President Trump is a threat to the First Amendment, says the New York Times, while repeatedly running op-eds arguing against the First Amendment.
Its current masterpiece is, Free Speech is Killing Us.
Its innovative argument notes that ideas can lead to violence. Well then, if we’re going to stop violence, we have to shut down the flow of ideas until we figure out what’s going on here, right?
In 2019, this is what the New York Times has come up with.
Noxious speech is causing tangible harm. Yet this fact implies a question so uncomfortable that many of us go to great lengths to avoid asking it. Namely, what should we — the government, private companies or individual citizens — be doing about it?
Oh lots of people have no problem asking it. Nazis, Communists, assorted other well-wishers who want a totalitarian state.
The Founders were not unaware of the simple reality that bad actions can begin with bad speech. Their solution wasn’t mass censorship and thought control. It says something about the degeneracy of liberals into leftist that this is the New York Times solution.
Or that this is regarded as an innovative observation.
I struck up a conversation with a stranger at a coffee shop. We talked about how bewildering it was to be alive at a time when viral ideas can slide so precipitously into terror. Then I wondered what steps should be taken. Immediately, our conversation ran aground. “No steps,” he said. “What exactly do you have in mind? Thought police?” He told me that he was a leftist, but he considered his opinion about free speech to be a matter of settled bipartisan consensus.
I imagined the same conversation, remixed slightly. What if, instead of talking about memes, we’d been talking about guns? What if I’d invoked the ubiquity of combat weapons in civilian life and the absence of background checks, and he’d responded with a shrug?Nothing to be done. Ever heard of the Second Amendment?
I mean really, ideas, guns, is there even a difference?
Isn’t the New York Times then just an arsenal of ideas that should be raided by the ATF and locked away?
Not all speech is protected under the First Amendment anyway. Libel, incitement of violence and child pornography are all forms of speech. Yet we censor all of them, and no one calls it the death knell of the Enlightenment.
Ah ha! We ban the sexual abuse of children. So why can’t we censor people who disagree with me?
This the sort of cretinous nonsense that the New York Times deems worthy of spreading.
Free speech is a bedrock value in this country. But it isn’t the only one. Like all values, it must be held in tension with others, such as equality, safety and robust democratic participation
Orwell wept. So did Patrick Henry.
“Speech should be protected, all things being equal.”
All things being equal.
We shouldn’t raid and detain everyone who works at the New York Times for undermining the Constitution… all things being equal. Free speech is a bedrock value, but it must be held in tension with other values, such as equality, safety and democratic participation.
See how that works.
But what about speech that’s designed to drive a woman out of her workplace or to bully a teenager into suicide or to drive a democracy toward totalitarianism?
So we should ban the Communist Party?
In 1993 and 1994, talk-radio hosts in Rwanda calling for bloodshed helped create the atmosphere that led to genocide. The Clinton administration could have jammed the radio signals and taken those broadcasts off the air, but Pentagon lawyers decided against it, citing free speech. It’s true that the propagandists’ speech would have been curtailed. It’s also possible that a genocide would have been averted.
In 2019, the New York Times’ incitement against the civil rights of the opposition helped create an atmosphere that led to civil war. We could have raided and arrested everyone at the paper, but free speech.
See how that works?