studies.

            I don’t think by themselves antifa and BLM the problems, but I believe they are the tip of a much larger and deeper ideological movement that has swept over our culture over the last ten years that threatens my livelihood. Since “diversity” is defined to exclude certain groups that I am member of, I know that this ideology can used to discriminate against me in the job market. I also work in an industry were immigrants are used to lower the bargaining power of workers. So this drive for “diversity” and open borders have the potential to directly threaten me in tangible ways.

            Also, you use terms like “fascist”, “racist” and “homophobe” like they have an agreed upon definition. They don’t. That is why I brought up the “who gets to define” question at the beginning. And I totally disagree with you that being against immigration, or affirmative action will not get you called a racist.

          • @evd

            You have clearly been brain washed if you actually think that the current government is going to come after you because of your political beliefs.

            From what you have wxpressed you are a run-of-the-mill trendy lefty that has taken one too many cultural/gender/ethnicity studies classes. I hate to break this to you, but your political beliefs are sadly quotidian and commonplace, NO one is interested in coming after you. You are NOT a victim of an oppressive system. It will take you a decade of de-programming to figure that one out but you will come around.

            BTW: if you are interested in learning about why informal enforcement of fascistic social codes of thought and speech are worse than authoritarian state policies you need to learn more about the totalitarian movements of the 20th century. I highly recommend Hannah Arendt’s “seeds of Totaltarianism.”

        • evd says

          @ Robert Paulson
          ” Because identity politics is completely compatible with the interests of powerful institutions precisely because it divides people against each other, making solidarity impossible.”
          I agree with you that this is one of the contradictions inherent in intersectional anti-oppression activism. I tend to take a practical approach and understand that politics often makes for strange bedfellows and accept that social justice can be championed by corporate interests. Fundamentally, people being treated with decency is what matters and if corporations (which I do tent to think are evil) help in that cause than I’m OK with it. Pragmatism.

          • Peter from Oz says

            In the canon of meaningless left-wing cant phrases and jargon ”social justice” surely must be the most meaningless of all.
            SInistra delenda est!

      • tds says

        Here is what something that a person from a caricatured monolith left would be expected to say: “Honestly, I have absolutely no sympathy for bigots and have no issue seeing their lives ruined”

        bigot: a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.

        I would say something snide like “look in the mirror” but that trip down the rabbit hole isn’t worth it. The problem here is the every growing net and elusive definition of bigotry. Many on the left are quite guilty of assuming the only root cause of counter positions on immigration, affirmative action, Trump support, etc. are bigotry. It is inconceivable that there can be principled positions on both sides, or simply incorrect assumptions in one’s position.

        Once the proper lazy educated reductionism has been applied, and a rather convenient social construct has been created that voids any possibility of bigotry from one’s own righteous side, then it is magically OK to harass people when they go out to eat and write articles in the NYT’s such as “Can My Children Be Friends With White People?”. I would also suggest that all assumed and adjudicated instances of bigotry should not lead to the ruining of lives. It is wise to use a charitable view of another’s position, lest the rule book be turned around someday.

        • evd says

          I used bigot as a catch all term for racists, misogynists, homophobes, etc. My example was Milo Yiannopoulos, not some sort of rank-and-file Republican. Very few people will call you a bigot for simply having a position about issues like immigration, aff action, or Trump support (all though there are a LOT of studies showing that racial anxiety was the main factor for that vote) but it is the nature of how one supports those positions that leads one to be called a bigot. For example, you could argue for a restriction on immigration because you think that the US has too large of a population (this is indeed an argument people make) and very, very few people would call you a bigot. But if you argue for a restriction on immigration because America should be a white nation and we shouldn’t have large numbers of brown/black folks in this country then yeah, you’re a bigot. This is the issue with a lot of the Quillette type right, there is a constant moving of the goal posts. Like, I agree with you dude. Let’s not criminalize hate speech. But really, for you, it’s not about “free speech” it’s about “consequence free speech”. I understand that my advocacy of higher taxes means that I’m not gonna get invited to have drinks with the Chamber of Commerce crowd. That ain’t them being fascists. Say racist stuff get called a racist. Cause and effect.

          • tds says

            I was “triggered” (ha ha) by the ruining lives statement. The people who got James Damore fired can easily be called bigots but they believe they are insulated from this charge by being in the correct tribe. People who aren’t bigots can tolerate both sides of this argument without feeling the need for punishment to be dealt out. This cognitive dissonance is where the “only the other side can be bigots” rule comes from.

            I’m not a fan of Milo, but Milo is more performative art than load up the cattle cars bigotry. Your immigration example is probably closer to racism than bigotry. Beyond trolls, the people who actually make the “America should be a white nation and we shouldn’t have large numbers of brown/black folks in this country” are vanishingly small, and have zero political power.

            Go ask people that exact question and see what they say. The reason a “racial anxiety” study even exists is because academia doesn’t get the answer they * want * if they simply ask people whether they are white supremacists or hate people of other colors. Now it can be easily argued that people * know * how to answer those questions even if they are racists but that doesn’t justify the subsequent mind reading exercise and the slippery and intentional obfuscation of racial anxiety and actual racism.

            It can also be argued that social shaming and other tactics has eliminated overt racism, which is a good thing. Has actual racism been reduced? Is it a better world to now judge people as racists or bigots if they accidentally slip up and exhibit a secret sign of racial anxiety or haven’t read last year’s academia memo on what is acceptable speech? Instead of nobody being racist, now everyone (in my outgroup) is!

          • You are the poster child for why leftism has become so self deluded and illogical. Note that in your post you start by claiming that white people voted for Trump out of racial anxiety. You must have known when you wrote that you were saying something that by your own standards is a ‘racist’ thing to say.

            But that must have escaped you because you conclude your dribble with the curious assertion “say racist stuff get called a racist.” Fair enough. You my friend are a RACIST!

          • Kutt says

            Re:”But if you argue for a restriction on immigration because America should be a white nation and we shouldn’t have large numbers of brown/black folks in this country then yeah, you’re a bigot. ”

            Conversly, if you and your whole political party have been working tirelessly since 1965 to make the nation browner as part of an explicit electoral strategy that you actually brag about in unguarded moments, then yeah, you’re a bigot. A Traitor to boot.

          • CentristGal says

            @ evd

            Isn’t Milo Yiannopolous Jewish and married to black man? In what way is he a racist homophobe? Surely he highlights the difference between harmful speech and harmful action?

          • Peter from Oz says

            Have you ever heard of the concept of oikophobia? Those who try to paint anyone as a white supremacist for wanting to preserve their own country’s culture are oikophobes. They are a large slice of the left, who seems to think that foreigners deserve more respect than their own people.
            The Democrats and the left have made it quite clear that they want, in Brecht’s words, to elect a new people. It is no secret that they want to import new voters. To cover up this egregious act of betrayal, they trot out words like ”racist” or ”bigot”. Americans who do not wish their country and culture to be ruined are quite right to be what you call ”racist’ or ”bigoted”. In fact they have a moral duty to be so. It is the left who are the true bigots, through their oikophobia.

          • OtherWay says

            @evd, But if I argue that illegal immigration should be stopped because it is illegal and you need to change the law first (not enforce it at your whim), THEN you will simply ascribe to me a motivation for my position – that I am a racist bigot (because my argument is otherwise flawless). This assessment of my evil intent (or Milo’s) is necessary in your worldview because you live in a binary world of victims and oppressors. If you don’t agree with something it is because the oppressors are doing it. And I am not truly an oppressor until my motivation (of evil, greed, stupidity) is ascribed to me. So basically, whatever I say, you just call me a Nazi – and then you are free to punch me.

        • evd says

          ” It is wise to use a charitable view of another’s position, lest the rule book be turned around someday.”
          Do you believe that folks in your tribe, like say Jordan Peterson, do this? Is calling everyone who believes in equality a “post-modern neo-marxist” an example of this dictate?

          • tds says

            The answer to that question is the “it’s OK to be intolerant of my out group’s intolerance” rabbit hole. The argument is not about equality, it’s about an equality of outcome enforced by government position. Jordan Peterson is a bad example because he is pretty careful to define exactly who he is talking about, and why he thinks they are wrong. I think he goes a bit overboard in estimating the danger of the group he talks about.

          • @evd

            ‘Do you believe that folks in your tribe, like say Jordan Peterson, do this? Is calling everyone who believes in equality a “post-modern neo-marxist” an example of this dictate?’

            It would really depend on what equality means in your context. How you used it here was a strawmans argument. You loosened up the usage too much to create a boogeyman out of Peterson’s views. For those Peterson speaks against on the far left they tend to believe in equality of outcome. This is a far left viewpoint, generally, and it aligns with political ideologies common to the far left. It is also a concept which has shown to not work in practice most likely due to human nature not being compatible with the idea. EO Wilson is right in saying such ideas would be great if we were ants or a species like ants but our social structures don’t align with such ideas. It is a fair representation of the far left to say they tend to believe in equality of outcome idealism. Peterson has never said he is against “equality” probably because it’s far too general a term. He does align with the concept of equality of opportunity which is a Liberal value (I don’t mean a value of the left but of the political philosophy which can be supported by the right and the left).

          • martti_s says

            “Bigots deserve to have their lives ruined”….and WE get to decide who is a bigot and it is all very nice until I become on of THEM instead of one of US. No. Bigotry is NOT a good reason to get your life ruined unless it leads to violence.
            Just see who are called bigots and racists by the SJW mob of today while real and serious bigots and racists get a free ride. Not good!

  5. Tom Scharf says

    The people who have the cultural power want to restrict speech because they are convinced they can predict and control the judges. Ask anyone who is advocating for speech limitations to predict what type of speech laws would occur and they will produce examples that only favor their side and biases.

  6. Mark Beal says

    No complaints about the substance of the article in explaining why free speech matters and must be protected. Free speech has always been a friend of the truly oppressed, never its enemy – which in itself suggests that the people seeking to curtail free speech while claiming they are “marginalised” or “oppressed” are nothing of the sort.

    However, the article also has demerits. The first paragraph gets things off to a bad start with the assertion that “some on the Left have become skeptical of the benefits of the First Amendment” as a result of “provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos”. Some may have, but the hardcore elements on the left were always authoritarian, and simply use Milo and others as an excuse to promote unworkable hate speech laws and the like. There are many fellow travellers who know not what they doeth, but the real ideologues would be perfectly happy to shut down any speech that does not tow the party line, and always have been.

    To suggest that Milo and his ilk have created a skepticism of free speech amongst self-styled progressives ignores the rather obvious fact that Milo is himself a reaction to the extreme nature of some of their positions. Milo thrives on progressives attacking him with their own forms of hatred, just as he himself is an extremely useful bogey man for progressives to use to frighten the credulous.

    If the article’s tone is a rhetorical device to persuade progressives of the benefits of free speech, even when people use it to say things they don’t like, then it’s conceivable that the fear-of-Trump device throughout might give some pause for thought. However, the fear-of-Trump device also gives the impression that the author is blithely unconcerned with the inherent authoritarianism of many self-styled progressives. He seems to view the main threat as coming from a rejuvenated extreme right, when in fact there is an extreme left masquerading as “progressive” which has proved itself to be equally dangerous – unconscious bias training (just a few steps away from indoctrination camps – which schools have more or less already become), the malignant and constant refrain of “white privilege”, and the practical application of Title IX, to give some examples.

    “We must favor individual rights over institutional power, even when individuals do bad things with their rights, because institutional power is much more dangerous when it falls into the wrong hands,” the author writes. Quite right. And self-styled progressives are busy using their own institutional power to do things like hound people out of jobs for making tasteless jokes, putting forward two sides of an argument, suggesting that racism works two ways, or just using a word which some invisible committee has decided is now unacceptable, even though nobody batted an eyelid when it was used only yesterday.

    Sitting in Europe, it’s hard to see that the Trump administration has actually introduced anything remotely approaching progressive ideology in its iniquity. That’s not to say that it won’t, but to use hypothetical examples of what a Trump administration might do, and say nothing of what “progressives” have been and are doing leaves the author shooting somewhat wide of the mark.

    • Yes, I too was wondering at the constant Milo references. The gay Catholic of Jewish ancestry who is married to a black man? Sure, he’s an internet troll but trolls by their very nature have to believe in free speech. It’s their lifeblood. If something he said hurt their feelings? Tough.

      People also forget that Trump has spent decades in business. Business is not a democracy. Usually one or two people make the decisions and their employees carry them out. Trump isn’t authoritarian in the political sense. He’s authoritarian in the business sense. One of his frustrations may well be that he can’t just fire Congress and hire people who actually know how to get a job done.

      Business is also not a place for ideologues. Trump is a pragmatist. If schmoozing with Kim Jong Un is necessary to get the job done then he’ll do it. If putting the hard word on European countries who he thinks aren’t pulling their weight is necessary, he’ll do it. Sure, he’s not always correct, but you don’t change a pragmatist’s mind by chanting slogans at him. You have to show that they’re incorrect, and then propose something more useful to them.

  7. evd says

    @AA
    While I will grant that the current regime is far more likely to begin exterminating the undocumented folks that they are placing in concentration camps than coming after lefties like myself, that is only due to the high likelihood of the former happening. This regime is fascist to the core but the conditions on the ground are not ready for them to implement their ultimate policies. Yet. I would suggest the work of Timothy Snyder (an expert on tyranny) to you as a way to conceptualize this regime. Or Umberto Eco’s ur-fascism. Think about the term “fake news” and its similarities to the Nazi term lugenpresse. My analysis has nothing to do with gender studies and everything to do with an honest appraisal of whats going on in this country (and the world for that matter)

    • @evd

      You really need to be more woke. I would suggest you start by reading news from both sides of the ideological spectrum. That you happened upon quillette is a sign you are headed in the right direction.

      The left at this point in time is embroiled in a war on Trump and your paranoia from being steeped in that media environment come through clearly. Also, you are young most likely and have a temporal narcissism that will wear off with age, when you realize that enforcing existing immigration law is light years from extermination camps.

      When the Jews were exterminated it was not because the Reich was enforcing immigration law and cracking down on the free flow of drugs and human trafficking. They were actively engaged in a policy of cleansing from within. The fact you think this is comparable to enforcing immigration law shows an eagerness to believe what you are told because it fits into your existing world view where Trump is a Nazi.

      Obama deported over a million illegals and oversaw a DHS that subjected teens suspected of MS 13 affiliation to conditions that were in humane and bordering on torture. Where were you, the vigilant anti-Nazi when these racist policies were being implemented? Oh wait, it’s only nazism if Trump does it right?

      • evd says

        @AA
        I read tons of stuff from the right. Brietbart, Front Page, National Review. That’s why I know what Trump wants to do. I’ve read your thinkers. I’ve seen the comments that your compatriots leave. I’ve looked into eyes of the right and I’ve seen its evil. I’ve encountered many people like you, friend. I know exactly what folks like you want to do to this country and its frighting.
        And you know darn well that there is a difference between enforcing borders as Obama did and purposefully separating children from their asylum seeking parents as a means to prevent asylum (not even immigration! Asylum!). When an administration builds camps to concentrate groups of people (hence, concentration camps), it is different than enforcing the border. And if Obama enforced the border like you claim, why would we need Trumps terror troops? I thought that the talking point was that we had “open border” during the Obama administration? But I get it. Today claiming “Obama did it too” works as a rhetorical strategy while in another situation you will claim that Obama is an “open borders new world order” type. Because as much as Quillette likes to push this whole “we’re just truth seekers” trope, most of the writers and nearly all the commentators are just far-right ideologues, looking for the new way to “own the libs”.

        • @evd

          The Third Reich was able to count on people like yourself to do the actual torturing and extermination when the time came. They needed ppl like you with a victim mentality and relativistic moral ideology. People like you who had already decided before hand that those who had certain political beliefs were “evil.”

          • evd says

            @AA
            Luckily my friend, I am like most lefties and not violent ( right-wing media lies about that). So you have not threat of me or my folks doing you harm. We might give you the stink eye for not recycling or politically ask your political leadership to leave our establishments but that’s all. We’re actually super nice! And organic produce tastes better! Progressive America ain’t that bad, my friend. 🙂

        • Susan says

          Unfortunately, I am not a mind reader as you apparently are. Can you please cite the articles which revealed to you the “evil” which Trump and Trump supporters want to do? (especially the “never-Trump” National Review)

          • evd says

            Constant calls for civil war, “helicopter rides for commies”, the most intense racism that you can imagine. Homophobia like crazy. Just really, really bad stuff.

          • @evd

            I don’t worry about people like you. One of the iron clad laws of history is that leftist movements are always so predicated on a tribal ideology to legitimate themselves that they always start eating their own as soon as they come to power. So no, I don’t worry about you, I’m more worried for you. Remember this, when the feast begins, it will be the well meaning leftists that get eaten first.

          • Jack B Nimble says

            @Susan

            You can start here:

            “Nearly 20% of Trump Fans Think Freeing the Slaves Was a Bad Idea

            Donald Trump appears to have high levels of support among the nation’s intolerant population, according to a New York Times deep dive into polling data.

            The Times found that nearly 20% of Trump supporters did not approve of freeing the slaves, according to a January YouGov/Economist poll that asked respondents if they supported or disapproved of “the executive order that freed all slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the federal government”—Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.”
            Source — http://time.com/4236640/donald-trump-racist-supporters/

            and here:

            “….On Monday, a clip of an angry Trump supporter in New York telling a black woman to get “back in the f**king fields” went viral.

            In March, Louisville student Shiya Nwanguma was pushed and shoved out of a Trump rally by the GOP candidate’s supporters for her attempt to disrupt and protest his speech. According to Nwanguma, she was also met by a tirade of racial slurs, as several supporters called her a “”N**ger c**t,” as she was pushed out of the rally hall.

            In June, during a Donald Trump rally in Phoenix, Arizona, 30-year-old Zack Thomas went on a racist tirade against an older Latino man, repeatedly doing the Nazi salute while screaming: “Go f**king make my tortilla, motherf**ker,” “Build that f**king wall for me,” and “I love Trump! F**k you, I love my country!” He later defended his rant and did not express any remorse.

            Two South Boston men were arrested for beating up and urinating on a homeless Latino man in August 2015. During interrogation with police, they reportedly stated that “Donald Trump was right” and “All these illegals need to be deported.”

            In November, at a Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama, the presidential candidate’s supporters were caught on camera punching and kicking a black protestor — while shouting “All lives matter!”

            A group of Hispanic protestors raised signs at a Miami Trump rally in October that spelled out the words “DIGNITY” and “EQUALITY.” What they were met with was anything but — Trump supporters during the rally kicked and shoved them out of the venue, with one supporter going so far as to violently body slam one man to the ground.

            At a Trump rally in Charleston, West Virginia, in May Trump supporters and anti-Trump protestors clashed in a heated, tension-filled standoff. Trump supporters called black protestors the n-word throughout the video, as well as “communists.” ……..”
            Source — https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/10-times-donald-trump-supporters-were-blatantly-racist_us_5798d3b0e4b02d5d5ed3b6b0

        • Robert Paulson says

          @ evd

          “I am like most lefties and not violent” That’s a pretty low bar you’ve set. I went to a Trump rally just to see what all the fuss was about (I’m not a Trump supporter) and what I saw were violent leftist thugs roughing people up, throwing things at Trump supporters and punching people.

          I challenge you to find a single news article about Trump supporters going to a Clinton or Sanders rally and beating people up. Face it: your side are the ones acting like fascists, but you’ve conveniently carved out a moral exception for yourselves since you are fighting for “social justice”, which usually translates into “rewarding our friends and punishing our enemies”.

        • Kutt says

          Re: “And you know darn well that there is a difference between enforcing borders as Obama did”

          And you know darn well that there is a difference between actually enforcing borders with an eye to protecting and preserving the nation, as our current president does, and pretending to enforce the borders with an eye toward transforming the nation toward your politics. The former is honorable. The latter, not so much.

  8. Cerastes says

    I can offer probably the most powerful supporting argument for this article in just three words: The Deep South.

    How many *milliseconds* after the SC narrowed the 1st Amendment to allow “hate speech” to be prosecuted would it take before someone in every single state legislature across the Deep South to come up with the idea that “offending Christianity” could be covered under “hate speech”? How brutally would they apply it to shut down any criticism of their overtly theocratic views, to jail same-sex couples for holding hands in public, to jail religious minorities for daring to advocate against them, to jail women for not dressing modestly? How easy would it be for them to pass laws more akin to Iran than the rest of the US, because any legislator who dares debate them risks jail?

    I spent more than 20 years in the Deep South, and while there’s lots I love about it, the level of overtly theocratic impulses among representative and the government (and a frightening large fraction of the general population) is almost impossible to overstate, and anyone who thinks it’s an exaggeration either has never lived there or hasn’t set foot beyond the largest and most liberal cities down there like Austin or Atlanta.

    Trust me, anything you think Trump could do with hate crime laws the Deep South state governments will do ten times worse.

    • What a way to talk about where most of America’s black people live. Wow, what an appalling comment.

  9. evd says

    @AA
    “You are the poster child for why leftism has become so self deluded and illogical. Note that in your post you start by claiming that white people voted for Trump out of racial anxiety. You must have known when you wrote that you were saying something that by your own standards is a ‘racist’ thing to say.”
    I disagree with the premise that saying that white folks voted for a particular reason is “racist”. Discussing the voting habits of particular groups is not racist. In fact, referencing specific racial groups is not racist. That is just factual (and based on studies). It would be like if you said that a part of the huge turnout among African-American voters for Barack Obama was because he was black. That’s true and polling data shows it. Now, I would argue that there is a difference between black folks voting for Obama and white folks voting for Trump and I would say that the later are the racists. You and I will disagree on that, for many reasons including the fact that I don’t think that black folks can be racist (prejudiced yes, but not racist). Racism isn’t about noting different racial groups, racism is thinking that one group of people is superior to the other (and having the power to enforce that belief) But I think that you are just trying to engage in a “gotcha” moment to demonize the person who holds the political beliefs that you hate and not actually trying to engage me in a discussion. But that’s to be expected.

    • @evd

      I can tell I have started you down the path to thinking a little more clearly about these things. Now I’m just going to give you another little nudge.

      I got you to admit to yourself that your standard for what is considered “racist” is purely relative to the given power structure and not an absolute moral imperative to not judge people based on negative stereotypes and immutable characteristics.

      Now here is the zinger: if you truly believe that black people can only be racist in the context of power over other groups, what argument do you have to offer anyone to not be racist? If there is no moral imperative and everything is just relative to context, than you have nothing to say to anyone that is going to persuade people to not be racist. Worse than that, you holding those beliefs actually just makes things worse because now white people must insure that no other group ever has an opportunity to turn their “prejudice” into full “racism.”

      According to your world view, anyone who chooses to not be racist out of principle is just a sucker hastening the day when they are the victims of racism.

      Is that really the kind of world you want to live in? Don’t you want to live in a world where it is indeed possible to take a moral and principled stand on racism? But this will require you first give up your relativistic standard for racism where only those with power are capable of it.

      • evd says

        @AA
        Think about it this way, there is a difference between murder and manslaughter. While both are wrong, one is more wrong. Prejudice isn’t cool but it’s different than racism. We live in a horribly racist society, one that has built the wealth for the lighter skinned people on the dead bodies of those of a darker complexion. Literally. Black folks were in bondage. Hung from trees (with smiling white folks having their pictures taken with the bodies). Raped. A white person being racist has the power to wreak havoc on the life of a person of color (particularity an African-American) and is engaging in an action of violence in which their privilege was built. Some black guy calling me white boy does what to me? Has done what to white folks historically? There was a difference in Germany during the Holocaust between anti-antisemitism and Jewish folks who didn’t like gentiles. The moral revulsion to racism doesn’t come from the simple fact of seeing color (there is no “color blindness” accept for folks who literally are color blind), the moral evil in racism is in the atrocities that it enables. Racism is what enables police officers to engage in summary executions of black men (and enables you to support those executions). Racism is what leads Trump fans to support the acts of terror engaged in by ICE. The problem is your lack of moral clarity and the fact that find a factual statement like “white folks voted for Trump out of racial anxiety” to be of greater concern than actual violence perpetrated due to racism and white supremacy.

        • Bill says

          Ok, so all white people are guilty now of things done hundreds of years ago. Got it. So, are black people guilty of all the things done hundreds of years ago by the Moors? Are the subset of white people descendant from Romans guilty of the things done by them? Will Japanese people guilty of the Rape of Nanking for eternity?

          Your logic is simply…someone of your skin tone, who may have ZERO relationship to you, makes you guilty. By that logic, if a black man raped a white woman in 1855 then all black men still bear that stain of guilt.

          Calling all white people who voted for Trump racist simply shuts down conversation no different than a true fascist government might say, have their tax collection agency stifle speech by withholding a 501 designation.

          • Big Jim Slade says

            Calling all white people who voted for Trump racist simply shuts down conversation no different than a true fascist government might say, have their tax collection agency stifle speech by withholding a 501 designation.

            An excellent point, but don’t expect evd to pick up on your reference to the Obama administration’s weaponization of the IRS against right-leaning organizations. He either has never heard of it or actively suppresses any memory of what he did hear.

          • Jack B Nimble says

            @Bill @Big Jim Slade

            ‘……Close to a third of the advocacy groups named by the Internal Revenue Service as recipients of special scrutiny during tax-exempt application reviews were liberal or neutral in political outlook, a leading nonpartisan tax newsletter reported after conducting an independent analysis of data released by the agency…..’

            Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/06/proof-the-irs-didnt-target-just-conservatives/276536/

            It is your memory of the IRS ‘scandal’ that is faulty.

  10. All I can do at this point is thank God (and I mean that with all sincerity) that we are soon to have a SC with a conservative majority. Judging from the alacrity with which the mainstream left has embraced the idea of social engineering through speech restriction, it is only a matter of the Dems controlling the remaining branches before an agency is established with a mandate to wage war on whatever is deemed hate speech.

    I can already see the headlines: “Department of Human Dignity finds teaching of Bible homophobic, racist, mysogenistic, xenophobic, among other forms of hate for which we do not yet have a name.”

    • Bill says

      Dubbing the SC either conservative or liberal really tarnishes the conversation because those terms have political party affiliations and that isn’t what the leaning of the SC is about. The leanings are either holding the Constitution to the original intent or a view where the judiciary adapts interpretation based upon the prevailing winds. You could very easily have a politically conservative justice on the “liberal” wing of the court if they view their role as being able to bend legislation towards their principle — founding father’s be damned. Take, for example, some of the (my opinion) horrific rulings out of SCOTUS by the “conservative wing” granting unchecked power to the government. My favorite example is police stops for DUI where the officer can merely say “he was slurring” and I pulled them over for (whatever legal reason, say “driving too fast for conditions” (a purely subjective violation). It’s equivalent to the SouthPark, “it’s coming right for us!” defense for poaching. Since any pull-over can be justified by something, and they have un-provable/negateable criteria for demanding a sobriety check (meaning, they arrest and can now search the vehicle) you’ve lost all 4th amendment protection and the submission of bodily fluids under duress (you’ll lose your license/implied consent) means that also means you’ve lost 5th amendment protection. If you even ask for an atty consult, they mark refusal to submit under implied consent and you’re paperwork away from loss of license.

      Should I go into civil forfeiture if you happen to have cash in the vehicle or now some jurisdictions have card-readers allowing them to drain pre-paid plastic.

      • @Bill

        Sounds like you got pulled over for a DUI and didn’t know your rights. From the sound of it you still don’t. I suggest starting by simply asking politely for an attorney before you answer any more questions. Even if you get marked up for refusal to submit, you still leave yourself many more options by simply keeping your mouth shut and asking to call your attorney.

        • Peter from Oz says

          In such situations one should always follow the British Public School tradition: keep your mouth shut, your bowels open and never volunteer

  11. Friends, we must recognize that we don’t have free speech as it is. ‘Institutional regulation of speech’ — and pari passu thought — is going on everyday at full-scale in the form of schooling, the press, entertainment, advertising, and in shallow and misleading articles like the present one. This is called education. People are educated to censor themselves and to censor others. (That is one of the purposes of social media.) Thus you get the S.J.W. mob (which is led, more often than not, by crowd-masters belonging to official institutions), and its ‘regulation of speech’ is severe indeed.

    Authoritarian measures are just not the style of control favored by liberal democracies. In our world, everything is indirect, is done through persuasion, or ‘soft power’ as it has been called. It is devious but effective; for if you can succeed in brainwashing only half the population, they can be used to police the other, less impressionable half. (This is related, of course, to the divide & conquer strategy of identity politics as mentioned by ‘Robert Paulson’ in his comments above.)

    That said, I would welcome hate speech laws in this country. Surely an actual trial is preferable to a trial by public opinion, in which guilt is automatically assumed, and vengeance brutal. But most importantly, it would be more difficult, then, for people to pretend that free speech exists.

    • JJG says

      Please state a time in history when people were NOT educated to censor themselves and others. While the definition of “polite society” has evolved over time, it has always been present. It wasn’t leftists who created this. It is not that long ago that anything considered heretical was a cause for ostracization and career ending. The media bent over backwards not to insult god or country. TV couples slept in separate beds! Not to mention the whole blacklisting thing. The Hays Code. The Smothers Brothers. The freaking Dixie Chicks. To suggest SJWs invented this is either intellectually dishonest or ignorant of history.

    • Funny because you don’t have to “pretend free speech exists” when you express such shallow conceptions of what it means to be human and the value of freedom of conscience.

      If you actually took seriously that you are just a sock puppet for “crowd masters” and institutions, you shouldn’t bother expressing ideas to anyone at all unless you are choosing to be complicit in the brainwashing and reproduction of dominant power relations.

  12. I have read posts on social media from leftists hoping that they’ll be able to hang Donald Trump and his 62 million supporters. I try not to regard them as typical of the left wing, but the more I’m exposed to the left’s delusional ravings the more I’m inclined to believe that they actually are. Remembering the way the left’s masked thugs, Antifa, were attacking Trump supporters six months before the election, and the way the left didn’t speak up against them, has almost cemented that view.

    Trump didn’t win the election because of whites voting for him. He received a slightly smaller share of that bloc than Mitt Romney did. He won because of the Hispanic and Asian vote, along with the largest share of the black vote of any Republican since 2004. A black vote that will at least double by 2020.

    In 2016 the 9th Circuit ruled on the 1997 Flores law that it was illegal to house adults and children together, even if they were family. Prior to that time it had been assumed that family could be housed together. The Obama administration themselves acknowledged that that would make enforcing border law more difficult. Trump ran on a platform of strong border enforcement and is the first president to do so with the 2016 limitations.

    It’s said that if you want a bad law changed, enforce it. However when Republicans offered to change the law, Democrats refused. They insisted on a Presidential Executive Order instructing Border Patrol and ICE to ignore the law. However that executive order is, in all probability, illegal leaving it open to legal challenge.

    Pleading asylum when you’re illegally in the United States is pure sophistry. If you stay in the country ICE will house you until your day in court comes up, and because of the 2016 ruling you can’t be housed with your children. If you go to one of the many stations in Mexico, or on the border, and apply for asylum you won’t be imprisoned, or separated from your children. That is the difference between doing something “legally” as opposed to “illegally”.

  13. Andrew says

    Put simply free speech protects minorities, because it protects minority views. Majority views don’t need protecting, only unpopular views. This is how gay rights and civil rights and lots of progessive things happened. Seems silly to kick away the ladder that helped get us where we are.

    • Bill says

      You forgot one point — minority views are unpopular, hence minority. So that same ladder that provides speech that is offensive to the majority (ex. the white-power types) is the one that provided speech that was offensive in the past (ex. gay rights and civil rights as you point out).

      The whole point is that if you don’t like the content, don’t listen.

  14. Susan says

    The erosion of free speech in Europe is in full force. One year ago, German lawmakers passed a law under which Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies face fines of up to €50 million for failing to remove hate speech within 24 hours. Facebook now has a building in Berlin with 700 employees scouring Facebook. The reason for this law was the rise in anti-migrant sentiment.
    In England, the “blasphemy” laws for mean posts about Islam are about to increase prison penalties to six years.
    Slippery slope

    • Bill says

      Just today the police in the UK shut down a pro-Trump march after allowing an anti-Trump march. Fascist much?

      • martti_s says

        Some people use their freedom thoughtlessly and express wrong opinions publicly.
        It is the function of the Police to stop them doing that.
        That’s the Britain of today. Consistent but still unbelievable.

        • ga gamba says

          Oi, you have a loicence fer yer freedom to type this?

      • Jack B Nimble says

        @Bill

        Trump UK visit: Police place tight restrictions on pro-Trump and Free Tommy Robinson protests

        Police have imposed tight restrictions on protests in support of Donald Trump and jailed far-right leader Tommy Robinson, in an effort to prevent “serious disorder” in London.

        Organisers of a march in support of the US president plan to merge with a demonstration in support of the EDL founder on Saturday, a day after a huge rally opposing Mr Trump’s visit to Britain.

        Scotland Yard said it was imposing restrictions “in order to prevent serious disorder and disruption to Londoners” following violence seen at a previous Free Tommy Robinson protest last month.

        His supporters threw metal barriers, bottles and other objects at police officers, injuring five of them. Nine people were arrested.

        Some pro-Robinson protesters were seen performing Nazi salutes, while others stormed and vandalised a sightseeing bus…..”

        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/trump-uk-visit-latest-protests-tommy-robinson-free-rally-police-restrictions-violence-disorder-a8444016.html

  15. Rashid Haddad says

    I find that there are far too many labels being flung around willy-nilly. Racist, alt-right, bigot, xenophobic, etc…everything is now assigned a label and that, I’m afraid, foments the very thing of which the label is meant to accuse.

    Let’s stop immediately resorting to labels and take personal responsibility. If I read something with which I disagree, I don’t give it a label. I respect that others have different approaches and perspectives and I don’t have to argue or subscribe to those different approaches and perspectives.

    I can hold on to my own values without disparaging divergent values.

  16. Fadi A. says

    Rights Are a Limitation on the Exercise of State Power
    Great read!

  17. Some of the opponents of Milo Yiannopoulos claimed that he threatened to identify undocumented students at Berkeley, but they have never provided any quote or other evidence for this. The “threat” was entirely in their own minds. Please provide such evidence if you can prove me wrong on this.

  18. A simple heuristic: I will support your efforts to ban specific abuses of this right, so long as *I* get to decide the individual cases.

  19. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Free Speech Doesn’t Protect Nazis. It Protects Us from Nazis – World Best News

  20. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Free Speech Doesn’t Protect Nazis. It Protects Us from Nazis – News about world

  21. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Free Speech Doesn’t Protect Nazis. It Protects Us from Nazis – Latest news

  22. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Free Speech Doesn't Protect Nazis. It Protects Us from Nazis - EYFnews

  23. I think leaving things as is, protects liberal values the most. Right now, the largest voice is ones that are shared via social media. Most tech firms are ran by progressives, and those that value/respect all people, so let Nazi’s share their voice in public, but FB, CNN, etc… could just opt out – of reiterating that voice. Just because they have freedom to speak on the street, does not mean Reddit, FB, Twitter have to allow them on their platform to gain more followers.

    We may yet need freedom of speech, so let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water, lets hope that social media platforms can temper and raise progressive voices above nazi voices.

  24. Stuart Chambers says

    The article was persuasive. It made solid points concerning the possible abuse of power by the state over one’s speech.

  25. The author’s point makes sense “Why would you want a government that you fear to regulate speech?,”

    When it comes to the people, it is the left that wants to create hate speech laws. Have we forgotten that they will call anyone who dissagrees with them a bigot.

    While I am okay with the criticism of the right, the author is far to easy on the left.

  26. Pingback: Free Speech Doesn’t Protect Nazis. It Protects Us From Nazis – Quillette – Amalgamated Contemplation

  27. People seem to forget that the Nazis didn’t run a coup d’état. They were elected. Keep that in mind when designing today’s laws…

  28. What a load of bullshit! Daniel Freedman is one of the dumbest fucking liberals breathing. God knows who writes his columns, it sure as hell isn’t him. Anyone stupid enough to suggest that Donald Trump has “authoritarian” leanings had better provide me with a list. I’ve listened to well over 200 speeches and pressers (nobody reading Quillette has ever listened to a fucking word Trump has spoken!). At no time has Trump ever threatened, in any way shape or form, any one of the 10 bill of rights. At the same time, Dickhead Freedman has been guilty of creating lies about Trump for the express purpose of creating hatred towards him personally. Not politically, personally. Neo-Nazi? Name one. Name one person who fits the definition of Neo-Nazi. Being far better educated than the shit-heads writing on Quillette, I can tell you nobody the left calls a Nazi has ever fit the definition. How about socialist, or communist, or progressive? Any person who claims to be jiggy with these three groups is 1st cousin to a Nazi or fascist! When I grew up, educated knew there was no difference between Nazi’s, socialists, communists, fascists and progressives, because, there isn’t any difference between them. Authoritarian governments are any ideology that believes those in power have the right to dictate (Dictatorship for you stupid fucking liberals) who does and doesn’t have rights and who does or doesn’t have power. Donald Trump is none of them, no part of Donald Trump is authoritarian and anyone stupid enough to challenge me on that no brainer had better come up with one thing he’s done that was outside the laws of our constitution. For all you Freedman’s out there, the constitution is the document that explains how to keep authoritarians from turning the presidency into a dictatorship. Daniel Freedman is a liar and a scumbag. If you agree with him you’re either the same or just too stupid to think for yourself.

  29. John Ralph Spray says

    Well… all a tad on ye ol’ broad brush hiccups that are easy on the cerebrum. There are certain arguments in ‘common law’ that will always trump (gadzooks, a word that may be soon out of fashion, but I digress) .. that will always negate the ‘right’ to ‘free speech’. Ever heard of libel and slander laws in the civil arena? How about the old saw re crying FIRE in a crowded theater? I know… go online and threaten death to an elected official and see what happens. The point is that any society has a right to curtail the advocacy of mischief and language that advocates a criminal act deleterious to the public good and actual physical harm. I live in arguably the most cosmopolitan city on the planet and our laws here in Canada are in place to protect the vulnerable and marginalized in society from the majority bullies. Your 1st. amendment, like the 2nd., was not penned by those who envisioned the K.K.K. or school shootings. One of the best tenets of your ‘Bill of Rights’ was the idea of ‘the pursuit of happiness’. As far as I know, no country has ever espoused such a concept into the the vernacular of their nation’s birth and this should be the overriding factor when weighing the validity of ‘free speech’ vs. the vulnerable. Here’ free speech:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eW1Gc0s5kk

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