Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Left's "selective" attacks on free speech could backfire
Michelle Goldberg has an important New York Times op-ed, “The Worst Time for the Left to Give Up on Free Speech”, link .
Goldberg writes about the recent disruption of an ACLU speaker at William and Mary for defending free speech rights of alleged white supremacists (Oct. 5).
Goldberg points out that many people believe that some topics should be “beyond the pale” of acceptable conjectures for discussion. She notes that among these ideas are a return to the belief that women and people of color should have an inferior or submissive assigned station in life to white men. You could add, gay people or transgender or gender fluid, to heterosexually married men with children.
I certainly have hit that theme had in the past, as explaining what happened in my own background. Perhaps some people would say that my even rehearsing it gives it potential legitimacy for political enemies to use again in the future.
One could say that about the attention I have given to the history of conscription.
It used to be said that communism should be beyond the pale of discussion. That idea was based on a definition of communism as invoking violence and the use of force to make political change (and force expropriation), whereas socialism alone was to be achieved by the democratic process (Bernie Sanders). But communism as subject matter was different in that it did not normally target one protected class of people. Even so, people in the past were barred, say, from federal employment had they ever been members of the Communist Part (and they could be removed for “sexual perversion” too, until 1973).
White supremacy is obviously very dangerous because it would propose subjugating a class of people (on race or skin color). Neo-Nazism is for similar reasons banned today in modern German, as it also can include people of a certain religion (Judaism) for subjugation. The Left may feel that it barely has less to worry about than the Right on these matters.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled against content-specific restrictions on free speech.
But a much bigger issue, which I must keep coming back to, is the idea that people should speak only through groups.