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.