Free Speech

Shut Up, They Explained

Increasingly, free speech ends where the listener stops agreeing.

|

America is more polarized than it has been in six decades, reported Gallup last year, so it is notable when Americans of all stripes can agree on something. Unfortunately, they have agreed that there should be hell to pay if you people don't shut up.

Who constitutes "you people" depends on who is being asked. If Donald Trump is being asked, "you people" is the media. Trump—a ceaseless geyser of insults, put-downs, bigotry and crudity—thinks the media, those "lying, disgusting people," as he puts it, are being mean to him.

But he's going to fix their wagon. In February, Trump promised to "open up" libel laws "so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money." At present, the law requires that a statement be both willfully false and defamatory—i.e., injurious to reputation—to be libelous. True statements that injure reputation aren't.

Trump would lower that bar to "purposely negative." By that standard, Bill Clinton should have been entitled to monetary damages from anybody who reported anything about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

But if Trump does win the White House, he will have some catching up to do. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has referred to the FBI the question as to whether people who question the scientific consensus about climate change should be prosecuted.

Lynch might have been acting on a request from George Mason University professor Jagadish Shukla, who—with 19 others—wrote a letter urging the administration to follow the advice of Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) and go after "corporations and other organizations" by using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. As The Wall Street Journal has noted, RICO is an anti-mafia statute written to help "prosecute individuals tied to loansharking and murder-for-hire."

Speaking of rackets: Shukla is the founder and head of the Institute of Global Environment and Society. His wife is the business manager, and his daughter is the assistant to the president. The organization gets 98 percent of its funding from the government, and the Shuklas have reaped more than $5 million from it over the years. (Is it "purposely negative" to point this out? Better ask Trump.)

The attorneys general of New York and California are not waiting for the feds. Democrats Eric Schneiderman and Kamala Harris are investigating Exxon for allegedly lying to the public about climate change. Lying to the public isn't nice, but should it result in criminal prosecution? A few thousand politicians across the country had better hope it doesn't.

In a similar vein, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) has writtten to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking it to investigate several companies for saying things she doesn't like. In her letter, Warren vents her displeasure over the fact that "corporate interests have become accustomed to saying whatever they want about Washington policy debates." (What fiends.)

She is particularly cheesed off because representatives from four companies have publicly complained that a proposed Department of Labor regulation (regarding conflicts of interest in the retirement-advice industry) would be "burdensome" and "intrusive." Yet, she notes, other representatives from those companies have told investors—better sit down for this, it's a shocker—that they would soldier on and continue to grow in spite of it.

Warren concludes that this qualifies as lying to investors, which is illegal, and she wants the SEC to decide if charges are warranted. What she really wants, of course, is to shut down criticism of regulation, and she's willing to use the coercive power of the state to do so. That's nothing new for her, either.

Last fall Warren wrote a letter to the Brookings Institute demanding to know about its policies on conflicts of interest. One of its scholars, Robert Litan, had produced a paper raising questions about the same Labor Department rule at issue in her letter to the SEC. Litan had testified about the rule before Congress, and noted that his research was funded by the Capital Group investment firm. That disclosure didn't go far enough for Warren, and shortly after the story broke in the Washington Post, Litan left Brookings.

If this is how grown-ups act, it's little wonder that college students often display a shocking disregard for the principle of free speech. The Knight Foundation and the Newseum recently sponsored a Gallup survey on university campuses. Among other things, it found that 49 percent of college students think the media should be denied access to a campus protest if the protesters fear the coverage of said protest might be unfair. Think of them as future Trumps in the larval stage.

And speaking of Trump: Many students draw a distinction between hate speech—which 69 percent think colleges ought to be able to ban—and political speech, which 72 percent think colleges should not be able to ban. This seems like a clear enough distinction, right? Wrong.

About three weeks ago, somebody chalked "Trump 2016" all over the place at Emory University. Offended protesters gathered in the quad to chant, "You are not listening to us! Come speak to us, we are in pain!" They met with the campus president—who, to his credit, subsequently chalked "Emory stands for free expression" on the sidewalk.

But that did not stop many at the school from viewing the pro-Trump graffiti as an "attack" intended to convey, in the words of a Facebook post by Latino students, "hate and discrimination… hostility and venom."

Trump likely would view that Facebook post as "purposely negative," therefore libelous. If he and the students both got their way, then you could face sanctions for supporting Trump—and for criticizing him, too. In America, free speech increasingly seems to be something everyone supports—right up until the moment they hear something they don't want to.

This column originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

95 responses to “Shut Up, They Explained

  1. Someone like you would say that.

    1. Hinkle tried to steal a base here…

      Trump said, “purposely negative and horrible and false“.

      So, Clinton would have no cause in anything about using Monica as a humidor.

      1. Look, the basic “free speech” issue today is whether people are going to listen to the outrageous “First Amendment dissent” authored by a single liberal judge in America’s leading criminal “satire” case, documented at:

        http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

        or if we will finally realize, as a nation, that offensively deadpan “parody” crosses the line into a dangerous form of criminality when it is created with the intent to damage the reputation of a distinguished, well-connected member of the academic community. The people who really matter, the prosecutors and 99% of the judges, are well aware that libel needs to be re-criminalized, and they are prepared to do what needs to be done to achieve that goal. You damage a reputation, you go to jail, it’s as simple as that.

    2. like Frank replied I am inspired that anyone able to make $7624 in four weeks on the computer . published here CHECK IT HERE????? http://www.elite36.com

  2. Just for that line, Ring Lardner’s birthday should be a federal holiday.

    1. Yes! I thought I was the only one who noticed!

      As a fun aside, “The Young Immigrunts” is available as a free PDF on the Library of America’s Story of the Week page. 🙂

  3. Hmmmmmm, what do all the people in this article have in common (unless you ACTUALLY consider Trump “of the right”)?
    DEMS LOVE FREE SPEECH AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT!!!

    1. We’d have no problem finding a similar set of anti-1A pronouncements from Team Red.

      1. Yep, John McCain is a big proponent of campaign finance reform, and hates Citizens United, but he’s at old man yelling at cloud status.

        Meanwhile both Hillary and Bernie, both agree that it should be illegal to say mean things about Hillary. And then there’s Trump who thinksit should be OK to say mean things about Hillary but not Trump. At least he’s somewhat honest about his limits on free speech and doesn’t try to sound high minded about it.

        1. Team Red tends to focus on speech that’s sexual, medical, anti-police, that sort of thing. Just a different flavor of the same putrid stew. But yeah, they have their share of “campaign finance reform” types as well.

      2. “We’d have no problem finding a similar set of anti-1A pronouncements from Team Red.”

        Excluding FUCKING FLAG-BURNING AMENDMENTS (yawn… so trite, Bo), then CITATION NEEDED.

        1. R-Team Governor of my State wants to deny prison chaplain jobs based on religion of the applicant. wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamyi_Witch_hiring_controversy

          1. She cannot speak to their god. She cannot assist in prayer she does not believe in.

            Very, very few in prison would require her services.

            People who do not understand those with actual faith should stop trying to speak for them.

      3. We’d have no problem finding a similar set of anti-1A pronouncements from Team Red.

        And yet you–like everyone else who says this–never seem to list a single one.

        Funny, that.

      4. Is there one that seems to be prevalent over 5th e entire caucus? You know, like the entire Den Senate contingent supporting a constitutional amendment to limit speech and press freedoms?

      5. Probably true, but the Donkeys like to paint themselves as the champions of civil liberties, not like those repressive TeathugliKKKans.

    2. DEMS LOVE FREE SPEECH AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT!!!

      Freedom of speech doesn’t extend to speech that is intolerant. Any speech that disagrees with the left is intolerant. Therefore freedom of speech only includes speech that agrees with the left.

    3. Hinkle tried to steal a base here…

      Trump said, “purposely negative and horrible and false.”

      IOW, just dropping the “malicious” standard for “public figures”.

      Writing about how Bill Clinton used Monica as a humidor is still protected.

    4. my best friend’s step-aunt makes $64 /hour on the computer . She has been unemployed for nine months but last month her paycheck was $21229 just working on the computer for a few hours. read this article ????????????? Click this link http://goo.gl/JNLxe5

  4. . Lying to the public isn’t nice, but should it result in criminal prosecution? A few thousand politicians across the country had better hope it doesn’t.

    No one in the prosecuting attorney’s office wants to open that can of worms.

    1. But the Woodchipper Party does!

      Vote Woodchipper 2016!

  5. “”so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.””

    “”But that did not stop many at the school from viewing the pro-Trump graffiti as an “attack” intended to convey, in the words of a Facebook post by Latino students, “hate and discrimination… hostility and venom.”””

    I can understand why these people don’t like free expression given that they all seem to talk stupid and their shit’s all retarded.

    Our future:

    “President Trump: Shit. I know shit’s bad right now, with all that starving bullshit, and the dust storms, and we are running out of french fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution.
    College Student # 1: That’s what you said last time, dipshit!
    College Student # 2: Yeah, I got a solution, you’re a dick! Berkeley, what’s up!”

    1. I can understand why these people don’t like free expression given that they all seem to talk stupid and their shit’s all retarded.

      “These people” meaning “darkies” in your world. Why don’t they know their place?

      1. I didn’t know Donald Trump was a darkie. I guess he’s technically colored but it’s not really a dark color.

        1. His mother was Scottish, right? Is that as bad or worse than Irish? It’s certainly not good WASP stock.

          1. They’re the worst kind.

          2. I thought he was Scotch-Irish? Which is kind of like being half big half cow, worst of both worlds.

    2. So Trump says this: “so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles”.

      Which gets characterized as this:

      At present, the law requires that a statement be both willfully false and defamatory?i.e., injurious to reputation?to be libelous. True statements that injure reputation aren’t.

      Trump would lower that bar to “purposely negative.”

      Anyone see what got left out there? That’s right: “and false”. IOW, Trump isn’t saying people should get to sue over true statements. He’s actually proposing a fairly marginal change to the defamation laws – weakening the intent requirement a hair from “knowingly or recklessly” false to “purposely” false. Ooooh – the end of free speech.

      1. But Trump said it so it must be the worst thing since Hitler!

      2. Hell, if anything, Trump’s standard is an EXPANSE of free speech. “Knowingly OR recklessly” leaves it open for people unintentionally committing libel as long as it can be argued as “reckless”. Trump’s standard would mean only people who can be proven to be knowingly telling a lie, and only a “negative” lie at that, can be charged with libel. It’s hard to prove that standard, so I think we’d get a more closed off, hard to use, libel laws.

        Of course, that’s the opposite of Trump’s stated intent, so who knows what standard he’d actually bring about.

        1. He’s actually talking about cloning Hitler and sending him to Mars.

          Gotta read between the lines with that guy, y’know?

      3. And I see RC beat me to it…

      4. Just what I came in here to say. There are a lot of things to dislike about Trump; we don’t need to make up more.

  6. Don’t worry, you can still make up stories about “the look in the children’s eyes” when their mother gets carted off to jail for heroin use due to her ‘addictive disease’.

    1. Dude, that thing is so dust covered and ragged that you can’t even tell it’s a horse.

      1. “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”

        1. Wait, the king is sitting on his ass? Or does he have someone riding his ass?

      2. Dude, that thing is so dust covered and ragged that you can’t even tell it’s a horse.

        Sparky, he is educating people! You shut up!

        1. Crusty. He so ironic.

      3. Beating a dead hobby horse. That could work.

      4. Dude, he’s preaching that Addiction is a myth. You go arguing with him, next thing you know you’re going to get audited for Thetans at a thousand bucks an hour.

        1. He’ll be upset when he finds out I’ve been taking all kinds of theta-blocking vitamins.

          1. “Hmmm…100% of vitamin A…C…E. Antioxidants, good…oh, blocks Thetans!”

            /GNC customer

  7. “Trump would lower that bar to “purposely negative.”

    I don’t think that is how that works. Also, if that were to actually happen how many thousands of lawsuits will he be hit with himself in the first 24 hours afterward?

    The biggest problem with Trump seems to be that people actually believe what he says.

    1. “I don’t think that is how that works. Also, if that were to actually happen how many thousands of lawsuits will he be hit with himself in the first 24 hours afterward?”

      You mean like when Donald Trump purposely asserted that Ted Cruz was illegally coordinating with a Pac despite having no evidence?

      Under his libel laws, I’d say Cruz has a pretty good case. Hell, Cruz might have a decent case under the *current* libel laws for that one.

      1. I think the “malice” part might be a difficult hurdle.

        1. He would have to assert that Trump, knowingly lied about the law in order to slander Cruz. (Speech is slander, print is libel.) It would be fun getting Trump under oath, just to get him to claim under oath that that he didn’t know something. It would be Huuuuge.

    2. Um… as president Trump would have the advantage in such situations. That’s why he’s so dangerous. Because he would eviscerate the Constitutional protections that so far have prevented people from usurping power and turning the presidency into an monarchy. Saying “Nothing to see here” doesn’t exactly give me the warm-fuzzies about Trump.

      1. Trump, Hillary, Sanders. How about government in general wants to limit all our rights the name in power has little to do with other than what teams they may be batting for.

      2. You actually believe he wants to change the libel laws? Trump is using rhetoric to fight against the media. He knows that libel laws are mostly enforced at the state level so there’s not much he can do about. Plus he’s not running to be king, just the president.

    3. Trump would lower that bar to “purposely negative.

      See above for how this mischaracterizes Trump’s statement re purposely negative and horrible and false articles.

  8. Also, it is about time we repealed Citizen’s United.

  9. Through Warren and Shuklas, lies the pure naked evilness of progressive thinking.

    Pure scumbags.

  10. Trump would lower that bar to “purposely negative.” B

    I am amazed at Trump’s powers to write legislation and have it pass supreme court review. Its almost as every utterance out of his mouth has actual prospect to become Policy with a wave of his hand.

    1. Does he not have a pen and a phone?

  11. You ready to witness a hate crime about to unfold?

    I’m going to vote for Trump in the California primary. No wait, that’s pointless I better vote Bernie. Are they open primaries or do I need to change my party registration? This is too confusing, fuck it, I’ll watch TV.

  12. “purposely negative.”

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

  13. Want to meet a girl? come on http://goo.gl/ESXruj
    the Best adult Dating site!

  14. “By that standard, Bill Clinton should have been entitled to monetary damages from anybody who reported anything about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.”

    And Hillary Clinton could sue anybody to the right of Che Guevara that’s ever written anything about her.

    P.S. Hillary Clinton sucks. She’s a crook. She belongs in prison with the other crooks. She’s also a liar.

    1. Hillary for Prison 2016!

  15. “In a similar vein, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) has writtten to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking it to investigate several companies for saying things she doesn’t like.”

    Liz “Dances with Lies” Warren is a disgusting liar who falsely appropriated a race to further her corrupt political career.

    What a disgusting piece of shit you are, Liz “Wampum” Warren! Hope you don’t like me saying that.

    1. In Elizabeth Warren’s defense, she appropriated a race to further her corrupt academic career long before she ever considered entering politics.

      1. Doubt it. Progressive thugs pop out of the womb yearning to rule their neighbors.

  16. “Attorney General Loretta Lynch has referred to the FBI the question as to whether people who question the scientific consensus about climate change should be prosecuted.”

    Then Attorney General Loretta Lynch should be prosecuted for conspiring to violate the civil rights of climate change skeptics.

    1. Since when does the AG ask the FBI for legal advice on who should be prosecuted, anyway?

      1. She doesn’t know anything. She just works there.

        Too bad they confirmed her. They need to get an investigation going so she can’t trade Hillary in a tit for tat for non prosecution on the email issue.

        Just in case Hillary wins, Congress needs to get a special prosecutors’ office up and running anyway. We’re gonna need a whole lotta special prosecutors if Hillary wins. A whole lotta, lotta, special prosecutors.

        1. Congress needs to get a special prosecutors’ office up and running anyway.

          Well, they’ve needed that for decades. I don’t see anything changing if Hillary gets elected.

          At this point, I think the GOP establishment types would rather have Hillary than Trump, and might well prefer her over Cruz. Their only way to get somebody in office they would prefer over Hillary is a brokered convention, which will guarantee them a loss in the general election.

          There will be no special prosecutor for Hillary.

    2. Then Attorney General Loretta Lynch should be prosecuted for conspiring to violate the civil rights of climate change skeptics.

      Lerner, Lynch, and Clinton in orange jumpsuits!

  17. RE: Shut Up, They Explained
    Increasingly, free speech ends where the listener stops agreeing.

    Free speech, as we all know, is rightly reserved for our obvious betters enslaving us.
    They are wise enough to know what needs to be said and by whom and when.
    That is one of the many benefits of living in a socialist slave state.
    God bless the Union of Soviet Socialist Slave States of America.

  18. Lying to the public isn’t nice, but should it result in criminal prosecution? A few thousand politicians across the country Every politician in the world since the beginning of time had better hope it doesn’t.

    Ahh, that’s better

  19. That actually sounds like a good idea dude.

    http://www.Web-Privacy.tk

  20. The attorneys general of New York and California are not waiting for the feds. Democrats Eric Schneiderman and Kamala Harris are investigating Exxon for allegedly lying to the public about climate change. Lying to the public isn’t nice, but should it result in criminal prosecution? A few thousand politicians across the country had better hope it doesn’t.

    I’m increasingly convinced that the only good strategy to combat the Progressive Theocracy crime is Tit for Tat. Let every abuse of law they commit be used against them.

    One way cease fire is surrender.
    One way rule of law is subjection.

  21. I’m with the great legal philosopher Homer Simpson, who said, “You should never say anything unless you’re sure absolutely everyone agrees with you.”

    Otherwise, you’re excluding traditionally marginalized voices.

    Eventually, I hope to get every possible thought reduced to one word, and we’ll finally be living in the
    Workers’ Paradise we deserve.

  22. Trump has lived among New York City liberal, so it’s no surprise that he shares their repugnance for free expression. This is a good example of why liberalism today is inherently fascist. For all their flaws, conservatives still accept the Bill of Rights for those who disagree with them. Liberals don’t, and never will.

  23. I Make up to $67/hour since joining onlinejobs company, which is amazing, under a year ago I bought brand new BMW car with beautifull house.I thank God every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with Everyone, more info??..
    ————- http://www.onlinecash9.com

  24. til I saw the draft which was of $6881 , I didnt believe that my mother in law had been realy taking home money part-time on their laptop. . there best friend has done this 4 only twelve months and at present took care of the mortgage on there condo and got a top of the range Subaru Impreza . Learn More ….

    Click This Link inYour Browser….

    ?????? http://www.Reportmax20.com

  25. Once I saw the draft of 6258 bucks,,, I admit that my friend’s brother was like really generating cash in his free time with his PC. His uncle’s neighbor has done this for only 8 months and by now repaid the loan on their home and bought a new Car …Please avoid spammer…C!004

    Follow HERE=========== http://www.Buzzmax7.com

  26. Start making more money weekly. This is a valuable part time work for everyone. The best part work from comfort of your house and get paid from $100-$2k each week.Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more details Check this link??

    Clik This Link inYour Browser
    ? ? ? ? http://www.MaxPost30.com

  27. “Many students draw a distinction between hate speech?which 69 percent think colleges ought to be able to ban?and political speech, which 72 percent think colleges should not be able to ban. This seems like a clear enough distinction, right? Wrong.” That’s the problem with so-called Hate Speech legislation. While hate-filled speech (whenever it does occur – it doesn’t in the examples cited in the article) is repugnant, that is not a reason to make it illegal.

  28. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  29. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  30. Look on the bright side — if Trump does get elected and does ‘open up’ libel laws, you can send him to the poorhouse over those late night tweets of his.

  31. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail. +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.ReportMax90.com

  32. 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 $8012 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…

    —————- http://www.online.factoryofincome.com

  33. before I saw the bank draft which had said $9426 , I didnt believe that…my… brother woz like actualy earning money part-time at there labtop. . there uncles cousin has done this 4 less than fifteen months and by now repaid the dept on there place and got a great new Mini Cooper . read the full info here …

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??

    ? ? ? ? http://www.SelfCash10.com

  34. OT: Speaking of free speech, Angela Merkel opened the door for the prosecution of a German comedian for publicly insulting Erdogan after that asshat complained about it.

    Someone should edit the wikipedia article on Germany and under ‘Head of State:” write “President of Turkey.”

  35. Start making more money weekly. This is a valuable part time work for everyone. The best part work from comfort of your house and get paid from $100-$2k each week.Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more details Check this link??

    Clik This Link inYour Browser?

    ???? http://www.selfCash10.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.