It looks like even my neck of the woods isn’t immune from leftist tirades against freedom of speech.
Professor Amos Guiora from the University of Utah penned an op-ed in my local leftist bird-cage liner, The Salt Lake Tribune (the levels of which I despise their progressive elitist blowhard BS is a rant for another day), that America needs more limits on free speech – particularly “hate speech” – especially in this age of the internet. Because, you know, nobody called anyone names or spread hateful rumors until the internet became A Thing. And now that Donald Trump is president, it’s going to get even WORSE –
To others, expressing the viewpoint of the so-called white nationalist movement is a First Amendment right that should be allowed — and celebrated — as free speech without censorship.
The growing division between these schools of thought brings up a simple question with a complicated answer: How much intolerance should be tolerated?
As much as it takes to shame those intolerant jackholes back into their underground dens and away from polite society, Amos!
Funnily enough, the disdain of a moral society tends to quash hateful intolerance more than formal laws against hateful intolerance do. All legislating against hate speech does is make good people hesitant to speak out, for fear of being criminalized. Bad people, on the other hand, have this funny tendency not to care what the law states and they’re going to do as they please. But if they’re ostracized from their friends and others that they respect, that tends to drive the point home better than a pair of handcuffs would.
What’s rich is that, in saying that hate speech should be illegal, he uses the example of Brandenburg v. Ohio. A 1969 case where a member of the KKK was convicted for inciting violence because of inflammatory speeches he made. The Supreme Court overturned the conviction, however, because even low, scummy, racist members of the KKK have freedom of speech –
Some may argue the issue was settled long ago in Brandenburg v. Ohio, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 1969 when the court reversed the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had advocated violence. Clarence Brandenburg was charged and convicted for advocating violence under Ohio’s criminal syndicalism statute in 1964 for speeches he made.
Brandenburg appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming Ohio’s statute violated his First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. The court sided with him, issuing what is still considered today to be its most speech-protective holding. The ruling created a litmus test citing three factors when speech can be prohibited: 1) if the speech promotes imminent harm, 2) there is a high likelihood the speech will result in listeners participating in illegal action and 3) the speaker intended to incite others to participate in illegality.
(It’s worth noting that Clarence Brandenburg was a Democrat, but that’s probably of little consequence to Democrats, you know. Fact remains that the KKK was a product of racist Democrats who are probably still upset that Republicans were responsible for ending slavery and passing Civil Rights for all Americans, while the Democrats tried to hold onto Jim Crow. History is an inconvenient thing.)
But you see – now that we have the internet and everyone can speak as they wish to, it’s even MORE important that we curb free speech. Someone might say something MEEEEEEAN on Twitter! Or your sweet great-aunt might share a link from The Onion on Facebook and think it’s real news! Worse – she might share something from MSNBC! (Same thing, really.)
See, people shouldn’t be allowed to speak their opinions or articulate their positions on certain issues. Not unless you have a big-time law degree and teach at a prestigious school of law and get to write for a leftist-approved newspaper that holds complete and total disdain for the communities that they report on, anyway –
The 1969 ruling came well before the digital age. We live in a time where clicks and shares spread hate and false information instantaneously across the internet.
Given the tone and tenor in society following the election of Donald Trump, I believe it is time to revisit limits on free speech.
The challenge is to determine what degree of extremist internet speech can be tolerated — in the context of freedom of speech — before determining that extremist speech poses a clear and present danger. Balancing is essential; the consequences of unjustified limitations of free speech are antithetical to a democracy. On the other hand, speech has the potential of harming. The adage “words kill” is neither amorphous nor abstract.
You know what you do when someone harms others because of inflammatory speech? You punish the scumbag who did the harm! You punish the actions! You don’t punish the speech.
Our Founders understood that the answer is always MORE voices, not fewer. I don’t want my political opponents silenced. Even if they’re waving around copies of “Mein Kampf” or “The Communist Manifesto” and proclaiming that those books are the pinnacle of governmental theory and everyone should follow the advice contained within those pages. In fact, I WANT those nutters to be able to say those things, even more than I want people that I agree with to be able to speak freely. You can only weed bad ideas out of society once you’ve recognized them for what they are. You can only point out the problems with those bad ideas if you’re actually discussing them. You can’t just say “Oh, Hitler was a bad dude.” You have to know WHY he was a bad dude. You can’t just say “Communism sucks.” You have to say WHY it sucks.
It would also behoove Amos and his fellow leftists who want to silence the right to realize that any laws they make with the intent to curb hate speech could very well be used against them. That’s the stupid thing about this nebulous concept of “hate speech” – nobody can agree what “hate speech” entails. It’s been used to describe everything from insane calls for genocide, to elementary school kids calling each other “fat” and “ugly” on the playground. Moronic crusades against “hate speech” have been used to bully people and close down businesses because of the owners’ religious beliefs – even if those religious beliefs have nothing to do with their business at all.
The best solution is to allow everyone to speak freely and let individuals decide what speech they are going to agree with and what speech they are going to reject. The majority of people don’t need the law to hold our hands and dictate morality for everybody.
Here’s a clue, leftists: this magical “tolerance” you all keep babbling about starts when you acknowledge that there are people that you are going to disagree with. The right has been more than tolerant with you (more than you deserve), but you don’t seem to grasp that tolerance is a two-way street.
Until you figure that out, enjoy your confusion as to why nobody is taking your calls for limiting free speech seriously.