If you are old enough to remember the 1990’s or earlier, then you remember when the Left was the free speech side of the debate. If you are a Baby Boomer then you probably remember the Free Speech Movement. It is an odd thing that has happened in the last ten years or so where the poles have reversed on many things, but none more so than the issue of speech. It is what the left-wing crazies call the “far-right” that upholds the old liberal traditions on speech, not the Left.
In 1978, the ACLU came to the aid of a neo-Nazi group that wanted to march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie. The area was mostly Jewish, which is why the group wanted to march through their neighborhood. The ACLU made clear that they thought the group was full of terrible people but they had a right to march wherever marching was permitted. Young people were taught in school about this because it was supposed to be a great example of the free speech principle.
There is no way the ACLU would do this today. Instead, they would be on the other side trying to ruin the lives of anyone who dared speak up for the group. The ACLU, like all of the legacy civil rights groups from last century, opposes the basic civil rights of white Americans on the grounds of race. It is a good corollary to Robert Conquest’s second law of politics. Any organization that does business with leftists eventually is consumed by or destroyed by leftists.
The interesting thing about speech and the so-called far-right is that many who claim to be far-right also oppose Western liberalism. You have people who want an authoritarian state, but also say they want free speech. Free expression is inextricably bound up in liberal governance. You cannot have a liberal society in the Western sense without free expression and you cannot have illiberal government with it. Free expression is the cornerstone of the liberal society.
It is why the Antifa types are anti-speech. They are illiberal and authoritarian. These are people who make various claims to communism, Marxism and even anarchism, but embrace the unfettered use of corporate power to suppress speech. It is fair to say that the anti-speech movement in America is the expression of corporate power. Of course, what passes for the Left these days operates from the HR departments of global enterprise and free speech is antithetic to the corporate state.
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This Week’s Show
- 00:00: Opening
- 03:00: The War On Speech
- 23:00: The Benefit of Speech
- 43:00: The Harm of Speech
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