Censorship in America

Free speech matters.


Support for the idea that it's good to hear all opinions, even offensive ones, is thin. A plurality of Americans now support laws against "hate speech."

Conservatives once wanted to ban Playboy magazine, violent rap lyrics and offensive depictions of Jesus. Leftists then were right to fight such bans, but today leftists encourage censorship in the name of "tolerance."

Scientist Matt Taylor helped land a probe on a comet for the first time in history. But because he explained his achievement while wearing a T-shirt that had cartoons of sexy women on it (designed by a female friend of his), writer Rose Eveleth of The Atlantic tweeted that Taylor "ruined" the comet landing. The public outcry against him was so great that he cried at an apologetic press conference.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Brendan Eich created JavaScript and helped start Mozilla Firefox. But when activists discovered that he'd once donated $1,000 to support California's Proposition 8 banning gay marriage, they attacked him as "a hater." A year and a half later, Eich still can't find a job.

When Eich donated the money, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton opposed gay marriage, too. But in just five years, such opinions have become so "unacceptable" that a tech genius is ostracized by his own industry.

As long as the leftist mobs don't use law or violence, they're still engaged in free speech. Private employers can impose most any speech rule they choose. The First Amendment applies only to government. But now some government officials are as eager to censor as the leftist mobs.

After the owners of Chick-fil-A said they oppose gay marriage, the mayors of Chicago, San Francisco and Boston said Chick-fil-A is "not welcome" in their cities. San Francisco's mayor said, "The closest Chick-fil-A is 40 miles away and I strongly recommend they not try to come any closer."

Since mayors may influence permits and zoning, their threats aren't idle. And no new Chick-fil-A outlets have opened in those cities. This is a clear violation of the First Amendment, although the politicians seem oblivious to that.

Of course, much worse than today's left are those who censor through violence. Al Qaeda's magazine names people who should be killed, chirping, "A bullet a day keeps the infidel away."

Writers and artists heed the threats. CNN, NBC and The New York Times will no longer show Mohammed cartoons.

I was surprised that liberal commentators were so eager to cave in to the terrorists' threats. Chris Matthews said, "Wanting to pick a fight with Islam is insane."

Such cowardice just invites more censorship.

When the TV series South Park was censored by its own network for depicting Mohammed, a fan of the show, liberal cartoonist Molly Norris, showed her support by drawing her own cartoons of Mohammed. For doing so, she received death threats. Fearing for her safety, she went into hiding.

Columnist Mark Steyn was appalled that "Her liberal newspaper—the way they put it in announcing that she'd gone, ceased to exist, was: 'There is no more Molly.'" She hasn't been heard from in five years.

"The only way we're going to move to a real sense of freedom is if every time somebody puts a bullet in a cartoonist for drawing a cartoon of Mohammed," says Steyn, "every newspaper … displays that picture."

Steyn argues that societies that censor create more violence by driving hate speech underground.

"You can have a society with free speech where I call you names, and you do rude drawings of me, and I say you're a hater, and we hatey-hatey-hate each other," said Steyn on my TV special, "Censorship in America," but "the alternative is the Muslim world where there's no open debate, and so there's nothing left to do but kill and bomb and shoot."
Free speech matters. If we give in to those who would shut us up, the censors will push and push until we have no freedom left. If we're going to sort out which ideas are good and which are bad, everyone must be allowed to speak.


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  1. First…..bwaaahhaaaahaaa

  2. To add, like my fellow Montanan Frank, I like Stossel.

  3. I was surprised that liberal commentators were so eager to cave in to the terrorists’ threats. Chris Matthews said, “Wanting to pick a fight with Islam is insane.”

    Such cowardice just invites more censorship.

    Stoss, your next two paragraphs kind of support Matthews’ assertion.

    1. This is exactly why we need censorship in America today, to maintain order in the land and to prevent triggering, aggressive conduct that undermines a wonderfully gentrified society where the old “liberal” values have finally been put to rest. Stossel mentions “cartoons,” but not even he would dare to argue that it should be legal to send out emails in the “name” of a distinguished academic department chairman, in which the chairman is portrayed as confessing to plagiarism and as justifying the alleged plagiarism on the grounds that “this is just the politics of Dead Sea Scrolls studies. If I had given credit to this man, I would have been banned from conferences around the world.” This form of parody has been recognized as a crime in New York, and rightfully so, as Stossel himself surely must acknowledge. And once we all openly recognize that some speech is so inappropriate that it crosses the line into rank criminality, then naturally we can begin to establish more limits, so that we can build a stronger and limper society. There is nothing strange or cowardly about this, it is simply the normal process of gentrification that all of us (except for a few recalcitrant individuals who still seek to defend a culture of criminality and drugs) have embraced. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal satire case at:


  4. Does this mean we get a weekly mohammed cartoon? I’d love that! You can post it right next to the jesus cartoon, and we’ll have a laugh off every week!

  5. ” A plurality of Americans now support laws against “hate speech.””

    In other news a veto proof majority of Americans are dumb as a box of rocks.

    1. I disagree…. They are dumber than a box of rocks! Rocks: IQ 0. Amurikkkans: IQ -50

    2. Grubers to the end.

  6. I would think that the lynchpin of any free society is free speech before anything else. Yet here at Reason, only 6 people bothered to comment on this article. And only about 10 on the Facebook post, and 1/2 of them didn’t seem to have any problems with limiting free speech.

    As a commenter above said: about 1/2 of the people in this country really are as dumb as a box of rocks.

    1. “I would think that the lynchpin of any free society is free speech before anything else.”

      And you would be correct. No ground can be given here. None. That starts by not giving any ground on the 2nd.

      When we have a Chief Executive that gives mealy mouthed criticism for free speech and then later smarmy defenses of it the best counter is to stand up and look people in the eye and call things what they are: exercise your right to free speech vigorously.

    2. My full agreement with Stossel can be assumed. I have had my freedom of speech questioned by the government right here on this very website.

      I will never back down on my freedom to speak of woodchippers and my right to keep and bear woodchippers.

  7. I was a called a KKK racist who hated Mexican’s, from my own Mexican( both of our mothers are from Mexico) cousin. Simply because I defended some college students 1st amendment rights, to say things that are unpopular.

    I fear as a nation we have moved past the point of conversation, we just may be on the verge of a new dark age. Mobocracy is the rule of the day for those who say things we don’t want to hear. Shouting someone down and not allowing them to speak at all is en vogue.

  8. Stossel, leftists are not “liberals”, they are leftists – socialists, communists, stalinists, fascists, and nazis. The root of ‘liberal” is “liberty”. Try and find me a leftist who believes in liberty. The only true liberals are libertarians. Leftists created political correctness to allow them to hide behind words. This disguises what they really are. Stop helping them hide behind positive words like “liberal” and “progressive”! They are regressive leftists and they need to be exposed for what they are.

    1. I agree, wood. It would be the honest thing to do in calling them “statists.” Personally, I find “progressive” as distasteful as stalinist and fascist, because “progressivism” is the belief that, with the right laws and Top (wo)Men, we can legislate humans into being something we are not.

    2. Yeaaaaaah…..look at our crop of leftists today. They pretend to be moderate but they love them some Mao, Stalin, Chavez, and Castro. Our leftist, proggie, socialists are really just closet communist totalitarians.

      Interesting note: Bernie Sanders took his honeymoon in the USSR. Obumbles hung xmas tree ornaments with Mao on them. While first lady HRC praised marxist/maoist Carl Oglesby. Elena Kagan wrote her masters thesis on why the socialist movement failed in the US (didn’t have the right people in charge). I could go on and on and on, but I won’t. For now.

  9. Some things should not be said or allowed to be said. The violence is not random but very well targeted because violence is the most natural and effective method to censor insults. Free speech like referenced in this article is an assault on human dignity and will always create violence whether this violence is angry speech, bullets, or both.

    1. You and the site you link to don’t make much sense.

    2. Allow me to translate:

      “Herp derp derp aderp derp. Read my site derp derp derp. Herpa derpa derp derp.”

      1. CN-F is probably going to need a translation:
        Fuck off, slaver.
        (if it weren’t for the link to the imbecilic site, I’d have figured sarc)

    3. From. My. Cold. Dead. Hands. (both my keyboard and my guns). As EMD said, “Fuck off, slaver.”

  10. So Eich gets to try to forcefully divorce people against their will? and that’s Free Speech, but a Mozilla developer says he thinks Eich is an ass and he doesn’t want to work with him, and his buddies agree, and that’s censorship?

    Yeah, that sounds fair.

    And no mention of all the boycotts that NOM, AFA, FRC or OMM have tried to start over the years? Or is the only problem that gays and their allies are sometimes successful?
    ?Yes, that *was* one of the intents of Prop 8. They didn’t end up getting that part, but it was certainly an intent.

    1. Yes. It’s censorship. No, it’s not government censorship. That’s Stossel’s whole point.

      1. It’s important that government not be allowed to censor speech it disapproves of.

      2. And it’s important that private individuals be allowed freedom of association — though that seems to only work one way. Just ask anyone who doesn’t want to do business with someone because they’re gay.

      Just because private-sector censorship shouldn’t be against the law doesn’t mean it’s not wrong. Can you wrap your head around that? What Stossel is telling people is that in order to live in a free society, they should tolerate the views of those they disagree with without trying to drive them from society. Every wrong doesn’t have to have a government mandate behind it to legitimize it.

      Morality precedes government, it doesn’t follow from it. Stossel is saying the the SJW push to persecute dissenting opinions is wrong on its own merits. He’s not saying government should step in.

      1. ETA: It’s possible that both Eich and his persecutors were wrong, you know. Real life isn’t made up of Black Hats and White Hats.

        1. You’re against non-discrimination laws, at least as they apply to gay people.

          So it’s not “wrong”, or at least it *is* permissible, for someone to kick me out of their bakery because I’m gay.

          But it *is* “wrong” for me and my friends to not try and go *in* afterwards?

          Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. You are literally arguing that I’m in the moral wrong if I don’t support someone, with either my labor or money, that actively (if indirectly) seeks me harm.

  11. “Quoth the leftist, Nothing More!”

  12. You left out that idiot Sterling in your piece, but then again, all the effronteries against human kind are prob too numerous to list in one article. Funny, how there isn’t a peep when cartoons depict Hitler or the devil ( which is fabricated only in religion). Hell, nobody gives a frick if the Tea Party depicts Obama as an ape on their t-shirts. Pc patrol has a very selective nerve and we will all yo-yo up and down until they take their meds. That’s the problem when you go down that path, who exactly is qualified and subjective enough to read the offensive meter???

    1. Not me, I only answer to myself. I don’t answer for you.

  13. It was Tipper and Al Gore that led the mid-80’s censorship rally (Dee Snyder and John Denver testified at the Congressional hearings) – it’s the corner case and where modern PC started.

    1. A lot of people seem to forget this – the prog rise in the 1980s/90s was built on censorship and destruction.

  14. Lefties have become the most radically intolerant people in our country and whine constantly about how they hate it and the people who believe differently than them.

    It sounds to me like now is a good time for them to find another country that they can like and maybe even love.

    Based upon their stated policies the countries that would best suit them are North Korea, Cuba, China and Russia or maybe Venezuela. They would need some cash to do that and I’ll bet we could find people who love this country to provide the for them with the catch that they renounce their citizenship and can’t reenter the country for 50 years. We could start a public fund for them and everyone could contribute.

    1. OH, but the problem is those countries aren’t REALLY SOCIALIST at all! They’re capitalist and fascist – and their cultures are bad! The false consciousness of satan, er, capitalism has denied the proper beauty of socialism in those places!

      Ergo therefore thus, socialism can only really be tried in western countries with the right people in charge! It’ll be different! Also, numbers aren’t real, the skygod was castrated by his son, and vultures are figments of the imagination put there by robber barons in the 1830s to trick wymon into be slaves to men.

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