Before Constitution voters start doing a victory dance over the Obama win, lets not forget that threats to free speech come from the left as often as they come from the right. See Unlike Others, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend in Speech. The article quotes a “legal philosopher” as saying that he isn’t sure that the Europeans are wrong – referring to European restraints on so-called “hate speech.”
Of course, it is only “hate speech” when it is speech that the would-be censor doesn’t like. I don’t trust anyone to apply such principles fairly, evenly, or in any way sanely.
Unfortunately, there are many American liberals who would love to see laws that would allow citizens to ban speech that offends them or hurts someone’s feelings. When you hear pandering ultra-liberals calling for speech codes and “hate crime” legislation, this is what they are calling for: Thoughtcrime Legislation.
Let this be a warning:
Just like Bush followers who bizarrely think that the limitless presidential powers they’re cheering on will only be wielded by political leaders they like, many hate speech law proponents convince themselves that such laws will only be used to punish speech they dislike. That is never how tyrannical government power works. (source)
I ought to have the right to hate anyone I want to hate. If I want to hate Jews, or Blacks, or Zoroastrians, to deny the Holocaust happened, to say that we should deport every Mexican, that should be my god-given right. If I hate someone, shouldn’t I have the right to express that hate as much as I have a right to express my distaste for such hate?
If you don’t think that speech codes and well-intentioned censorship can run wild, try living under an ultra-liberal regime for a while. My first such experience came when I was a 17 year old college freshman at the University of Massachusetts and a huge Dead Kennedy’s fan (I still am). Despite their left-wing bent and heavily political message, for some strange reason, Dead Kennedys shows began to attract neo-nazis. The Dead Kennedys made their attitude toward this segment of their audience clear with the song “Nazi Punks, Fuck Off.” I slapped a sticker with that message on my dorm room door. A few days later, I was “written up” for displaying an anti-semitic message on my door. My “hearing” was conducted without any logic or sanity. I explained my position — that it was supposed to be an *anti* nazi symbol (hence the mysterious red circle with a slash through it). It was impolitely explained to me that as a white male I couldn’t possibly understand how “targeted groups” would feel when they saw that sticker. My reply “they should feel that they have an ally behind that door,” was unpersuasive, and I was told that absolutely no such symbols were permitted. I could remove the sticker or be faced with expulsion from the dorm. I buckled under and covered the sticker with black paint, which seemed to satisfy housing services. However, I learned that day that irrational power-greedy and advantage-seeking censorship comes from both the liberal Left as well as the fascist Right.
Despite the fact that the Republicans have spent the last 8 years wiping their asses with the Bill of Rights, even hard-core liberals can not escape the truth that the Republicans did so with the complicity (if not the assistance) of plenty of Democrats. And, despite the fact that the Republicans were tossed out on their asses on November 4, very few people voted Democrat because they wanted to protect the Bill of Rights. They wanted relief from economic hard times.
Harvey A. Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer in Cambridge, Mass., [said]. “When times are tough,” he said, “there seems to be a tendency to say there is too much freedom.”
“Free speech matters because it works,” Mr. Silverglate continued. Scrutiny and debate are more effective ways of combating hate speech than censorship, he said, and all the more so in the post-Sept. 11 era.
“The world didn’t suffer because too many people read ‘Mein Kampf,’ ” Mr. Silverglate said. “Sending Hitler on a speaking tour of the United States would have been quite a good idea.” (source)
Accordingly, if you are a Constitution voter, don’t sit back and think that free speech is safe. Some of Obama’s potential Supreme Court nominees are quite in favor of censorship — they just think that their brand of censorship is noble, controllable, and justifiable. Our neighbors to the north, Canada, are consistently more enlightened, polite, and level-headed than we are. Nevertheless, they are also more prone to taking the liberal bait, hook, line, and sinker. See, e.g., When PC Attacks.
Censorship is a genie that can’t be put back in the bottle very easily. I supported Obama. I voted for him. I tried to persuade others to do so. I wrote a big fat check to his campaign. But, I’m not going to let him get off lightly if he trades one brand of censorship for the other.