New Yorker Writer Thinks 'Speech Nuts' Are Like 'Gun Nuts'

Kelefa Sanneh thinks the American devotion to free speech is overrated because there's less of it in Europe.


Writing in the New Yorker, Kelefa Sanneh takes on Mary Katharine Ham and Guy

From my cold dead mouth.

 Benson's new book, End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun), which he describes as incoherent because it "both celebrates the power of the First Amendment and mourns the kind of 'free speech free-for-all' that they, suggest, the First Amendment is powerless to protect." Sanneh also goes after liberal Fox News pundit Kirsten Powers' book, The Silencing: How The Left is Killing Free Speech, claiming that she also "struggles to find worthy sparring partners."*

Ironically, over more than 4,000 words, Sanneh is never able to present a coherent thesis of his own, though two sub-headlines hint at what he might be getting at:

The new battles over free speech are fierce but who is censoring whom?

Free speech really can be harmful, and its defenders should be willing to say so.

After noting that defending free speech was once the vanguard of the left, when it meant defending the rights of civil rights protesters to agitate and fighting back on obscenity charges leveled at comedians like Lenny Bruce or rappers like 2 Live Crew, Sanneh writes: 

But as the nineteen-nineties progressed, fights over obscenity subsided and fights over so-called political correctness intensified; "free speech" became a different kind of rallying cry, especially on college campuses. Often, "free speech" meant not the right to protest a war but the right to push back against campus restrictions designed to shield marginalized groups from, say, "racial and ethnic harassment"—that was the term used by Central Michigan University, in its speech code, which banned "demeaning" expressions.

Note the use of quotation marks around the words free and speech, implying that the use of the phrase is inappropriate when used to defend the right to express unpopular ideas that lack the social merit of the writer's preference. 

Amazingly, Sanneh goes on to make claims like "The campus speech wars have since grown broader but vaguer" and "restrictive campus speech codes have been widely repealed." Naturally, Sanneh backs this up with zero data, because it is demonstrably false. 

Just last week, the University of New Hampshire's "Bias-Free Language Guide" made national news for its sweeping indictment of words like "American," "overweight," and "senior citizen" as "problematic." The guide reads like a parody of dystopian political correctness, and it took all of a day for UNH's president to disavow its use on campus and remove it from the school's website. 

In 2013, the Department of Education mandated speech codes as a prerequisite for any college seeking federal funds. Modesto Junior College prevented a student from handing out copies of the Constitution on Constitution Day. If Sanneh thinks blanket bans on "demeaning expressions" can't be misused, Brandeis University's guilty adjudication against one of its professors for deconstructing the word "wetback" for his class (while making it clear he is against the use of the derogatory term) provides a striking example of best intentions gone horribly wrong. Political activism on the left is not immune from speech codes, as the University of California is considering banning anti-Israel activism on the premise that such protests are "anti-Semitic."

These cases are not outliers. They are the norm, and Sanneh engages in willful ignorance to characterize efforts to repeal campus speech codes as "alarmist" and "absurd."

How could a journalist writing for one of the most respected publications in the English-speaking world not see how arbitrary limits on free speech could one day be used to suppress controversial or unpopular ideas he is sympathetic to? Simple. By conflating the American devotion to free expression with the broad American support of the right to gun ownership. 

Lamenting the "unusually broad legal guarantees" of the First and Second Amendments, Sanneh writes:

Speech nuts, like gun nuts, have amassed plenty of arguments, but they—we—are driven, too, by a shared sensibility that can seem irrational by European standards. 

In the case of online harassment, that instinctive preference for "free speech" may already be shaping the kinds of discussions we have, possibly by discouraging the participation of women, racial and sexual minorities, and anyone else likely to be singled out for ad-hominem abuse. Some kinds of free speech really can be harmful, and people who want to defend it anyway should be willing to say so.

It is true that the level of online discourse can test one's faith in humanity, and that misogynist, racist, and homophobic trolls are generally safe to express horrible things. But the same could be said of anyone's potential to be victimized by mean words. Look at how many people have taken to Twitter to express their wish for someone to "kill Donald Trump." 

Sanneh approvingly notes, "In Britain, Twitter users have been jailed for sending abusive tweets; in France, Twitter was compelled to help a prosecutor identify pseudonymous users accused of sending anti-Semitic tweets," and laments that in America, where the government is corralled by the First Amendment, "important free speech decisions" fall to websites like Twitter, who can and have suspended abusive tweeters.

From there, Sanneh is left to wonder what might happen if the government passed a law preventing "controversial users—pastors dedicated to 'curing' gay people" to activists reproducing the Charlie Hebdo images of the Prophet Muhammad" from being suspended from social media. 

While painting Americans as unsophisticated "nuts," clinging to their guns and free expression, Sanneh takes issue with Powers' assertion that, "Liberals are supposed to believe in diversity, which should include diversity of thought and belief."*  Sanneh describes "diversity of thought and belief" as a paradoxical formulation. But such diversity is the very essence of pluralism, the idea that one's deeply held principles can and should coexist with others, and the free exchange of ideas can allow the worst ideas to be debated and defeated in public.

Writing in The Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch made "The Case for Hate Speech," using prominent homophobes as an example of how "bad speech" ultimately helped to advance the cause of gay rights. If expressing such speech were outlawed, the ideas themselves wouldn't go away, and the fight over the value of such ideas would never be had. In the name of sparing feelings, the unacceptable status quo is maintained, and no is forced to choose a side. 

Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE), says Sanneh's article attempts to "paint proponents of free speech as unsophisticated, which is deeply ironic because he fails to do basic research into the complexity of First Amendment law, how much we still rely on the First Amendment in a very real legal sense, how poorly hate speech restrictions work in other countries, and how common campus speech codes are."

Lukianoff adds, "It fits into the same vein as (University of Chicago Law School Professor) Eric Posner calling people 'free speech fundamentalists.' It's much easier to be dismissive and name call if your arguments are not very strong. It's an attempt to make respectable an anti-free speech point of view that is really quite shallow and superficial, but that appealed to authors of campus speech codes, the defenders of orthodoxy, and both the old and modern Victorians alike."

Sanneh may roll his eyes at provincial Americans defending "free speech," but one has to wonder what he would make of Lenny Bruce. As he notes, Bruce was a free speech martyr in his time after being prosecuted for a provocative nightclub act. No small part of Bruce's act involved the use of racial epithets, which he deployed relentlessly to deprive them of their power to abuse. Were he alive and performing today, Bruce would have little to fear from the police, but the macroaggressions of his material would surely make him persona non grata on most college campuses

Based on his support for European countries prosecuting "hurtful" speech, would Sanneh want Lenny Bruce locked up?

Watch below as Jonathan Rauch makes the moral case for defending free speech:

*(Text updated to directly reference Kirsten Powers' book)

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  1. Then go back to Russia, you Frenchy!

    1. Yeah. Take your gazpacho back to Russia!!!

    2. Frankly I agree with him. We can start by censoring everything that Kelefa Sanneh says or writes.

  2. Senneh is useful for constipation and nothing else.

    1. I think you really...'scuse me!

      *runs to bathroom*

  3. Ahhh, we just need to get rid of, "mean" speech. Whatever.

  4. Sanneh played bass in the Harvard bands Hypertrophie Shitstraw, MOPAR, Fear of Reprisal and TacTic, as well as a Devo cover band that included members of Fat Day, Gerty Farish, Bishop Allen and Lavender Diamond.[5] Sanneh's thesis paper, The Black Galactic: Toward A Greater African America, combined interests in music, literature and culture in writing about The Nation of Islam and the Sun Ra Arkestra as efforts to transcend oppression in the African-American experience with desires to travel into outer space.[6][7]

    And this guy wants to bitch about the 1A??

    Shit, he should be giving daily thanks to the minds that ensconced the idea in our laws. Or, you, GTFO.

      1. I like your original comment, as is.

        1. ditto.

    1. He's a Sun Ra fan? OK, I like him more now.

  5. My favorite part is when they get confused about whether or not it would be okay to make it illegal for Facebook to ban people for free speech reasons. It's the weirdest argument I've ever heard:

    "When government officials tell a private corporation to allow citizens to speak, are they upholding the First Amendment or flouting it? That was the question that President Reagan considered in 1987, when Congress moved to enshrine the fairness doctrine, arguing that it was necessary to "ensure the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources." Reagan vetoed the bill, and delivered a stern statement explaining why. He said that government had no business telling radio and television stations what kinds of political discussions they should broadcast. Any effort in that direction would be "antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment." In his view, robust debate was important?but free speech was more important still. "

    I think this person does not understand what free speech is.

    1. I think this person does not understand what free speech is.

      Sure he does. As in: "You should be free to listen to ideas I want you to hear, at the point of a government gun."

  6. Sanneh wrote the high-profile "Project Trinity," which appeared in The New Yorker's April 7, 2008, edition, to give context to the controversial comments of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who was Barack Obama's pastor. The article provides a historical context of the Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama's church, and to Wright, the former pastor of Trinity.

    "Those damned darned Yanks and their Freedom of Speech!"

  7. It seems that "Christ, what an asshole!" applies not only to the cartoons.

    1. Beautiful, HM.

  8. These people are so stupid. Everything they do causes pushback and it never occurs to them that this will happen.

    The more they try the harsher the pushback.

    It'll be interesting to see what happens if they continue on their path to erase the Confederacy.

    1. The more vocal the idiots, the easier they are to spot. Hell, I carry an extra soap-box just in case one of these brain-farts need/wants some extra visibility.

  9. These people love free speech, as long as it is polite and doesn't hurt anyone feelings. Which is to say they don't like free speech at all.

    1. They are either morons who don't understand that speech that is non-offensive and not particularly disagreeable or controversial does not need to be protected...OR they do get that but they just want their own opinions backed by government might while their opponents' ideas are silenced.

      Even as dumb as they are, it's clear that it is the latter that motivates them.

    2. No, they think it's OK to hurt the feelings of oppressors: whites, men, heterosexuals, Christians, conservatives, libertarians....

    3. No. These people love free speech so long as it doesn't disagree with them in any important respect. They absolutely cannt BEAR to be oppsed. Every opponent is The Dark Lord, which is why they could compare Bush to acertain Austrian Corporal with straight faces.

      They imagine themselves the New Artistocracy, and the rest of us Peasants.

      Guillotine bait.

  10. "Free speech really can be harmful, and its defenders should be willing to say so."

    Thats my favorite argument from these authoritarian clowns. They never provide any evidence and shrink away into stammering fits when I question them on it.

    1. Most of the examples they give are of things that are already illegal, like criminal intimidation, harassment, actionable death threats, etc.

      The rest of the time it's just 'someone's feelings were hurt and we're supposed to pretend that matters for reasons doomed to be forever unclear.'

      1. Yelling "fuego!" in a crowded theater!

    2. Ah, the Argument by Vile Prejudice Phrased as an Appeal to be Reasonable.

      "Look, Jews really do control a lot of the media, and their defenders should be willing to say so."

      1. It's bullshit. Jews only control 80% of the media!

      2. If we really did, you wouldn't be commenting here, you'd be too busy doing the lifting and carrying for us.

        1. "OMWC, I love how that one powerful slave can carry a cornerstone of each pyramid, all by himself! Increase his gruel ration by one dollop!"

    3. As a First Amendment defender let me be the first to step to the podium and say, "Yes, absolutely, free speech can be harmful. The ideas in Das Kapital and Mein Kampf killed millions, and likely will kill many more. But censoring speech doesn't work any better than gun control. The only thing that will stop a person publishing a bad idea is a person able to freely express a better idea."

      So there.

      1. And Hitler wrote Mein Kampf while in prison and several prominent Nazis were jailed during the Weimar years for 'fomenting class hatred.'

        So obviously anti-speech laws in the Weimar era didn't exactly prevent the rise of Nazism.

        1. They helped promote it.

      2. As a First Amendment defender let me be the first to step to the podium and say, "Yes, absolutely, free speech can be harmful.

        "Mr. Madison, what you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response, were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

      3. The ideas in Das Kapital and Mein Kampf killed millions, and likely will kill many more

        Bullshit. What killed millions was men, and their primary means were guns, Cyclon-B, gas chambers, tanks, and rockets.

    4. Some people use their freedom of speech to argue for restrictions on free speech. I don't see how you can get more harmful than that, but I don't see anybody arguing that there ought to be a law against advocating for restricting free speech. Instead, I see people using their right to free speech to argue that restricting free speech is a bad idea. Sort of makes you think that maybe the free speech advocates are on to something here, that the cure for bad speech is more speech rather than less. (Just to be safe though, maybe we should file complaints with the New Yorker about how hurtful Mr. Sanneh's words are and how he shouldn't be allowed to say such hateful things.)

      1. Or at least that they shouldn't be paying him to say such hateful things...

    5. Of course it can be harmful, the question is (a) is it the government's business to single out harmful speech for repression, and (b) do we even trust the government to tell what is and isn't harmful?

      No on both counts.

      But we can still say, for example, that PIketty's book is harmful to the political and intellectual climate.

    6. The answer to that argument is "The mass garves in Russia, China, Germany, and elsewhere suggest that free speech is nowhere nearly as harmful as allowing totalitarian swine like you censor ideas."

      That one REALLY leaves them gasping for breath.

  11. And, just as good-faith gun-rights advocates don't pretend that every gun owner is a third-generation hunter, free-speech advocates need not pretend that every provocative utterance is a valuable contribution to a robust debate, or that it is impossible to make any distinctions between various kinds of speech.

    And the award for Holy Shit, This Asshole Does Not Get It goes to...this asshole. What an asshole.

    1. In my entire life I have never heard anyone argue that everyone who owns guns is a good person or that everything anyone says is a good thing.

    2. I'm old enough to remember when the left despised multi-generational traditions of hunting animals. Now they praise hunting as the best thing you can do with a gun. Good to see Elmer Fudd rehabbed.

      1. That's only until they can confiscate pistols and "assault weapons." After that, it's hunting rifles and shotguns.

        1. There was a modest call for crackdown during the D.C. Sniper incident. I figured it the 'embrace of hunting' was just until the 'lone gunman in the bell tower with a bolt action rifle' became the popular 'mass murder' meme again.

  12. of the most respected publications in the English-speaking world

    Hmm. The mascot does wear a monocle, I guess.

    1. Fucking phone. The FIRST sentence was italics, dammit

      1. Html is a bitch on a phone. Try it on a windows phone that re loads a page if you open another window, try to look something up, and the go back to your original window: It will reload the page without refreshing it ( I have no idea how they managed that particular piece of idiocy), and you will have lost everything you've already typed.
        Do not buy a windows phone, ever.
        See how I closed my code? I never make mistakes! (cough cough bullshit cough).

  13. "The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution."

  14. "Kelefa Sanneh thinks the American devotion to free speech is overrated because there's less of it in Europe."

    Silvia shouldn't complain, she gets beat less by her husband than Pam does.

    There are poor starving people in Africa so finish all the food on your plate. Even the green beans.

    You had to take the bus? Why I had to walk 10 miles to school, barefoot, in the snow.

    1. By his logic, Our devotion to hygiene is overrated because they don't take a lot of showers in Europe. Why is it that broke ass filthy Frenchmen are somehow the standard to aspire to for the left?

      1. Isn't that a thing now? The whole "don't shower every day" and "don't use shampoo, just rinse with water a couple of times a week" movement seems to be pretty popular on the left coast.

        1. It all started with the hygiene standards at EuroDisney. Those filthy fucks couldn't even be bothered to bathe once a week.

        2. Well the shampoo thing might have some legitimacy to it: you really don't need to shampoo every single time you shower unless you have abnormally oily hair (or you put some kind of styling product in it). They say that shampooing every day actually dries out the hair and makes it less healthy overall.

          As for not showering every day... Fuck that. I'm a jogger. No way I'm going to get dripping with sweat and not wash it off.

          1. Hair can't be healthy or unhealthy. It's composed of dead cells.

        3. The not showering every day thing is a left coast thing because they don't have market-priced water.

          If they did, half these assholes wouldn't even be on the left coast.

          Still, having them on the left coast means fewer of them are around me.

  15. From Amazon link:

    "In this fresh and provocative new book, Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson, dynamic Fox News and Townhall Media duo"

    Fox news just today shut down Sagon of Akkad's discussion video of the republican debates.

    It is not just the left who oppose free speech it is in fact Ham and Benson, as employees of Fox News, who shut it down.


    1. Youtube's copyright rules in general are idiotic and lend themselves to abuse. Someone can lodge a complaint against a video that is clearly fair use and get it suspended until the person whose channel it is contests the claim and wins. Meanwhile, if you get a video suspended for copyright infringement, you lose the ability to to do things like livestreams and to have videos over 15 minutes long.

      So someone can basically fuck with your channel with meritless copyright claims. The Guardian did the same nonsense to an earlier video of Sargon's.

      1. The takedown notice system, while not perfect, is the price we pay for the existence of a free, unmoderated video sharing service. Without that system YouTube could not possibly exist, as they'd be liable for any copyrighted material posted on their site.

        Nobody's stopping you from setting up your own website and posting your fair use videos there, and taking upon yourself the liability for damages from the copyright owners if your fair use defense turns out not to be accepted in court.

        1. This is getting rather Tulptacular.

          "The takedown notice system, while not perfect, is the price we pay for the existence of a free, unmoderated video sharing service."

          Except a six month restriction on using Youtube services due to one copyright strike is highly excessive. They could just take the video down and only have restrictions like that for repeat offenders. My complaint is with the fact that you can lodge a complaint whenever you feel like, they always take the video down, and then, on top of taking the video down, they penalize the user before he's had an opportunity to appeal.

          "Nobody's stopping you from setting up your own website and posting your fair use videos there"

          Ah, I see we're engaged in this moronic argument now. No, I don't have to start my own business before I am allowed to criticize the business practices of another entity. Youtube's copyright policies are overly punitive and pointing that out is not somehow invalidated by the fact that I haven't coded my own video sharing website.

          1. "This is getting rather Tulptacular."


          2. You're of course free to criticize the private company YouTube as much as you want for their own chosen policies. All I would say in response is that there is a shitload of copyright violation on YT and the draconian penalties are presumably in response to that. They don't have time to adjudicate fair use case law (which is quite murky and ambiguous) while processing millions of videos an hour.

            But the takedown notice system is effectively required by law, as in YT would be liable for copyright infringement if they don't follow it.

          3. No, I don't have to start my own business before I am allowed to criticize the business practices of another entity.

            I wasn't arguing that you have to start your own website to criticize YouTube. I was arguing that if you want to be free of the takedown notice system, you can start your own website and assume the liability that comes with posting video that belongs to someone else and claiming fair use.

          4. Holy shit. You got it on the first post. Your retard radar is finely tuned.

        2. What's more important free speech or the rights of mega-news-corporations to shut down political discussions?

          1. Nobody's stopping him from having a discussion. If Fox News hadn't been there and there were no video, he would still be able to defend the moron in a wig just as well.

          2. You don't seem to know the difference...

    2. Freedom of speech does not imply the right to steal others' property. He's perfectly free to produce his own video as long as it is his own work.

      1. It was his own work. He had a five hour video which included his commentary on the GOP debate.


        The Guardian did the same shit to him with this video in which he posted his critique of a Guardian video. That's clear fair use and the GOP debate video should fall in the same category.

        1. There are limitations on how much copying of a work is permissible even in a critique of that work. Adding your own work to a complete copy of someone else's work does not constitute fair use.

          1. That's true. However, that's not an accurate description of Sargon's video. But you knew that, of course.

            1. I haven't seen this video (as it's still blocked, and so is the new one) but it sure sounds like he used a lot of FNC's video.

              In the Guardian dustup they claimed he used too much of their video for fair use to apply.

              1. So you admit that your OP wasn't as nuanced as it should have been?

                1. Which part of my "OP" has been shown to be incorrect?

                  1. He's perfectly free to produce his own video as long as it is his own work.

                    As you have admitted, the fair use doctrine allows someone to produce a video that isn't his or her own work if the use is for commentary, parody, education, etc.

                    If you want to quibble that transformative use makes it "his work," go ahead...but that distinction wasn't implied in your OP.

                    1. A bonified critique is going to consist mostly of the work of the critic, with a little bit of the critiqued work included for reference purposes.

                    2. PWNed by HM.

                    3. PWNed...

                      WOW, you're old! Do you recognize "Where's the beef?"

      2. Better add Anthony L. Fisher to your list of supposed idea thieves as the article above uses quotes from a book and an article "owned" by other people.

        I also find it funny to think fox news owns Presidential Debates.

        If Rand Paul quotes himself from the debate in an election ad is fox news going to make copy right claims?

        1. Quoting a couple of lines from a book of hundreds of pages is not the same as reproducing most of the video from a TV program.

          I also find it funny to think fox news owns Presidential Debates.

          They don't. If somebody was filming the debates with their cellphone, FNC has no copyright on the resulting video. They do have rights to the video they themselves cameraed and produced.

          1. If somebody was filming the debates with their cellphone, FNC has no copyright on the resulting video.

            That totally explains why there's a 'C-SPAN "Voters First" Republican Forum', 'Fox News Republican Debate', 'CNN Republican Primary Debate', 'CNBC Republican Debate', 'ABC/IJReview Republican Debate', 'NBC/Telemundo Republican Debate'.... and tickets for sale at each and every one of them.

          2. Probably totally unlike every other publicly televised event where the host telecom stipulates who has rights to the production and who doesn't and the average Joe ticketholder actually holds a contract that says they won't reproduce the event without homage or tribute.


    3. "The GOP coverage was 2 hours. My last vid[?] was 5 hours, so we can be reasonably sure most of the content was mine."

      So he made a 5 hour video (whoa), 2 hours of which was FNC video? Is that right? If so, that's not even close to fair use.

      1. He doesn't seem to understand how the "amount of work copied" standard for fair use works. What matters is not how much material you add to the original work, but how much of the original work you copied.

        1. Yes, that's what it seems like. I'm hoping he misspoke, because that's just depressingly stupid.

  16. Mouthy motherfuckers are killed everyday all over this planet because these brave individuals dared to communicate alternative ideas, expose ruthlessness, reveal the stink and shit of corrupt governance- the list is endless, and this fucking con artist with vacant fingers has the goddamn audacity to attack the very fountainhead of intelligent society that slathers upon his restless misguided soul a smorgasbord of letters that can be unleashed like vomit from the orifices of his cankered skull with nary a bullet entering his head or a fucking knife slashing his throat. Fuck this insipid shit prick and his maximum void of cognizance.

    1. AC illustrates the point.

    2. Preach brother, preach. If you have any blotter left I'll take some...

    3. I read the post before I read the author's name. I knew immediately it was some of AC's best work.

  17. "Free speech really can be harmful, and its defenders should be willing to say so."

    This observation is the root of all progressive evil.

    Yes, speech can be harmful, but guess what? Other people don't exist for your benefit!

    A society in which no one is allowed to do anything that is harmful or doesn't benefit everyone else--is a totalitarian society. I'm not convinced that the Catholic Church or the Scientologists aren't harmful to society, but so what? People have a right to practice and support those religions anyway!

    There are so many things we are and should be free to do that are harmful. Every time I don't buy anything, it's harmful to businesses everywhere. Every time I buy something from one seller, it's harmful to their competitors.

    We should be free to do anything that doesn't violate other people's rights, but the idea that we shouldn't be allowed to do anything that harms other people is ridiculous. Every time I exhale, I put more CO2 into the atmosphere. Every I've taken displaced someone else.

    1. If you do something that's harmful to someone else, you are ipso facto violating their rights.

      1. That's stupid.

        If I open a pizza restaurant next to yours, charge less, make better pizza, offer better service, and drive you out of business so that you lose your house and your wife takes your kids away, have I violated your rights?


        Every job I've ever taken displaced someone else.

        Do you think having a job is violating someone else's rights?

        That's stupid.

        1. Competing with someone isn't harming them. Thanks for the view from Zero-Sum-Land.

          1. You don't think running someone else out of business by competing with them is harmful to them?

            That doesn't even make sense.

            Quite while you're ahead.

            P.S I have a right to criticize you. And if your boss fires you because of what I say? Guess what? I've still got that right anyway.

            I'm not here for your benefit.

            1. You have a very expansive idea of what constitutes harm. So expansive that it renders the term essentially meaningless.

              By your definition, I'm causing harm to unemployed people by being good at my job and preventing it from being open. I'm causing harm to starving children by buying milk before its expiration date, when if it had expired they would have donated it to shelters or food banks. If I go door to door next year and speak out against Hillary Clinton, I'm harming her too!

              1. Coup d'oeil|8.11.15 @ 12:23AM|#
                "You have a very expansive idea of what constitutes harm. So expansive that it renders the term essentially meaningless."
                Hey, bozo! Kick up enough dust and you can claim to be the only one who sees through it!
                Did your mommy say you were smart? She lied.

              2. Wow, it's almost like you understood what I wrote!

                Now aren't you supposed to start insisting that I said something I never said?

                Or does that come later?

                1. So you're not denying my interpretation of your definition of harm?

                  I am harming people by being good at my job? What a despicable miscreant I am, producing value and not getting fired.

                  1. Coup d'oeil|8.11.15 @ 12:31AM|#
                    Fuck off, Tulpa.

                  2. He means harm as in 'less well off' and you're using harm to mean 'initiating force.'

                    There's no reason to take the word 'harm' in such a narrow direction when he has repeatedly explained his definition. You're just quibbling over semantics rather than anything substantive.

                    Would you prefer 'negatively impact' rather than harm?

        2. Ken, that's the asshole Tulpa. It is best if slime bags like that are ignored, but help yourself.

          1. Well he just keeps getting dumber, doesn't he?

            1. That's how a decline works.

              1. Hey, I'm usually late to the 'train-spotting', but this time, I'm amazed that pathetic POS posted as often as he did before getting busted.
                What sort of stupidity does it take to invent a new handle and show up spouting the same nonsense?

        3. Every job I've ever taken displaced someone else.

          Some of us have managed to do jobs that did not previously exist, creating wealth in the process. The zero-sum thing is a favorite leftist fallacy.

          1. I've owned businesses myself.

            When you take a job, it may be a benefit to society, but you getting the job over someone else is a loss to the applicants who lost out.

            One job? Two applicants?

            One guy wins. One guy loses.

            Maybe the guy that loses goes out and gets an even better job the next week. Regardless, within the context of that one competition, it was a zero sum game. If you get a promotion, maybe your coworkers are better off because you're a better manager than the manager before. Still, that's a promotion they didn't get.

            1. I think that's true to a point, but there have been times where organizations and companies I have worked with or had friends that worked with/for/owned did not fill a position until/unless they found the right person. Sometimes they never "filled the position" at all because they did not find that person, and preferred to not hire the wrong person just to fill it. I don't think the displacement theory is always true when it comes to hiring.

      2. Coup d'oeil|8.11.15 @ 12:03AM|#
        "If you do something that's harmful to someone else, you are ipso facto violating their rights"

        Hi, there, asshole! How long did it take you to think up a new handle, Tulpa?
        My, but you're a fucking pathetic excuse for humanity! Was that you posing oh, so obscurant points on the Nagasaki thread the other day? Why, yes, it had the same stench as this does.
        Please, go stick your head in the oven with the gas on; the world will thank you!

      3. Wrong. You do not have a right to be free from harm.

    2. You bastard Ken, you hate the chillunz.

  18. I'm sure I know where progressives got this idea. It's from John Stewart Mill, originally, but his brand of liberalism and personal freedom has little to do with modern progressivism. I think it's more closely tied to the implications of his utilitarianism, and, of course, progressives aren't just talking about ethics. They think the coercive power of government should be used to stop people from doing anything that doesn't increase the general level of happiness (as they see it).

    Yeah, when we're free to make choices for ourselves, we tend to beat the shit out whatever happiness level the progressives would inflict on us from above, but in addition to that? I'd also like progressives to know that my purpose in life is not to make them happy.

    I'm living my life for me.

  19. OT:

    I'm kinda leery of asking anyone I know in real life this question: WTF is a "gift card"? I'm watching Top Gear and there is a Tire Rack ad saying if you buy some tires you get a "gift card".It suddenly dawned on me I've gotten "gift cards" on purchases, I think I got a "gift card" from Discount Tires Direct the last time I bought some Falken Azenis My employer has given me "gift cards" as some sort of social team-building promotional whatever, and I vaguely recall getting "gift cards" in lieu of presents from female relatives at Christmas, or maybe my birthday. They're some sort of fake credit card like a coupon or something,right? There's no way to turn them into money is there? Why do I not know what a "gift card" is?

    1. There's no way to turn them into money is there?

      If I recall correctly, there are websites that will do this for you...with a small commission fee, of course.

      1. Or he could go the Eric Garner route.

        1. "Or he could go the Eric Garner route."
          You could go the Tulpa route and fuck off.

        2. New TULLLPAAAA, rejoice everyone. (BO lives).

      2. Many such websites, and CoinStar machines.

        1. The existence of CoinStar shows why people will always be poor. Somebody should invent PaperDollarStar and they could really clean up converting 110 of them into a C-note.

          1. *Scribbles down 'PaperDollarStar'...hmmm, uh, what? Oh nothing! Hides notebook*

          2. Unless its worth 5% not to have to go into the bank to convert your ashtray of metal into lighter, more manageable currency.

    2. Visa and MasterCard gift cards are required by law to give you a PIN code, then you can use them as a regular debit card. If, on the other hand, it's just a store card then you're stuck with using it at the store where you got it.

      1. They can still charge you fees for using it to get cash though, right?

      2. Those are the ones. I throw 'em in the trash.That Tire Rack ad had me wondering if there was some way to turn them into credits and bank or cash some portion of the face value without turning over a bunch of personal or financial info.

  20. I'm starting to wish that we'd never entered World War II and that Hitler had conquered Europe. Yes, millions would have died, but it would have been worth it because at least we'd be spared leftists whining about how "Europe is so superior to the United States." Urge to kill... rising.

    1. Not sure that would work. Leftists would probably prefer the Nazi command economy to our existing diluted form of capitalism.

      Sounds like an interesting experiment, actually. Give them a description of how the Nazi economy worked and ask them if they favor it over ours.

      1. Fuck off, Tulpa.

        1. You're defending the leftists now?

          1. Coup d'oeil|8.11.15 @ 12:29AM|#
            "You're defending the leftists now?"
            Fuck off, Tulpa.

            1. This is not the retard class Sevo stop trying to evict anyone with a vocabulary.

              1. Tony|8.11.15 @ 12:42AM|#
                "This is not the retard class Sevo stop trying to evict anyone with a vocabulary."

                So assholes who can find a dictionary are accepted?
                Well, I like the way you presume to justify your sorry existence.
                Oh, and fuck off with Tulpa, please.

                1. Looks like somebody's off their meds again.

                  1. Coup d'oeil|8.11.15 @ 1:15AM|#
                    "Looks like somebody's off their meds again."
                    Didn't get your scrips renewed, shitbag?
                    Isn't it a shame when you get called on your constant masquerade? Isn't it pathetic that you keep trying?
                    Are you capable of shame?

  21. "Free speech really can be harmful, and its defenders should be willing to say so."

    One of the most depraved comments I've ever read.
    In fact, his comment is so depraved, he should be immediately jailed with no access to legal assistance; just throw him in the can and toss the key.
    See how that works?

    1. If free speech can't be harmful, presumably it can't be helpful. If something has power, it always has the power to do bad. Why protect something, singling out unpopular speech as the precious jewel, if it affects nothing in the real world? No one would care about either protecting it or fearing it.

      That said, people would be better served not to accept maximum hypersensitivity and feigned indignation as a normal approach. Skin can easily be too thin but not easily too thick.

      But you don't give a singly indignant shit if a CEO requires all employees to recite the Lord's Prayer every morning. It's freedom! He's the boss and is free to do whatever he wants to them short of (you acknowledge begrudgingly) grabbing their tits.

      Crocodile tears for college students, massive capitalism boner for CEOcrats and their entrepreneurial whims, up to a level of oppression just shy of sadism.

      1. Tony|8.11.15 @ 12:30AM|#
        "If free speech can't be harmful, presumably it can't be helpful."

        Oh, look! A false equivalence! Why, who could posit such an asinine claim? Who could that be?
        Oh! Oh! Look! It's TONY!

        1. Name one thing that when used can only be helpful and never harmful. I'm willing to be wrong, so give it a go.

          1. I'm willing to be wrong

            Don't sell yourself short. You're not merely willing to be wrong but positively enthusiastic about it.

          2. Tony|8.11.15 @ 12:40AM|#
            "Name one thing that when used can only be helpful and never harmful. I'm willing to be wrong, so give it a go."
            Oh, just off hand, the written word.

            1. Like Mein Kampf? Totally feckless in achieving its stated ends?

              1. Mein Kampf was superfluous for its stated ends. Its ends were accomplished by a frothy mixture of Nazi muscle and ruthlessness and left wing cowardice.

              2. Tony|8.11.15 @ 1:07AM|#
                "Like Mein Kampf? Totally feckless in achieving its stated ends?"

                Yep, I knew a lefty ignoramus would have chosen a lame tract from a socialist.
                So, Tony, please tell us how many people actually read "Mein Kampf" and followed the socialist aims therein to show the written words caused harm. And why, as a text still available, it hasn't caused more harm.
                Please; I'll be waiting.

                1. How about laws? Written, many terrifying and destructive. Or are you going to deflect? Because remember, the original claim was if it can help, it can harm. You cried false equivalence and were then challenged to find an example of something that's only helpful. Well, if a bad written law facilitates a great evil, if it puts bad ideas into motion, then how could it be that the writing down of those ideas was helpful?

                  Defend free speech, but you overstate its case by arguing that it can never be harmful. That's just silliness. Any freedom can result in harm. That just doesn't mean what the author of this article thinks it does.

                2. And, for the record, Tony coupled his good point about speech with many terrible points about everything else. That doesn't make him wrong on this one very narrow little issue even if arrives at some very strange conclusions otherwise.

      2. Just when you think Tony can't get any stupider, he comes up with this.

        With cretins like Tony around we'll never reach peak derp.

        When the Hildog implodes maybe they'll draft Tony. That would be very amusing.

      3. Of course speech can be harmful. But who can we trust to strike the exact right balance between allowing the good use of speech and not the bad? You? Me? Mr. Sanneh? The danger of restricting good speech is so great that we would rather risk allowing bad speech, the same way we prefer 10 guilty men go free rather than risk imprisoning one innocent. It's a matter of weighing the risks. Depriving a person of freedom, whether by restricting his speech or by putting him in a cell, is an awesome responsibility and one one should rather not have to shoulder.
        Or so it would seem - some people seem quite comfortable with the idea. Mr. Sanneh, for example. The (no-doubt unwitting) arrogance of thinking that, "well, sure, Madison thought the danger in allowing people to restrict free speech far out-weighed the danger in allowing unrestricted free speech, but Madison hadn't met me. I'm not only wiser than Madison, I'm wiser than Madison imagined any human to be."
        But these are the same people who think Madison was wrong when he argued that the benefit of allowing government the power to do all manner of good things was so far out-weighed by the danger of such power being used to do all manner of bad things that it would be better to deny government power. How can you think people in general can't be trusted not to misuse their power but stick those untrustworthy people in a government uniform and suddenly they become the most trustworthy of angels?

        1. A couple days late, but very well started.

  22. would Sanneh want Lenny Bruce locked up?

    Its relevant that comedians are no longer being locked up for what they say. They suffer the shame of Twitter rants. A more private and capitalistic form of policing the marketplace of ideas I can't imagine.

    College students can be hypersensitive. They are hormonal. A comedian's job is to make his audience laugh. Got a bad audience, well you're not being sent to jail. That's what the conservative freaks did. Liberals don't do that. We're over here in the corner being nerdy about language etiquette in an environment of rapidly increasing mainstream acceptance of diversity.

    1. Er, wasn't Sanneh explicitly praising European laws that could be used to lock comedians up for their jokes?

      1. I agree with the sentiment of this piece, and fuck anyone arguing for jailing people for speech. I'm for jailing people only if they're reasonably suspected of being willing and capable of assaulting someone in the near future. I'm not a fan of cages as an essential apparatus of an allegedly modern civilization.

        Europeans and colleges are doing their equivalent of the fainting-couch conservatives that locked Bruce up for daring to utter sexual words. I don't distinguish them. Both think they're doing good. They're just doing it in a bluntly oppressive way.

        1. Europeans and colleges are doing their equivalent of the fainting-couch conservatives that locked Bruce up for daring to utter sexual words.

          In what way do you think conservatives were responsible for this? Bruce was locked up in 1966, under LBJ. At least half of the commissioners of the FCC were Democrats at the time.

          Banning sexual language, in Europe as well as in the US, is largely a progressive pastime.

    2. Tony|8.11.15 @ 12:19AM|#
      "Its relevant that comedians are no longer being locked up for what they say"

      And here comes lefty shit bag to suggest we 'LOOK OVER THERE!'
      Are you thrilled that no one has yet been tossed in the can for the (lefty-defined) crime of "hate speech"? Or are you just licking your chops in anticipation?

      1. The first amendment is one of the really good parts of the constitution. Writing it down was an especially good idea.

        1. Tony|8.11.15 @ 12:39AM|#
          "The first amendment is one of the really good parts of the constitution. Writing it down was an especially good idea."

          Nice try, but not but several minutes ago you tried:
          Tony|8.11.15 @ 12:30AM|#
          "If free speech can't be harmful, presumably it can't be helpful. If something has power, it always has the power to do bad. Why protect something, singling out unpopular speech as the precious jewel, if it affects nothing in the real world? No one would care about either protecting it or fearing it."

          So, douche bag, you wanna pick which side of your face from which you'd like to speak? Or just admit you're a lefty moral cripple without the ability to make valid choices?

          1. If speech can't be harmful then it has no power worth protecting. Like guns. If they weren't capable of shooting innocent people, that means they're not capable of shooting bad guys. Nevertheless I am a free speech absolutist. In some part because I'd rather prosecute the guy who gave the nuclear codes to the ruskies for other crimes than uttering words, because, yeah, a slippery slope on that kind of thing is plausible.

            1. Tony|8.11.15 @ 1:03AM|#
              "If speech can't be harmful then it has no power worth protecting."

              There's a term for this sort of bullshit; let's see....
              Well, in thinking about it, there are various logical fallacies that might apply, but the best I can see right now is:

        2. Yes, it bedevils me that so many progressives reject it. History clearly shows that people are generally much better off where free speech is valued. Yet, so many progressives want to disregard empiricism and embrace the theoretical notion that they can regulate speech in such a manner that's best for everyone and results in no abuse. There's a reason they reject empiricism, and you don't have to think long to guess why.

    3. We're over here in the corner being nerdy about language etiquette in an environment of rapidly increasing mainstream acceptance of diversity.

      Society in general is becoming more accepting of diversity. What's telling is that the enclaves under left-wing control are becoming less so. Being nerdy is harmless and cute until the nerds start enforcing speech etiquette at gunpoint.

      1. I don't think they've become more accepting of diversity. They simply hate different groups based on the same superficial criteria.

        1. You're engaging Tulpa; do not expect anything like an honest response.

      2. Tuuuuullllpa on cue.

  23. Folks, the asshole Tulpa has just coined another sock name, peddling the same damaged goods from the same faulty mind.
    Why is anyone engaging that pile of shit?

    1. Well if it's Tulpa v. Tony, then that's kinda funny in a way.

      1. It is indeed, like two one legged guys engaged in an ass kicking contest.

        Or like watching progs eating each other at Red Bernies Seattle stop.

        Team R is fond of internecine warfare, but this go around I'm guessing Team D will be far more amusing, with all stops gone when cankles gets indicted. I can't wait.

  24. "Warty|2015/08/08 17:23:18|#5501919

    Working theory: you despise New York liberals, so anything that New York liberals hate is cool with you. Am I close?"

    I'm starting to think this wasn't quite the cutting insult it was intended to be.

    1. Honestly I think I might like artisanal organic honey mayo made from honey grown on the tar paper roof tops of Brooklyn.

  25. "a journalist writing for one of the most respected publications in the English-speaking world ..."


    ....Penthouse Letters?....

    ..but really - the New Yorker? maybe deserved that regard in the 1990s. David Remnick turned it a self-important version of the Sunday Times Magazine.

    1. This flim flam scribbler could hack shit for the Magazine of the Universe with such flair that cocks would blow whitecaps of cum and vagina juices would cascade into the high-heels and this words and letters disparaging fuck would still be a dismal but brilliant display of European-grade fragility and frigidity.

    2. My sentiments exactly and having idiotic twits like this on the payroll proves it.

  26. OT:
    Someone in Japan would rather have electricity rather than sympathy:
    "Japan restarts first nuclear power plant since Fukushima"
    "All Japan's nuclear plants were gradually shut down after a series of meltdowns at the Fukushima plant sparked by the tsunami and earthquake."
    What choices do they have? They've been free-riding on the US defense budget (OUR fucking money) since WWII, they have near zero carbon deposits to mine. Some wind, maybe at a return that *might* break even.
    Do the Japanese hold so firmly to the anti-nuke whine that they are willing to live with the result, or do we have the 'Tony-esque' masquerade of opposing what you know you need for the luxury of signalling to those you meet in a bar that you're 'really cool'?

    1. They've become momentarily anti-nuke because the fuckers running the nuclear power industry in Japan have proven themselves to be full-fledged failures in regards to designing and building safe power plants in a geographic location prone to tsunamis and earthquakes. After several investigations it was summarily proven that most plants had little protection from tsunami. Being freaked out that the billion dollar nuclear power plant down the road now can't handle a large mysterious wall of water smashing into it seems normal to me.

      1. "After several investigations it was summarily proven that most plants had little protection from tsunami."

        fair enough

        But are all Nuke plants in Japan exposed to the ocean and tsunamis? That seems unlikely, yet all were shut down.

        Also my understanding is that the Fukushima plant took the actual earthquake like a champ...it was only the tsunami that fucked it.

      2. Yes... but

        Most of those reactors are 1960s era boiling water reactors. And they can't build the new, safer designs because of the hysteria.

        In modern designs, what happened in Fukushima couldn't happen now. They take into account power loss on the cooling pumps. Convection alone can keep the core cool enough to prevent a meltdown.

  27. http://pamelageller.com/wp-con.....-small.jpg

    FYTW can sometimes be appropriate.

    1. Why does he look like Wolverine?

      Was Mohamed Canadian also?

      1. Have you never heard of Canukistan, bub? 😉

  28. Sanneh hates commoners having civil liberties. Typical prog-fascist.

  29. Free speech really can be harmful

    Ooh, I can play this game!

    Gay sex really can be harmful.

    Abortion really can be harmful.

    Welfare really can be harmful.

    So, Mr. Sanneh, what to do? What to do?

    1. I chuckled...

  30. We do tend to treat "Progressive" as a rebranding of "Liberal" (well, I'm certainly guilty of that), but this is an example of why it's not a rebranding, it's actually a virulent mutation.

    1. It's all the bad parts of 60's liberalism, without most of the good parts.

      And 60's liberalism was classical liberalism minus the belief in economic freedom.

      There's a trend.

  31. Regarding the actual "hurtfulness" of speech -

    Speech critics need to wildly exaggerate the actual 'harm'-potential of racial offensiveness or otherwise-impolitic opinion...

    ... while simultaneously touting up the wondrous potential benefits of institutional censorship, and the ability of mobs to arbitrarily target, silence and destroy people for opinions.

    If they don't actually make any real case for the benefits of speech-policing on the merits, then they simply downplay any possible negative consequence that it might have, & feign ignorance that such things are even possible.

    "How could anyone not agree that, "less hurtfulness is always better"?"

    (*when not-agreeing means that you will immediately torn to piece by the pious wolves of offense-mongering, it truly is a self-fulfilling prophesy)

    Here is why they are wrong:

    The danger to the social fabric presented by an offensive minority is infinitesimal compared to the threats posed by the self-righteous who demand institutionalized power to arbitrarily silence and destroy people... typically based on weak claims of 'defending' an otherwise silent majority from 'harm'.

    Simpler = The "offensive" have nothing but Speech. Those who pretend to defend the public FROM the offensive ones (whether they want to be protected or not) really want nothing except Power.

    This modern speech-policing movement is nothing except a demand for control of a new form of Pillory.

    1. on the example of the Self-Righteous... who see fit to be perpetually offended on behalf of theoretical-'others'...

      ...a Hispanic person commented re: a TCU-student's use of the term "beaners", which he considered to have nothing to do with "racism", and so low-grade as to not even warrant offense...

      ...and was immediately attacked by multiple people for apparent *complicity in enabling a racist world* =

      "It's deeply sad how desperate some people are to pretend racism isn't real, even when it's right in front of them.""

      "" Of course. The racism you've encountered in the course of your life has made you an expert on racism, and the final authority on what is or is not racist. Of course.""

      ""what, it's only racist now if the KKK would be embarrassed to say it in public? Using derogatory ethnic slurs is racist.... Sycophancy won't make the racists like you.""

      ""Denying that "beaner" is a racial epithet kinds betrays your own racism, regardless of how much you've encountered and overcome."""

      For every one potentially-offended minority-member, there are likely 4X the number of Crusaders willing to crucify potential-offenders.... as well as the minority members themselves, if they get in the way of their all-important Crusade.

  32. Come on now, we all know the 1st amendment is really just an excuse for white folks to talk shit about minorities, LGBTQ people, and other white people who don't share their bigoted worldview.

    Get with the program, assholes, and don't forget to take your Soma.

  33. hey Kelefa Sanneh, fuck off slave.

    1. 1st amendment thread and we get Tulpa, Tony, AND Lonewacko? Holy shit.

      Apologies if you aren't actually our good old immigration troll.

  34. Start making cash right now... Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I've started this job and I've never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here...

  35. Is dropping a SBD fart in an elevator considered free speech?

  36. Kelefa Sanneh was born too late. He would have been happiest living in under the Vichy regime.


  37. Kelefa Sanneh is proof that you can't fix stupid.

  38. He's a bassist.

    Any questions?

  39. I saw Lenny Bruce at the Gate of Horn in Chicago - it was marvelous.

  40. Kelefa Sanneh? Sounds like the name of tyrannical fucktard. Yeah fuck him, fucking Nazi, I already hate his guts, that name alone makes me hate him. Hey, Kelefa, do us a favor and move to Europe if you like it so much and quit being a cry in your warm milk, shit in your diapers, hissy fit thrower and grow some balls. Guys with names like Kelefa don't have them.

  41. Funny how these types see limits to enumerated rights but are willing to extend the franchise to anyone and everyone under the guise of voting "rights."

  42. New Yorker Writer Thinks 'Speech Nuts' Are Like 'Gun Nuts'

    Yes, and she is right, we are!

  43. Free speech really can be harmful, and its defenders should be willing to say so.

    I should hope so! Harming the interests of totalitarians, progressives, and oppressors is what free speech is all about, after all.

  44. Particular acts of speech can be harmful. Freedom of speech, in itself, is not inherently harmful. But people who lack the critical thinking skills to tell the difference between one and the other are trying to make the rules.

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