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Hoo-boy—pour yourself three-fingers of your favorite high-proof single malt for this episode of the Three Whisky Happy Hour, as Steve, John, and Lucretia throw down hard on the limits of free speech in theory and practice. A lot of people—some of them conservatives (and, ahem, John at times!)—think that banning student chapters of the pro-Hamas Students for (In)Justice in Palestine, as Governor DeSantis has done in Florida, represents right-wing “cancel culture” and is therefore hypocritical. Steve and Lucretia argue that two generations of flabby jurisprudence from the Supreme Court about the First Amendment has left us illiterate about the first principles of the matter.
Thus, we recur to some older writings of David Lowenthal and Harry Jaffa on this point, and suggest that is it not difficult at all in principle to distinguish between political speech that deserves protection and speech from would-be tyrants who, if successful, would take away everyone else’s right to speech (if not right to life in the case of Jews) if they gained power. Whether to do so is a matter of prudence and circumstance, but one of the lessons of history is that if a nation waits too long (cough, cough—Germany in the 1930s—cough, cough) to assert its right of self-preservation against the barbarians in its midst, a free society is lost.
The question of barbarism is central to the second part of today’s episode, where we sort out some of the basic issues of the laws of war and just war theory. And we use Angelo Codevilla as one of our expert witnesses on this subject, which shouldn’t be that hard to sort out, but somehow is if you only read the New York Times or some other pre-school level source.
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