Leftists have been particularly crafty about clamping down and chilling conservative thought lately, boldly going where milder-mannered censors have previously feared to tread and managing to make several righteous-sounding cases, at least among their circles of progressive types, for the booting of deemed hate speakers from social media.
But their censorship argument dangles precariously on the meaningless claim that in America there’s no room for hate speech.
And I say meaningless because first off, nobody can define what constitutes hate speech and second off, even if they could, there are no criminal laws against speaking one’s mind in this country — except in cases of inciting riots or falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, the latter of which is not really speech at all.
Yet the shrill accusations of hate speech continue.
There are political strategies behind all this screeching.
This whole anti-hate speech call has been a tremendous boon for the left’s successes in shuttering conservative rhetoric, whether online, on college campuses or in the media world.
The best lies and deceptions, after all, are the ones that ring of truth.
The truth: In America, morally speaking, philosophically speaking, sensibly speaking — of course there’s no room in America for hate speech. Only a radical nut would see or say otherwise. But speaking of morality is not the same as speaking of legality. Morally speaking, no citizen should spew vicious, racist, misogynistic, ugly, hateful words. Legally? For the most part, have at it.
Also the truth: The First Amendment was penned in part to protect primarily political speech — to preserve as a God-given right the ability of citizens to say as they will, to petition as they want, to seek redress for grievances as they ought. Some of these pursuits can get pretty rancorous.
Sometimes, people get offended.
The Founders knew that. That’s the beauty of the First Amendment — to protect those who would offend.
But the left, unable to withstand fact-based scrutiny of its ridiculously anti-American progressive policies, and unable to legislatively advance anti-American progressive policies without the wings of emotionally charged discourse, has been trying to circumvent the spirit of free speech for some time. Why? To shut down the fact-finders and truth-tellers.
The left would like nothing more than to see hate speech etched into law as a punishable offense because that would make the job of censoring conservative thought and statements so much the easier.
The First Amendment and America’s long and cherished history of allowing for the lively exchange of ideas gets in the way of this goal, however. So the desperate left has advanced a public relations campaign that sees hate speech being talked about with rising frequency — as if it’s a thing.
As if it’s an American concept.
As if it’s a real crime, like stealing somebody’s car or punching somebody in the face in a bar.
The left’s hope is to talk it up enough so it doesn’t sound odd or out of place — so people stop wondering every time they hear it, “what? What is that?”
Then come the actual hate speech laws.
Then go the conservatives, too chilled to speak.
It’s like this: The Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panther Party, Louis Farrakhan, David Duke and a long list of others may all speak in ways that strike a large portion of the public as offensive. But fact is, they pretty much have the legal and natural right to speak as they will. The discomfort of either the few or the many does not justify the stripping of their God-given rights — or of anyone’s God-given right to speak freely. It’s a pretty good system of governance that allows both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, haters and do-gooders alike, equality of expression.
Here in America, let’s keep it that way. All discussions of hate speech should include mention of the fact no such laws in this country exist.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.