For decades we have heard the left and the communists and the Democrats in America praising ‘free speech’ to the high heavens.
By ‘free speech’ they meant denouncing America; using public profanity; promoting extremist communist ideas; rhetorically attacking our corporations, churches and military; commercializing pornography and violent films; and defaming and even threatening Republicans and conservatives. And on and on.
But liberals are suddenly turning against ‘free speech’ since conservatives now are using ‘free speech’ in one of the crucial ways that it was intended – to methodically advocate for the conservative point of view.
Meanwhile groups that liberals detest like the Ku Klux Klan are also taking advantage of their free speech rights. And liberals can’t stand to take a taste of their own medicine.
It is important to remember that strong speech, extremist speech and even “hate speech” is legal and protected in America. That is what makes us free; otherwise you could be jailed for saying anything controversial. But liberals have claimed for decades that only they had the right to deploy such fringe examples of speech.
Freedom of speech has been ingrained in American law since the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791, including the 1st Amendment which states that ‘Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech’.
Yet liberals act like they invented free speech. They claim that the ‘free speech movement’ at the University of California in 1964-5 was the real birth of freedom of speech. This is just more liberal arrogance.
Here is how that movement is described on Wikipedia:
The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a massive, long-lasting student protest which took place during the 1964–65 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. … With the participation of thousands of students, the Free Speech Movement was the first mass act of civil disobedience on an American college campus in the 1960s. Students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom. …To this day, the Movement’s legacy continues to shape American political dialogue both on college campuses and in broader society, impacting on the political views and values of college students and the general public.
Yet this movement was simply a restatement of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution and would not even have existed without the 1st Amendment. The students objected to the fact that the university barred political activities on campus.
But that is perfectly legal since the concept of free speech is generally applicable, i.e., you cannot be arrested and possibly jailed for your words. But ‘free speech’ can be curtailed in millions of individual cases, for instance by an employer in a workplace where the wrong words about politics can cause friction among employees. This obviously makes sense. Otherwise we could have chaos every day in every workplace.
Then look at this from Wikipedia:
Today, Sproul Hall (at Berkeley) and the surrounding Sproul Plaza are active locations for protests and marches, as well as the ordinary daily tables with free literature from anyone of any political orientation who wishes to appear. A wide variety of groups of all political, religious and social persuasions set up tables at Sproul Plaza. The Sproul steps… may be reserved by anyone for a speech or rally.
This is patently false. We know that conservatives are harassed, intimidated and protested at Berkeley, that the presence of conservative speakers on campus has incited riots and violence by extremists, that the Berkeley police have appeared to stand down when expected to protect the conservatives, and thus that the ‘free speech movement’ is and was nothing of the sort but really the opposite.
We can be sure that things have changed when the New York Times casts a wary eye on free speech. Thomas Williams, Ph.D, recently wrote on Breitbart News:
In a remarkably honest exposé, the New York Times acknowledged Saturday that “liberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them” ever since conservatives realized they should apply to them as well.
The Times cites First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams who noted that whereas the left once led support for First Amendment protections, they are now “at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.”
The difference between then and now? Many of the ideas currently being protected by free speech rights run contrary to progressive ideology. Over the last 13 years, the Supreme Court “has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech,” the Times said.
One law professor at Georgetown, Louis Michael Seidman, who used to defend free speech now sees his prior position as a mistake.
“When I was younger, I had more of the standard liberal view of civil liberties,” Seidman said. “And I’ve gradually changed my mind about it. What I have come to see is that it’s a mistake to think of free speech as an effective means to accomplish a more just society.”
Thus he changed his mind when “free speech” actually started to apply to all Americans and was not just used as a tool of the left to promote its radical agenda.
Democrats and militant socialists in the universities and the media are realizing that the conservative population of the US is now using free speech to stand for its ‘civil liberties’ too, which long have been dismissed as irrelevant.
Meanwhile another form of ‘free speech’ that liberals despise has evolved over the last few decades – a vibrant conservative media headed by Rush Limbaugh. Liberals have even sought to shut down Limbaugh, claiming that he was not giving enough air time to opposing points of view. They even sought to use an FCC policy – the Fairness Doctrine – to do so but the Doctrine was ended in 1987 under president Reagan.
And of course we all know that the greatest bastion of free speech – the internet – has come under savage censorship from the left.
John Sexton on the Hot Air website wrote about the much-vaunted ACLU, which allegedly defends free speech all over the political spectrum even in the most extreme cases:
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal pointed out a leaked ACLU memo which outlines the organization’s revised stance toward taking cases involving the First Amendment. The 8-page case selection memo offers guidelines which contain plenty of nuance, but the bottom line is that the ACLU will now think about how First Amendment cases it takes might impact its other social justice priorities before taking them on. From the Wall Street Journal:
The 2018 guidelines claim that “the ACLU is committed to defending speech rights without regard to whether the views expressed are consistent with or opposed to the ACLU’s core values, priorities and goals.” But directly contradicting that assertion, they also cite as a reason to decline taking a free-speech case “the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values.”
In selecting speech cases to defend, the ACLU will now balance the “impact of the proposed speech and the impact of its suppression.” Factors like the potential effect of the speech on “marginalized communities” and even on “the ACLU’s credibility” could militate against taking a case. Fundraising and communications officials helped formulate the new guidelines.
Imagine that – the ACLU suddenly needs to think hard about free speech after 99% of its cases defended people on the political left anyway. But boy, that 1% is very disturbing.
(Note: ACLU’s intervention assured the original permit for the rally at the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va., for which ACLU received massive blowback from its supporters.)
If you want to see how much the left hates genuine ‘free speech’ look at this story about a pro-life film that is being made. This is a conservative film, of which there is probably one for every 1,000 films that are made on behalf of leftist causes like gun control, the environment, abortion, gay rights, etc. The Hollywood Reporter writes:
As Nick Loeb walked to his car with a production assistant during a day of shooting his upcoming feature film, Roe v. Wade, outside of Tulane University last week, a woman wearing a headset approached and asked: “Are you the director?”
“When I told her I was, she told me to ‘Go f*** myself,’ Loeb recalls. “Then she threw her headset on the ground and walked off. I found out later she was our electrician.”
Anecdotes such as this have become fairly common since Loeb and his production partner Cathy Allyn began shooting their pro-life feature film June 15 in and around New Orleans. …
The radio silence — until now — has been by design, both for the security of the cast and crew and in order to obtain shooting locations. To accomplish the latter, Loeb and Allyn have been shooting the film, which will wrap principal photography around July 15, under a fake title that the pair still will not disclose.
The film has been under such tight wraps that even the major cast members had not been revealed; Two Supreme Court justices are played by a couple of Hollywood’s more outspoken conservatives — Jon Voight and Robert Davi, and other justices are played by Corbin Bernsen, John Schneider, Steve Guttenberg, William Forsythe, Wade Williams and Richard Portnow.
Imagine that. Normally adoring mobs will show up to watch a film being made, but since it is a conservative film, it must be done in secret and the “mobs” are likely to be protesters.
This is not “free speech”. This is censorship and intimidation being perpetrated by the pro-abortion left. The Hollywood Reporter continues:
Even with the secrecy, it’s been a challenging shoot. At Louisiana State University, Loeb says, “we were told we were rejected due to our content, even though it will be a PG-rated film. They refused to put it in writing, but they told us on the phone it was due to content.” At Tulane, where Loeb is an alumnus, the film shot one day, but after the school newspaper reported on the nature of the project, producers were denied a second day of shooting, according to Loeb. (Both Tulane and LSU say logistics were the problem, not the content of the movie).
And then there was a synagogue in New Orleans that producers rented for catering and as a place for extras to hang out. “Once they found out what the film was about, they locked us out. We had to call the police so that the extras and caterers could retrieve their possessions,“ Loeb says.
But casting has been a problem throughout, as actors have walked away once they realized there was a pro-life tilt in the film. “We had to replace three local actors, including one who was to play Norma McCorvey, even after she begged for the role,” says Loeb.
Until now there is hardly a single American who has ever turned down an opportunity to appear on The Big Screen even as an “extra” on the set.
But they are literally running away from this film.