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Posts Tagged ‘first amendment’

OMG! Conservatives have “weaponized” the First Amendment!!

Posted by Richard on July 7, 2018

I’m old enough to remember the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. But anyone who’s been paying attention knows that we’re far removed from the time when the left argued that the right of free speech was absolute and applied especially to speech that some people found offensive or disturbing. (Of course, they argued that in the context of defending speech about how racist and imperialistic the US was, so there may never have been much principled consistency to their stand, just a self-serving posture.)

For some time now, the left, and especially the academic left (and thus a good 90% of academia), has argued exactly the opposite: that there is no right to say anything that offends or disturbs anyone (at least, anyone on the left). Just take a look at the battles that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has been fighting for almost 20 years. Or look at the scores of times that leftist professors and students have used violence or the threat of violence to silence or prevent the appearance of “fascist” speakers on campuses across the country (“fascist,” in their usage, means anyone to the right of Hillary Clinton).

For a look at where the left stands now with regard to free speech (with the apparent approval of the New York Times), see this Ben Shapiro column.

On Sunday, The New York Times ran a front-page, 2,000-word report on how “conservatives weaponized the First Amendment.” Now, you might ask yourself why the most famous press institution in American history is questioning the wisdom of the First Amendment. You might also ask yourself how conservatives could have weaponized a freedom. This is sort of like saying that law-abiding citizens weaponized the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. But according to the Times’ Adam Liptak, conservatives have twisted the definition of free speech to enhance their own political goals.

“Twisted the definition of free speech” apparently means “applied it equally to those we disagree with.”

Shapiro unpacks Liptak’s summary of the current leftist argument against a content-neutral application of the First Amendment:

… Many on the left have traded an absolutist commitment to free speech for one sensitive to the harms it can inflict.

This is inane, of course. As soon as we subvert the commitment to free speech in favor of curbing the harms attendant on free speech, free speech is no longer a right. This view of the First Amendment is anti-Constitutional; the founders believed that rights pre-existed government, not that the government created rights. But if you believe the government created and gives you rights, then anything the government deems to be bad can countermand such rights. That’s the perspective of Democrats these days: conservative speech is bad for the country, and thus ought to be curbed, while Leftist speech ought to be promoted.

Liptak further states that “Some liberals now say that free speech disproportionately protects the powerful and the status quo” (note: when a journalist writes “some … say,” it’s safe to conclude that what follows is what the journalist believes). Let’s apply “some liberals'” thinking to other rights, shall we? It would follow that only socialists, minorities, and the poor should:

  • be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • have the right to a trial by jury and to not incriminate themselves.
  • be able to keep and bear arms.
  • be free from cruel or unusual punishment.
  • be able to peaceably assemble.

You get the picture. The left’s view is (and always has been; they’ve just become more open about it) that there are no rights; there are only privileges that ought to be granted to those of whom the left approves and denied to those of whom it disapproves (e.g., white males and the owners of corporations).

Read the whole thing. Note especially how the contemptible law professor Catharine MacKinnon characterizes the First Amendment as a “shield” when used to the benefit of those she approves of, but a “sword” when used to the benefit of the deplorables.

This, as Shapiro notes, is how we got Trump.

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