Hate Speech

Former Time Editor and CEO of Constitution Center (!) Wants To Cancel First Amendment, Pass Hate Speech Laws

Freedom of expression is under attack from politicians, activists, and, saddest of all, journalists who benefit most from it.

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If you need more proof that free expression is under serious and sustained attack, look no further than The Washington Post, that legendary and often self-congratulatory bastion of First Amendment support, which has just published an op-ed calling for hate speech laws because "on the Internet, truth is not optimized. On the Web, it's not enough to battle falsehood with truth; the truth doesn't always win."

What's even more disheartening is that the author is Richard Stengel, a former managing editor of Time, chairman of the National Constitution Center, and Obama-era State Department official whose soul-searching apparently began when challenged by diplomats from a part of the world notorious for particularly brutal forms of censorship. As a journalist, Stengel avers, he loved, loved, loved the First Amendment and its commitment to free speech. But then he got stumped by unnamed representatives of unnamed governments who asked banal questions:

Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran. Why, they asked me, would you ever want to protect that?

Is he kidding? "Why would a country founded in large part on the Enlightenment values of free speech and religious freedom allow free speech and religious freedom?" doesn't seem like a tough question to answer. He doesn't name the countries his "most sophisticated Arab diplomats represented, so we need to fill that detail in. Let's assume they were from Saudi Arabia, a country completely unworthy of emulation when it comes to respecting basic human rights and whose Prince Mohammed bin Salman has taken responsibility for the brutal torture and murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. We allow the burning of the Koran for the same reasons we allow the burning of King James and St. Jerome Bibles, the desecration of the U.S. flag, and the potential libeling of elected officials: We believe that individuals have rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With a few exceptions such as "fighting words," "true threats," and obscenity, we know that it's better to allow more speech rather than less. Surprisingly, people get along better when they can more freely speak their minds. The search for "truth"—or at least consensus—benefits from free expression, too, as ideas and attitudes are subjected to examination from friends and foes alike. But the pragmatic answer is ultimately secondary to the expressive one: We allow free speech because no one, certainly not the government, has a right to curtail it.

As befits a man who helmed a legacy media outlet that is slowly being reduced to rubble like a statue of Ozymandias in the desert, Stengel is particularly distraught over "the Internet" and the "Web." He implies that the "marketplace of ideas" worked well enough when John Milton and, a bit later, America's founders pushed an unregulated press, but, well, times have changed.

On the Internet, truth is not optimized. On the Web, it's not enough to battle falsehood with truth; the truth doesn't always win. In the age of social media, the marketplace model doesn't work. A 2016 Stanford study showed that 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn't distinguish between an ad labeled "sponsored content" and an actual news story. Only a quarter of high school students could tell the difference between an actual verified news site and one from a deceptive account designed to look like a real one.

If you're basing the erosion of constitutional rights on the reading comprehension skills of middle schoolers, you're doing it wrong. And by it, I mean journalism, constitutional analysis, politics, and just about everything else, too.

Stengel pivots from discussing truth in media to "hate speech," a ridiculously expansive term he never defines with precision (he even writes, "there's no agreed-upon definition of what hate speech actually is"). But because mass shooters such as Dylann Roof, Omar Mateen, and the El Paso shooter "were consumers of hate speech," it's time to chuck out hard-fought victories that allow individuals and groups to express themselves in words and pictures. Hate speech, laments Stengel, doesn't just cause violence (though strangely, violence is declining even as social media is flourishing), it also

diminishes tolerance. It enables discrimination. Isn't that, by definition, speech that undermines the values that the First Amendment was designed to protect: fairness, due process, equality before the law? Why shouldn't the states experiment with their own version of hate speech statutes to penalize speech that deliberately insults people based on religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation?

All speech is not equal. And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I'm all for protecting "thought that we hate," but not speech that incites hate. It undermines the very values of a fair marketplace of ideas that the First Amendment is designed to protect.

A quick reading of the First Amendment would have reminded Stengel—the former chairman and CEO of the National Constitution Center, fer chrissakes!—that the First Amendment isn't about limiting speech that bothers the sensibilities of people. It's actually all about Congress not making laws that would create an official religion or restricting individual speech and freedom of the press; it also guarantees that we have the right of assembly and petition. The values it reflects involve pluralism and tolerance, not shutting down, regulating, or restricting speech that makers of "new guardrails" find offensive, annoying, or inconvenient.

If you grew up any time in the past 60 years or so, you've taken freedom of speech for granted. That's due to a series of legal rulings that struck down the ability of elected officials to strangle speech they didn't like, ranging from potentially libelous personal attacks to once-banned literary works as Lady Chatterley's Lover, Howl, and Ulysses, along with materials such as the Pentagon Papers and the rise of technology that made producing and consuming all sorts of texts, images, music, video, and other forms of creative expression vastly easier.

It's incredibly dispiriting to see baby boomers like Stengel brush aside the incredible wins in free expression because of concerns about vaguely defined terms such as "hate speech." He gives off a strong whiff of internet and Cold War paranoia—"Russian agents assumed fake identities, promulgated false narratives and spread lies on Twitter and Facebook, all protected by the First Amendment"—that seems widely shared by his generational peers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) is an increasingly strong presidential candidate who has vowed to regulate explicitly political speech, especially its online iterations:

Older boomers are syncing with millennials and younger Americans, who show a strong predilection to limiting "bad" speech (a 2015 Pew survey found 40 percent of millennials supported censoring "offensive statements about minorities"). These are not good developments, and neither is an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for an effective revocation of the First Amendment. Throw in bipartisan interest in regulating social media platforms as public utilities, the president's interest in "opening up" the libel laws so he can more easily sue his critics, the rise of "cancel culture," and we're one Zippo lighter short of a good, old-fashioned book burning.

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  1. Iowahawk has he often does absolutely nailed this. I will let this clown ban “hate speech” if in return I get to define what “hate speech” is.

    Never was a more succinct,elegant, and effective response made.

    1. but how would you define it in a way that Leftist lawyers wouldn’t inevitably turn it against you? Serious question.

      1. I wouldn’t but that is not the point. The point is that assholes like this guy always assume they will be the ones defining “hate speech”. They would never agree to let someone else define it. The whole thing is just a rationalization for censoring speech they don’t like.

        1. Yet another example of why the old I’ll cut you choose way of making decisions is so simple and fair.

          1. Such nonsense, everyone knows inappropriate “speech” conduct when they see it. Who here would dare to defend the “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated judge in our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case? See the documentation at:

            https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

            As that case made perfectly clear, governmental authorities are perfectly capable of deciding where the line is to be drawn between speech that conveys an acceptable idea, and “speech” that is simply impermissible. The situation is no different with respect to any other form of criminal language use, whether you wish to call it “speech” or the inappropriate, offensive conduct that it really is.

            1. “governmental authorities are perfectly capable of deciding where the line is to be drawn between speech that conveys an acceptable idea, and “speech” that is simply impermissible.”

              This is the most historically ignorant thing I think I have ever read. Not to mention completely oblivious to the way things work in the majority of nations on earth where the government DOES have sole authority to decide what a person can and cannot say.

              1. Quite to the contrary, in the context of the above-linked case the Second Circuit Court of Appeals gave a perfect example of exactly where anybody would draw that line, without any difficulty at all. They explained that impersonations that are sufficiently “puerile,” or that convey an “idea,” may not be criminalized, but that ones that “damage a reputation” are grounds for prosecution and incarceration. Who here would disagree with drawing the line exactly where the court drew it? Surely the judges who drew it are not “historically ignorant”? Eugene Volokh has defended all of the decisions in this case, so even if he hasn’t directly addressed the Second Circuit’s reasoning, he’s made it quite clear that he fully agrees with it. Who here would call Eugene Volokh ignorant? Enough said, everybody knows when “speech” is okay and when it isn’t.

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    3. If someone needs to silence disagreement, it is because they fear or know they are wrong.

  2. Let me push back on this a little bit.

    What has the First Amendment done for Americans?

    Can we have religion in government buildings or schools? Nope – because somehow, having a cross or a manger somehow violates the Establishment Clause.

    Can we ban barbaric practices like halal/kosher slaughter or circumcision? Nope – because of freedom of religion.

    Can we push back on the blatant bias of the new public square in social media? Nope – because that would violate Google/Facebook’s rights to freedom of association.

    “hate speech” is already effectively banned: where do you have the right to express it? Nowhere that matters, of course.

    So why do I need the First Amendment? What does it do for me?

    1. Pretty much all that. Freedom of speech ended with the CRA. The moment the government assumed the power to tell you who you could associate with and do business with if you wanted to be in the public square, your freedom of speech ended.

      1. Perhaps the best idea is not to push back then? Make them own up to their policies by formalizing them and see if it pushes us any further towards a point of critical mass.

      2. Freedom of speech ended with the CRA

        It was compromised but not ended. Laws are still struck on 1A grounds.

    2. “where do you have the right to express it? Nowhere that matters, of course.”

      How many people have been arrested for saying “nigger”? Can you kick someone out of your house for saying it? Sure. When you do they can call you a “faggot”.

      Seems to work fine.

      1. How many people have been arrested for saying “nigger”?

        You mean this week, or altogether?

        1. Thanks, nice find

        2. That was reported here earlier. I think there is a good chance that the 1st amendment will be appropriately applied in that case.

        3. Hopefully that law is struck because it violates the 1A. If it isn’t, that’s not an argument against the 1A, it’s an argument against the judges who are failing to uphold the Constitution.

        4. It’s almost always viewed as unconstitutional. Even a law banning its use gets struck down. NC may have had one in the 90’s that quickly got removed.
          Snyder V. Phelps was in 2011 and it doesn’t look like the courts are moving away from that position.
          Now, if it is used on private property like a campus they can be kicked off the property, but any arrest has been viewed as unconstitutional.

      2. How many people have been arrested for saying “nigger”? Can you kick someone out of your house for saying it? Sure. When you do they can call you a “faggot”.

        So, I can lose my job, be banished from the public square, have my name dragged through the mud, but thank god I won’t be arrested (even though that’s not a guarantee either).

        “muh Constitution”

        face it, the Constitution has failed.

        1. So, I can lose my job, be banished from the public square, have my name dragged through the mud, but thank god I won’t be arrested (even though that’s not a guarantee either).

          Yes, when we have free speech and freedom of association, people can do all of those things. Except banish you from the public square. I’m certainly not noticing any lack of people saying what they want in the public square.

          1. Big corporations, schools, and others adopt “social justice” policies because they fear government stomping down on them if they don’t. So it’s absurd to say that “people” are doing those things.

            1. I’m not convinced of that. It seems like most of the backlash comes from a small but vocal segment of Twitter users. I also think a fair fraction of people at big corporations and schools genuinely support some social justice policies, though perhaps not the most extreme forms.

            2. they just don’t want a bunch of snowflakes banding together and starting to boycott them

        2. I agree with the idea you are presenting. It sucks, but if someone wants to fire someone I think they should be able to and as for a name being dragged through the mud that can really only happen if your case is a public one because employers can usually only ask if you’ve worked somewhere.

          Congress still hasn’t made a law against free speech. Free speech is a value.

          I think a solution to this would be to start reminding those that attempt to drag someone’s name through the mud that it can go both ways. When I’m out with someone and we come across someone having a bad day and they try filming it I say “Want them to film you having a bad day?’ and I’ve noticed others lowering their phones. People don’t take the time to think and the person filming something like that is usually a piece of shit themselves, but their video doesn’t show us that.

          1. The idea that this is the result of private actions/choices is ludicrous. Government is imposing free speech restrictions on private companies; companies that don’t comply are hassled by the OCR, by the IRS, by regulators, unbanked, banned from government contracts, and threatened with legislation.

        3. You don’t seem to understand what “free speech” means. So, to clarify – it means that you are immune to government reprisals for how you choose to express yourself. It in no way immunizes you from the disapprobation of your fellow citizens, nor should it. The constitutional guarantee of free speech is working precisely as intended. Would that the same could be said for the rest.

    3. I think you are asking what has 1A done for average Americans who engage in mainstream speech? The answer is nothing, because the purpose of 1A wasn’t to protect mainstream speech.

      Of course it’s the controversial speech that needs to be protected from the tyranny of the majority, because mainstream speech has the approval of the majority, by definition. Your examples, atheists, customs of orthodox Jews and Muslims, are primary examples of those out of the mainstream. They are the ones who benefit directly from these protections.

      1. Because nothing mainstream has ever been under threat from the elite or a powerful minority?

        Where do you get this stuff? Of course it protects mainstream speech. Just because something is mainstream doesn’t mean the government wont’ go after it.

        It really does kill you people to think that evil Christians actually are protected by the Constitution. You people never fail to amaze.

        1. He didn’t say it doesn’t protect mainstream speech. He said that mainstream speech needs less protection. And that’s true. While you are correct that sometimes government will go after things that are more mainstream, for the most part normal, uncontroversial speech is left alone.
          And why do you think everyone hates Christians? It’s perfectly consistent to think that Christianity is just fine and that the establishment clause means that government should not support or promote religious events or displays. Perhaps that’s an incorrect interpretation, but it doesn’t mean you hate Christians.

          1. While you are correct that sometimes government will go after things that are more mainstream, for the most part normal, uncontroversial speech is left alone.

            California literally passed a law criminalizing calling a biological male a man and a biological female a woman. Believe it or not, outside of your bugfuck nuts SJW enclaves, that’s still mainstream, uncontroversial speech.

            1. Believe it or not, outside of your bugfuck nuts SJW enclaves, that’s still mainstream, uncontroversial speech.

              Yep, that was exactly my point.

              Your examples, atheists, customs of orthodox Jews and Muslims, are primary examples of those out of the mainstream. They are the ones who benefit directly from these protections.

              First of all, who said that minorities get to dictate what a Christian country can display in the public square? How does removing Christian traditions from the public square benefit these minorities, anyway?

              To most of us, we can see that these people don’t actually care whether a manger is on a courthouse lawn. This is all about the flexing of power.

              1. First of all, who said that minorities get to dictate what a Christian country can display in the public square?

                We all did, by signing onto a Constitution that says so. Minorities aren’t dictating, the limits we placed on government are dictating.

                1. Freedom of religion isn’t freedom from religion.
                  Every religion should be allowed to express themselves in the public square. Even douchebag, teenage-ironic ones like “Satanism”, and majority ones like Christianity.

                2. We didn’t sign on to any of this crap. Neither did the founders. The Constitution originally applied only to the federal government. It was basically a common defense pact and an agreement on the free movement of goods, services, and people among members. The 1A and 2A only limited the federal government, not the states.

                3. No, we didn’t. “We” (by which I mean the people who were here in 1791, before my ancestors got here, signed onto a constitutional amendment that barred Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion. It didn’t say bupkes about whether a town could display a cross in the public square. “We” certainly didn’t sign on to the idea that a town council or a school board is “Congress,” nor did we sign on to the idea that putting a cross on the town coat-of-arms or leading prayers at high school football games is functionally equivalent to taxing everyone to pay the salary of the local pastor.

                  1. That’s right, but our predecessors had a disagreement about that which they resolved almost 150 years ago.

              2. From the perspective of the US government, the public square is not (or at least should not) be viewed as Christian.

            2. ¨California literally passed a law criminalizing calling a biological male a man and a biological female a woman.¨

              Do you have a citation for that criminal statute?

        2. Please don’t take what I said to say that it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) protect mainstream speech. Obviously it does, but it doesn’t normally need to. Of course Christians are protected by the 1A, right along with atheists, Muslims, Jews, and Scientologists.

          1A is all about limiting the tyranny of the majority, specifically because we have a democratic form of government. It’s the out of mainstream that needs its protections, generally speaking. 1A is what protects your rights, specifically, when the majority might choose to come after them with the threat of government force.

          1. Mainstream speech essentially has no value. Offensive/objectionable speech is the only speech worth something because it is the only speech that ever needs to be defended.

            So far the courts have seemed to recognize that and while there may be pushes I don’t see the government budging.

          2. 1A is all about limiting the tyranny of the majority, specifically because we have a democratic form of government.

            You may think that that’s what the 1A is good for, but it’s not where it came from. The US Constitution was a delegation of a limited set of powers to the federal government, nothing more. It wasn’t intended to “limit the tyranny of the majority” for the simple reason that none of its provisions applied at the state level.

            1. If you grant that there is a single “intent” to the Constitution (which I think is debatable given that it was a compromise document, but I’m willing to set that to one side), you have to acknowledge that change was intended, or at least allowed for. One of those changes, the Equal Protection Clause of 14A, has been read by the Courts (correctly, I think) to extend certain Constitutional restrictions to the States.

    4. “Let me push back on this a little bit.

      What has the First Amendment done for Americans?

      Can we have religion in government buildings or schools? Nope – because somehow, having a cross or a manger somehow violates the Establishment Clause.

      Can we ban barbaric practices like halal/kosher slaughter or circumcision? Nope – because of freedom of religion.

      Can we push back on the blatant bias of the new public square in social media? Nope – because that would violate Google/Facebook’s rights to freedom of association.

      “hate speech” is already effectively banned: where do you have the right to express it? Nowhere that matters, of course.

      So why do I need the First Amendment? What does it do for me?”

      It keeps you from having your back put to the wall and being used as target practice by state officials. Also being burnt in the town square,Beheaded or stuck in concentrations camps ( Note the American Japaneses won their lawsuit against the government for being put in interment camps.) . Plus the state is supposed to come to your aid when the majority decides to lynch you for what you believe or say.

      1. It keeps you from having your back put to the wall and being used as target practice by state officials. Also being burnt in the town square,Beheaded or stuck in concentrations camps ( Note the American Japaneses won their lawsuit against the government for being put in interment camps.) .

        Really? Is that happening in Europe, where there is no First Amendment? No.

        1. It was done on a massive scale within the lifetime of my grandparents and on a slightly less massive, but still very significant scale within my own lifetime, and still is being done in many parts of the world.

      2. SCOTUS upheld putting the Japanese into camps in the ‘Korematsu’ decision.

    5. this must be parody.

      1. I’m sensing that it’s a Mizek sock. He’s anti-1A.

        1. they’re fun arguments

    6. What has the First Amendment done for Americans?

      Protected our right to criticize the government, thus helping to preserve a more just society.

      Can we have religion in government buildings or schools? Nope – because somehow, having a cross or a manger somehow violates the Establishment Clause.

      Yes, that is kind of the point.

      Can we ban barbaric practices like halal/kosher slaughter or circumcision? Nope – because of freedom of religion.

      Yes, that’s kind of the point. (Though I’ll grant that circumcision is a bit more debatable since another human being is involved. But we generally, and correctly, give parents wide latitude with their own children)

      Can we push back on the blatant bias of the new public square in social media? Nope – because that would violate Google/Facebook’s rights to freedom of association.

      Yes, that’s kind of the point.

      “hate speech” is already effectively banned: where do you have the right to express it? Nowhere that matters, of course.

      Your own property, the property of like-minded individuals, social media platforms run by you or like-minded individuals, and public spaces don’t matter?

      So why do I need the First Amendment? What does it do for me?

      It protects your right to advocate for fascism, regardless of how disgusting that might be. It also protects the right of other people to refuse to help you.

      1. Can we have religion in government buildings or schools? Nope – because somehow, having a cross or a manger somehow violates the Establishment Clause.

        Yes, that is kind of the point

        The point of what? Not the original 1A. The original 1A was a limit on federal power, not a prohibition on government. Several of the original states, in fact, had established religions.

      2. You (collectively and individually) ‘give’ me latitude over my children precisely to the same extent I ‘allow’ you to remain above room temperature for NOT interfering in matters outside your purview.

        But otherwise I get your drift.

    7. Allowed you to ask that question, for one thing.

    8. If your religion is endorsed in a public building, using public funds, it violates the 1A. Only shitheads are incapable of comprehending this.

      You are correct that male genital butchery should be outlawed, but that is not a speech issue.

      1. Presence and endorsement are not inherently synonymous.

  3. So the argument goes that because our state run educational system has eroded our children’s critical thinking skills, we need to throw out freedom of speech? Man, talk about causing the sickness to sell the cure. The sad part is that they’ll figure out a way to get it done in the next 20 years probably, or that seems to be the pattern.

    1. I doubt it. It just seems that way because we seem to enjoy using the property of others to express our speech. Posting online can be free speech if you own the website. I shouldn’t have the government tell me I have to let others say things while using my property.

      1. Yeah, I was speaking to the broader phenomena of any type of state enforced code of speech as it was being pitched in the article as some type of protective measure against ideas heretical to the state. The state is a religion after all.

        I think what you’re talking about are the terms of individual user agreements, which the state will absolutely try to interfere with, but apart from that, I don’t care whether google or facebook censors me as long as they are abiding by the terms of the original user agreement.

    2. Behold the fruits of cultural Marxism.

  4. Hey, we are the only developed nation without effective hate speech laws.
    If we can put a man on the moon, certainly we can address this.

    //SARC, in case you missed it…

  5. To paraphrase the top comment on the Wapo article, this lunatic says that he wants to ban hate speech, even though nobody can agree on what hate speech is.

  6. “On the Internet, truth is not optimized. On the Web, it’s not enough to battle falsehood with truth; the truth doesn’t always win.”

    What is this “truth” of which he speaks?

    1. As much as I despise the lie of Creationism I would never want to ban it. It is certainly the “truth” to some people.

      1. “As much as I despise the lie of Creationism I would never want to ban it. It is certainly the “truth” to some people.”

        It IS 10 o’clock twice a day…

      2. One might even call Creationism to be a “personal narrative” of Christians…

        1. It’s a metaphysical assertion. As substantial and valid as string theory.

    2. “”What is this “truth” of which he speaks?””

      The Ministry of Truth will provide guidance.

    3. Truth is what you speak to power, when you are trying to wrest power from those who control it. Once you have power, truth is whatever you say it is.

    4. His opinions, which are, by definition, “truth”, since he believes them to be true.

  7. “Older boomers are syncing with millennials and younger Americans”

    This reminds me from a quote form the god Emperor of dune.
    “When I am weak and your are powerful I speak of freedoms because that appeals to your morality. When I am powerful and you are weak I take a way your freedoms because it appeals to my morality.”

    In short this is the left end game.

  8. If people cannot tell the difference between a news story and sponsored content…isn’t that an indictment of the press more than the Constitution?

    1. Or between news and opinion.

      1. I don’t think many people know the difference.

        1. Can you blame the media for taking advantage of that?

    2. no, it’s called Yahoo News

  9. He’s another reason I’ve never contributed to the National Constitution Center. Reason #1 – they gave Hillary a Freedom Metal.

    1. Yeah, and how long has she had that medal, and we are still not free?

    2. He’s another reason I’ve never contributed to the National Constitution Center.

      There’s a National Constitution Center? Sounds like a really shitty place.

      1. It’s been the same for the most part for a few hundred years. People are always complaining that it needs to be remodeled, but it seems to be fine the way that it is.

      2. It’s in Philly which IS a pretty shitty place.

        1. Philly does need a good fresh coat or two of paint and some weed eating, but it has some great museums.

    3. Freedom Metal

      Like Freedom Rock, but harder.

    4. The key point to understand is that most “constitutional scholars” approach the Constitution in the same way epidemiologists approach bacteria: They’re learning how to destroy it.

      It’s mostly about learning the sophistries necessary to render the Constitution at worst toothless, and at best a weapon with which to impose your own views on other people through the courts.

  10. I am all for this.
    Because everything democrats say is racist sexist hate speech.

  11. In some ways its better when the enemies of the First Amendment and the Second Amendment expose themselves as such. It’s worse when they try to pretend that the First Amendment and Second Amendments don’t really protect whatever it is they’re trying to ban. At least they’re acknowledging that the First and Second Amendments are in their way. I’d rather have a fight over whether the legal protection for our rights should be repealed than a constant battle over seeing the meaning of those legal protections watered down bit by bit until the protections for them just fade away and become meaningless. What if they could just ignore the First and Second Amendments? Would that be worse?

    1. Agreed. Everyone knows that the fourth amendment applies to police officers and other agents of the state as to their right to not have someone looking over their shoulders constantly.

  12. >>>With a few exceptions such as “fighting words,” “true threats,” and obscenity, we know that it’s better to allow more speech rather than less.

    Supreme Court invented all that bullshit. Words are words. Every person alive can walk away from “fighting words” and nothing is “obscene” lol.

    1. Yeah. True threats are the only thing on that list that should be criminal.

      1. maybe? words alone are generally not assault

        1. As a First Amendment absolutist, I wouldn’t even hold someone criminally responsible if he ordered a murder – ultimately, the person who pulled the actual trigger had all the agency in this case, and decided to pull the trigger.

          1. You have just negated any concept of binding contract. Bravo.

            Stupid, but bravo.

  13. We need to eliminate the 1A to enable tolerance. Tolerant people don’t tolerate intolerance. We need to enable tolerant people to discriminate against intolerant people, and jail them if necessary. Only by punishing intolerance can we achieve a truly tolerant society.

  14. “He implies that the ‘marketplace of ideas’ worked well enough when John Milton and, a bit later, America’s founders pushed an unregulated press, but, well, times have changed.”

    The pamphlet warfare enabled by the printing press and a lax regulatory environment in Milton’s era was so destabilizing that the Stengels of the era reimposed strict press censorship, and avidly chased after publishers of unauthorized anti-government works – all this in fear of rebellions.

    The free press in the Revolution helped the revolutionaries to organize. Under the Republic, the Federalists were so concerned about the persuasive powers of the opposition press that they tried to censor it.

    New steam-powered printing presses scared the slaveowners because it made it easier to print and disseminate abolitionist literature, which of course they tried to ban.

    Broadcast technology was also unprecedented and inspired a censorship regime which would have been considered intolerable for the now-respectable print media.

    Yes, each technology is threatening to the government in the hands of technology-savvy opponents, which is why the government with understandable logic wants to practice censorship.

    “But the Internet is new and scary!” Right.

    1. History rhyming once more.

    2. each technology is threatening to the government in the hands of technology-savvy opponents, which is why the government with understandable logic wants to practice censorship

      And which is why we should fight to protect it. Unjust governments deserve rebellion**.

      **Disclaimer: I’m using “rebellion” broadly here. One of the great things about the US and Western-style democracy is that we can “rebel” peacefully at the voting booth, and the people who lose elections generally accept the results and go away. Free speech is vital to that process. Long may it be so.

      1. The Brits are showing that is not exactly true.

        1. Maybe. We’ll see how it all ends up playing out. When a country is split 51.9% to 48.1% over an issue as consequential as leaving the EU it’s not exactly surprising that it’s messy. Especially when almost 28% of people didn’t even vote. That’s on them for not participating, but it is probably more informative to view the results of the referendum as 37.4% Leave, 34.7% Remain, and 27.8% abstain. I’m guess a decent fraction of those that abstained have since formed an opinion. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if a second referendum resulted in both higher participation and a majority of votes cast for Remain. The Leave faction also didn’t really seem to have a very good plan for what they would actually do if they won.

          I’m just not sure how much you can really conclude from one data point, and especial this data point. But even if you think democratic will has been subverted (or is going to be), I think that’s really an exception that proves the rule.

          1. Agreed with your analysis I’m general.

            Alternatively, you can view the current Labor refusal to allow an election as a tacit admission that they believe the proxy vote will go against them. In other words, the party thinks there are now more Leavers than Remainers. For those unfamiliar, elections in the UK are on-demand rather than with a set term. Boris Johnson, the current Prime Minister and major Leaver, wants a new election as a proxy referendum on the terms of Brexiting. Labour Party (which has enough votes to block an election and is a Remainer) repeatedly declines.

            1. Unless I’ve missed something in the last day or two, they have now agreed to an election in early December. I don’t follow UK politics that closely, but I was surprised that Johnson pushed for election. Either he is confident that it will reaffirm Brexit or he’s gotten cold feet and thinks its a way out. Probably the former. Will be interesting to see what happens if that is the case.

  15. Shorter Stengal: “Our opponents are winning! SHUT IT DOWN!!”

  16. If libertarians really believed in Freedom of Speech as an absolute, they would advocate for legalizing the order to kill someone. After all, the person hearing the order can choose to disobey it, right?

    1. “If libertarians really believed in Freedom of Speech as an absolute, they would advocate for legalizing the order to kill someone.”

      Sarc or stupidity?

      1. Apparently the stupid is contagious. See fk_censorship above for another gross misunderstanding of liberty and the foundations of libertarianism.

        They somehow think that any sort of anti authoritarianism must be libertarian.

  17. Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran. Why, they asked me, would you ever want to protect that?

    Let me guess, Richard Stengel is the one putting up those confounding signs which read “Islam is right on women”.

  18. Big Journalism has pretty much entirely lost its moral center on Western Values. It can’t die fast enough.

  19. A 2016 Stanford study showed that 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and an actual news story.

    Hint to Stengel: They’re both sponsored content.

  20. It’s incredibly dispiriting to see baby boomers like Stengel brush aside the incredible wins in free expression because of concerns about vaguely defined terms such as “hate speech.”

    Dispiriting, yet predictable.

    1. Practically expected.

  21. So Stengel cannot explain why laws against blasphemy are unacceptable, at least to Muslims with diplomatic rank. Is it because he truly cannot justify it or is it because political correctness makes defending even a minimum legal ability to be anti-Islam too uncomfortable?

    And of course, a central problem with appointing a government agency to judge truth and falsehood is: can you trust them? And where do you find such moral and intellectual paragons?

    1. Where?

      Stengel’s contact list to be sure.

  22. It undermines the very values of a fair marketplace of ideas that the First Amendment is designed to protect.

    “We have to destroy it to save it.”

  23. Former Time Editor and CEO of Constitution Center (!) Wants To Cancel First Amendment, Pass Hate Speech Laws

    ‘Constitution Center’ must be fancy elite coastal speak for ‘shit house’.

  24. and obscenity

    And I suppose you know it when you see it? wtf?

  25. On the Internet, truth is not optimized. On the Web, it’s not enough to battle falsehood with truth; the truth doesn’t always win.

    It doesn’t always win in the real world either. More things to ban!

  26. We allow free speech because no one, certainly not the government, has a right to curtail it.

    1000 times this.

    We do not trust government with the power to silence ANYONE, for ANY reason. Why is this so hard to understand?

    1. Except when those words are
      “fighting words,” “true threats,” and obscenity‘,
      Then it’s totes cool to stop people making utterances, sez Gillespie.

      One man’s obscenity is another man’s art.

      1. right. like what do you call a guy on the wall w/no arms or legs? Art.

    2. It’s not government, it’s human beings exercising power. We have thousands of years of history showing how human beings – sometimes out of good motivations – do bad things with that power. Apparently Mr. Stengel isn’t aware of this history. Nowhere does he mention it.

      Someone once put it best: “Men are not angels….” If men were angels we wouldn’t need these types of protections, e.g, checks and balances, Bill of Rights.

      1. CS Lewis said it better.

        “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  27. We also let people burn the Koran, the Bible, the Torah, and any other religious text because, from the perspective of the US government, they aren’t (or at least shouldn’t be) viewed as sacred or particularly special. If I can start a fire in my fireplace with yesterday’s newspaper, I should be able to start it with a Koran.

  28. It undermines the very values of a fair marketplace of ideas that the First Amendment is designed to protect.

    You’re forgetting there’s a Second Amendment as well. The First Amendment protecting your right to be as hateful as you want to be was adopted at a time when dueling was still a thing. “An armed society is a polite society” tends to impose its own limits on just how hateful you want to be. I say we bring back dueling, see if that doesn’t curtail the hate speech problem. By the way, I think calls for banning hate speech are pretty hateful and a grave offense to my honor and dignity as a human being, so, you know, if they do bring back dueling, you’ve been served notice.

    1. In all honesty, I’m not opposed to that. If two consenting adults of sound mind want to duel who am I to stop them? However, the winner better be damn sure that they can prove that both parties agreed to the terms and that those terms were followed to a “T”, and that no innocent bystanders are hurt. Otherwise it’s premeditated murder.

    2. I’m all for a return to Code Duello.

  29. It is heartening to see, though, that even the usually Progressive commenters on the Post are all over Mr. Stengel for this op-ed.

  30. Charles C. W. Cooke observed on Twitter: “You have to admire the sheer audacity it takes to write the sentence “let the debate begin” in a piece arguing for censorship.”

    1. Charlie Cooke is the best.

    2. Let the debate begin…so we can monitor the debaters and go after those on the wrong side.

      So if one of Stengel’s supporters calls the other side racist that would be OK, but if one of Stengel’s opponents calls Stengel’s side cunts, that would be hate speech.

      1. Happening in Canada when Justin and the Liberals gave a $500 million to media.

        Let the shilling begin!

  31. Forty years ago liberals or center left types controlled the national conversation though newspapers, radio and television. The Internet and cable television destroyed that control, and said liberals are striking back.

  32. Eighty-two percent of middle schoolers can’t tell the difference between Whizzo butter and a dead crab, either.

    That 82% stat proves only that progressive education is delivering exactly the kind of historical and moral illiterates that it’s intended to. Most of those kids can’t read for comprehension at a third grade level, so expecting them to know what “sponsored content” means is unrealistic. It’s also an indictment of government schooling, not a case for government-approved speech. When thinking is bred out of people and the only correct answer is the one approved by the hive mind, who’s surprised that they can’t read critically or recognize bullshit when they see it?

  33. “Former Time Editor and CEO of Constitution Center (!) Wants To Cancel First Amendment, Pass Hate Speech Laws.”

    Well, what did you expect from a liberal idiot that used to write for Time Magazine, the Pravda on the Hudson?

    1. The paper that once made Hitler (no, not Trump. The real one! Or his clone. Not sure anymore) Person of the Year!

  34. “Hate speech…’diminishes tolerance. It enables discrimination. Isn’t that, by definition, speech that undermines the values that the First Amendment was designed to protect: fairness, due process, equality before the law?'”

    Is this guy really that stupid, or is he counting on that much stupidity in his audience? “Hate speech” has zero effect on the government. Some douchebag slagging off on people on Twitter has no effect on the government’s treatment of anyone. It doesn’t “undermine the values that the First Amendment was designed to protect.” It has nothing to do with the First Amendment–unless Stengel gets what he’s advocating for: government speech police. Then and only then will anything “undermine the values that the First Amendment was designed to protect.” Jesus, what a twat.

  35. The left stands for empowerment of disparate identities and protected class, not personal freedom. They’re under the eternal notion that some people are perennially oppressed and systematic threats (like hate speech inspiring widespread violence) to their lives exist in every corner of the street. Sane minded people aren’t affected when Ben Shapiro gives a 30 min speech at a college.

    They obviously won’t care if someone calls for the rape of Sarah Palin or characterize Jews and bloodsuckers. They care not one iota about exclusion or bigotry that doesn’t concern their side.

    In sci fi stories both the reader and protagonist will become suspicious of utopia towns, where everyone appears happy, lives in perfect but uniform conditions and says or does nothing that’s harmful. Because inevitably free will is the price of a crime free, boilerplate society.

    You’re not going to regulate every aspect of speech to prevent inspiration of violence, and I guarantee you ordinary speech (fight with wife, taunting at school, social media comments) inspires more violence than any hate speech. You’re not going to solve the homeless crisis by giving everyone a home. Your earnings won’t go up if college becomes free. You won’t ever not sick if healthcare became a right and going to the doctor cost you nothing.

    When Tony here says he wants a “maximum society” he’s not just random ranting. A utopia built on childish fantasies and perfect representation is their ultimate goal.

  36. I don’t buy that bullshit about older people favoring censorship. Boomers grew up with free speech, it’s natural to them. Older people recognize the over-the-top bullshit with preferred pronouns, safe spaces, offences taken, etc. Older people, other than raving moonbats or died-in-the-wool Dems, are generally conservative in nature. Just look up voting patterns. All polls do is frame narratives. Reason loves their endless polls.

  37. That totalitarian asshole is taking it in the teeth in the comments.

  38. saddest of all, journalists who benefit most from it

    Some journalist benefit more from other journalists not having it.

  39. Why protect burning a book or a flag or anything else you own, simply because the attack on something someone else views as sacred is making a political statement? Maybe because you defend free speech and private property rights, and don’t lock people up for espousing the “wrong” ideas?

  40. So fascist looters like censorship. This is news?

  41. Why do intellectually dishonest shitheads keep referring to Kashoggi as a “journalist”? He was a third rate blogger, a terroristic piece of shit, and Saudi Arabia is finally taking action against such.

    So of course, left wing cocksuckers must attack the Sauds.

    This message brought to you by free speech.

    1. He was a third rate blogger

      Which is no criminal offense.

      a terroristic piece of shit

      He’s the dead one.

      and Saudi Arabia is finally taking action against such

      By pulling this stunt outside the borders of Saudi Arabia, the Saúds behaved like third-rate terrorists.

      This message brought to you by free speech.

      Free speech which exists outside the borders of Saudi Arabia — to the extent it exists.

    2. Wow we have a commenter here defending the murder of Kashoggi?

      Where am I?

      1. +1
        Could be sarc. If not, scumbag claim that murder is ‘speech’.

  42. Meh. A reasonable defense of free speech. The Segway to Elizabeth Warren and campaign finance laws is where the DJ train-wrecked though.

  43. I’m going to take a dump on the flag I have in the garage after reading this article. Uuhhh… here’s what I think of you, Army butthead.

    1. You should try losing your virginity.

  44. ‘…because ‘in the press, truth is not optimized. In the press, it’s not enough to battle falsehood with truth; the truth doesn’t always win.’…’

    Fixed.
    Note the NYT and CNN re: ‘THE RUSSKIS!!!!!!’

  45. All great points but kind of hypocritical that you criticize the WAPO for publishing the *OP-ED*, no? Should they have deplatformed this gentleman? Try not to be too much like the people you claim to oppose.

    1. I think it’s totally within the spirit of the first amendment to use my freedom of speech and of the press to point out when other people are saying stupid shit.

      1. And note that this is the same WaPo that jobbed the Covington kids so badly with their malice.

  46. I really don’t understand these people who embrace democracy so strongly, yet, on the other hand, have no faith in people’s ability to think or communicate.

    If they’re willing to control what people are allowed to say and think for their own good, why not control the way they vote? Or take away their vote altogether? Is that really so far off?

    1. It depends. Is this person Black? If so, then it’s pretty ok to disenfranchise said Black person by corralling them into some gerrymandered district.

      1. As long as that gerrymandered district is democrat who cares?

      2. I’ll believe people care about black people’s right to vote when they care about black people’s right to speak, think, write, bear arms, do drugs, and choose their own schools.

    2. Maybe what they actually embrace is authority obtained from an easily swayed mob.

  47. In Canada the Supreme Court ruled that truth can be hate speech. So much for, “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

    Speech isn’t thought. It’s an action with consequences.

    Hatred is conflict. Conflict in speech is always caused by lying. Lying is coercion, criminalize that.

    1. Their violence is speech. Your speech is violence.

      1. Violence is defined as “acting with uncontrolled or damaging rough force”.

        I have reasoned that I’m speaking the truth, which is controlled by reality. While you may find it’s effect on lies damaging or rough, it is not violent. Lies initiate the coercion against reality.

        If you think I’m mistaken, demonstrate it with the evidence of reality using logic or science. if you can’t or won’t that only demonstrates your own lack of control on your own speech.

  48. The reason so many millennials are against free speech may have to do with demographic change as much as the result of a hostile education environment.

  49. “we know that it’s better to allow more speech rather than less. Surprisingly, people get along better when they can more freely speak their minds. The search for “truth”—or at least consensus—benefits from free expression, too, as ideas and attitudes are subjected to examination from friends and foes alike. But the pragmatic answer is ultimately secondary to the expressive one: We allow free speech because no one, certainly not the government, has a right to curtail it.”

    I have to disagree with you on the free speech narrative there. I don’t think most people believe this one iota. Speaking your mind, more often than not, does nothing more than allow people to express things that they shouldn’t be expressing to begin with. By “shouldn’t,” I don’t mean “we shouldn’t have free speech.” I mean the idea is so reprehensible that, as a society, it shouldn’t be sincerely believed by anyone. That’s why those Saudis were so upset about Koran burnings. Sure, we could permit people to burn Korans, but why the hell would anyone actually want a society where people feel compelled to do so? On that point, the Saudis won by default because you chose to skirt a very compelling counter-narrative to free speech.

    No “one” has the right, but if a society wishes to jail those who burn the Koran, who is to say they can’t exercise their collective will? I mean this in a literal sense. What are you going to do if 80% of your country supports killing you for such an act? Are those peoples not allowed to organize freely and create their own societies with their own rules? It’s not like the Saudis are telling us to execute Koran burners. What they (and most of the world) cannot understand is why we condone practices that run counter to our mission. In short, why do we tolerate intolerance? Why do we use freedom to defend blatantly anti-freedom beliefs?

    My answer has always been that we need to defend speech vigorously because demographics always change. One day, we might find ourselves in an 80% society where previously reasonable or common beliefs are ostracized. We need freedom of speech in order to defend those ideas.

    However, I have been split on this idea for years because of something similar to the Saudi’s argument. If we actually lived in a society where 80% of people felt one of my opinions was intolerable, would free speech actually save me? Most likely not; that society has the majority necessary to amend the Constitution or to suppress me without facing repercussions for violating the rules because society will sweep their transgressions under the rug.

    This reality made me wonder why exactly we even have our Constitution and rules, and I have currently arrived at a halfway point. At present, I am 100% opposed to principles. Principles are nothing more than an excuse for the powerful to rule over the powerless. Majorities and coalitions can do whatever they want; it doesn’t matter if a piece of paper says “no.” However, so long as there isn’t a blatant majority, we can maintain these principles and have respectful disagreement. If these principles are moot once a strong majority has been reached, what exactly are those principles really for?

    The answer is devious; to maintain balance. Our Constitution is totally meaningless if there’s a significant majority opposed to it. That’s why we have so many unconstitutional rules that have persisted in our culture, like 2A restrictions and now 1A restrictions.

    I believe we have grossly misinterpreted the actual intent of 1A. We believe the principle is to protect all speech and not to maintain a balance of speech that supports our freedom. We have an unhealthy and utopian view of 1A that we can live in a society where Nazis and Communists freely exercise their beliefs and nothing bad ever happens. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, except when it isn’t.

    1. We have an unhealthy and utopian view of 1A that we can live in a society where Nazis and Communists freely exercise their beliefs and nothing bad ever happens.

      Um…OK. So you’d rather drive the roaches underground rather than keep them out in the open so I can point them out to my kids and start a frank discussion as to why they’re garbage people? All right then, have it your way: let’s start by banning Nazi and Communist “speech”. Let’s drag all those volumes of “Das Kapital” out of the offices of college professors and have a nice book burning.

      But, see, here’s the thing: I don’t find Communists particularly scary these days, but SJW-types, that’s another thing. They give me the shudders. So after we’re done putting all the Marxist college profs. in the gulag so you feel safe, we need to go after the writers for Salon, Jezebel, Huff Post, et al. They don’t deserve free speech because they make me feel icky.

      Probably next we need to go after the Family Research Council types, because I’m sure their speech makes Tony feel icky. They’ll need to have their icky speech curtailed too. And Conservatives. Those Bible-thumpers don’t believe in gay marriage, so they need to be silenced too.

      Hey, I seem to be good at this. Tell you what: you get your 1A restrictions if I get to be the one doing the restricting. (Yes, I stole that, but you didn’t seem to get the point the first go-around.)

      1. The idea that they get driven underground is asinine. They’re already underground. You can’t openly be a Nazi even though we have 1A. We’re almost at the point where people are afraid to be open about anything because someone might react poorly.

        The problem with your slippery slope argument is that censorship of “normal” things just doesn’t happen that way historically. The most censorious societies didn’t use an incremental approach; they just flat out censored everyone they didn’t like because they had the numbers to do it.

        1. It’s not safe to be a Nazi anyway, so we should just go ahead and ban them?

          You’re obviously literate so I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I really don’t understand what you’re doing here.

          1. The reason it isn’t safe to be a Nazi is precisely because we don’t currently equate 1A with most Libertarians’ utopian views of it.

            I don’t understand your line of questioning because I’m not just suddenly “doing” something here. I’ve been here for almost a year now and I am mostly libertarian. I’ve never been lock step with any ideology and from a realistic perspective, 1A (and the Constitution as a whole) would not stop a majoritarian society from disregarding its own principles, hence my criticism and skepticism of principles.

            To be more blunt, completely unrestricted freedom can easily devolve into anarchy and anarchy can destroy freedom. Another example: this is why I’m an anti-open borders Libertarian. I believe in and encourage free movement of peoples, but renouncing our control over demography can, already has, and will continue to erode our values under the faulty presumption that every single person will come here for our conception of freedom and Constitutional government.

    2. At present, I am 100% opposed to principles.

      Just reread and came across this gem. Could you please enlighten me as to what the hell you think you’re doing on a libertarian website with that attitude?

      1. Because Libertarianism has been and will remain the closest, real-world equivalent to my political leanings. I’m no ideologue and I’m very anti ideology. I play devil’s advocate a lot and sometimes I move in-between stances.

        Perhaps my language was too harsh, but I’m very skeptical of people who claim to be principled. They often hide behind an inflexible, unrealistic standard that is neither practical nor useful and rely on accusations of inconsistency and hypocrisy to dismiss people who have good ideas that amicably deal with a situation, but not in a consistent manner.

    3. Let me explain to you why free speech is important.

      Civilization is based on ethics and morality which are in turn based on truth, reality.

      This is how we define these words, and how they have meaning. Our civilization depends on it.

      Corrupt people don’t like civilization. A common tactic is to change the definition of words to undermine their meaning and relationship with ethics and morality.

      Without the freedom to support truth reality, freedom of speech, we lose the ability to strive for civilization.

      80% of the population today wants to punish anyone for sharing the evidence of the reality that the holocaust never occurred. People are in prison all over Europe for doing just that.

      If you support that, you don’t support free speech or civilization. You support forcing a false narrative onto everyone.

      You will have to censor truth, reality or try to make those words meaningless. You will have to use force.

      You will find though that it is human nature to find the meaning, truth of our reality. To obtain justice people will rise up against you, using force.

      To avoid anarchy and violence, civilized intelligent people recognized the need for A constitutional right of free speech to share the truth, reality which all honest rational people must agree with.

  50. Sitting on nukes, and having subjugated the American political classes, Israel fears nothing and nobody except the BDS movement. An attempt to outlaw BDS at the state level is fizzling out as that legislation is being knocked out for stepping on the 1st Amendment. So the Zionist interests are going after the 1st Amendment. Hence Stengel. Well done Reason for exposing this mole!

    1. Yeah you show those Jews!

  51. One thing I don’t hear much about, and I didn’t see here though maybe I missed it, is restrictions on questions you can job applicants. For example, I’ve heard you can ask people whether they have been convicted of a crime, but not whether they have been arrested.There are a lot of other limitations. On the face of it, these look like obvious unconstitutional restrictions of free speech. Why is this not an issue that you hear about? What do y’all think?

    1. Maybe because no rational conclusion can be made about someone’s behaviour based on whether or not they’ve been arrested. A conviction demonstrates criminal behaviour in the eyes of our societies legal system.

      1. Correct. That way lies the approach of totalitarian regimes everywhere – simply arrest those whose political opinions challenge the party in power, and make it impossible for them to get jobs or seek office because they are “under suspicion.”

        1. Yes, with insufficient evidence of reality demonstrated by logic and science, the corrupt must censor the free speech that demonstrates the contrary reality they don’t want to recognize.

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