QoTD: Liberals Need to Defend Free Speech—says a Liberal. Should We Care?

 

The problem is that people will inevitably differ about which speech qualifies as racist. The term has become our own scarlet letter, an all-purpose way to prohibit ideas you dislike. So we need to defend the free-speech rights of everyone, even avowed racists. The best response to hateful speech is to raise your own voice against it, not ban it.

–Jonathan Zimmerman, in the WSJ

Clearly Jonathan Zimmerman, as a liberal, does not fall into the rank-and-file of academia in terms of his views about free speech. But he is a clear-thinking man who sees the detriments to labeling everything racist except the kitchen sink. Although I don’t think he has many followers, he at least advocates for the honest approach to free speech: instead of calling everything racist that you dislike, defend your position and do it honorably.

At a time when our commitments to courage, truth, and honor have fallen by the wayside or been misrepresented as Rightist rantings, it’s even a little encouraging to see a man who speaks genuinely for free speech. At some level, he may realize that his fellow liberals may also be victim to the next attack on free speech if the rules shift.

It might be tempting to brush off these few comments we’ve been seeing from the Left as useless, but I believe we do so to our own detriment in a number of ways. We need to thank them for speaking up and let others know they are doing so. We need to thank them for supporting a tenet of this great country. We benefit from not seeing this act like a pebble thrown into the ocean of hate, but a sword offered up in the heat of battle. Every statement can be a chink in the Left’s armor; every call-out gouges a weakness in their wall. Every. Single. One. Counts.

The original piece in the WSJ.

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  1. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    We absolutely need more true liberals like this one to scream frigging bloody murder over the taking of our rights particularly Free Speech.

    We conservatives are non- persons now. We will not be listened to.

    But voting Liberal Democrats will be listened because if they defect from the Democrat Party’s now really apparent goal to creating a Marxist dictatorship that will strip everyone of their rights, because they are the Left’s Achilles Heal of sorts. If they vote against the party’s direction in the next election, the Dems will go down in flames.  For good.

     

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Unsk (View Comment):
    But voting Liberal Democrats will be listened because if they defect from the Democrat Party’s now really apparent goal to creating a Marxist dictatorship that will strip everyone of their rights, because they are the Left’s Achilles Heal of sorts. If they vote against the party’s direction in the next election, the Dems will go down in flames.  For good.

    @unsk, I wonder if we do well in the 2022 elections, could that cause a shift where the Democrat voters realize they’ve been had, and need to make different choices. Or will they still be enamored of the government that just keeps on giving?

    • #2
  3. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and
    @Misthiocracy

    Susan Quinn: But he is a clear-thinking man who sees the detriments to labeling everything racist except the kitchen sink.

    “That’s your white privilege showing, as your inherent biases blind you to the fact that poverty-wage dishwashing jobs are predominantly held by people-of-colour.” – Archetypal Woke Scold

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: But he is a clear-thinking man who sees the detriments to labeling everything racist except the kitchen sink.

    “That’s your white privilege showing, as your inherent biases blind you to the fact that poverty-wage dishwashing jobs are predominantly held by people-of-colour.” – Archetypal Woke Scold

    I KNEW someone would comment on my kitchen sink comment, @misthiocracy. There is no one better than you to do it! And thanks for making me smile.

    • #4
  5. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Susan Quinn:

    The best response to hateful speech is to raise your own voice against it. –Jonathan Zimmerman, in the WSJ

    Amen to that.  And Awomen too, of course. And…oh, never mind.  It’s a very good point.

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    • #5
  6. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Amen.

    And awomen.

    • #6
  7. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    It is critical that you make common cause with anyone who vehemently disagrees with you on anything or everything except your right to state your position.

    • #7
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    As I have said:

    Tell me when in history, that the people suppressing speech have been the good guys.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    As I have said:

    Tell me when in history, that the people suppressing speech have been the good guys.

    Impossible.

    • #9
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    As I have said:

    Tell me when in history, that the people suppressing speech have been the good guys.

    This bears repeating. And more repeating. 

    One of the pathetic things about humanity is how easily a group can go from having their rights violated to violating the rights of others. 

    The Scopes Monkey trial takes us straight from prohibiting the teaching of evolution to prohibiting the teaching of not-evolution. 

    • #10
  11. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    TBA (View Comment):
    The Scopes Monkey trial takes us straight from prohibiting the teaching of evolution to prohibiting the teaching of not-evolution. 

    That was something of a PR stunt, but I get your point.

    Now and then I rewatch “Inherit the Wind” to be reminded what a self-righteous trough of BS that movie was, and how it’s a helpful marker for identifying the credulous.

    • #11
  12. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Some time ago I read something like “These days it’s easy to tell a conservative from a liberal.  The conservative is carrying a concealed weapon, and the liberal is arguing AGAINST free speech.”

    • #12
  13. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    In answer to your question: Yes. This is one of many issues  that should not be partisan. And please let’s not call those out to muzzle others “liberals”. They are not. They are totalitarians. 

    • #13
  14. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    The entire pattern of this current revolution is mimicking the French Revolution. Even those idiots on the left need to be seeing that. And what they are seeing is that what they once thought of as revolutionary and advanced is now become passé and counter-revolutionary, i.e., Racist! If they don’t put reins on the rhetoric, they themselves will become victims of their own zeal. That, of course, would be enjoyable to watch, but from a distance. I experienced the early stages of this loss of free speech in faculty meetings and workshops during the last years of my teaching career. Since administrators were the leading Jacobins, and they did the annual evaluations, you needed to be very careful about what you said in front of them. It is far too easy to find fault if you are looking or it. 

    I do think it is time to bring down Twitter and Facebook or, at least, take away their legal protections as non-publishers. They are at the forefront of the anti-Free Speech movement and are among the worst zealots since they actually have power to shut up the opposition. I am uncertain whether the current situation is a mere swing of the pendulum to its illogical extreme or whether the clock is broken. I hope it is the former, but fear that we on the right may do exactly the same when our turn comes. It has happened before. 

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    The entire pattern of this current revolution is mimicking the French Revolution. Even those idiots on the left need to be seeing that.

    You give them far too much credit, @eugenekriegsmann. They have no ability or interest in reflecting on their own behavior or on the past. 

    • #15
  16. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    The entire pattern of this current revolution is mimicking the French Revolution. Even those idiots on the left need to be seeing that.

    You give them far too much credit, @ eugenekriegsmann. They have no ability or interest in reflecting on their own behavior or on the past.

    At the core of many (most?) revolutionaries is a basic immaturity. They have no use for the long-lived lessons of history. The have no patience with the argument that thus and so has been tried and failed. It is always “with me in charge this will work”. Conservatives can and have been brought to revolution but always do so reluctantly because we understand that once it starts there is no careful control of the outcome. We can only be assured that we will be in a different place; not where we will be.

    • #16
  17. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    I suspect the great majority of liberals over 30 have serious reservations about Wokeness.  But a lot would rather die than be perceived as passé or on the same side as Trumpsters and Fox News.  Like Rubashev they will claim to support Progress and the Revolution even as they are purged themselves.  Glenn Greenwald and Bill Maher do not mind being seen as contrarian and occasionally heretical but that is a rare quality among the kind of sheep who take the likes of BLM or AOC seriously. 

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I suspect the great majority of liberals over 30 have serious reservations about Wokeness.  But a lot would rather die than be perceived as passé or on the same side as Trumpsters and Fox News. 

    Interesting thought, @oldbathos. So then the question becomes, what would be their tipping point against Wokeism? Or how do we separate issues like free speech from partisanship?

    • #18
  19. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I suspect the great majority of liberals over 30 have serious reservations about Wokeness. But a lot would rather die than be perceived as passé or on the same side as Trumpsters and Fox News.

    Interesting thought, @ oldbathos. So then the question becomes, what would be their tipping point against Wokeism? Or how do we separate issues like free speech from partisanship?

    I think old lefties think they can still mouth a few pieties and denounce Ted Cruz or DeSantis and the mob will pass them by.  A lot of Chinese academics who thought similarly wound up in dunce caps in front of howling Red Guard persecutors.

    The ACLU once took a major financial hit by defending the right of Nazi morons to march in Skokie.  Now the ACLU actually often joins the mob when a conservative gets hounded out of a university.  Somebody may ask why the organization still exists and thus give vestigial support to the wrongthink of “free speech.” Isn’t the word “liberties” problematic?  Associated with the white supremacists who kicked the British out of the colonies? And then there is the rape-affirming phrase “taking liberties with”?

    Hitler won because the center collapsed and people were forced to choose which extreme would rule.  America’s old liberals are von Hindenberg and Weimar and don’t seem to know it.

    • #19
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I think old lefties think they can still mouth a few pieties and denounce Ted Cruz or DeSantis and the mob will pass them by.  A lot of Chinese academics who thought similarly wound up in dunce caps in front of howling Red Guard persecutors.

    Good points. The Anti-Defamation League had a good rep a long time ago. Now they’ve joined the fascists. Won’t they be surprised when they’re the next ones rounded up.

    • #20
  21. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    Politics is all about coalition-building, so I am happy that some old-school lefties are finally realizing the totalitarian tendencies within their own party.  Best case scenario, they vote for free-speech candidates in 2022 and beyond.  Even if that doesn’t happen, they can still be a tiny voice of reason within their own party.  It never hurts to have more Americans speaking up for American values.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Politics is all about coalition-building, so I am happy that some old-school lefties are finally realizing the totalitarian tendencies within their own party. Best case scenario, they vote for free-speech candidates in 2022 and beyond. Even if that doesn’t happen, they can still be a tiny voice of reason within their own party. It never hurts to have more Americans speaking up for American values.

    I just wish we could figure out a way to capitalize on their waking up to the importance of free speech!

    • #22
  23. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Politics is all about coalition-building, so I am happy that some old-school lefties are finally realizing the totalitarian tendencies within their own party. Best case scenario, they vote for free-speech candidates in 2022 and beyond. Even if that doesn’t happen, they can still be a tiny voice of reason within their own party. It never hurts to have more Americans speaking up for American values.

    I just wish we could figure out a way to capitalize on their waking up to the importance of free speech!

    We are capitalizing on it.  It might not lead to a resounding electoral victory in the next election, but at least it is another voice promoting American values from across the aisle.  At least it is one more voice against the Woke who cannot be easily dismissed because of his party affiliation. 

    • #23
  24. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Politics is all about coalition-building, so I am happy that some old-school lefties are finally realizing the totalitarian tendencies within their own party. Best case scenario, they vote for free-speech candidates in 2022 and beyond. Even if that doesn’t happen, they can still be a tiny voice of reason within their own party. It never hurts to have more Americans speaking up for American values.

    I just wish we could figure out a way to capitalize on their waking up to the importance of free speech!

    We are capitalizing on it. It might not lead to a resounding electoral victory in the next election, but at least it is another voice promoting American values from across the aisle. At least it is one more voice against the Woke who cannot be easily dismissed because of his party affiliation.

    I don’t know, it doesn’t seem that difficult to conclude that even past liberals/leftists weren’t actually “woke.”  After all, “woke” is BRAND NEW!  How COULD they have been “woke” before now?  That would make it easy to lump many on “their own side” as actually being enemies, and no need to pay attention to their warnings.

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    kedavis (View Comment):
    I don’t know, it doesn’t seem that difficult to conclude that even past liberals/leftists weren’t actually “woke.”  After all, “woke” is BRAND NEW!  How COULD they have been “woke” before now?  That would make it easy to lump many on “their own side” as actually being enemies, and no need to pay attention to their warnings.

    Another excellent point! What about all those “unwoke” Leftists who’ve been too scared to speak up? Is it possible they will be outcasts and look for refuge? I like the sound of that . . . 

    • #25
  26. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I suspect the great majority of liberals over 30 have serious reservations about Wokeness. But a lot would rather die than be perceived as passé or on the same side as Trumpsters and Fox News. Like Rubashev they will claim to support Progress and the Revolution even as they are purged themselves. Glenn Greenwald and Bill Maher do not mind being seen as contrarian and occasionally heretical but that is a rare quality among the kind of sheep who take the likes of BLM or AOC seriously.

    I disagree. I think they hate us with thr passion of 1000 suns. If they don’t speak against woke culture they are supporting it. 

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I disagree. I think they hate us with thr passion of 1000 suns. If they don’t speak against woke culture they are supporting it. 

    How many people are silent in this country when they don’t like what’s taking place? To assume support because people choose silence is naive and a limited approach. If there are some old lefties who are coming to their senses, but aren’t quite willing to say so, I’m open to their voices. The fact is, Bryan, you just don’t know what they think.

    • #27
  28. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy) Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy)
    @GumbyMark

    Freedom of speech is part, but only a part, of what we are dealing with.  Woke ideology is totalizing.  It covers everything in life and it does not tolerate dissent.  By its own terms you can’t “reason” with its proponents because “reason” is a tool of white supremacy.  It does not believe in “neutral processes”, which are essential to maintaining our society under our Constitution, because “neutral processes” are a tool of white supremacy.  In the end we can only survive not by asking for mutual tolerance from the Woke, because that ain’t happening, but by crushing its adherents.

    I currently read about two dozen liberals/progressives (even a couple of socialists) who are bitterly opposed to Wokeness because they recognize the threat it poses to a free society.  They all report being deluged privately by other liberals who feel under attack by the Woke but are fearful about speaking out because of the danger to their careers, jobs, education etc.  The problem is the institutions (federal government/academia/media/tech/corporate) are under the control of either Wokists or those too intimidated to dissent.

    Read this article from a Progressive professor at Georgetown Law School in which she describes how “a Maoist take-over” by the Woke occurs.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Freedom of speech is part, but only a part, of what we are dealing with. Woke ideology is totalizing. It covers everything in life and it does not tolerate dissent. By its own terms you can’t “reason” with its proponents because “reason” is a tool of white supremacy. It does not believe in “neutral processes”, which are essential to maintaining our society under our Constitution, because “neutral processes” are a tool of white supremacy. In the end we can only survive not by asking for mutual tolerance from the Woke, because that ain’t happening, but by crushing its adherents.

    I currently read about two dozen liberals/progressives (even a couple of socialists) who are bitterly opposed to Wokeness because they recognize the threat it poses to a free society. They all report being deluged privately by other liberals who feel under attack by the Woke but are fearful about speaking out because of the danger to their careers, jobs, education etc. The problem is the institutions (federal government/academia/media/tech/corporate) are under the control of either Wokists or those too intimidated to dissent.

    Read this article from a Progressive professor at Georgetown Law School in which she describes how “a Maoist take-over” by the Woke occurs.

    I actually kinda like the idea of them – the usual left – being destroyed by the monster they created, while I’ve isolated myself as much as anyone could from the… “fallout?”

    Maybe that sounds selfish or whatever, but there’s a practical side to it:  if they are saved from being destroyed by the monster they created, they don’t learn not to create monsters.

    • #29
  30. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I disagree. I think they hate us with thr passion of 1000 suns. If they don’t speak against woke culture they are supporting it.

    How many people are silent in this country when they don’t like what’s taking place? To assume support because people choose silence is naive and a limited approach. If there are some old lefties who are coming to their senses, but aren’t quite willing to say so, I’m open to their voices. The fact is, Bryan, you just don’t know what they think.

    They voted for Biden. The Democrats support BLM they support the riots they support racism.

    If you vote for that you are voting for all of that.

    The fact is that they must want all of this. They vot d for it. I can’t read their minds, but I can judge by their actions.

    Anyone who voted for Biden or supports Democrats is against America.

    • #30