Against Free Speech

December 11th, 2009

By Brianna Aubin

Huffington MSNBCAs I’m sure every reader of this blog is already aware, it is very important that words and language be used responsibly.  After all, words matter.  Language matters.  It is, in some ways, a stronger weapon than anything in the arsenals of the governments of the world, up to and including nuclear bombs.  All a gun or a bomb can do is kill you.  The spread of an idea can change the course of human history.  And so I am going to come out and say that we must be responsible with our speech, that government must interfere to protect us against irresponsible speech, and that the first target of this proposed new power of the government should be Arianna Huffington.

Yes, that’s right, Arianna Huffington.  After all, there’s a reason people aren’t allowed to shout “Fire!” in a crowded room.  Arianna does this practically every day on her website.  All this stuff about how global warming is going to kill the planet, how conservatives are out there inciting violence, all these vicious lies that she is spreading about Glenn Beck and talk radio… it’s dangerous.  Really.  And the public needs to be protected.

Are you disgusted with me right now?  Good.  Do you think that I am advocating the most vicious evil, the one that contains within it the single most essential tactic necessary for the destruction of a free society and the implementation of dictatorship?  You are absolutely right, I am.

The only problem?  It’s not me who’s advocating censorship right now.  It’s Arianna Huffington (video).  I quote:

…There is something that we need to really pay attention to with Glenn Beck, we cannot just dismiss him.  Because the truth of the matter is that there is a good reason why we have an exemption to the free speech protected by the first amendment when we say you cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theater.  And he’s doing that every night.  He’s basically using images of violence to bring together with all that he’s accusing the Obama administration of which varies, you know, from racism to communism to Nazism and everything else in between so all that has definitely an impact I believe words matter language matters and he’s using it in incredibly irresponsible ways night after night…

…I hope it [media self-correction] is going to happen but it’s not going to happen without people pointing out what Glenn Beck is doing.  I mean, we saw how it worked with Lou Dobbs and Jon Kline.  Jon Kline in the end, fired Lou Dobbs from CNN.  Pressure makes a difference.  So we all have a part to play here, in pointing out what Glenn Beck is doing.  And even though he may not be legally liable if violence ensues from what he does, he’s morally liable and so is Fox and Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ames for keeping him on the air…

…there’s a lot of misery out there, there’s a lot of legitimate anger.  People are losing their jobs, they’re losing their homes, or they’re afraid of losing their jobs and losing their homes.  So it is in this climate of often legitimate rage that Glenn Beck comes in and provides scapegoats.  I mean, traditionally throughout history these are the dangerous times.  And that’s why our various establishments also, need to become much more sensitive to what is happening out there and not leave it up to the Glenn Becks of the world to take advantage of what’s happening…

…There are always extremes there are always paranoids who sound like Russel Crowe in a Beautiful Mind, connecting everything and scaring everyone.  But it’s when that becomes part of the mainstream that it becomes dangerous…

Go ahead, watch the whole thing.  Make sure I’m not quoting out of context.  The good stuff stars at about 3:10.

Sure Arianna, let’s get rid of Glenn Beck. While we’re at it, we can ditch Robert Spencer’s website JihadWatch for inciting hatred of Muslims and promoting racism by calling Obama the American Dhimmi of the Year, The Wall Street Journal for actually covering the ClimateGate scandal (imagine what might happen to the planet if we don’t act now on global warming!) and Rush Limbaugh’s talk radio show, ’cause although I’ve never actually listened to Limbaugh, I’m sure that if Beck is bad Limbaugh would be ten times worse.

Expanding into the realm of books, we can ditch Christoper Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe on the grounds that it incites religious hatred of Muslims.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel can go too for claiming that Muslim culture discriminates against women and promotes terrorism (remember that, the fatwas issued against Ali notwithstanding, Islam is the religion of peace).  Ron Paul’s End the Fed is out because getting rid of the Federal Reserve would cause economic chaos.  G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature From Jekyll Island can be tossed because it advances these ridiculous ideas of conspiracy theories among bankers and politicians.  Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism will be dropped like a hot potato for daring to associate liberals with fascists.  Leonard Peikoff’s The Ominous Parallels can go right out the window for daring to point out the similarities between the Weimar Republic and America in the 1960’s and 1970’s (published in 1980 or there’d probably be a lot more he’d want to point out in this regard).  And of course, the entire literary canon produced by Ayn Rand can be burned at the stake because she dared to promote rational self-interest, unfettered capitalism, and oh yes, the inalienable rights of man, including but not limited to freedom of speech.

Arianna, restricting free speech in the name of protecting the establishment and preventing the “merging of the extreme with the mainstream” has been tried before.  Here’s a notable case of what happened the last time, from Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom:

From 1933 to the outbreak of World War II, [Winston] Churchill was not permitted to talk over the British radio, which was, of course, a government monopoly administered by the British Broadcasting Corporation.  Here was a leading citizen of his country, a Member of Parliament, a former cabinet minister, a man who was desperately trying by every device possible to persuade his countrymen to take steps to ward off the menace of Hitler’s Germany.  He was not permitted to talk over the radio to the British people because the BBC was a government monopoly and his position was too “controversial.”

Maybe Arianna thinks we should ban that one, too.

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8 Responses to “Against Free Speech”

  1. larry |

    As always your thoughts about the leftist/liberals are much the same as mine. I’ve often wondered at the First Amendment as it applies to the other side versus my side. A serious concern is the lack of people that refuse to admit that a problem exist. Your reference to Winston Churchills ignored warnings while Great Britain and Neville Chamberland played into Hitlers hands is a valid example of what we need to prevent. It’s usually right after I make such a observation that many people become indignant at such thinking and start to question my background, my education and other less mentionable things.

  2. Tom |

    It’s amazing how much hypocrisy there is on freedom of speech, separation of church and state, etc. When it comes to one’s own speech and beliefs, freedom is absolute. All those other folks, evil as they are, should be required to shut up.

    I’ve always believed that free speech has to be virtually unlimited. If we can’t tolerate even the most offensive speech, then we’re not totally free. People like Huffington and Olbermann should be smart enough to understand that if they can limit the freedom of those they disagree with, they might well be the next victims.

  3. Robert |

    I find it interesting that the left is quick to defend its own freedom of speech when they make truly outlandish statements but disagreement with the left warrants a cry for immediate censorship. I suspect that the real problem the left has with Glenn Beck is that he is such an effective critic of them. Isn’t it like the left to turn disagreement with them into a crime? Stalin must be so proud of them.

    I can hear it all now when they attend their George Soros sponsored dinner meetings: “Can you believe the audacity of that Glenn Beck? If we’re not careful, people may actually believe him.”

    They must be experiencing some real pain these days. People actually believe Beck…maybe its because he’s telling the truth about them.

  4. Terri |

    I have been listening to Beck myself thanks to a former friend and I have to say I like what I am hearing.

  5. Harvey |

    Excellent points presented compellingly as usual.

  6. Tom |

    I’ve watched Glenn Beck a number of times. He’s entertaining, to be sure, but I don’t take him seriously. I would no more depend on his view of the world than I would the views of people on the other side, like Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. They all present highly biased political opinions that, absent countervailing views, can be dangerous.

  7. Brianna |

    Tom, I agree that Beck can be repetitive and over the top, but he’s also telling a lot of truth, and even if he weren’t he has as much right to stand on Fox and espouse his views as Huffington and Olbermann do (just in case anyone had any doubt, the first two paragraphs of this article were intended to shock; I do not now, nor will I ever advocate that Huffington or any other person should be censored).

    The thing about censorship is, it always backfires in the end. When someone says that something is important enough to restrict, that immediately makes people think, “Hey, maybe I should pay attention to this guy and figure out what’s so important that someone else thinks I shouldn’t be permitted to hear it.” Note that nobody bothers to censor the KKK or the religious whackjobs who show up on campus once a year thinking that theirs is the One True Way and all who do not join are doomed to eternal damnation. In fact, we take great pains NOT to censor them, so that they can’t complain they’re getting restricted and because their own actions and their utter lack of social support illustrates more clearly than any words ever could just how stupid and foolish these people are. It’s only the people who have something important to say that get censored, because it’s those people who are capable of changing a populace’s world-view to a point where the censoring bodies will no longer have a place in the new picture.

  8. Opinion Forum » Blog Archive » Against Free Speech II |

    […] Glenn Beck, now Ann Coulter. Only this time it wasn’t a couple of braindead liberals yakking it up on the news with no actual power to enforce their whims, it was a University of […]

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