Free Speech

Biden Transition Team Member's Op-Ed on "Why America Needs a Hate Speech Law"

Richard Stengel published that argument in the Washington Post last year.

|

Richard Stengel, the Biden transition team "agency review team lead" for the U.S. Agency for Global Media (the agency that's in charge of the Voice of America and similar outlets), had an op-ed last year in the Washington Post (David Harsanyi (National Review) was the first to note this, I think, several days ago). An excerpt:

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?

It's a fair question. Yes, the First Amendment protects the "thought that we hate," but it should not protect hateful speech that can cause violence by one group against another. In an age when everyone has a megaphone, that seems like a design flaw….

Since World War II, many nations have passed [hate speech] laws to curb the incitement of racial and religious hatred…. In general, hate speech is speech that attacks and insults people on the basis of race, religion, ethnic origin and sexual orientation.

I think it's time to consider these statutes. The modern standard of dangerous speech comes from Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) and holds that speech that directly incites "imminent lawless action" or is likely to do so can be restricted. Domestic terrorists such as Dylann Roof and Omar Mateen and the El Paso shooter were consumers of hate speech. Speech doesn't pull the trigger, but does anyone seriously doubt that such hateful speech creates a climate where such acts are more likely? …

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?

It seems to me that the events of the past several years only highlight how dangerous it would be to give a future Biden Administration, or a future Trump Administration, or state governments left, right, or center the power to suppress ideas because they view them as "hateful" or "attack[ing] and insult[ing] people" on particular bases.

That is especially clear, I think, as to religion, the example with which Mr. Stengel starts: Religions are ideologies, and adherents to those religions at least nominally subscribe to certain views, not just of otherworldly questions but also about what should be done on this Earth. Like all ideologies, they should be debated and sometimes "attacked" (even when the "attacks" may look like "insults"). My sense as to Islam is that it (like Christianity) is too broad and varied a set of denominations to merit most of the broad attacks that I've seen on it. But particular sects (or denominations or streams, if you prefer) of Islam, like particular Christian sects, may well deserve quite sharp criticism.

And of course this is true even of insulting messages, such as Koran-burning and the like. Such expression is too broad for my tastes, much as is flag-burning; but the view that it expresses, which is that Islam generally (at least in most of its forms) is a contemptible ideology, must be just as protected as the view that capitalism or Communism or conservative evangelical Christianity is a contemptible ideology.

As to "race" or "ethnicity" we know of course just how many policies can be labeled by some as "racist" (e.g., prohibitions on race-based affirmative action); likewise, consider how much speech could be labeled by the government as "creat[ing] a climate where [violent] acts are more likely."

This "bad tendency" test, as to speech that created a climate where draft resistance and revolution was more likely, was what the Court used in the 1910s and 1920s, before it was reversed. Brandenburg v. Ohio was indeed the culmination of that reversal. Returning to that test, though now aimed at speech that is supposedly racist or ethnically bigoted or religiously bigoted or anti-gay, would allow the government to suppress a vast range of legitimate criticism (related to crime, policing, immigration, employment law, infectious disease, foreign policy, and more) on the grounds that it "create[s]" a bad "climate."

Indeed, just for an example of just how much speech can "create[] a climate where [violent] acts are more likely," consider the facts of Wisconsin v. Mitchell (1993), the Supreme Court's leading "hate crimes" (not "hate speech") case, which upheld Todd Mitchell's enhanced sentence based on Mitchell's having chosen his target based on the target's race:

On the evening of October 7, 1989, a group of young black men and boys, including Mitchell, gathered at an apartment complex in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Several members of the group discussed a scene from the motion picture "Mississippi Burning," in which a white man beat a young black boy who was praying.

The group moved outside and Mitchell asked them: "'Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people?'" Shortly thereafter, a young white boy approached the group on the opposite side of the street where they were standing. As the boy walked by, Mitchell said: "'You all want to fuck somebody up? There goes a white boy; go get him.'" Mitchell counted to three and pointed in the boy's direction. The group ran toward the boy, beat him severely, and stole his tennis shoes. The boy was rendered unconscious and remained in a coma for four days.

Note, of course, that Stengel isn't just after, say, racial epithets: He wants to suppress ideas, ideas that he thinks are dangerous, and that the government will label dangerous. To his credit, he at least doesn't pretend that his proposals are consistent with First Amendment law (there is no "hate speech" exception to the First Amendment, see below). He just wants the Supreme Court to cut back First Amendment law to give the government this power. Time will tell how many others within a Biden-Harris Administration will take a similar view.

NEXT: Why Do We Call Ourselves "The Volokh Conspiracy"?

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

  1. I’ve noticed that everybody who disrespects freedom of speech seem to be enjoying theirs.

    1. It’s the same with those who disrespect private property.
      from a comment I saw on the website of an Argentinian newspaper:
      Los medios de producción pertenecen al pueblo! (Pero el Rolex es mío!)
      The means of production belong to the people! (But the Rolex is mine!)

    2. Yep. As I keep saying, the truth is hate speech to those that hate the truth.

  2. Hate speech laws are not American. The King likes such laws banning speech hated by the monarch. Europe has hate speech laws because of the jews. Face reality, the clowns pushing hate speech laws in USSA are either jews or puppets of the jews (paid). Why are their state laws against boycotting Israel? Because jews hate boycotts. The Bill of Rights is a target of the jews. Life was good before 1881. Jewish undermining of USA is a bad thing that must be hated. 1A expresses the hatred, 2A defends all.

    1. Excuse me, but the man who runs this blog is a Jew that has dedicated his life to defending the First Amendment. I am not Jewish (although back in the old country a great grandparent married a nice a Jewish woman, much to the horror of his noble Russian family, so I have a little bit in me). Normally I don’t reduce myself to vulgarity in a post, but the Professor is far too kind a man to lower himself in this way, and while he hasn’t asked me, I have decided, in your case, to take it upon myself.

      Go fuck yourself, you antisemitic piece of shit.

      1. Seconded, every word.

      2. Well said.

        And may the stupid/trollish comment AND your response be forever protected.

    2. I’m going to go with the above post being a dumbass troll who thinks Volokh will come back and say “ooh, you said something mean about Jews, I was obviously wrong and we do need hate speech laws!”

      LOL, but it goes to show the intellectual level of people who are against free speech.

      1. What!? Rev. Artie assures me that this site is a hotbed of censorship.

      2. No. The asshole spews shit like this constantly.

    3. Europe has hate speech laws because of the jews

      Fuck off, Adolf. Europe has laws against free speech because free speech inhibits tyrants.

      -jcr

  3. To many, the democratic party platform is hate speech.

    1. “The communists and the Nazis are merely two variants of the same evil notion: collectivism. But both should be free to speak—evil ideas are dangerous only by default of men advocating better ideas.” (Ayn Rand )

    2. Back in 1984, some of my law school classmates felt that “Vote for Reagan” was racist.

  4. Domestic terrorists such as Dylann Roof and Omar Mateen and the El Paso shooter were consumers of hate speech.

    I bet if he were to revisit that line today, he’d leave out the Burn Loot Murder crowd as consumers and producers of hate speech.

  5. Your speech is violence, our violence is speech.

  6. The Volokh Conspiracy engages in partisan, viewpoint-driven censorship . . . and also offers pointers on the importance of free expression!

    Some people might decry this blog’s lack of diversity, describing it as a White, male, movement conservative blog . . . but those people would disregard the ample diversity in (1) what this blog preaches for others and (2) how this blog conducts itself.

    1. How many years you get in the pen when EV censored you Kirkland?

      Its kind of humorous how much vitriol you pour out at EV for not putting up with you directing homophobic insults at other posters, yet you decry bigotry, ignoring your own, and never condemn twitter, facebook, amazon or google for censoring ideas.

      1. What was homophobic about Artie Ray Lee Wayne Jim-Bob Kirkland? Artie Ray expressed conservative views in a strident, humorous manner. He was censored for making fun of conservatives. (Low ‘signal to noise’ was the precise complaint when the ban was implemented, as I recall.)

        You comment indicates that Prof. Volokh needs to find a better class of sycophant.

        1. Certainly they need a better class of troll other than fake lawyer Kirkland.

          1. soros isn’t getting much for his money when he pays AK.

    2. And yet, despite this supposed censorship, you continue to post….

      1. …and in the most boring predictable fashion

    3. The Volokh Conspiracy is not the State nor the Federal Government, and lacks their overwhelming coercive powers.

      That is a distinction even you should be able to understand.

      1. “That is a distinction even you should be able to understand.”

        You give Artie far, faaaaaaaaar too much credit.

      2. I do not question his entitlement to engage in partisan, viewpoint-driven censorship. The Volokh Conspiracy is a private playground. His playground, his rules.

        I question the candidacy to offer pointers to others as an ostensible principled champion of free expression. That those pointers are so often cherry-picked, misleading, partisan swipes seems another relevant point.

    4. Go whine on your own blog where you’re free to say any fool-ass thing you want.

      1. For now, until a future prosecutor wielding a future Democratic law, both lower and upper case ‘d’, takes notice of him as harrassing.

  7. The one thing that will prevent this is the solid originalists the Trump administration has appointed the last four years, and the fact that the Republicans have managed to hold the Senate to prevent court packing.

    If you don’t believe me, just listen to an RBG interview. Her line of thinking firmly believes that it is the job of the court to evolve the constitution to reflect a changing society. She says it unabashedly, and many of her colleagues agree. All it takes is five of them to dramatically change the meaning of any part of our constitution, including the right to free speech.

    1. Variant: I’m a supporter of broad views of free speech — but it’s far from clear to me that those views are indeed “originalist”; they are mostly the product of largely non-originalist decisions from the 1930s to the present.

      The original meaning of the First Amendment and similar state constitutional provisions (and of the Fourteenth Amendment as it relates to free speech) is hard to pin down exactly — it may be that there was broad agreement to protect “freedom of speech or of the press” without much agreement on what exactly that meant. But I wouldn’t say with confidence that this meaning is particularly speech-protective.

    2. Variant, you might want to have a look at what free speech meant at the time the Constitution was adopted before you make the historically ridiculous claim that “solid originalists” will protect free speech.

      In 1789, free speech meant nothing more than that you couldn’t be censored in advance. It did not mean that you couldn’t be punished for it after. You sure you want to go back there?

    3. In addition to EV and Krychek’s observations, you may also want to consider that the most hostile-to-protected-speech SCOTUS justice isn’t one of the liberals. It’s Alito.

      1. I’ve got to say, even given the limitations of the medium, that Twitter thread was thin gruel in terms of establishing that Alito is hostile to protection of speech. Have you got something more substantial, like maybe a case where he voted against freedom of speech?

        1. Start with US v. Stevens and Snyder v. Phelps.

          1. Yup. Lone dissent in each.

          2. OK, those at least have something to do with freedom of speech, unlike that Twitter thread.

            I think that, in US v. Stevens, he has a point. The Court could have decided on narrower grounds.

            Not so much in Snyder v. Phelps. Even in cases that hinge on time, place, and manner of speech, not the content, there are marginal cases, and the cases just beyond the margin will be exactly that: Just beyond the margin. If they were where they were allowed to be, that’s where they were, and that’s the end of it.

            That said, this doesn’t get anywhere near establishing that Alito is the MOST hostile to protected speech. He’s not as protective of disgusting speech as the rest of the justices.

            But there are justices who are less protective of political speech.

            I suppose it’s a question of which you consider more important to protect: Freedom of political speech in a democracy, or dog fighting videos and yelling at grieving parents at funerals.

            1. These aren’t tu quoque battles. Evils of censorship must be fought wherever they arise.

              1. “Hooray! Both sides are doing it!” is no great place to be, especially when it might give rise to bipartisan agreement.

            2. OK, those at least have something to do with freedom of speech, unlike that Twitter thread.

              It’s always fair to ask for concrete examples. You did and we provided. But when a First Amendment advocate and Reason contributor on freedom of speech, often favorably cited on this very pro-speech blog, says someone is “the most consistent anti-First-Amendment vote on the Supreme Court this century,” that’s not “[no]thing to do with freedom of speech.”

              1. I’m not saying the Twitter thread didn’t assert that Alito was anti-First amendment. I’m saying that the thread didn’t support the assertion.

                1. By that reasoning, if I tell you my doctor says I have a broken leg, his “assertion” is unsupported unless I show you the x-rays.

      2. Even more, the sainted Robert Bork was no fan of free speech. His view was that only political speech was protected.

        From here. (See p. 20)

        Constitutional protection should be accorded only to speech that is explictily political. There is no basis for judicial intervention to protect any other form of expression, be it scientific,literary or that variety of expression we call obscene or pornographic. Moreover, within that category of speech we ordinarily call political, there should be no constitutional obstruction to laws making criminal any speech that advocates forcible overthrow of the government or the violation of any law.

        1. Bork is an ass. But if I had to pick between only political speech being protected, and only political speech lacking protection, I might chose the former.

          And the latter appears to be the stance of way too many campaign “reformers” in the Democratic party.

    4. The one thing that will prevent this is the solid originalists the Trump administration has appointed the last four years, and the fact that the Republicans have managed to hold the Senate to prevent court packing.

      Might want to take a look at Justice Thomas’ opinions, in which he found that in the founding era, freedom of speech did not extend to children.

      1. It still doesn’t fully extend to children. Something I remind my 12 year old of almost daily. He’s got a mouth on him, but at least he’s witty about it.

  8. I guess that, now that it looks like Trump is safely defeated, it’s considered acceptable to notice that his opponent is an authoritarian threat to every enumerated civil liberty in the Bill of Rights?

  9. This is crazy. Now Biden’s appointee Stengel would like to do away with free speech he doesn’t like? Will we now see regulatory rules governing what speech can be punished by federal agencies?

    This is the Leper’s Bell for doing away with 1A speech protection.

    This kind of thinking never ends well. Ever. We need more talking, not less.

    1. Dude sucks, but also is not in a position to do anything like what that Op-Ed advocates.

      1. Yet. But he does give a pretty clear indication of where the likely incoming administration stands on this civil liberty.

        The truth is a Biden administration is likely to be bad on essentially every enumerated civil liberty. Might be pretty good on some of the ones the Court pulled out of its ass, though.

        1. You think this is proof of the entire admin’s position on speech???

          Of course you do.

          1. Do you really think Joe Biden is going to give a flying fuck about the freedom of speech of anyone that isn’t a Democrat?

            Oh by the way, did you know the word “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary?

            1. Your conservative persecution fetish is of no concern to reality.

          2. No, Sarcastro, I think it’s “indicative”. Thus my use of the word “indication”.

            Did you think “indication” and “proof” were synonyms, or something?

    2. “Biden’s appointee”?

      Hell, I think Trumpkins are insane when they deny that Biden’s the president-elect, but even I wouldn’t go so far as to declare him the actual president.

      1. The Electoral College makes Biden the POTUS-elect. That happens roughly a month from now, barring unusual developments.

      2. What XY said. He’s not actually the President Elect until December 14th. At this point most states haven’t even certified their election returns.

  10. What’s the difference between flag burning and Koran burning?

    People were up in arms about flag burning before the Supreme Court ruled it was speech, not conduct, and no matter how you felt about the flag then you’d better suck it up and live with it.

    The argument has already been settled by the Supreme Court and legislation will not reverse that.

    1. The difference is nobody drops by to slit your throat if you burn a flag.

      1. Government should do its job and secure our rights.

      2. The US has had numerous Koran burnings over the last two decades. I don’t recall any mass throat-slittings.

        1. That’s because we have relatively few Muslims in America as yet. They punch above their weight in terms of terror, but don’t have the numbers yet to make it matter. Try it in France, say.

          But, see: Florida Pastor Terry Jones’ Koran Burning Has Far Reaching Effects

    2. The argument has already been settled by the Supreme Court and legislation will not reverse that.

      Very few things are ever “settled by the Supreme Court.” It may not happen during the Biden administration, but I fully expect that over the next generation, we’ll see a drastic whittling back of the protection given by the first amendment to freedom of expression. Will it mean that Koran burnings are outlawed and flag burnings remain protected? Maybe. But maybe the progressives will have such a stranglehold on the government by then that they’ll wrap themselves in the Stars and Stripes and claim that opposition to the government (and burning its flag) is racist hate speech. Or maybe they’ll decide that the Stars and Stripes are racist, because the Army flew that banner at Wounded Knee and when pushing the Indians down the Trail of Tears.

      Oh, yeah: and the Second Amendment is going to fare even worse.

  11. Here’s how this will go down:
    1) Biden team floats hate speech law.
    2) Republicans flip out just because Biden.
    3) Democrats use social pressure to pain the republicans as pro-hate (I mean, this is already happening, right?) and get their hate speech laws, making burning things illegal.
    4) Republicans embrace the law and prosecute all the people burning effigies of trump, burning confederate flags, burning thin blue line flags, writing “ACAB” on a wall, badmouthing any republican anywhere, and generally taking the bad Dem policy to it’s obvious logical conclusion.

    Like usual.

    1. You went off the rails with 2); They’d flip out because hate speech laws are a really, really bad idea, and blatantly unconstitutional.

      You kind of bounce back onto the rails with 3); As you say, already in progress.

      Then with 4) the whole train goes flying into the gorge spewing flames.

      1. Those who think their weapons can never be turned against them lack creativity.

        In some southern States, police are considered a protected class and attacking them because they are police is considered a hate crime.

        Given this, don’t you think Trump would have weaponized hate speech to go after black lives matter protesters if he could?

        Or better yet, how about Christians saying LGBT advocates are pedaling hate speech against them when they call them bigots, with LGBT advocates saying the same about Christians?

        if you look at the demographics it’s only a matter of time before Christians are a minority, and therefore need to be tenderly cradled and protected by the Democrats.

        Hate speech will break down when it’s minority versus minority, just like affirmative action.

  12. Is the following quote from Charles Blow hate speech?

    “Let me be specific and explicit here: white people — both men and women — were the only group in which a majority voted for Trump, according to exit polls. To be exact, nearly three out of every five white voters in America are Trump voters. It is so unsettling to consider that many of our fellow countrymen and women are either racists or accommodate racists or acquiesce to racists.”

    Or this from Salon:

    “However one defines it, a majority of white women voted for Trump to protect what they have – status, income, tax advantage, whatever – despite Trump’s anti-woman attitudes and record.”

    both quotes at

    https://www.salon.com/2020/11/11/why-did-so-many-white-women-vote-for-trump_partner/

    1. What percentage of Blacks voted for Obama? I believe it was around 98.

  13. It’s so they can define hate speech as they please, and silence the opposition. This is already happening with twitter and Facebook, and the mainstream media.

  14. Though my agreement is certainly of modest significance, I concur.

    Hate is a most slippery concept; I speak of it here not as presently the law, but rather theory, defines it. It is more-often-than-not in the eye of the beholder than of the speaker – though obviously in the most-repugnant instances in the latter also. Thus, it must only be strictly and cautiously applied.

    Awhile back I made an effort to compose the parameters of what might define Hate. If any credence should be given to my modest effort, the bright lines of when speech should be restricted by virtue of this attribution to it require excellent vision.

  15. Funny the same people that use the federalism remedy for hate speech laws “let the states experiment and find out what works” would object entirely to returning the question of abortion to the states.

    And of course we all know what a “hate speech law” will prosecute, which is all non-liberal thoughts and concepts. That is their end game. Criminalize all speech they dislike.

    1. […] would object entirely to returning the question of abortion to the states.

      Strange tangent, but sure…

      We already know what would happen if we returned the question of abortion to the states. In most southern states, it would become illegal in most or all cases. In some states, this will also outlaw some forms of birth control. Many already have laws on the books to do so, and as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned or otherwise nullified, they will go into effect.

      What will then happen is that wealthy women in those states who want abortions will go on short vacations to California or New York, while poor women will resort to much less safe options.

      There really isn’t any mystery here, Republicans have been very up-front about this.

      So yeah, we’re not returning the question of abortion to the states, because we already know that a large number of them are set on very bad courses.

  16. Having grown up with the motion that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” I find this position baffling.

    The real issue here is that none of the advocates for hate speach restriction truly want to restrict hate speach. They simply want to punish the hate speach they don’t like. They seem content to ignore plenty of hate speach as long as it’s pointed toward the proper targets.

    If you can’t expect people to grasp that words only have the power you give them then they certainly won’t grasp that this type.of power could easily be used against them. After having opined for the entire Trump administration about the power vested in an unstable man you would think people would be reticent to grant new powers to government. I suppose it’s ok as long as they’re in the right hands …

    1. Having grown up with the motion that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” […]

      The more accurate version is “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words leave mental scars that may never heal”.

      Less sarcastically, the courts have long acknowledged that yes, words can hurt. The concept that supposedly constitutional laws and policies can have “chilling effects” on speech, and are thus verboten, isn’t new. The truth that “segregation now, segregation forever”, while merely being words, leads to things like “Ax-Handle Sunday” is not new. The idea that slander and libel are actionable offenses is not new. The truth that an oft-repeated lie can do more to damage our country then any terrorist act ever could is not new.

      “Sticks and stones […]” is a simplification of complex realities, suitable for schoolyard children. It is not appropriate or sufficient for adults.

      To be clear, this is not support for any such hate-speech law. But don’t fool yourself that words are harmless. It’s just a harm we must bear.

      1. I think maybe you misunderstand the child’s slogan. It’s not an assertion of fact, it’s an exhortation to toughen up, buttercup.

        The difference between sticks and stones hurting you, and words hurting you, is that the sticks and stones are going to hurt you regardless. The words only hurt you if you let them. Their power to hurt you derives entirely from your reaction to them.

  17. “Speech doesn’t pull the trigger, but does anyone seriously doubt that such hateful speech creates a climate where such acts are more likely?”

    If hateful speech makes such acts more likely, surely speech advocating criminalizing the views behind the acts makes such acts even more likely. People like Richard Stengel need to be rounded up and incarcerated immediately!

    1. It’s also plausible that people like Dylan Roof are driven to violence more by criticism of their views than by people who agree with them.

      Maybe be should ban all criticism of racist views, just to be safe. For the children.

  18. “It seems to me that the events of the past several years only highlight how dangerous it would be to give a future Biden Administration, or a future Trump Administration”

    I like how Eugene has found a way to blog about the election, while ignoring the one election issue that is dominating the headlines. Toss out a couple posts on court decisions from Pennsylvania (if they involve wins for the President’s legal team), a post about an old op-ed written by a Biden Transition Team Member (why does Biden have a transition team?), and a post about state-level election results. But….do not wade into the issue that might alienate the new readers from Parler!

    1. “I like how Eugene has found a way to blog about the election, while ignoring the one election issue that is dominating the headlines.”

      #ConservativeCourage

      What a bunch of cowards.

    2. Relax. Eugene is just an entertainer, and these posts are his performances. Think Alex Jones for slightly smarter crowds.

      1. … you know what?

        You’re right. While I did find some interest in some Volokh Conspiracy articles, this place is descending into a more sophistic version of Alex Jones.

        And I have no use for Alex Jones, in any version. Thank you for pointing out the mendacity of this place.

        1. I think I missed your condemnation of Russia collusion. You know, the thing more insane than anything Jones ever said.

  19. “ignoring the one election issue that is dominating the headlines. ”
    Tell us what that is and why it is important. I only watch Japanese TV

  20. Hate Speech — n., speech I hate.

  21. “Time will tell how many others within a Biden-Harris Administration will take a similar view.”

    A safe bet is “all of them.” Possibly excluding Biden himself, just because he’s old enough that when he went to school, they still taught the First Amendment and the reasons behind it.

    1. I don’t think Stengel’s views on speech, certainly not his views on “hate speech”, are an outlier in this incoming administration. I think even President Biden would endorse Stengel’s general argument that the Courts should uphold anti-hate speech proscriptions. I’m quite sure Harris would agree to these limits.
      I voted for Biden but it’s issues like this that worry me. His Administration will simply not be challenged in the aggressive manner that the media challenged the Trump Administration.
      Trump was a buffoon, a clown, a small time grifter as President. What a ridiculous four years we just went through. His silly threats about amending libel/slander laws were just that: silly. I don’t think we can dismiss these type of views about speech from a Biden Administration similarly. The problem, again, is that our elites will. It would be welcome if one damned reported asked Biden or Harris about their views on this.

      1. Lots of supposition here.

        1. Supposition based on experience. You don’t think Stengel’s views on banning “hate speech” are some outlier, some extreme view not held generally by Democrats? They are. It’s a problem.
          The liberal tradition is threatened by the Trumpist right and the woke/critical race left. Just because the buffoon Trump is gone doesn’t mean the threat from his side or the other is also gone.

  22. Well, here we go, folks. Anti-harrassment censorship trying to excape the sophistry-contained domains of education (via threats of money pulling) and business (it’s a secondary level right) into the wilds of direct censorship of speech of We The People.

    Democrats threaten harm to companies that don’t censor harrassment, and the first words out of their mouths was “our politcal opponents make harrassing tweets. CENSOR THEM, tech giants.”

    During the Democratic debates, the candidates fell all over themselves, trying to one up each other on how to best hurt the tech giants. Ms. Harris won, blowing right by mere section 230 changes and threatening additional legislation to directly punish them. She may well become president soon, appointing justices to the Supreme Court (maybe an expanded one so she can pack it) with judges amenable to the concept of anti-harrassment laws.

    Freedom of speech is now moving from threat level yellow straight to red.

    This is not a drill. For those saying it’s no big deal, remember the major collapses of freedom historically occur when granting the leader emergency powers, to the vast applause of the people. This means you, right here, right now.

    Ahhh, remember threat level “orange”? When we were concerned of Trump’s efforts to loosen the ability to sue for liable?

    God how simple and naive we were. Good times.

    1. Excuse me Krayt, but Stengel is not, and will not be, President.
      Let me know when Biden says some of the things Trump has said, when he calls the press an enemy of the people, when he tries to restrain publication of books critical of him, when he applauds an assault on a journalist, etc.

      You know, I mostly agree with EV’s views on these issues, but there is a strong partisan slant to the posts, and even more to many of the comments, and that makes me think this stuff is more cudgel against liberals than statement of principle.

      1. I think we can hold two (at least) ideas in our heads at the same time: that is, Trump’s language and behavior re the media was shameful and wrong (I think it was mostly bluster and not serious) AND there’s a dangerous and growing view among liberal/progressives that some speech can be banned just because it’s hateful or ugly. As Andrew Sullivan suggests, we all now live on a college campus. Stengel’s views on this are not something we haven’t heard before from Democrats. I don’t think his views can be dismissed as fringe stuff.
        I have no doubt at all that Biden would agree with Stengel that “hate speech” should be outlawed. Do you?

      2. “when he calls the press an enemy of the people”

        Facts are bad now?

  23. The poverty from the economic shutdown for virus control has killed millions of people by starvation around the world. The Democrat Governors should be arrested for suborning speech leading to mass murder.

    1. Countries that took covid seriously had better economies as a result. You’re seeing the consequences of not controlling the virus.

  24. This argument of banning speech that might cause others to act out is akin to victim blaming made into law.

    If you didn’t break the law against short skirts you wouldn’t have been sexually harassed!

    If you didn’t say offensive things you wouldn’t have been beheaded in the name of Allah!

  25. Future historians reading Trump’s tweets will think we all went insane. Some poor Ph.d candidate will try to figure out what our policy was on “X” or “Y” – the topic of his doctoral thesis – and look at what Trump said on it and will be incredulous. We got sort of injured to Trump but looking at it from a distance it’s mind boggling what happened.

Please to post comments