The wake of the Charlie Hebdo atrocity has dragged along a development that will surprise many Americans: a fresh drive to eliminate freedom of speech.
Sara’s article is worth reading in its entirety, but the part that simply demands to be excerpted is the video she embeds:
Jonathan Turley is a self-described liberal. Indeed, he’s stated openly that though he disapproves of many of Obama’s moves on Constitutional grounds, he favors the policies involved. That marks him as unusually honest and candid for someone on the left of the spectrum. When he criticizes politicians whose orientation and policy preferences he shares, we should take him seriously.
What odds would you give, Gentle Reader, that this new campaign for censorship will become the letter of the law in Europe? How about here in America? As Turley notes in the video, Canada has already crossed that line. Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn notwithstanding, a Canadian can get into a lot of legal trouble by openly criticizing Islam or any of its major figures, past or present.
It’s even worse than you might think. A few years back there was a vilification trial in Victoria, Australia. The complainants were, of course, Muslims. The defendant tried to make his case by reading directly from the Koran:
What is car-wreck fascinating here is Judge Michael Higgins’ conclusion that simply pointing out what the Koran says now constitutes outlawed speech in Victoria. During court proceedings, when Mr. Scot began to read verses from the Koran that denigrate women, a lawyer for the Islamic Council of Victoria, the plaintiff, cut him off, explaining that reading such verses aloud is itself an act of vilification. “How,” wondered Mr. Scot, can it be vilifying to Muslims in the room when I am just reading from the Koran?”
Note this well: Presiding Judge Michael Higgins agreed with the plaintiff’s lawyer that to read certain verses from the Koran constitutes the vilification of Muslims. To the best of my knowledge, our brethren Down Under have yet to contest that “hate speech” regime.
Some patterns take longer than others to become obvious.
Islam is massively useful to our political class. The powers that be are grateful for the threat it presents, and for the repeated evidences of that threat it provides. It serves to justify all manner of intrusions on Americans’ rights, and all manner of incursions upon our privacy. Thus, to expect that the State will ever act against Islam, regardless of how its atrocities proliferate, is a foolish notion.
A new campaign against freedom of expression, in the name of the non-existent “right not to be offended,” fits that paradigm perfectly. You may rest assured, Gentle Reader, that that campaign will have plenty of special-interest backers. The more important question is why the great majority of the rest of us will bow before it.
In his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg points out that laws Americans of a hundred years ago would have denounced as intolerable incursions on the rights and prerogatives of a free people are widely accepted today. Today’s Americans generally tolerate, even welcome “liberal fascism:” the unlimited use of coercive power as long as it can be framed as “for a good cause.” There are three components to this phenomenon:
First, thanks to the use of the mass media and the educational infrastructure, a great many of us have been conditioned to deem virtually everything the federal government decrees, whether enacted legislatively or decreed by regulation, as acceptable on practical grounds. In other words, as long as the overt end strikes us as a good one, we’ll bow to the means. This complete effacement of the nature of a republic – a country in which the rei publicae are constitutionally defined and governments are forbidden to meddle in any other matters – has essentially nullified the constraints of the Constitution.
Second, the media and the schools have also widened the range of government activities generally deemed beneficial. Note how this couples to the above consideration: if you’re against “hate speech,” “discrimination,” or “pollution,” how could you possibly be against laws that penalize them? The emergence of vocal, even militant special interests dedicated to such causes (and allowed de facto to go far beyond what was once considered acceptable in promoting them) puts “private muscle” at the service of government’s guns.
Third, even when an interest group was not part of the originating force for some fascist law, it might afterward deem that law convenient for its own purposes. The result is a continuing enlargement of the aggregate support of such an enactment as more groups find ways to exploit it to their own advantage.
Politicians strain to give lip service to freedom and limited government while encouraging all three of those attitudes and their consequences.
I’ve written before that the Left will not leave us free to speak our minds:
Just how are freedom of expression and the electoral process faring in the Land of the Formerly Free?
First, freedom of expression:
- The McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act has partly abrogated the right to free expression around election time.
- Given the new Administration and the enlarged Democrat majorities on Capitol Hill, we stand in immediate danger of the revival of the Fairness Doctrine, which is aimed at quenching conservative talk radio.
- The use of tax law to silence conservative and libertarian opinion is growing, especially as regards voluntary associations such as churches and charitable groups.
- Several liberal luminaries, among them both Cass Sunstein and Hillary Clinton, have argued for the censorship of the World Wide Web.
- Lawsuits attempting to silence a commentator who has merely stated established facts or accurately quoted an adversarial opponent are rife, and are usually allowed to go forward by the courts.
- Conservative public officials are continuously derided, assailed, and slandered, both by the Mainstream Media and by activist groups.
- Lectures and presentations by libertarian and conservative figures are heckled, massively protested, and often terminally disrupted by liberal activists. The speakers who dare to appear at such events are at continuous risk of physical assault.
The legal impediments to free expression are bad enough. When one adds the "chilling effect" of the extra-legal mechanisms used to silence pro-freedom views, the pile reaches an alarming height.
Yes, Europe has gone further down this road than America...but Obama and his brethren on the social-fascist Left are determined to follow it if they must, sprint past it if they can. As with mass shootings, they’ll use any “crisis” brought about by someone’s violent response to a spate of plain speaking as a justification for further infringements on the freedom of expression.
How far will we let this go before the musket comes down from the mantel?