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Free Minds & Free Markets

The End of Free Speech

In 2017, the left eats its own and the right shows its true colors.

Ah, fall. Students heading off to campus protests, football players kneeling as the national anthem plays, the smell of burning flags.

It's the season of free speech madness.

Republicans, as is their habit of late, have positioned themselves as the defenders of First Amendment freedoms in a time of runaway political correctness. This plays well on television: Footage of college students shouting down speakers they don't like, staging sit-ins, and brandishing protest placards runs on an endless loop at Fox News while chyrons blare, "Free Speech Under Fire on Campus."

And when a demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, spiraled out of control, it was primarily right-leaning lawmakers and pundits who stood up for the right of white supremacists and Nazis to express their vile opinions about race and Confederate statuary. Meanwhile, signs demanding "No Free Speech for Fascists" cropped up in the hands of lefties at post-Charlottesville rallies around the country.

But as the weather cooled, the GOP revealed its true colors. Led by an increasingly vehement and erratic President Donald Trump, the same party that was poised to die on the hill of free speech when it was being threatened by angry progressives was suddenly ready to eliminate First Amendment rights on the football field, revoke citizenship for flag burning, pull broadcast licenses over bad comedy sketches, and expand libel laws to take down annoying members of the media. There are greater threats to speech, it turns out, than a bunch of angry co-eds.

In the face of calls for censorship from the left and the right, meanwhile, one of the most important traditional defenders of speech has begun a slow but undeniable retreat. Dealing with internal dissension in the wake of Charlottesville, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tiptoed away from its proud legacy of free speech absolutism. And poll after poll revealed that Americans of both parties are ready and willing to see speech rights abridged in the service of partisan goals.

Nothing that has happened so far in 2017 is yet irreversible. But as the ACLU is undermined from within and the right once again sheds the mantle of free speech in favor of a cape made of the American flag, the sharp edges of our First Amendment rights are eroding. In an era of bipartisan agreement that speech should be limited (paired, of course, with violent disagreement about what speech should be limited), it will be all too easy to forget where the outer boundaries of our freedom of expression once were. And once lost, they won't be easy to reconstruct.

Back to School

As the fall semester began, campus activists were primed for action. The previous academic year had begun with Yale students surrounding residential college master Nicholas Christakis and shouting about how his wife's opinions on Halloween costumery made them feel unsafe; it ended with Evergreen State College students surrounding professor Bret Weinstein and shouting about how his opinions on student activism made them feel unsafe. Berkeley's campus had been engulfed in angry protests, which culminated in the cancellation of speeches by right-wing provocateurs Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos.

Many students came back to campus looking to fight. They were not disappointed.

Everett Collection Inc./Alamy StockEverett Collection Inc./Alamy StockBefore classes even began, Fordham's dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator Christopher Rodgers was already under investigation for showing a video questioning popular statistics on campus rape in a resident adviser training session. Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, a book that makes controversial claims about the relationship between race and IQ, faced protests at the University of Michigan. (Unlike at Middlebury College the year before, where his attempt to speak ended in physical assault, Murray managed to finish his talk after the hecklers moved on. "We feel it is important to make an unequivocal statement that we believe universities should remain bastions of civil debate and tolerance," the students who invited him, under the auspices of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told The New York Times.) At Brandeis, an award-winning playwright wrote a show about political correctness inspired by the profane comedian Lenny Bruce; the school cancelled it after students who hadn't read the script said they were offended. Northwestern returned to its favorite whipping girl, film studies professor Laura Kipnis. Having weathered one Title IX investigation last year in response to a critical essay she wrote about Title IX prosecutions in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Kipnis was accused of Title IX violations again this fall for her new book, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus. In other words, as First Amendment lawyer Ken White observed, she was investigated for writing a book about being investigated for writing an essay about being investigated.

A common denominator in these stories is that many of the controversies were actually meta-controversies, triggered when someone spoke up in favor of free expression and against censorship. Not all of the victims of this year's cycle of panic over offensive speech were anywhere close to being Republicans. But once their stories got out, they were typically embraced by the conservative media as heroes while being vilified on the left.

Before the school year began, newly elected president of the College Republican National Committee Chandler Thornton was quoted in the Chicago Maroon declaring that the "Republican Party is the party of free speech, we're the party of tolerance, we're the party of inclusion, and we will fight for everybody's right to freedom of speech." On campuses across America, one might be forgiven for believing that what he said was true.

And then football season began.

Flag Football

As the National Football League (NFL) opened for business, more players joined an ongoing protest by quarterback Colin Kaepernick in which they stay in the locker room, sit, or kneel during the national anthem as a sign of their concern about police violence against black Americans.

Never one to stay out of a fray, Trump quickly chimed in with his thoughts on the controversy. "I know we have freedoms. And we have freedom of choice and many, many different freedoms. But you know what? It's totally disrespectful," he said at a rally in Alabama. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired. He's fired!'"

Impulsive and intemperate as the president's comments were, they didn't completely miss the mark. Trump acknowledged that First Amendment rights exist. He didn't threaten to take action himself or ask his congressional compatriots to do so. Instead, he urged team owners—private individuals not bound by constitutional limits on government action—to reconsider their terms of employment. The most powerful politician in the country suggesting that someone be fired from his job for expressing a political opinion is not an actual violation of the First Amendment. But it runs perfectly counter to the spirit of the law.

Shortly after his election, Trump posted something to Twitter that came much closer to threatening an actual constitutional violation: "Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag—if they do, there must be consequences—perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail!"

Other high-ranking administration officials couldn't even manage Trumpian levels of subtlety, however. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told ABC News' Martha Raddatz that players "can do free speech on their own time." Employees of the NFL, he said, "have the right to have the First Amendment off the field." Later, during a press gaggle, Trump would attempt to clarify his remarks in Alabama. "This is a great, great country and we have a great flag, and they should respect our flag," he said. "They're making a lot of money. I'm not grudging anything. I'm just saying they have to respect our flag, and have to respect our country."

His invocation of the importance of respecting the flag understandably reminded many observers of something Trump had posted to Twitter shortly after his election—a statement that came much closer to threatening an actual constitutional violation: "Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag—if they do, there must be consequences—perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!"

Astoundingly, Trump's spokesman at the time, Jason Miller, doubled down on his boss's tweet. "I think most Americans would agree with me that flag burning should be illegal," he said on CNN's New Day. "It's completely despicable."

He's wrong about that: Somewhere around 37 percent of Americans support a law to prohibit burning the flag, according to Gallup. What's more, such a move has already been tried—and was soundly rejected by the courts.

"If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable," Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote in his majority opinion in Texas v. Johnson in 1989. "The way to preserve the flag's special role is not to punish those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them that they are wrong."

The Court reaffirmed that sentiment the following year in United States v. Eichman, declaring that "punishing desecration of the flag dilutes the very freedom that makes this emblem so revered, and worth revering."

If the president actually moved to impose harsh penalties for flag burning, he almost certainly would be thwarted at every turn. But the flaws in his understanding of the limits on his power to censor also inform his actions in areas where presidents have historically been granted more latitude.

The Press

Before the election, Donald Trump promised that he would "never kill" journalists, a statement that should be reassuring but somehow isn't.

Trump's relationship with the press has never been easy, but this year the complaints about "fake news" and media bias that peppered his campaign rhetoric have been elevated into something more forceful, though thankfully still well short of assassination. The press, he has said repeatedly, is the "enemy of the people."

Photosmash/iStockPhotosmash/iStockIn response to an unflattering depiction of himself on Saturday Night Live, Trump tweeted that "it is a totally one-sided, biased show—nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?" In October, he returned to the same well: "Late Night host are dealing with the Democrats for their very 'unfunny' & repetitive material, always anti-Trump! Should we get Equal Time?" And then: "More and more people are suggesting that Republicans (and me) should be given Equal Time on T.V."

Trump's capitalization of "Equal Time" suggests that he might have been referring to the Equal Time Rule, a rather narrow law requiring broadcasters to offer equivalent airtime to all candidates for a public office. But unless Alec Baldwin declares for president in 2020, it's not clear how this rule is relevant to snippy comedy shows.

He may instead have been thinking of the Fairness Doctrine, a related rule in effect from 1949 to 1987, which required broadcasters to "afford reasonable opportunity for discussion of conflicting views on matters of public importance." The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eventually killed the regulation after concluding that it violated the First Amendment. To demand balanced coverage from SNL, the president would probably have to reinstate that doctrine—and given that enforcement ended in semi-authoritarian confusion the last time it was tried, it's unlikely to go better this time around.

As a historical side note: After Barack Obama was elected, there were rumors that he would restore the Fairness Doctrine in an effort to kill right-wing TV and radio. There's no evidence that he actually planned to pursue this, though there has long been a cadre of progressives keen on revival. Nevertheless, a few Republicans introduced a bill to prevent him from doing so. Among them, one Mike Pence.

But Trump has made more concrete threats as well.

"With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!" the president tweeted in October. "Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!"

The FCC doesn't actually license NBC, the corporation that produces the network news—only individual broadcast stations. But the allocation and regulation of broadcast permits has long been an underrated source of press-chilling power. An NBC executive should not be thinking twice about the tone of a segment because the president directly threatened his company's primary distribution method. That is the very definition of the chilling effect on free speech.

Some Republicans and high-ranking officials have pushed back. "Mr. President: Words spoken by the President of the United States matter," tweeted Sen. Ben Sasse (R–Neb.). "Are you tonight recanting of the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect, and defend the First Amendment?" Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was more concise, simply tweeting: "Not how it works."

Threatening licenses is a maneuver that has tempted many presidents: Richard Nixon tried it during the Watergate era in an attempt to punish The Washington Post (which also held licenses for television stations at the time), and Franklin Delano Roosevelt successfully reined in hostile media by shortening the period for broadcast license renewals from three years to six months.

Trump has also said he wants to "open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money." In March, he re-upped that idea on Twitter: "The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?"

Speaking from the Oval Office in October, he added menacingly, "It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it."

Will the president find inspiration abroad? In September, he told the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah, that he was "very, very honored and happy to know that you have problems with the media also." Kuwait ranks 104th in Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index.

ACLU, But Not for You

OK, so maybe the press is under attack. Thank goodness we have powerful, longstanding institutions dedicated to protecting all speech, regardless of content.

Oops. Bad news on that front, too.

This summer, local ACLU lawyers sued after a group called Unite the Right was denied a permit for a gathering in Charlottesville. It looked like business as usual—a routine defense of controversial speech on the part of the organization that famously defended neo-Nazis who wanted to march through Skokie, a predominantly Jewish suburb of Chicago, in 1978.

Threatening broadcast licenses is a maneuver that has tempted many presidents: Richard Nixon tried it during Watergate. FDR successfully reined in hostile media by shortening renewal periods. Will Trump be next?

Everything changed after a driver murdered counter-protester Heather Heyer by plunging his car into a crowd of people in the Virginia college town. When the rally tipped from a locally polarizing event to a national tragedy, longstanding internal tensions at the civil liberties nonprofit came into sharp relief.

Waldo Jaquith, a member of the board of the ACLU of Virginia, resigned his position, characterizing the group's support for the right to gather as "a fig leaf for the Nazis." Shortly afterward, national head Anthony Romero announced that the ACLU would no longer stick up for the speech rights of people who are holding firearms—an odd response to a protest where the violence was committed via automobile, not semi-automatic. "If a protest group insists, 'No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,'" Romero told The Wall Street Journal, "well, we don't have to represent them. They can find someone else."

It is, of course, the ACLU's perfect right to spend its donors' money defending whomever it pleases. The move was likely a conciliatory gesture offered in response to backlash from some local chapters. But begging off of certain classes of protesters weakens the group's position in the fight to protect all speech.

Finally, in the first week of October, about 200 ACLU staffers—out of 1,300—signed an open letter arguing in favor of restrictions on hate speech, a proposed departure from the group's long, laudable history. "Our broader mission—which includes advancing the racial justice guarantees in the Constitution and elsewhere, not just the First Amendment—continues to be undermined by our rigid stance," the letter reads.

The group has long been torn between its liberal roots and its civil libertarian mission. Of late, the ACLU is flush with anti-Trump cash. Donations poured in after its fast, strong opposition to early moves by the new president to restrict immigration drew national attention. But those donors and even some newly hired employees may be less committed to the group's historical mission and thus were shocked when the ACLU did what it has always done: vigorously defend unpopular speech. Whether these more progressive supporters will shape the organization's mission in the long run remains to be seen, but there have certainly been concessions in the short run.

None of which appears to have successfully staunched the reputational bleeding. In October, students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement crashed an event at the College of William & Mary featuring the American Civil Liberties Union's own Claire Gastañaga, an alum of the school. She was scheduled to speak on the subject "Students and the First Amendment" but was bullied to silence with cries of "ACLU, you protect Hitler, too," "the revolution will not uphold the Constitution," and "liberalism is white supremacy."

The People

The last bulwark of our liberties is the people. Surely they will rise up to defend their own freedoms?

After Charlottesville, seemingly every pollster in America sprang into action to do a quick temperature check of the nation's views on free speech. The results were not encouraging.

John Ramspott/Creative CommonsJohn Ramspott/Creative CommonsA survey by the Brookings Institution found that 19 percent of undergraduate respondents agree it is acceptable for a student group to use violence to prevent a "controversial" campus speaker from "making offensive and hurtful statements." Similar numbers showed up in polls by McLaughlin & Associates and The Economist* taken around the same period, suggesting that the finding of one in five college students condoning violence against speech was not an outlier.

In September, to celebrate the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, the Annenberg Public Policy Center conducted a survey of its own. Asked what rights the First Amendment protects, fewer than half of American adults were able to dig up "freedom of speech" and only 14 percent managed "freedom of the press." A full 37 percent couldn't name any First Amendment rights at all.

When broken down by party, pollsters found a more complicated but similarly worrying story.

A poll conducted by the Cato Institute's Emily Ekins (formerly of Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this magazine) in conjunction with YouGov found that 72 percent of Republicans say colleges and universities are not doing enough "to teach young Americans about the value of free speech" and 90 percent think political correctness is "a big problem this country has." Around seven in 10 agree with the statement that "people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions in public, even those that are deeply offensive to other people," compared to less than five in 10 Democrats.

But further queries reveal deeply confused views about those same topics: 72 percent of Republicans would support making it illegal for an American to burn or desecrate the flag, and 53 percent favor Trump's idea of stripping flag burners of their U.S. citizenship. Nearly two-thirds say they would like to see NFL players fired for failing to stand during the anthem.

A full 63 percent of Republicans agree with the president that the press is "an enemy of the people," and half say journalists have too much freedom. Only about a third of overall respondents agreed with those sentiments, putting Republicans solidly in the camp more disposed to censorship. Two in five respondents say government should prevent hate speech, although 82 percent agree it would be "hard to ban hate speech because people can't agree what speech is hateful."

Americans, it seems, aren't too sure they want free expression after all—at least not for the people espousing views they don't like.

Not Silenced, But Muted

Conservatives are right to worry about progressive incursions on speech. But this autumn, the more dire threat was not from the left.

Even on the college speech issue, the right's record is mixed. Going into the school year, 22 states were considering laws to protect free speech on campus. But while some of that legislation establishes reasonable protections for student speech, including a few bills modeled on a template developed by FIRE, others looked more like punitive measures aimed at Black Lives Matter and likeminded groups.

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents voted in October to suspend or expel students found guilty of "disorderly conduct" that disrupts others' ability to communicate. In other words, the very student activists agitating for limits on outside speech may be the ones who soon find themselves censored.

The people wielding those "No Free Speech for Fascists" placards don't really know what they're asking for. If the justification for restrictions on the speech of one man is violence committed by another, there can be no end to the litany of people who may be gagged in the name of order.

Extremism is generally frowned upon in American politics, and rightly so. But defense of speech rights is one place where absolutism is not only healthy but necessary. A bipartisan world in which everyone gives in a little on the edges—in which we sneak some limits on hate speech into our laws and keep folks who carry guns from yelling too loud—is a world slipping its way down a dangerous slope, where neither the trusty ACLU nor even very many principled citizens can be relied upon to fight for unpopular expression.

Even now, our rights to say what we please are not completely sacrosanct. There are limits on speech in the workplace, on the airwaves, and in crowded tinderbox theaters. But this fall's softening of strong views on speech from the left and the right further collapses the window of acceptable views for the rest of us.

If the fascists and racists and unfunny comedians are to lose their free speech rights, someone must take them. And if you believe, as many of the Charlottesville counter-protesters do, that white nationalists and their brethren are emboldened by the presence of a man in the White House who sees them as part of his coalition, then why on God's good green Earth would you want to hand that man the right to censor those he believes are unworthy? To decide what constitutes a fair balance or equal time for controversial opinions? To expand the definition of libel? To take away people's passports for burning a flag?

Needless to say, the list of folks Trump and the restive-but-still-Republican Congress would like to mute won't look at all like the list progressive campus agitators have in mind.

To chip away at the First Amendment now is to hand a unified Republican government the power to regulate speech. And if that happens, the vision of the activist left—one where hateful words are banned and no one is made to feel uncomfortable by dissenting opinions—will not be the reality that greets us. Instead, what we'll get will look an awful lot like the beginning of the end for free speech.

In the first week of November, a mistake at Twitter HQ deactivated the president's account on the platform for 11 minutes. The internet joked and conspiracy-mongered over the short outage, but even the brief loss of his preferred method of communication must have left the president feeling lost, bewildered, and disempowered. He should consider how the rest of us will feel if he does the same to us.

* A previous version of this sentence said that a poll by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) showed similar results. In fact, 13 percent of students said they associated hate speech with violence and 1 percent said they would commit violence themselves, but FIRE did not ask a directly comparable question.

Photo Credit: RichVintage/iStock

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  • DaveSs||

    In the first week of November, a mistake at Twitter HQ deactivated the president's account on the platform for 11 minutes

    As I recall, that was not a mistake. It was a deliberate action.

  • Hugh Akston||

    It was both, actually. He deliberately put the account into the queue, but there are apparently other layers of approval that it needs to go through before it got deactivated.

  • Quixote||

    This discussion of a tawdry, and of course unsuccessful, effort to silence our national leader at Twitter is a distraction from the absolute bankruptcy of the "free speech" nonsense we keep hearing about from the fake news media. 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/

  • tommhan||

    No it was not both, it was certainly deliberate.

  • Devastator||

    It was intentional, but there were supposed to be checks in place to spot a corporate peasant from cancelling the account of the Chief Dorito. So yeah an accident did allow it as well. Not everything in this world in black and white. There is some orange in there as well.

  • Provocateur||

    Another detail, but it bugs me if you wish to have a rational rather than emotion-strewn debate (and certainly not to defend the VIEWS of the far right, but rather, not to unfairly impune their actions or motives):

    "Everything changed after a driver murdered counter-protester Heather Heyer by plunging his car into a crowd of people"

    I don't see how this rises to the level of "murder". His vehicle was being asaulted, and he gunned the gas into the crowd, one could generously assume in order to escape said assault.

    At most, this is highly negligent manslaughter, and the crowd (counterprotestors) who where striking his vehicle with clubs should share a smaller portion of the blame.

    Let's not add fuel to the fire with hyperbole, please.

  • Devastator||

    He is a 1st degree murderer, he knew exactly what he was doing and he placed himself in a position to accomplish it.

  • Fancylad||

    Oh, you were there? He told you ahead of time?

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  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Nothing about Friday's media kerfuffle re Wikileaks and whether emails were released to Trump on September 4th or the 14th? They seemed to think, based on "multiple sources" that they had him in the bag, and then they didn't and it just all went poof.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "But as the weather cooled, the GOP revealed its true colors. Led by an increasingly vehement and erratic President Donald Trump, the same party that was poised to die on the hill of free speech when it was being threatened by angry progressives was suddenly ready to eliminate First Amendment rights on the football field, revoke citizenship for flag burning, pull broadcast licenses over bad comedy sketches, and expand libel laws to take down annoying members of the media. There are greater threats to speech, it turns out, than a bunch of angry co-eds.

  • Ken Shultz||

    This is a list of threats made by the president, that don't necessarily reflect the "true colors" of Republican voters.

    It's a different story on the left. The threats to free speech on campus aren't being led by college administrators--they're being inflicted on colleges administrations by the progressive grass roots. Forcing Christians to bake cakes for gay weddings is far more popular with average progressive voters than violating the free speech rights of NFL players is with registered Republicans. Hate speech laws are more popular with the progressives we meet every day, but using libel laws is to sue journalists or pulling the broadcast license of NBC over comedy sketches at SNL were threats made by the president--not a reflection of the "true colors" of Republican voters.

  • Cyto||

    The difference with the NFL kerfuffle is that GOP loudmouths were merely stating a fact...... that you don't have the constitutional right to protest on company time. They are signaling their base with bloviation, that is all.

    Call me back when they start using the power of the state to silence the opposition.

    Heck, so far they aren't even using the heckler's veto. They are just being loudmouth douchebags.

  • MayneDeWayne||

    Actually, you do have a constitutional right to protest on company time. The fact is, that an employer can let you go for doing so, but no one is coming to arrest the person that engages in a protest when they are supposed to be working.

  • tommhan||

    Nail meet head

  • mtrueman||

    " that you don't have the constitutional right to protest on company time."

    Once upon a time, these constitutional rights were inalienable.

  • BearOdinson||

    This is a perfect example of deliberately misconstruing what was meant. Do these players have a right to do this at any time without the fear of being arrested? Yes. And even then, up until the point at which their employer fires them, and then they are trespassing.

    Do these players have a right to this on company time without the fear of being fired? No.

  • mtrueman||

    "This is a perfect example of deliberately misconstruing what was meant."

    I made the mistake of not consulting your mind reader.

    "Do these players have a right to this on company time without the fear of being fired?"

    'Company time' is irrelevant. An employer can fire an employee for just about anything, even actions taken during 'personal time.'

  • Trollificus||

    As witness the number of people (almost exclusively on the right, IIRC) who've been canned for personal posts and tweets, posting to or joining an objectionable site or criticizing certain inviolable progressive precepts.

  • MarioLanza||

    Thank you for posting this important point. The author invokes the first amendment in the NFL protests. I have never seen anyone voicing the opinion that these misguided fools couldn't protest. The leftist's cry, "But, but,...the first amendment!!!"

    Meanwhile Google fires a guy for writing a memo questioning the PC position on women in computer industry backed up with references, etc.

    And it isn't just google. Mozilla fired Brendan Eich for acting according to his Catholic beliefs and opposing same sex marriage.

    And many more.

    Free speech is under attack by the Left and the left alone.

  • EscherEnigma||

    If a business firing someone because they feel that person doesn't represent them well is a violation of Free Speech, then Free Speech is in direct opposition to Free Markets.

  • Lester224||

    Being fired is not the same as being jailed.

  • tommhan||

    You truly have no understanding of free speech and law.

  • Egypt Steve||

    The players' obligation depends on their individual contracts and the union contracts with the NFL and their respective owners. If their contracts say that players have to stand during the Anthem, then they have to do that or pay whatever penalty the contract specifies for breach. If there's nothing in their contracts about behavior during the Anthem, then they can sit, stand, lie down or do jumping jacks.

  • retiredfire||

    Does a contract have to spell out each, and every, possible action a player could perform that would be grounds for termination?
    I think most have vague provisions such as "bringing discredit to the team" and such that covers many activities that would not be a specific action prescribed, but still a firing offense, especially if warned.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Indeed, this is a large difference between the campus activists of the past and today's illiberal activists.

    During the cultural revolutions of the 60s, the general tenor of activism was questioning all authority and demanding that authority prove its legitimacy.

    Today's campus activists are diametrically opposite. They demand that authority silence their political enemies, and often take their own measures in doing so, while maintaining an ideological echo chamber within entire academic apartments, along with a bloated administration (that is a large part of soaring tuition costs).

  • MarioLanza||

    Shrieking girl: As a master, it your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students that live in silliman. You have not done that. By sending out that email you have not done that.

    Yale Professor: No. I don't agree with that.

    Shrieking girl: Then what the f&%* did you accept the position? Who the f&%* hired you? If that is what...you should step down. It is not about creating an intellectual thing. It is not. Do you understand that? It is about creating a home here. You are not doing that. People are going to leave, they are going to transfer because you are force of disunity. You should not sleep at night. You are disgusting.

  • Nuwanda||

    Damn straight.

    Further "There are greater threats to speech, it turns out, than a bunch of angry co-eds."

    Mangu-Ward misses the point that it's those co-eds that are the actual future intellectuals and leaders of the United States, and the statistics don't bode well.

    Trump is a pragmatist and Johnny-cum-lately to many things. We expect nothing more than inconsistency. The difference on the Left is the degree of organisation, strategy and tactics, all tested and effective: machine intellectuals and machine activists, in lockstep, advancing the ball slowly but surely. The Right is very late comer to that kind of thing and it's generally organised along the lines of the defence of free speech, not its wholesale destruction.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The threat progressives present to free speech is far more formidable and real because it's coming from the grass roots up rather than just a bunch of braggadocio by the president--and there is a reason for that. There isn't anything fundamentally anti-free speech about the central tenets of the GOP, whatever they are, but the central tenet of progressives is hostile to individual rights. Being a progressive is all about using the coercive power of government to force individuals to make sacrifices for what progressives see as the common good. That is why average progressives present a serious threat to the individual right of free speech, but when pointing to free speech "threats" on the right, we're relegated to a list of tweets written by Donald Trump.

  • Eric||

    "That is why average progressives present a serious threat to the individual right of free speech, but when pointing to free speech "threats" on the right, we're relegated to a list of tweets written by Donald Trump."

    She dedicated a whole paragraph providing statistics showing that most Republicans agree with Trump's list of tweets.

  • BearOdinson||

    The entirety of polling data related to Republicans in her article:

    But further queries reveal deeply confused views about those same topics: 72 percent of Republicans would support making it illegal for an American to burn or desecrate the flag, and 53 percent favor Trump's idea of stripping flag burners of their U.S. citizenship. Nearly two-thirds say they would like to see NFL players fired for failing to stand during the anthem.

    A full 63 percent of Republicans agree with the president that the press is "an enemy of the people," and half say journalists have too much freedom. Only about a third of overall respondents agreed with those sentiments, putting Republicans solidly in the camp more disposed to censorship.

    3/4 believe flag burning should be made illegal. We can disagree, but this is 1 particular item in a sea of free speech issues.
    2/3 say NFL players should be fired. Guess what, this isn't a government issue.
    Half say journalists have too much freedom. I would like to see the question, but journalists having special privileges is NOT the same as free speech. This is something I see confused all the time here. Free speech is the right of ANYONE to publish or say whatever they want. Journalists routinely refer to the freedom of the press to mean "The Press". But a person in the PJs at home on the PC should have exactly the same rights as the anchor on CNN.

  • Hank Phillips||

    George Holy War Bush wanted the Constitution amended to punish flag-burning... that and the death sentence for marijuana. (This is in his online presidential papers.)

  • MarioLanza||

    I certainly agree that the current press is the enemy of the people. It is a sometimes the puppet and sometimes the puppet master of the Big Brother. It is on the side of restricting free speech. It portrays Antifa in a positive light. (How about the article on Antifa fashion sense, google "What to Wear to Smash the State - The New York Times" but you will probably barf.) Antifa is Hitler's brown shirts or Mao's red guard.

    The press is actively pushing speech codes and suppressing honest debate.

    It is the enemy.

  • tommhan||

    Not only does it seem the media is our enemy but many politicians on both sides also. They forget who it was that elected them and that they are supposed to represent and vote by personal opinion or for the wishes of their large campaign donors rather than what the voters want back home.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "But further queries reveal deeply confused views about those same topics: 72 percent of Republicans would support making it illegal for an American to burn or desecrate the flag, and 53 percent favor Trump's idea of stripping flag burners of their U.S. citizenship. Nearly two-thirds say they would like to see NFL players fired for failing to stand during the anthem."

    Does the term "framing" mean anything to you?

    Ask them if they think immigrants should be deported for burning the flag, yeah, I'm sure you get one answer. Meanwhile, KMW quotes another statistic that says only "37 percent of Americans support a law to prohibit burning the flag". Ask them whether they oppose a constitutional amendment to prohibit burning the flag, and I bet you'd get yet another answer. That first statistic is likely registering Republican frustration with illegal immigration--it's not indicative of some ideologically consistent opposition to free speech.

    Again, opposition to free speech isn't a by product of some other issue progressives care about. Progressive ideology is fundamentally hostile to individual rights and free speech--no, you should not be free to say things that are not in the interests of the common good as progressives define it.

  • Trollificus||

    Which "common good", i.e.: that for which we are supposed to sacrifice wealth, labor and freedoms, invariably morphs, of necessity, into "the good of the Party".

  • Trollificus||

    Which "common good", i.e.: that for which we are supposed to sacrifice wealth, labor and freedoms, invariably morphs, of necessity, into "the good of the Party".

  • tommhan||

    Many of us just deplore the politics in sports and will just not watch. How many companies would let themselves continue to lose customers because of employee actions and not punish those employees? We are not against free speech but against being captive audience to their reprehensible behavior and not being able to enjoy sports we have enjoyed for decades because being left frustrated and angry enough to just turn it off. Those deluded players of arrogance are ruining what has been a cash cow for minorities. The owners proved how much they care about the fans when they gave the commissioner 200 million contract over the next 5 years. I am many more are done.

  • Ken Shultz||

    As far as two-thirds saying they'd like to see the NFL fire players for refusing to stand for the national anthem, I can't say I don't feel that way myself--and I'm as solidly pro-free speech as anybody here. Individual grievances don't become more persuasive for being added together to make a list longer. There isn't anything anti-free speech about wanting to see employees fired by their employers for obnoxious behavior. If I think restaurant managers should fire their waiters for being obnoxious and rude, does that make me anti-free speech, too?

  • tommhan||

    Not to mention how long would you keep your job if you caused your employer to lose a lot of customers?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "A full 63 percent of Republicans agree with the president that the press is "an enemy of the people," and half say journalists have too much freedom. Only about a third of overall respondents agreed with those sentiments, putting Republicans solidly in the camp more disposed to censorship."

    ---KMW

    Incidentally, this is indicative of wider trends.

    The following is taken from the most interesting poll I've seen in years. The poll was conducted by Gallup on September 14, 2016, just a couple of weeks before Trump was elected president. Here's the gist of it:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' trust and confidence in the mass media "to report the news fully, accurately and fairly" has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from last year.

    . . . .

    Republicans who say they have trust in the media has plummeted to 14% from 32% a year ago. This is easily the lowest confidence among Republicans in 20 years.

    . . . .

    Democrats' and independents' trust in the media has declined only marginally, with 51% of Democrats (compared with 55% last year) and 30% of independents (versus 33% last year) expressing trust.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Here's the link:

    https://tinyurl.com/y9kdungw

    I maintain that Trump didn't just win in spite of the media coverage. He won because of it.

    Again, I'm not sure we're properly gauging Republicans' commitment to freedom of speech in those numbers KMW quoted so much as we're gauging Republicans' hostility to the elitists in the press.

    I suspect the national regard for the press has dropped even further since Trump was elected. The glib exodus we saw from the Reasonoid peanut gallery even seems to have coincided with the national trend--and those guys are all pro-free speech. Journalists may imagine that hostility to the press and hostility to freedom of speech are the same thing, but they're not.

  • mtrueman||

    We like free speech but hate the free press.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Maybe more like, "We don't like the people in the press and the way they're doing their job".

    Here's an open letter from the White House press corps promising to oppose Trump in a united front printed in the Colombia Journalism Review.

    https://tinyurl.com/m4csxr2

    Pretty much everything we get in the news about the president originates from someone who signed onto that. That sucks. The White House press corps sucks, and that's completely independent of how I or anyone else feels about their right to suck.

  • mtrueman||

    Surely you're not against open letters to the president, even coming from reporters you personally dislike. Is there something in the contents of the letter that you dislike?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm pointing out that the White House press corps has been openly hostile to the president since day one, and it should be no surprise to anybody to find that registered Republicans are, likewise, hostile to elitists in the press. For the third time, there's a difference between hostility to the people in the press and how they do their jobs and hostility to freedom of the press--even if one seems to bleed into the other at a time when the media has become especially hostile to a Republican president.

    You see that 14% who think the media is fair? If 86% of Republicans think the media is being woefully untruthful in its coverage, and only half of them think the media has too much freedom, then the other half are being so magnanimous, it's amazing. If half of Republicans agreed that the press corps should be fed to tigers, right now, I wouldn't interpret that as hostility to the First Amendment--certainly not because of anything ideological about Republicans. I'd interpret that as hostility to the people in the press and the way they do their jobs.

  • mtrueman||

    " that registered Republicans are, likewise, hostile to elitists in the press. "

    I would change that to 'hostile to reporters in the press,' and reporters are not the elites of the press. They do the grunt work and are paid employees who can be fired any time for almost any reason by their bosses. It's these bosses who are the elites in the business and Republicans rarely show antipathy toward owners of large businesses.

    If reporters prefer Democrats, that shouldn't be too surprising as the Democrats have long styled themselves as the party of the working class and have taken hundreds of millions of $US from the unions over the years. There are plenty of people who work in the press who are Republican in spite of this. George Will has been writing for as long as I can remember, to choose one of my faves.

    Dwindling faith in our institutions like the police, press, politics, is something I'm afraid we're just gonna hafta get used to.

  • MarioLanza||

    The press was completely in the tank for Harpie Hillary.

    Question: NBC news certainly had the infamous trump tape. Why did they release it, only after Trump had clinched the nomination?

    Just an accident, I'm sure. Just like the Roy Moore 40 year old accusations were published by the WaPo after he clinched the nomination in a close primary.

    The press is supposed to print the news. what we have is blatant manipulation of the political process.

  • mtrueman||

    "The press was completely in the tank for Harpie Hillary."

    The press is free to print what it sees fit.

    "Question: NBC news certainly had the infamous trump tape. Why did they release it, only after Trump had clinched the nomination?"

    I dunno. Don't really care much either.

    "what we have is blatant manipulation of the political process."

    So what? Blatant does not mean effective.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Hahahahahaha... whaddaya mean "we" Paleface? I do not read the looter press OR vote for its predatory political parties. I am having more 6 to 21 times more fun as a yellow-dog libertarian than all the looters in Altruria and Freehold, Iowa, combined. Every time a mess of spoiler votes repeals a stack of force-initiating laws, I laugh all the way to the bank.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Well, there's "free" press, and "fair" press. Never the twain shall meet.

  • Hank Phillips||

    There is something to what Ken sez. I quit watching government-licensed teevee when Police State and Police Woman replaced the nationalsocialist Mod Squad on the Altruist Broadcasting Corporation, Nationalsocialist Broadcasting Corporation and Communist Broadcasting System in 1974, and soon switched to Access to Energy, Physics Today, Reason and The Web. The time I saved allowed me to read at least another 400 books and spared me much disgust. I notice that folks I enjoy, like Rudy Heller at realclimatescience dotcom, also dispense with Party-controlled telescreens. The Nixon-subsidized looter press will get as much sympathy as attention from me. Democrats and Republicans are welcome to initiate all the deadly force in the world against each other, and I will watch them die with grim equanimity not unmixed with schadenfreude.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    "I maintain that Trump didn't just win in spite of the media coverage. He won because of it."

    Yep, the biased press, with a majority inclined to support Hillary, just could not help itself. Chasing clicks, and indulging its own desire for attention, they trumpeted every stupid thing the Donald said and did. And while they won the daily headline race for attention, their preferred candidate lost the longer term prize (and now they sulk).

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    The "32%" number astounds me. I would not have thought that anyone in this country has trust and confidence in the mass media "to report the news fully, accurately and fairly".

  • tommhan||

    Those figures may be true but no matter which corner you are in they are very large numbers of those that do not trust media.

  • wearingit||

    Yeah.....sure.....

    "This side does it but it's different because...reasons. The other side is the real danger."

  • Mickey Rat||

    The Democrats have done a bit more to make their problems with free speech laws.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Are you saying that progressives aren't hostile to individual rights when they conflict with what progressives view as the common good? Are you saying that using the coercive power of government to force people to make sacrifices isn't their central tenet? Are you saying that progressives' hostility to free speech isn't a function of their central tenet?

    Or are you just building a straw man?

  • JuanQPublic||

    The threat progressives present to free speech is far more formidable and real because it's coming from the grass roots up rather than just a bunch of braggadocio by the president

    The political left is now merely a movement of reactionaries, void of any principle or ideas, steeped in their own orthodoxy. It's reasonable to believe that conservatives, on a very general level, are actually more open to challenging their own views than most progressives today.

    Any movement that exists around reaction only doesn't survive, and history tells us that.

  • DajjaI||

    At the risk of getting banned again by Reason - great to see them touting free speech! I think that's great!

  • TGoodchild||

    I am perplexed that more than one year after his election, Trump's silly tirades continue to be confused with (i) what he actually thinks and (ii) legitimate policy prescriptions. They are fckng tweets, specifically designed to ruffle feathers and, probably, distract voters and the gullible MSM.

  • Azathoth!!||

    At this point you can't help but think of that 'Trump's playing 4D chess' stupidity people are always going on about.

    Frankly ,though, I think Trumps playing solitaire and the left, the media and far too much of the Libertarian establishment is sitting in their crib, smearing their own shit on themselves, thinking, infantilely, that they're clever,

  • Ram0166||

    Ha ha! You are spot on!

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    I rather tend to think that Trump's playing 52-card-pickup, daring everyone else to keep up. By the time anyone does manage to get all the cards off the floor at least one more deck has hit the air.

  • 57nomad||

    He's trying to distract the voters from the booming economy?

  • buybuydandavis||

    ready to eliminate First Amendment rights on the football field

    This is how dumb Reason gets in their attempts to make the Left and the Right morally equivalent.

    Somehow jocks paid to chase a ball around on a big grassy stage for the entertainment of others are having their first amendment rights violated if their employer objects to them staging a Hate America First rally while on the clock and on the stage they've provided.

  • mtrueman||

    I think if the employers object they can fire any employee for just about any reason, or none at all.

  • Trollificus||

    Yes, in theory. Also, IN FACT, for the vast majority of American workers. But the NFL (and other sports leagues) employ a very select class of workers and the owners of the teams can't afford to alienate them.

    Too bad, coz it's a stupid protest, in part because they're taking their cues from idiot progressives but mostly because they are shortsightedly trying to make it "all about us brothas" when the problem of rogue cops, corruption, excessive force and militarization of our police forces should be a concern for EVERYBODY. IF there's a problem with racism in the police forces or inappropriate profiling, it would be just ONE of many.

  • mtrueman||

    "employ a very select class of workers and the owners of the teams can't afford to alienate them."

    I think the owners, like the employees, are urbanites from such burgs as San Francisco and New York and are naturally more progressive than the sorry specimens dwelling in flyover country.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    That's the "employment at will" doctrine. It is a common law concept, and so a contract can limit or even abrogate that doctrine completely. I do not know one way or the other if that is the case with NFL contracts

  • mtrueman||

    " It is a common law concept, and so a contract can limit or even abrogate that doctrine completely."

    I'm not going to argue the legalities of the matter, except to point out that every NFL franchise has a crack team of lawyers beavering away for 8 hours every day within a few steps from the boss's office. The ability to wriggle out of contracts is the bread and butter of your typical corporate lawyer.

  • daBoss||

    Not true. You can fire anybody for violating any of the conditions set out in an employee manual under conditions of employment. If you are silly enough not to have one of those you will default to whatever the common law understanding of unrestricted employee behaviour might be.

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    It is not dumb, it is designed that way. Draw unequal comparisons so that one can be dismissed, and by default only the other side is guilty.

    You are the dumb one if you do not see that

  • XM||

    A white nationalist can wave the confederate flag and tell me to "go back to China". He has a right to do so. If I'm pissed enough, I can ask his employer to fire him, or demand to know if that kind of behavior is accepted in his place of business.

    If I some employee at Mcdonalds is known to visit Nazi blogs but don't discriminate in the workplace, I'll probably leave him alone. Because even though his personal beliefs are abhorrent, he's kept it to himself.

    There's nothing wrong with being incensed over actions that are INTENDED to slight certain groups and provoke. Being a anti-PC person that I am, I might call for consequences if slant eyed Asians caricatures were used in a car commercials. It would be reasonable for people to remain silent during moments of silence or wear black even though the 1A does not mandate. If someone attended my mother's funeral dressed in a bikini, I would mention this to her employer, and do much more. It's not an attack of any form against the "Spirit" or 1A.

    Some people get upset when white people wear an Afro. If you're asking someone to be fired because you sort of disagree with his point of view, then that's arguably against the spirit of free speech.

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    Some people get upset when white people wear an Afro.

    Props on choosing wisely the one example that illustrated this issue, plainly.

  • Fancylad||

    Some people get upset when white people wear an Afro.
    Art Garfunkel, Phil Spector and Seth Rogan wept.

  • XM||

    A white nationalist can wave the confederate flag and tell me to "go back to China". He has a right to do so. If I'm pissed enough, I can ask his employer to fire him, or demand to know if that kind of behavior is accepted in his place of business.

    If I some employee at Mcdonalds is known to visit Nazi blogs but don't discriminate in the workplace, I'll probably leave him alone. Because even though his personal beliefs are abhorrent, he's kept it to himself.

    There's nothing wrong with being incensed over actions that are INTENDED to slight certain groups and provoke. Being a anti-PC person that I am, I might call for consequences if slant eyed Asians caricatures were used in a car commercials. It would be reasonable for people to remain silent during moments of silence or wear black even though the 1A does not mandate. If someone attended my mother's funeral dressed in a bikini, I would mention this to her employer, and do much more. It's not an attack of any form against the "Spirit" or 1A.

    Some people get upset when white people wear an Afro. If you're asking someone to be fired because you sort of disagree with his point of view, then that's arguably against the spirit of free speech.

  • Finrod||

    Personally, I'm against people's freedom of speech to post the same damn thing twice in a row.

  • seahorsedan||

    I am both white and a nationalist, but not a "white nationalist" by MSMs conflated new speak definition. I am not ashamed of my race nor my country. Ethnocentric maybe, racist never. I confess to taking some pride that nearly every preferential benefit in society today — college scholarships, college admissions, job hiring, job advancement, social credibility, legal immunity and so on — is granted to non-White people and question why there is still no more volatile weapon than race baiting better suited for the MSM Globalists divide and conquer strategy to sellout our sovereignty. The fact that White nationalists made that happen since the early 1970s belies their conflated word definition. When the DNC and Crooked Hillary's "she don't lie" faction of the Democrat party labeled Bernie Sanders a "Racist" and now anyone who favors limited immigration a xenophobe and then digs into the horror files of history for vile names to call anyone they disagree with. I can only shake my head and express my revulsion and profound disapproval here on these click bait boards. Long live the first amendment and click bait boards.
    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. Beware of the 5th column, they never sleep.

  • zombietimeshare||

    "Republicans, as is their habit of late, have positioned themselves as the defenders of First Amendment freedoms" resulting in leftists, progressives, and liberals running to their safe places while screaming racism, fascism, and a litany of other -isms, and demanding the silencing and prosecution of all whom they disagree. In the name of free speech, of course.

  • Ram0166||

    What a load of disengenuous horse shit. Trump making idle threats about libel laws and licensing is not "the right" threatening free speech. Neither is the customers of the NFL telling their overpaid spoiled ignorant entertainers that they really don't want hear or see their stupid Marxist political views while they are paying $150 bucks to see them play.

    Reason has become the bastion of little Marxists snowflakes who don't difference between freedom and the big stupid pie holes in their faces. Stop calling yourselves libertarians. You're not. You're a bunch of globalist anti-American whores.

  • Drake||

    Yeah, because YOU'RE the real libertarian, right fucko? Yeah, of course. You probably think Trump's a libertarian too, don't you dipshit? You just don't like it when your precious messiah gets bashed. Awww, poor baby. Hell, I'm sure you'd make it illegal if you could, LOL. Who's the snowflake again?

    Idle threats? Haha. If this was Obongo spewing that shit you'd be screaming about the coming police state, and you'd be right to. But since it's your orange godking you'll suck him off every chance you get, you sniveling little fuck.

    And by "marxist" views I'm just gonna assume you're virtue signaling your "blue lives matter" love for cops, which means you're just another copsucking statist faggot. Now run along, son; you've got some Trump cock to gobble.

  • Drake||

    BTW, it's pretty fucking telling that this retard isolated just one piece out of a pretty lengthy article and, of course, it's about Trump. He just couldn't bear it. Fucking cultist, hahaha.

  • retiredfire||

    Dude: Unhinge much?
    Sounds like Old Ram0166 really hit a raw nerve.
    P.S. Using terms like "copsucking", "faggot" and "Trump cock to gobble" as insults, kinda puts you in the homophobe category.

  • Fancylad||

    Lol, what the hell's with that. Did someone hide your Adderall?

  • daBoss||

    Most of the people who babble on about restricting free speech do so because they know they do not have the power to enact their beliefs. It's virtue signalling at its best. Most of the commentators to this article - the ones who argue from the absolutism of free and unrestricted speech are guilty of the same sin. But in both cases it makes for good arguments, I suppose.

    You can say whatever you want to in America, that is clear. If you are stupid enough to broadcast it on social media you will suffer an appropriate 'tax' on your stupidity. I'm sure that Justice Roberts would argue the tax issue in the same manner. For God's sake if you are going to carry a concealed weapon why would you let everyone on the social media universe know about it? Just shut up and carry the gun.

    BTW, Trump bashers, Trump has singlehandedly lead the fight to clean up bias in the mainstream media by forcing them to respond, a bit of tactical genius and something that has not happened in recent memory, The fact that you consider his methods distasteful are irrelevant, Mr. and Ms. Free Speech Advocate.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Thanks for the nationalsocialist sockpuppet perspective. There is another expression even better than Holly Hunter absolutism, and that is integrity. Non-socialists thrive on it.

  • Nuwanda||

    Your post is confused, but there's some truth in: "Trump has singlehandedly lead the fight to clean up bias in the mainstream media by forcing them to respond, a bit of tactical genius and something that has not happened in recent memory"

    It's not tactical genius. That's just Trump's personality. Twitter has simply allowed him a megaphone to exercise that personality.

    But, yes, by doing so he has indeed forced the issue inciting many bad actors to lose their composure, or recant, or double down, or just look plain stupid.

  • Bob Armstrong||

    To me it's the attacks on RT.com which are most disturbing . They are actual infringements .

  • Hank Phillips||

    What impeccable writing! I was especially envious of the closing sentence. Any day now there will be another dimension in politics. In addition to the 1920s one-dimensional left-right straight line dichotomy dividing the set of all socialists into "left" bolshies and right "nazis", we may live to see another direction--toward the top of the Nolan Chart and outside the looter universe of discourse--a direction described as "Manguwards."

  • Nuwanda||

    "...a direction described as "Manguwards."

    It'll be a small group since even illegal immigrants don't support open borders libertarians like Mangu-Ward. They vote Democrat. Nicely ironic. Indeed, they'll eventually eat the Manguwards, which will be nicely sardonic.

  • 57nomad||

    FTA:

    " First Amendment rights on the football field".

    The 1st Amendment prohibits the government from making laws against free speech. It has nothing to do with players stealing from the fans. They have no more right to demonstrate on the field than they do if they walked into your house and took a knee. The players are not protesting, they are stealing. They are thieves. People paid a lot of money to buy tickets to see a football game they did not pay a single cent to see players, many of whom make more money in a single game than many in the stands will earn in their entire lives, hijacking their entertainment. The players have NO right to demonstrate. They are stealing.

  • Lester224||

    They didn't pay money to see military flyovers either. That's defense department paid recruiting. The audience sees a lot of stuff they didn't pay for. They see what the people who set up the entertainment decide that they see. The audience pays there money and if they see something they don't like too bad. The owners can fire the players if they do something they don't want to do. As long as the players play the game when the game starts they aren't "stealing" from the audience.

  • Lester224||

    Why can't we edit posts and fix typos and spelling errors?

  • seahorsedan||

    Do not surrender to ANTIFs thought police. The sad irony is exactly what the establishment Globalist promoters want. Empty halls and stadiums. They saw the effectiveness of candidates opposing Globalism drawing huge crowds in 2016 and will do anything to put the kibosh onto it and suppress it before the 2018 election cycle gets up and running. if anyone is to get up and running it must be because lawfully appointed officers make it so.
    No one has a right to disturb the peace, block exits, trespass or destroy or damage property or hit anyone with a flashlight. These days cities, states and universities do have an obligation to keep violent thugs in check and at least make a diligent effort to protect their lawfully permitted citizens from violent predators. That is why they all have police. They however do not have an obligation or the right to provide or promote censorship. If you rent a hall or a park to speak the police are obligated to protect your rights to assemble to hear the free speech. That would apply to any venue public or private that rents such a facility to the general public. Surrender is not an option. Freedom of speech is not a referendum issue. It is the law of the land and must not be infringed upon. When liberals raise their children on a diet of disrespect for protocol and authority and their own country it does not bode well for civilization let alone our country regardless who wins the next election. Beware the 5th column, they never sleep.

  • ||

    121117 reason.com end of free speech... because conservatives do nothing that works... like enforce the Law.

    Free speech is being suppressed on campuses because the attending and local students refuse to compel the administration to enforce their students right of free speech and coming and going free of deviant degradation - oppression - interruption.

    To compel free speech will probably require criminally charging and suing the offending acting individuals and the enabling administration : board : teachers in their own person.

    But, the one thing we know for sure is that the self-described conservatives have proven themselves to be too stupid - too lazy - to politically false to use the Laws defining and supporting public order : free speech to actually enforce the 'as it is written' Law and therewith secure their own : everyone's individual : collective political and free speech rights.

  • Kermit Reliance||

    Is there a more misinterpreted and misapplied constitutional right? The 1st Amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law....". Yet the1st Amd is cited in debates over objectionable speech and expression even when there is no government involvement whatsoever. Private citizens that defend offensive speech often hide behind glib references to the 1st Amd, not acknowledging the bidirectional protection it guarantees. The right to object to offensive speech is just as protected as offensive speech itself.

  • tommhan||

    No the right does not deny the freedom of speech to football players. They have the freedom and we have the freedom to let them play in front of millions less fans. Comparing the 2 sides like they are the same is ridiculous. Is the right perfect? Of course not but the left has lost their collective minds.

  • Jsmith||

    Sadly, you have erred in believing that the GOP is "the right." The truth is the GOP is left, right and (in Trump's case) populist. There is no uniformity of belief in the GOP. That's why I, as a conservative, left the GOP under G H W Bush.

  • ||

    Just some scattered thoughts"

    -On Trump's 'fake news' beat. Read Greenwald's latest where he evsiscerated CNN, CBS and MSNBC. It's hard to claim the press in those circles are doing their jobs for all Americans in the interest of objective journalism. Personally, I don't consider outlets like The New York Times as a defender of the First Amdendment or have acted with any journalistic integrity or responsibility either since Trump's arrival. It doesn't surprise me people feel like it's seditious behaviour.

    -On Trump taking on pop culture. I don't see how his Tweets against talk shows are any different than Obama getting prefentrial treatment when he was constantly doing the circuit as if he was part of Dean Martin's Celebrity roast. He's putting a Norma Desmond spin on their hypocrisy. Roger Waters and other faux anti-establishment rock icons talk tough during a GOP Presidency but are cowardly silent when a Democrat wages war as we saw under Obama.

    Trump is just keeping the spotlight on something we all know is there but not admitted: a massively strong liberal bias among celebrities and their shows. I don't think there's anything controversial in this. SNL practically spat in your face when they had that absurd and childish homage to Obama.

  • ||

    -On the NFL. If this is all we've got to criticize the right, then I'll take it because it's tame compared to what the left is doing on campuses. Last I checked, none of the people complaining about the protests have a) demanded players don't have that right; they just feel it's disrespectful and b) called for violence. That is, call me when 20% of NFL fans think it's okay to ''punch a protestor'.

    They're peacefully (if vociferously) voicing their opinions. I highly doubt anything will come of this. The players, in my view, are misguided sure, but I personally don't mind it - rap sheet of NFL players notwithstanding. All the grandstanding and virtue signalling prior to the game annoys me so I just don't tune in until the game starts and shut or change it immediately after the whistle blows. This is what it means to live in a free and pluralist society.

    Let the companies and their employees govern themselves. If Trump yaks about it, let him. Obama was a gas bag himself on all sorts of things including his remedial takes on economics and business which were really just left-wing class warfare gibberish.

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    If this is all we've got to criticize the right, then I'll take it because it's tame

    By design.

    That is, call me when 20% of NFL fans think it's okay to ''punch a protestor'.I take it you had calls that 20% of Democrats or NFL fans want to punch Nazis for their free speech?

  • Sevo is my bitch||

  • ||

    /deep breath. Cont'd...

    "Of late, the ACLU is flush with anti-Trump cash."

    If true, then stick a fork in the ACLU. They're done. Once the progressive virus spreads, you can't kill it. The fact concessions were made seals its fate. Never give a pig an inch and all that.

    "The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents voted in October to suspend or expel students found guilty of "disorderly conduct" that disrupts others' ability to communicate. In other words, the very student activists agitating for limits on outside speech may be the ones who soon find themselves censored."

    Po tee-weet?

    "Extremism is generally frowned upon in American politics, and rightly so…."

    Why? In the context of human history, the default position is tyranny and America's founding principles guarding against can then be characterized as extreme. And things like the 1A and 2A should NEVER be infringed lest tyranny sets its toes into the threshold. Like the ACLU taking on prog-cash, this will be hard to shake out.

    The bottom line is there are illiberal forces operating in the West as a whole and they most often stem from the left. At its roots, progressivism is anti-individual and anti-humanist. Let's keep that in mind.

  • mtrueman||

    "At its roots, progressivism is anti-individual and anti-humanist. "

    You forgot anti-free speech. Get with the programme.

  • ||

    Finally, I'd like to add, Reason itself has writers who have called for similar actions - or at least engaged in behaviour we wouldn't characterized as libertarian - by students and Trump. I'm thinking Elizabeth Nolan Brown and Shikha Dalmia.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Remember lesson number one: freedom is annoying.

    If you can't deal with this, then shut up or get the fuck out.

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    "Shut up" is a good way to discuss the demise of free speech.

  • JoeB||

    She's pretty confused, conflating private workplace issues with Federally-funded university oppression. Surprised she is editor in chief.

  • Fancylad||

    She's not confused, just parroting the narrative. You don't get invited to the good parties if you deviate.

  • JeanineS||

    As far as the NFL players go, they have been paid to be "patriotic" and stand for years. They are basically defaulting on their job description. While the players always, even during play, have their 1A rights, they still have their contracts to fulfill. If they don't want to fulfill that part of their contract, fine, dock their pay for that part of the contract. If that can't be done, then firmer consequences must be enacted. Just like any other job that you don't perform your contracted work as agreed.

    Trump is not a conservative. He never claimed to be a conservative and he doesn't act like one. He was a democrat up until he registered Republican to run for president. (btw, he is no longer orange, and I did not vote for him....or Hillary).
    While many conservatives believe in free speech and will allow the free speech of dissenting viewpoints, it seems that many progressives only shut down the free speech of dissenting viewpoints. There are extremists on both sides that shut down anything from the other side, and that is very frustrating and doesn't help anyone.
    If the nation is going to get anywhere, its people need to communicate with each other freely, without shutting each other out, and being willing to listen to each others ideas.
    We used to be able to do this a lot better than now, when more people treasured free speech, even when someone disagreed with them..

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    What you said is utterly moronic.

    Mostly.

    If the nation is going to get anywhere, its people need to communicate with each other freely, without shutting each other out, and being willing to listen to each others ideas.

    Sorry, there is no need or willingness to listen to fascists.

    Check this very site. They'll comment as if there is NO reason to listen to Democrats/liberals/socialists/progressives/[any group that is not Republican]

  • EscherEnigma||

    If they don't want to fulfill that part of their contract, fine, dock their pay for that part of the contract. If that can't be done, then firmer consequences must be enacted. Just like any other job that you don't perform your contracted work as agreed.


    (emphasis mine)
    "Must be"? Um, no. The employer can choose to take action against an insubordinate employee, that is true. But they aren't obligated to do so. That's their choice.

    We used to be able to do this a lot better than now, when more people treasured free speech, even when someone disagreed with them..


    When and for who?

    I'm serious here. This country has a long and nasty history of suppressing minority voices with the force of government. So when was this mythical "do this a lot better" time? 'cause now-a-days, we all get to yell at each other and discourse plenty on the internet with little repercussion, our elected officials don't duel each other in the senate building, anyone with a message can get a blog, people can organize boycotts, counter-boycotts, get-togethers and so-on at the drop of a hat for any reason.

    Sure, it's messy and loud, but compared to previous eras we're speaking more, killing each other less, and more of us are legally capable of owning property.

    So c'mon. When was it "better"?

  • mtrueman||

    "So c'mon. When was it "better"?"

    In the early 60s when there was Berkley Free Speech Movement, banned books like Naked Lunch and others winning in the courts. It was a very Liberal time.

    "more of us are legally capable of owning property."

    Even if we have to go into debt to get it. Is that the best you can do? I see an atmosphere of fear pervading us today. How is it free speech when the speechifiers don't even have the courage to write under their own names?

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    the same party that was poised to die on the hill of free speech when it was

    LOL

  • vcx||

    Right now everything is up in the air. The left has become the right and some of the right have become the left. Part of the issue seem to be a trend that started years ago. Freedom to offend is one of the parts of free speech. However, it is also an object lesson. Years ago the right to fire without reason started when Unions lost their power. It also began the insecurity that people feel. Inpart it is because people fee that they can safely express anger at "targets" who cannot fight back. Other issues such as easy recognition of understood rights. Gay Marriage is one of those that make it easier to invoke custom and law than say civil union or civil partnership! Marriage has property and visitation rights that are well recognized.
    To the opposition, the word in question is marriage. They had much less opposition to civil union because it does not hit any emotional cord.
    It is "safe" to show anger and hate against nazies after all they have no power. The danger starts when it become your views that are targeted.

  • EscherEnigma||

    To the opposition, the word in question is marriage. They had much less opposition to civil union because it does not hit any emotional cord.


    Define "much less". Because 22 of the constitutional bans also banned "civil unions", "domestic partnerships" and everything down to death registries. Heck, look at Texas. The city of Houston granted partnership benefits to city employees. And then got sued by the state. After Obergefel v. Hodges (2015) the state legislature tried to rescind spousal benefits for all gay state employees.

    Conservatives only supported civil unions when they realized they were going to lose on marriage.

  • Martlet||

    Topic of free speech should be always on top! We must be able to talk about what ever we want it is our right! What if I din't like the current direction our country takes and want to discuss politics, or cbd oil for anxiety or assault.
    I want to be able to speak freely about themes that are important to me!

  • Mitsima||

    As long as they are approved topics that don't hurt anyone's* feelz you can do exactly that.
    .
    .
    *anyone that belongs to a politically relevant group, that is.