Censorship

Why Are Media Outlets Giving Commentary Space to Wannabe Censors?

Any authority to shut down speech will be turned toward the press eventually.

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Censorship
Mikhail Ivshin/newzulu/Newscom

This week, The Washington Post joins several other large media outlets in giving commentary space to an academic who thinks the First Amendment maybe shouldn't protect so much free speech.

I'll give Jennifer Delton—Skidmore College's "Douglas Family Chair in American culture, history, and literary and interdisciplinary studies"—this much: She's not disguising her calls for censorship of conservative opinion by claiming this will achieve some sort of racial enlightenment or equality. She openly describes this censorship as a tool for stopping the spread of political arguments she sees as dangerous.

Her example is the purge of Communist Party members from unions, the civil service, and academia in the middle of the 20th century because they were a threat to the established liberal control of the Democratic Party. The argument was that these Communists did not actually believe in free speech (probably true) and were using it as a shield to protect them while they attempt to undermine democracy.

She sees similar tactics in the alt-right, which Delton says is using speech as a weapon to attack liberal values and colleges:

It is true that higher education has brought much of this on itself through the extreme policing of speech and tolerance of student protesters who shut down speakers with whom they disagree. But that doesn't diminish the extent to which the alt-right and conservatives are using "free speech" to attack and destroy colleges and universities, which have long promoted different variations of the internationalist, secular, cosmopolitan, multicultural liberalism that marks the thinking of educated elites of both parties.

Hilariously, she ends her commentary by saying the process of depriving these bad people of their First Amendment freedoms should not be used to censor "liberal critics" of college or government behavior. Only wrong people should be censored!

The title of this op-ed, by the way, is "When 'free speech' becomes a political weapon." Writers aren't typically responsible for their headlines, but her op-ed does describe speech as a weapon; the title reflects the piece accurately. So it's worth wondering whether Delton even grasps that she wants censorship to be a political weapon. She wants to use the government to shut down speech that undermines the institutions she and many others value. It's almost as though she understands the actual underpinnings of Supreme Court case that brought us the tiresome "fire in a crowded theater" trope—a case that revolved around the prosecution of anti-war protest—and still supports the ruling.

It's also fascinating in that Delton doesn't seem to want to engage in the idea that academia could actually win a debate on these issues. There is no hint in her story there could be a debate in which the values she holds dear change minds and influence people. Her commentary opens with a stark—but completely false—choice for college presidents: Either they let conservatives speak and "risk violent counterprotests" or they censor speakers and "confirm" the speech crisis. She sees those as the only two options, as though it's simply not possible to stop violence at protests.

Many of us outside the academic bubble keep reminding folks that if the government has the authority to decide what sort of speech gets censored, it won't be people like Delton calling the shots, and that in all likelihood, it will be the weakest and least influential of our citizens who will be punished.

Now that so many of these commentaries have found homes at major media sites, it's also worth asking: What the bloody hell are these massive news outlets thinking when they run these?

Certainly news outlets should run whatever commentaries they want, and it's beneficial to present a range of different views. Don't take this as a call for media censorship, just for more thoughtful judgment.

We happen to have a president openly at war with the media and who has very little understanding or concern about the First Amendment. When major media outlets give such a high profile to commentaries that call for political censorship, are they not aware that this could blow back on them as well? Is this like media criticism of the Citizens United decision, where newspapers think that they'd be immune to censorship of corporations because the First Amendment has distinct, separate protections for the press?

Delton's justifications for compromising the First Amendment can very easily be adapted to call for censorship of the media as well. The Trump administration is openly flirting with going after media outlets who publish confidential government information. Their argument is that these leaks undermine the government and American democracy. That sounds a lot iike Delton's argument, just with a different target in mind.

NEXT: Gun-Toting Lefties Show Up at Phoenix Rally, Too Bad the ACLU Probably Won't Be Defending Their Speech Rights

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  1. Because they’re two year olds that can’t see past whatever their current hobby horse is which anymore is their current iteration of TDS.

    1. Because it’s fine when you on the right TEAM.

      1. The historic 4th. estate has been bought out by the Globalist 5th. column marching to Perdition. I am only amazed by the numbers of the ALT LEFT that want to go.

        1. Because everyone knows that certain forms of speech must be eradicated from our society. Surely nobody here would wish to “protect” the outrageous mimicry of Mr. Bannon documented at the following link?

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..kster.html

          1. And surely no one here would dare to defend the inappropriate “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated, so-called judge in our nation’s leading criminal troll and “satire” case? See the documentation at:

            https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  2. By all means, let’s censor all those college Marxists who don’t believe in free speech. Is she not proposing that as well? She seems to think it was ok to censor Communists in the 1950s for that reason. Is she volunteering to be arrested herself?

    Christ what an … no, that’s not even close to what scum she is. I won’t insult rectums with that comparison.

  3. Why do multi-billion dollar media corporations argue that corporations don’t have free speech rights? Same reason. They want to be the only ones with power.

  4. Only wrong people should be censored!

    Well duh. Freedom of speech is only ok when lefties do it! We have good intentions so our words are good. Others have bad intentions so their words are bad. That’s common knowledge, bro. I mean, like, do you even ‘woke’???

  5. I really really hate coercive government. That’s what at the root of all these evils. Even John Adams, one of the founding fathers, wasn’t immune to the lure of using coercive government to smack down speech he didn’t like, as Washington’s successor as second President. The Alien and Sedition Acts (?) were about as evil as you can get, and this bitch wants the same no doubt.

    What the fuck is wrong with these people? Why do so many people, who couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag without a cat to help them, make such illogical and short-sighted prescriptions for hurting themselves and their own cause? I jsut do not comprehend how they can make the same type of stupid suggestions, over and over, without comprehending that their political opponent, their worst enemy, will be in office sooner or later, and use their own crap against them.

    And then bozos like this, who couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag even if a herd of hungry tigers was in the bag with them, jump the gun and propose the same type of stupid suggestion while their opponent is already holding the reins of power.

    I do not fucking comprehend how anyone can be so blinded by tribalism that they can’t even see anything wrong with giving their enemy the gun right now. Just do not.

    1. Echo chamber’s a hell of a drug.

    2. They think they are still in charge, or that the populist eruptions of Trump & Brexit are merely bumps in the road to historical inevitability (Trudeau & Macron, anyone?).
      And they are still in charge of mainstream media/entertainment, academia, and the Federal judiciary, while the push-back is still fragile and has a smaller megaphone.

  6. Because free speech is dying. They want to be like Britain or Canada, where saying the wrong thing is a crime. They want to jail anyone who makes anyone feel uncomfortable by saying something they disagree with.

    “Sticks and stones” is now a nursery rhyme of the patriarchy.

  7. The argument was that these Communists did not actually believe in free speech (probably true) and were using it as a shield to protect them while they attempt to undermine democracy.(also probably true).

    Just thought I’d amend that.

  8. This is completely different from Trump attacking the first amendment!

  9. The title of this op-ed, by the way, is “When ‘free speech’ becomes a political weapon.”

    I saw that op-ed in the New York Times.

    It made me wonder if the phrase “The Pen is Mightier than the Sword” was just an empty euphemism.

  10. Now that so many of these commentaries have found homes at major media sites, it’s also worth asking: What the bloody hell are these massive news outlets thinking when they run these?

    They’re giving equal time.

  11. Democracy can’t survive free speech!

    1. Free speech can’t survive democracy.

      1. Democracy is grossly overrated anyway.

        1. I dunno violently imposing my will on 49% of the population sounds great if I’m in the 51%

          1. That was a better comment than my comment was going to be

          2. Almost as good as violently imposing my will on the 99% when I am in the 1%!

          3. If you are in the 49% and start the violent imposing, then you can become the 51%, or more.
            The dead only vote in Chicago.

  12. I think every media outlet has a dream of becoming an official source of information. All others will be censored, and their word will become truth.

    This is just an example of this, they are betting that censorship will not effect them and that they will gain a monopoly on information. This is especially tantalizing to them now as their long-held psuedomonopoly (polypoly?) over the news is crumbling before the amazing breadth of choice given by internet news. That’s what fuels much of the fake news crisis as well, or at least I think so.

    Which is to be expected honestly. Most companies would dream to have a monopoly in their field. News is no different. Free Speech protects us from them as much as it protects them from the government.

    1. Agreed. It’s just so strange and hilarious that they are saying this while their ‘enemies’ control the executive and legislative branches. What do WaPo and NYT and progressive professors really think is gonna happen?

      1. they are just preparing the background for when they are in power again for if they get in power and make these rules they will stay in power through legal force of silencing oppostion

  13. There are so many things at work here, it’s hard to sort them all out. The biases of academia and journalism, and the connections between the two institutions. The loss of gatekeeper status by news media. The wont of leftists to control the message. The idea that stopping a debate equals winning it.

    On the other hand, I’m a big proponent of giving idiots a megaphone so they can shout to the world, “I’m an idiot and I can prove it!” (Perhaps much like the megaphone I’m typing into right now.)

    1. The idea that stopping a debate equals winning it

      If you’ve forced the other side to shut up for fear of having their lives ruined, then in a sense you’ve won the argument.

      Arguments are won by naked force a lot more often than they are by the logic. And that includes shouting down your opponents so their views can’t be heard.

    2. The idea that stopping a debate equals winning it.
      Well, that’s human nature you’re fighting against there.

      ’cause face it, when the “debate” actually “stops”, it’s not because a university cancelled a lecture, or a city refused protest permits. That just changes the venue and platform of the debate. The “debate” stops when the social consequences of espousing one of the sides of the debate become too costly for the people holding that view.

      So cancelling a few permits? That won’t stop the “debate” over the acceptability of being a Nazi in modern America. Folks getting fired, losing friends, and being nationally reviled? That’s what’s going to “stop” the debate.

      So if your complaint is that the “debate” is stopping before it’s actually “won”? The you’re complaining that people are exercising their Freedom of Association to disassociate with people they find abhorrent.

      1. So what happens when Libertarians are treated like Nazis?

  14. Why Are Media Outlets Giving Commentary Space to Wannabe Censors?
    Any authority to shut down speech will be turned toward the press eventually.

    Actually, I don’t think they realize that will happen. They believe themselves to be special and by the time it occurs to them that they can be silenced as well it will too late.

  15. To what weapons will people turn, when free speech is no longer a political option? Oh, yes, we saw it in Charlottesville.

    1. The problem with Charlottesville was that after purposefully doing an inadequate job of keeping the peace, the cops decided the correct course of action was to force the protestors into the crowd of counter-protestors.

      Free Speech, or it’s denial, wasn’t really the problem. It was just the cops doing a bad job. And for reference, that same department has shown before that they know how to properly manage a protest and counter-protest to keep it non-violent, even when tensions are high. They just chose not to this time.

      1. The cops deliberately did a bad job for the express purpose of denying the protestors their free speech.

      2. Be fair. The democratic MAYOR ordered the police to do an inadequate job.

    2. ^This

      When you aren’t allowed to speak violence is a legitimate form of political expression.

  16. Free speech became a political weapon somewhere around 1776. In fact, shitheads like Robert Bork point to the fact that free speech was aimed at completely open political debate as an argument that the First Amendment applied *only* to political speech. Pornography and obscenity, books and films, and other things that Bork felt violated community standards would be fair game for censorship. And Bork damn near gained the power to inflict his views on everybody else.

    It would be nice to think that this essay were being run as a “this is what these whackos really think” demonstration, as an exercise in testing the limits of free speech (should the right to free speech give you the right to argue against the right to free speech?) but I’m not holding my breath waiting for representative equal-time columns from the KKK, the Nation of Islam, NAMBLA and the Church of Scientology as to their respective views of free speech.

    1. Now that you mention it, this is a really strange article from Shackford.

      Just last week he penned an article saying that yeah, it’s entirely acceptable for a newspaper to censor folk (Protect Internet Companies’ Freedom to Refuse to Host Racists, or Anyone Else They Don’t Like, 18 Aug 2017)

      So it’s not like we don’t already know that Shackford is on-board with a paper, or news station, or an Internet Host, “censoring” folks because of their views.

      1. Shackford approves of censoring public memorial art.

      2. Certainly news outlets should run whatever commentaries they want, and it’s beneficial to present a range of different views. Don’t take this as a call for media censorship, just for more thoughtful judgment.

        Please tell me you understand the difference between can and should.

        1. Go reread this one and the one from last week. He’s saying “can *and* should”.

  17. “Don’t take this as a call for media censorship, just for more thoughtful judgment”
    Seriously? This entire article is about how the media shouldn’t be giving this person a platform. How is that not a call for media censorship?

  18. William Lloyd Garrison was almost hung in Boston for spouting abolitionist views. So good of the leftists there to go out and remind us just how terrible free speech is, and how it’s used for such nefarious purposes

    1. We leftists have been defending free speech centuries before anyone ever heard of a libertarian.

      1. THAT is going on the list of dumbest shit ever said on this site.

      2. Tony is trolling again, because I can’t believe he’s that ignorant.

        http://bit.ly/2vsb9gK

        And I say this as someone whose grandparents met on one of the marches for Eugene Debs (and named their firstborn after him, no less), so it’s not as if the left hasn’t been for free speech–just when they are the ones being censored.

  19. When major media outlets give such a high profile to commentaries that call for political censorship, are they not aware that this could blow back on them as well?

    NO. They believe that they reflect the majority opinion and are only opposed by a few hundred unreasonable hangers-on who will eventually be purged.

  20. Many of us outside the academic bubble keep reminding folks that if the government has the authority to decide what sort of speech gets censored, it won’t be people like Delton calling the shots,

    This is wrong. The far left has spent three decades getting people into government precisely so these decisions will be made by people just like Delton. This is the lesson of the Title IX debacle.

    1. Precisely. The Trump eruption is just an unanticipated bump in the road.

  21. Every political principle should have to prove itself. With the bloated racist grapefruit as president, I think all of the provisions of the constitution are called into question.

    1. I was going to argue your point but then I realized it makes no sense

    2. Also going on the list of dumb shit said here.
      Billy Bob Thornton said he was the Laurence Olivier of Arkansas. You are from Oklahoma, right? Bunch of dumb-asses there…

    3. Hillary Clinton will NEVER be president !!!

      LOL!! X Forever and ever!!!

  22. Autocrats assume they will always be the verb rather than the object.

  23. I am very skeptical about the prospect of the USA enjoying another 242 Independence day holidays with a 7 amendment bill of rights. These anarchist advocates who would surrender Free Speech, the Right to Bear Arms and Due Process would likely become the first casualties of the success of their own treachery. I would like to share this on Facebook but my account has been “temporarily disabled” (permanently) for similar such conservative comments. Three things I know for certain are, One) If we had no First Amendment or it was not a protected right the United States would be a far more segregated country than it is today. Two) If you truly oppose something (H##E, for instance) you don’t wright it in upper case big bold letters and pin it on your own chest surrounded by small print. Like Henry Ford once said “just spell the name right”. Three) The FIFTH COLUMN NEVER SLEEPS. The historic 4th. estate has been bought out by the Globalist 5th. column marching to Perdition. I am amazed by the numbers of the ALT LEFT that want to go.

  24. “I’ll give Jennifer Delton?Skidmore College’s …

    Skidmore on her panties ? Is that what I smell? I thought it was commie.

  25. you are just another LEFTIST..

    Charlottesville Racist Leader Was Former Occupy Activist, Obama Supporter..
    Jason Kessler(scam artist), the organizer of last Saturday’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is rumored to be a former Occupy Wall Street activist and supporter of Barack Obama.
    James Alex Fields, Jr., the 20-year-old who plowed his car into a left-wing counter-demonstration in Charlottesville, killing one and injuring several others, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia as a boy and had been given antipsychotic drugs. It is not clear if he is still taking them.
    Occupy Wall Street was a radical left-wing movement that began in 2011 in Manhattan and spread throughout the globe. It was committed to the destruction of the capitalist system, and included violent and extremist elements that waged confrontations with police in the fall and winter of 2011-2. President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Media Matters for America, and other Democrats nevertheless embraced the Occupy movement.
    http://www.breitbart.com/big-g…..n-kessler/

  26. The Alt-Right is Not Right – It’s Left…..The alt-right is myth
    One of the pillars of conservatism is “The Golden Rule,” which automatically precludes white nationalism or racial supremacy of any kind.
    According to McPaper, the white nationalist/supremacist Richard Spencer coined the term in 2008. If he uses the term alt-right to identify himself and his fellow believers ? this begs a question?
    Was President Woodrow Wilson a member of the alt-right? He was a racist white supremacist.
    So were President Lyndon Johnson and the late Democrat Senator Robert Byrd.
    Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood to halt the spread of the black race. I’d call that white supremacism.
    The KKK was the enforcers of the white supremacist Southern Democrat Party, the Dixiecrats.
    Alt-right demonstrators hit the streets adorned with Nazi paraphernalia and Confederate flags.
    Neither of those symbols represents American conservatism.
    In fact, the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party, which these nuts appear to be so fond of, was a tale of combat between two competing leftist ideologies ? fascism and communism.
    Neither faction incidentally resembled conservatism or what we’ve come to know as “the right.”
    The German KPD was the largest communist party outside the Soviet Union during the 1920s.
    It was the Trotsky-inspired KPD or German Communist Party vs. the Hitler led fascist “National Socialist German Workers Party” (Nazis).
    There were no “right-wingers” involved at all.

    1. And did I see the word socialist?
      By cracky, I did.
      I don’t know of anyone who would confuse conservatism with socialism.
      The alt-right is myth.
      It’s a name crafted to confuse the public into thinking these loons were spawned out of the conservative movement.
      It should actually be relabeled, or labeled properly as the National Socialist American Party, because they are in fact fascists – not of the right and certainly not conservative.
      But because of our woefully inept education system in this country, most believe fascism and Hitler were right wing.
      They couldn’t be more wrong.
      The fascists were leftists who had/have a lot more in common with communists than with free market conservative capitalists.
      The major difference between fascists and communists is that the former is nationalistic and the latter, internationalistic.
      http://freedomoutpost.com/alt-…..ight-left/

    2. One of the pillars of conservatism is “The Golden Rule,” which automatically precludes white nationalism or racial supremacy of any kind.

      Not really. The Golden Rule is perfectly compatible with “You stay in your country and I will stay in mine.”

  27. Government should make no law that restricts speech, nuff said.

    1. Shall make

  28. .We happen to have a president openly at war with the media and who has very little understanding or concern about the First Amendment

    I like how no matter the subject, some columnists can find a way to work in a reminder that Trump is terrible — President’s opponents waging war on free speech? Trump doesn’t care about the First Amendment!

  29. .We happen to have a president openly at war with the media and who has very little understanding or concern about the First Amendment

    I like how no matter the subject, some columnists can find a way to work in a reminder that Trump is terrible — President’s opponents waging war on free speech? Trump doesn’t care about the First Amendment!

  30. I absolutely agree with Jennifer Delton.
    And, in a spirit of public service, offer to become the ‘free speech czar’ at the federal cabinet level. My duties will be simply to insure that all sides of any point are fully discussed in all public forums. The Libertarians, and the conservatives, will both be heard. Only those with a history of racial or religious violence will be denied the chance to disrupt our calm deliberations. You know, communists, socialists, democrats, and the like. In a spirit of fairness, I will extend to all forms of media and social web sites the same right to oppose wrong thinking as individuals have.
    How about it, Jennifer Delton, you good with that?

    Test of a fair deal; it looks good from the other side.

  31. Let’s be clear, they’re not supporting censorship they’re supporting censorship of anything they don’t control. These are bullies.

  32. Small wonder. Most if not all Big Media would welcome tighter speech regulation as a form of corporate welfare. They would capture the regulations and enjoy their anti-competitive effect. The Big Media executives are chortling and rubbing their hands together now.

  33. Let me censor. I know speech that should not be permitted the light of day when I see it.

  34. “In this situation, and against this foe, it may be worth remembering that our constitutional rights are not unchanging abstract principles, but, as Hook and Schlesinger argued, always evaluated in terms of their consequences for society at any given historical moment.”–Jennifer Delton, demonstrating her grasp of the First Amendment in the Bill of Privileges.

  35. Why are media outlets supporting the people who assault them?

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