Monday, April 23, 2012

Freedom of Speech and the Illiberal Left

Most progressives support freedom of expression, but in almost every contemporary instance win which someone advocates for limiting freedom of speech, we find a member of the illiberal left. Policy wise, this is seen in the Speech Codes that have been implemented in numerous universities and informally in the aggressive protests that seek to block conservatives from speaking on campus. Rather than let their ideological opponents present their positions and then counter them with intelligent debate, they seek to drown out them out with jeers  and other disruptive behaviors. Here are but a few examples:

At the University of California at Irvine, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's speech was constantly interrupted by members of the Muslim Student Union who previously stated that there goal was to "send the speaker a message - our goal should be that he knows that he just can't just go on campus and say whatever he wants."

While I disagree with almost everything that Don Feder's positions, I was troubled to learn that protesters were so unruly, the University of Massachusetts had to cancel his speech

At the University of Connecticut, due to disruptive heckling, Ann Coulter was unable to continue her speech.

At a debate on the problems of affirmative action, mild mannered speaker, Roger Clegg was faced disruptive boos and hissing every time he expressed an opinion contrary to the student protesters. 

Although I do NOT support Jim Gilchrist and the Minutemen Movement, I was appalled to learn that students at Columbia University rushed the stage with the goal on not letting him speak. And at Long Beach State University, after presenting a 10 minute opening monologue, his debating opponent, Enrique Morones walked out of the auditorium with 300 students, which showed a complete unwillingness to engage in an intelligent exchange of ideas.

.Rather than debate and discredit his ideas in the marketplace of ideas, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other "civil rights organizations," campaigned to have Lou Dobbs removed from CNN

The ideological foundation for the suppression of speech among illiberal factions of the left are seen in 

"Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the right and toleration of movements of the left."

"However, this tolerance cannot be indiscriminate and equal with respect to the contents of expression, neither in word nor in deed; it cannot protect false words and wrong deeds which demonstrate that they contradict and counteract the' possibilities of liberation."

"They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, the discrimination on the grounds of face and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc." 

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