Peggy Noonan on the left’s peculiar version of ‘the right to dissent’

Posted by: ST on October 13, 2006 at 11:03 am

Continuing on the free speech theme from my prior post, I wanted to link up to former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan’s excellent column in today’s Wall Street Journal that recaps some recent (as in the last ten days) instances (like this one) of the left attempting to stifle disagreement, while pointing out the left’s hypocrisy on freedom of speech concerns. She writes:

There’s a pattern here, isn’t there?

It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This–listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity–is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.

We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?

Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don’t. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn’t come quickly, they’ll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don’t always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

Indeed. Like Grist magazine writer and global warming fanatic David Roberts, who recently called for Nuremberg-style trials for global warming skeptics. Like the violent anti-military protestors at UC Santa Cruz who tried to storm a job fair to let the military recruiters there know exactly what they thought of the military and their recruiting practices, and not in a way that would be conducive to healthy debate, if you catch my meaning. The group’s ‘official’ name is Students Against War, or SAW. In April 2005, according to this piece, the Department of Defense surveillance program listed the group as a threat (presumably to the President). The predictable cries of outrage ensued, with claims that the government was trying to ‘silence dissent.’ How ironic those claims were/are, considering that the group itself is all about silencing (by any means necessary, apparently) the military’s right to speak about the benefits of a military career.

Let’s also not forget the leftie blogosphere’s vicious witch hunt against former Red State blogger Ben Domenech, once he was hired for the Washington Post’s now-defunct Red America blog back in March of this year. What sent lefties on that little hunt was not the fact that they wanted to make sure that the WaPo had an honest righty blogger, but the fact that they had one at all. This post I wrote in response to Domenech’s resignation explains that chilling brouhaha in detail.

And how about Bill Clinton’s lawyers trying to intimidate ABC into not merely ‘correcting’ but pulling ABC’s docudrama Path to 9/11 because ABC didn’t follow the liberal apologist line of “Clinton fought hard against the terrorists, and was obsessed with OBL”? Or the Demofascists in the Senate who issued a veiled threat against ABC to pull their broadcast license if they didn’t pull Path to 9-11?

There are plenty more examples where that came from.

This is not to say that the right is perfect on the issue. They’re not, but as Noonan notes, these instances are far more prevalent on the left than right – especially these days – and they stem not just from Bush hatred but also from this inherent belief liberals have that they are smarter, better educated, and therefore “know better” than you do – so you must accept their view, otherwise they’ll intimidate you via ridicule, verbal bullying, and in some cases violence, in order to get you and others to sign on to the prevailing viewpoint (which is usually, unfortunately, theirs). Thomas Sowell wrote about this in his aptly titled book The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy. If you get a chance to read that book, please do, because he explains in great detail how the Anointed (aka the left) have gotten away with this tactic for decades.

I always chuckle when I hear or read a member of the left talk about how they are such “champions” of freedom of speech, while the right supposedly wants to “quash any dissenting views!!!!!!” because I know, from the examples Noonan cited, and those I noted here (and there are plenty more) that the rhetoric of the far left doesn’t match reality – not that telling the truth is high on their priority list, anyway.

Read more via: Tigerhawk, Dr. Sanity, Tim Graham at Newsbusters

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  • Going to the Mat trackbacked with Suppressing Speech from the Left
  • Wake up America trackbacked with Free Speech [Part 2]
  • 14 Responses to “Peggy Noonan on the left’s peculiar version of ‘the right to dissent’”


    1. G Monster says:

      I think Barbara Streisand recently illustrated the point. These people pay good money to attend her concert. Half way through the concert she decides to turn it into a political event. A paying customer, who has just as much, if not more right to be in the crowd, decides to express his freedom of speech as she is expressing hers. She tells him to “SHUT THE F&*% UP!

      The left can dish it, but they sure can’t take it. I think the people at the concert were entitled to a refund once she turned it into a political rally.

    2. – GM. The interesting thing is the guy is a Democrat. He was sincerely angry for having payed $700 dollars a ticket, only to have to listen to Bawbawa’a political rants. There is hope though. Mz Streisand’s publicist has said that her employer has agreed to take some remedial course’s in English spelling. On her blogsite recently, one commenter posted “Stop typing and sing!”

      – Bang **==

    3. Baklava says:

      There are many reasons to oppose leftism/fascism/big government.

      This is one.

      1) The bigger government is, the less potentially prosperous a nation can be and standard of living among the people is less – The average European has less living space than the poor (defined as being under the poverty line) American.

      2) The bigger government is, the more at stake there is for continuing programs and grants to certain researchers and perpetuating funding for this or that. CA has a problem where Unions in this state have self grown themselves with doubling their funding from employees paychecks in recent years to claim that Arnold has cut funding for education, fire fighters pensions, first responders, health programs etc, when none of these accusations are true. Every year there is an increase in their budget and it is a black and white fact.

      3) The bigger government is, the more government gets involved in like bothering themselves with limiting the freedom of speech. And it’s leftists who agree with this big government approach and PRACTICE this big government (fascist) approach.

      We are LUCKY that talk radio came into being and the Internet is healthy during a time when the Democrats had a basically 54 year control of Congress. Now that the monopoly of information to big drive by media is over (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, WaPo, NYT) I believe this country is a little better off than other countries who aren’t hearing these alternative points of view and perspective. More and more we are voting in conservatives. Little by little. It continues to surprise big government leftists but the American people are more full of common sense than leftists realize.

    4. eddie says:

      Baklava: This current administration has made the government bigger than any previous administration and wants not only to crimilize dissent (“anyone who disagrees with the president is a traitor”) but also to tell adults how to carry on the most intimate parts of their lives. Wake up

      Its so interesting that those in power must constantly play the victim.

      And for anyone who goes to a Barbra Streisand concert to suddenly wake up and discover that she has strong political beliefs and express his discomfort with her right to express them can certainly vote with his pocketbook. The examples that you, Ms. Noonan and the author of this blog employ are somewhat pitiful. It is this administration that has used public funds to stage public events where any dissenters are excluded and even subject to arrest.

      It is the din of your blessed talk radio mavens that has drowned out all dissent by ratcheting up the volume and vitriol. Limbaugh blames the pages for Foley’s amoral behavior. Noonan disproves her own thesis by blaming only one side.

      And all the while these mavens of sensitivity are concerned that there can be no debate. Please provide me with one example of the current holders of power engaging the opposition party in anything even remotely resembling a debate on the issues.

    5. Noonan disproves her own thesis by blaming only one side.

      Yet one more person who can’t seem to read what is written. Noonan mentioned the right, here:

      And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.

      That’s not exclusionary, it’s just recognizing where it comes from the most. Don’t you guys EVER read what you critique or do you just pass off standard talking points memos and hope people won’t question what you say?

      Furthermore, your declaration that mine and Noonan’s examples are “somewhat pitiful” is more than “somewhat pitiful” in and of itself. The fact that you and the rest of your pals on the far left live in your little made up reality doesn’t change reality of what I wrote, nor what Noonan wrote. The far left, especially lately, has become completely unhinged and simply cannot stand to be challenged on their viewpoints. The examples provided bear that out, contrary to your lame protestations to the contrary. That is a fact that only the ignorant, ill-informed, and clueless will try and deny.

    6. G Monster says:


      I don’t listen to Barbara Steisand and never will. But maybe Barbara should have put a disclaimer to the ticket purchasers that she was going to do this. The people are paying to hear her sing. Her politics are offensive to many americans. The good news being that this is one of the early shows of her tour, so now the people know what to expect and can vote with thier pockets books. Shut up and sing Barbra. That’s the job they are paying you to do.

    7. daveinboca says:

      No matter how much lipstick you put on O’Donnell and Streisand……….

      Dr. Sanity has some interesting psychological thoughts on these narcissistic solipsistic self-absorbed witless, clueless fools on the far left addicted to their own solecisms. My personal take is that they are victims of mass psychosis.:d

    8. Ryan says:

      Wow, talk radio has drowned out all dissent? I guess someone forgot to tell the idiots at Columbia University that talk radio had drowned them out. So you would want talk radio to keep quiet because they are drowning out dissent?

      It’s very telling that you should say something like that in this thread.

    9. Baklava says:

      Eddie wrote, “Baklava: This current administration has made the government bigger than any previous administration

      I’ve been consistent. I’ve said that this country has been governed to the left EVERY year for over 6 decades. Conservatives do not have a governing majority and the answer is NOT to elect leftist Democrats….

      One thing you aren’t clear on it seems is that the constitution provides for the government to provide for our security. The 3 big entitlements can be debated and even how the government provides for the American people’s security can be debated but let’s be clear that constitutionally providing for our security is not something I consider to be “big” government no matter how liberals want to frame it or mislabel things as unconstitutional. While I’ll agree with you on the skyrocketing domestic spending (which Democrat leaders have called cuts – lying) shows bigger and bigger government and perpetuates the problem this country faces as the big 3 entitlements are up to 50% of government spending and defense spending has gone from 50% of spending 3 decades ago to 20% today, the problem is not defense but the myriad of leftist programs that will never be fixed because we don’t have enough conservatives in office. Making Nancy speaker will not help.

      ST asks, “That’s not exclusionary, it’s just recognizing where it comes from the most. Don’t you guys EVER read what you critique or do you just pass off standard talking points memos and hope people won’t question what you say?

      Reading Comprehension problems are exhibited by almost every lefty on this site. :-"

      Let’s have some clarity here for lefties. There are examples of the right I’m sure who do not let the left speak – are there big examples? I don’t know. But Peggy penned her story with her perspective for a reason. With all of the fresh examples these last few years the only way the left can really change our perspective (Peggy’s perspective) on this issue is not by being shrill and making false accusations about Peggy being exclusionary but by the left looking at their own behavior and controlling it.

      One of the great lessons of life (and one of the hardest to learn) is that you can’t control others. You can only control your own words and actions. Peggy’s perspective (and mine and ST’s) is what it is and if a lefty wanted to do more to change our perspective they could look at their own behavior and words and change their selves. Of course that would leave us to look at our behavior and words.

      The amount of fascism and control that lefties want to exert over people with differing viewpoints speaks for itself to us. Let us be free to make idiotic points. If we make idiotic points like calling somebody a traitor with no facts to back it up and the perspective is way out there…. then let us look like idiots. Let free speech be. But the issue on the table is the shutting down of speech. Just because you don’t like the speech doesn’t mean you should shut it down. I love lefties exposing their beliefs (like Charlie Rangel letting us know there isn’t one Bush tax cut that he’d consider removing or letting expire). It helps people decide who they want to vote for!!!

    10. forest hunter says:

      Well said Bak!

    11. Drewsmom says:

      Now. now guys, lets all be kind to those kind and gentle over-indulged kids at columbia. They trashed the stage and called the first black speaker the N word and Uncle Tom but we don’t want to be hard on them cuz thye are little socialist lib students who are the spawn of the 1960 protestes, love ins, spit on the troops, kerry loving maniac for parents, what the hell do we expect from these kids, when they aren’t hearing it at home they have the moonbat professors like the fat slop on O’Reilly’s show making his students buy this lefturd book …. they are brainswashed on two fronts.