2019-10-31 15:27:10 UTC
Observations On The Washington Post Op-Ed, “Why America Needs A Hate Speech
OCTOBER 30, 2019 / JACK MARSHALL
Richard Stengel, a frequent contributor on MSNBC, a former editor of Time
magazine, and the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy
and public affairs in the Obama administration from 2013 to 2016 wrote this
embarrassing, anti-free speech screed.
1. In the past I have criticized newspapers and other publications for
publishing irresponsible opinion pieces. This time, I want to thank and
praise the Washington Post. Either intentionally or inadvertently, it has
performed a public service by using its op-ed pages to expose the hypocrisy,
intellectual bankruptcy, ethics ignorance and relentless totalitarian rot of
their own ideological compatriots.
2. I might say the same about Stengal, but he really seems to think that he
is making a persuasive case. Imagine: a man whom President Obama and his
Democratic administration trusted as a high level State Department official
can make an argument like this…
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?
Why, Richard? Oh, gee, I don’t know…maybe because “insult” is a completely
subjective standard? Perhaps because Massachusetts, Vermont,California, and
Oregon might decide that arguments against climate change cant is hate
speech, like Holocaust denial? Maybe because the 14th Amendment prohibits
states from abridging the Bill of Rights?
3. Kudos also to the Washington Post readership, which properly and
thoroughly ripped Stengel and his arguments apart with almost no one
defending him . The very few that did made Stengel level statements like
this one: “The solution is not to inhibit free speech; the solution is to
put some controls on the communication of the free speech.”
You idiot: if the government restricts how speech can be communicated, then
it is inhibiting free speech.
4. Stengel resorts to two arguments for gutting the First Amendment so
juvenile, flawed and rationalization-based that the mind boggles. One is
that other nations have passed speech restricting laws: “Since World War
II, many nations have passed laws to curb the incitement of racial and
religious hatred.” Behold the modern progressive delusion that not
conforming to the cultures and values of other nations is evidence that the
United States is wrong. This is all part of the modern Left’s rejection of
American exceptionalism, that we’re out of step, and need to get in line.
The entire American experiment is founded on extremely limited government
control over what individual citizens can do, say, and think. The United
States and its democracy has succeeded because of those limitations: people
like Spencer deny that success, so they see nothing amiss about loosening
them. His is an “everybody censors speech,” so it must be right thing to do
Then there is this:
” A 2016 Stanford study showed that 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn’t
distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and an actual news
story. Only a quarter of high school students could tell the difference
between an actual verified news site and one from a deceptive account
designed to look like a real one.”
Translation: “How can we indoctrinate kids with our Complete and Only Truth
if they are able to be influenced by contrary information?” The casual
presumption that “the truth” is so easily determined that “non-truth” can
and should be banned is another watermark of the emerging totalitarian Left.
Is opposing affirmative action “hate speech”? Arguing that transgendered
individuals shouldn’t be permitted to compete in women’s sports? Advocating
enforcement of immigration laws? How about mocking Elizabeth Warren for
falsely posing as a minority for most of her career?
We now know that the progressive definition of hate speech is “speech that
progressives hate.” The examples are endless. Anti-black insults are hate
speech, anti-white rhetoric is just, you know, deserved. Calling President
Trump a traitor, racist or a”motherfucker” is fair political discourse; his
calling Warren “Pocahontas” is hate speech. Saying that the nation needs to
get rid of “old, white men” in leadership positions is a valid observation;
any negative reference to a female politician is hate speech. Stengel doesn’t
even have the honesty (intelligence?) to address this most decisive of
rebuttals against proposals such as his: who decides what is “hate speech”?
You, Richard? The people who hire you and who agree with you?
Is there any doubt?
5. Stengel offers one false argument after another. Here’s one:
A century later, the framers believed that this marketplace was necessary
for people to make informed choices in a democracy. Somehow, magically,
truth would emerge. The presumption has always been that the marketplace
would offer a level playing field. But in the age of social media, that
landscape is neither level nor fair. On the Internet, truth is not
optimized. On the Web, it’s not enough to battle falsehood with truth; the
truth doesn’t always win. In the age of social media, the marketplace model
Hilarious. Thanks to the internet, the “playing field” is more level than
ever before. Before it, the biased, politically-distorted journalism that is
now the norm would have no opposition at all. We have seen the new media
repeatedly defeat efforts by mainstream media to warp narratives and bury
inconvenient facts. The marketplace model doesn’t work for someone, like
Spencer, who believes progressive ideas should have a monopoly.
6. Stengel triggered my “if this is how this writer reasons, reading the
rest is a wate of my time” instinct with this howler, right at the
” [As] a government official traveling around the world championing the
virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an
outlier. 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
Ay Caramba! I may never mock President Trump for not appointing “the best
people” again. This guy was stumped by THAT question? He is persuaded my
Middle Eastern doubts about free speech, where citizens cane be punished by
the state for blasphemy? We allow people to burn Kroan, Bibles, American
flags, draft cards and effigied of the President to express dislike,
opposition, contempt, and yes, hate. People have a right to hate things and
to express that hate…or maybe its just dislike, or disrespect. The Stengels
of the world conveniently lump them together as “hate,” all the better to
muzzle us. I don’t like or respect Islam: can I say that? Can I think it?
When someone burns a Koran, isn’t that simply a dramatic way of saying, “I
don’t like what’s in this book, and what it stands for”?
Saying that burning the Koran “can cause violence by one group against
another’ is especially disingenuous; gestures of disrespect toward Islam don’t
incite violence against Muslims, it incites Muslims to do violence against
the critics. Here Stengel is employing another popular anti-speech
distortion that is popular on college campuses: “The speaker we judge as
hateful should be silenced because his speech will make us attempt violence
To sum up, I love this op-ed. I think it should be as widely circulated as
possible, and that every Democratic Presidential candidate should be asked
to defend or reject it. Stengel has revealed what the Leftism of 2019 is
really about: rejecting American values, restricting individual rights and
liberties, rigging debate, and stifling dissent.
He’s telling the truth, but it’s not quite the truth he thinks it is.
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