The Attacks On Free Speech From The Left Are More Dangerous Than Any Speech Progressives Want Banned

Another day, another progressive effort to erode pubic support and understanding for the First Amendment. This is at the root of America’s current ethics conflict: a perverse and puckish God has made one of the most unethical and least reflective of public figures  the crucial bulwark against a massed and relentless assault against core national values.

The New York Times, taking a hand-off from its ideological twin the New Yorker, has published an attack on free speech from New Yorker writer Andrew Marantz. Even though he is a professional writer, he has managed to complete an elite education (Brown, NYU School of Journalism) without managing to grasp the essence of freedom of speech, and why it is the structural load-bearing beam that allows our democracy to exist.

Marantz simply doesn’t get it, or he does get it, but would love to see less liberty and more enforced line-toeing by those lesser intellects and deplorables who cannot accept the inherent rightness of the progressive view of the universe. He writes, for example,

Using “free speech” as a cop-out is just as intellectually dishonest and just as morally bankrupt. For one thing, the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private companies. Even the most creative reader of the Constitution will not find a provision guaranteeing Richard Spencer a Twitter account. But even if you see social media platforms as something more akin to a public utility, not all speech is protected under the First Amendment anyway. Libel, incitement of violence and child pornography are all forms of speech. Yet we censor all of them, and no one calls it the death knell of the Enlightenment.

I guess Brown has no mandatory course in government theory.  The Constitution is the enabling document of the U.S. mission statement—you know, the one that begins by announcing that there are inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That such a governing document that could only limit government restrictions on free speech also stood for a cultural, societal and ethical norm that freedom of speech was central to the Declaration’s summary of human rights would normally be clear to anyone who bothered to study the two documents as well as research the relationship between law, morality and ethics. It’s true that Richard Spencer can’t be assured of a Twitter account, but a society that denies him one is chopping at that load-bearing beam.

I can’t be guaranteed the right to link to Ethics Alarms on Facebook, either, but the fact that Facebook blocks  ethics analysis that people like Marantz find “offensive” ( as in “inconvenient”) is something no friend of democracy would extol.

A little bit of legal comprehension would be a useful condition precedent to blathering on about what is free speech, but then intellectually dishonest advocates like Marantz wouldn’t be able to make his anti-speech arguments so we could understand what the totalitarian Left is up to.

For example, libel is defamation, which is a tangible harm that can be inflicted on an individual or organization by maliciously or negligently spreading untruths. The courts have ruled that one can still lie with impunity in the U.S., as long as the lie doesn’t cross into crime, like fraud, or tort, as with defamation. Using defamation as an analogy to justify prior restraint of opinions and advocacy, which is what Marantz is trying to do,  is logically, factually and legally unsupportable.

As Libby Emmons and Barrett Wilson point out in their debunking of Marantz’s screed, incitement to violence is a crime, and one that is still considered problematical from a speech perspective. They write, “The cases of Schenck v. United States (1919), Gitlow v. New York (1925), Whitney v. California (1927), Dennis v. United States (1951), Yates v. United States (1957), Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), Hess v. Indiana (1973), and Stewart v. McCoy (2002), show that the Supreme Court, and the American public, are trying to figure out where to draw the line between an incitement to violence such that there would be jurisdiction over preventing it, and free speech by individuals and groups who are working hard to make their points and wishes heard.”  This is because Marantz and his fellow totalitarians know if sufficiently strong warnings against their agenda inspires the conclusion that basic freedoms are in danger and may need to be protected by force, their stealthy, bloodless coup may become messy. The same anti-First Amendment activists are inevitably anti-Second Amendment as well. It’s no coincidence.

Child pornography is an anomaly, not treated as speech by the law because it is treated as evidence of a crime. Again, no analogy with the kind of speech Marantz thinks should be regulated is valid.

Like all ideological censors, the Times’ anti-speech champion begins with the false premise that those who determine what is acceptable speech can be trusted not to abuse that power to acquire more. They cannot. Moreover, the very fact that they make the kinds of arguments made in the Times op-ed is signature significance for minds that neither understand America nor respect the nation’s historic priorities, which elevates personal liberty above all other considerations.

50 thoughts on “The Attacks On Free Speech From The Left Are More Dangerous Than Any Speech Progressives Want Banned

  1. Among our few possible hopes to avoid conflict is to convince a substantial majority of the electorate that Marantz and his fellow travelers are anathema to our society.

    Jack, I know you are doing your best in this matter.

    • ADJ

      What Marantz and those that think like him fail to realize is that speech whether written or verbal are mere expressions of the persona. Such expressions represent that which makes up our psyche; no more and no less than how one views their own gender or sexual preference which are both protected.

      If we attempt to say private entities can or should police speech by refusing service what would stop someone from serving anyone espousing a gay rights agenda, or denying accomodations for being of a different political affilliation. If you argue that you are not denying services because someone is gay but because they express that they are gay (speech) or choose not to rent to a black white, or Hispanic Democrat merely because you object to their political philosophy would that meet Marantz’s approval?

      Free speech means the ability to express who you are as much as what you think and believe. Marantz fails to realize that in his world where the private sector is freely permitted to abridge all disagreeable speech then who will he look to when his speech is restricted by those with power that find his ideas disagreeable?

  2. ”the false premise that those who determine what is acceptable speech can be trusted not to abuse that power to acquire more. They cannot.” (bolds mine)

    Why do so many of life’s lessons need to be learned over-n-over-n-over?

  3. How would Marantz react if his op-ed caused violence against his opposition. I strongly believe his words are fueling Antifa acts of violence.

    Now what. Methinks he did not think this through.

  4. Had to stop immediately after reading life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are in the Constitution.

    Pssst…Declaration of Independence.

    Correct it before anybody else notices.


      • Hmmm…

        Possibly. The problem is that, if you substitute “Declaration” for “Constitution,” you would have the same meaning.

        I think Declaration would have been the clearer word to use.

        Good point though. It could be read that way.


        • And no, the Declaration is NOT an enabling document. It declares a mission. The Constitution lays out laws (or rules), as enabling documents must. I should not have had to use either Constitution OR Declaration. One is the mission statement, the other the enabling document—and the mission statement begins with the acknowledgment of three inalienable rights. There was no confusion on this end.

          • Let me add that basic rules of construction hold that if there is any confusion (though there shouldn’t have been), the text should be read to make sense. Why anyone would read the text to mean I don’t know the difference between the two documents I cannot imagine, especially since it was literally correct anyway.

    • What? that’s not what I wrote. I wrote, “I guess Brown has no mandatory course in government theory. The Constitution is the enabling document of the U.S. mission statement—you know, the one that begins by announcing that there are inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” “The one that” refers to “mission statement,” which is, as we all know, the Declaration. Since the Constitution is NOT the mission statement, which is what my words literally mean, then it must be the enabling document of a second document with serves as the mission statement for the new nation, and which we all know begins with the list of inalienable rights. Grammatically, historically and logically, I don’t see how you could read what I wrote as attributing those words to the wrong document. I used them explicitly to avoid insulting the cogniscenti here by having to specify what document the “mission statement” enabled by the Constitution was!


  5. Apropos of Richard Spencer: I first heard of him because he did some of the early interviews with Jonathan Bowden. Now, through some algorhythmic sorcery, you can’t even search under the full name of a wrongthinker video and see it come up (that is, for the dissidents).

    If one were interested in understanding Spencer — and in truth a whole aspect of American dissidence which is suppressed — one could begin with his interviews of Jonathan Bowden. A very unusual mind (Bowden), definitely tending to an extreme (I guess this would have to be said, compared with the center today) but definitely a kind of genius. He died quite young, fortunately or unfortunately depending your perspective.

    [ ]

    As I have been saying for at least a couple of years: what should worry, in addition to the squelching of free-speech, is the intelligence agency operatives and their connection with the ‘deep state’ who are extremely concerned about the state of affairs.

    Some years back I read Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall. It describes the secret FBI para-military wars against the American Indian Movement and the BPP and:

    COINTELPRO was the FBI’s secret program to undermine the popular upsurge which swept the country during the 1960s. Though the name stands for “Counterintelligence Program,” the targets were not enemy spies. The FBI set out to eliminate “radical” political opposition inside the US. When traditional modes of repression (exposure, blatant harassment, and prosecution for political crimes) failed to counter the growing insurgency, and even helped to fuel it, the Bureau took the law into its own hands and secretly used fraud and force to sabotage constitutionally – protected political activity. Its methods ranged far beyond surveillance, and amounted to a domestic version of the covert action for which the CIA has become infamous throughout the world.

    It is, I guess one must maturely realize, simply an inevitability that a state has as its first order of business protecting its existence and against danger to the functioning of the state-as-system. I think I accept the general assertion that *they* (ie the system itself as a sort of entity) will accept conflict and debate within certain parameters only. If opposition or social conflict becomes too excessive, or poses a danger to the operations of the system (where vast interests assert themselves, in one way or the other), they will act as they need to act in order to rein in dissidence, social conflicts that go too far.

    This will be a big part of what happens next in America.

    I just don’t know if in the 1960s the political battles were so visible as they seem to be now. I mean, one faction fighting another faction in what seems an open battle that you can sort of see, but not really.

    I still ask the basic question (and no one has given an answer) What is going on in our present?

    How interesting though that at one time the state battled against Marxists and Communists and radical youth attempting to . . . what were they attempting? and now there is a strange reversal. Or is the notion of a reversal a false-perception?

    I need someone who can interpret the present to me, but there is no one. I can’t do it myself simply because I don’t understand enough.

      • How can I put this to you? Yes, WC definitely misrepresented himself, that is true. He also was or is a revolutionary, or in any case he advocated revolution. I think he had maniacal characteristics too.

        You could criticize him till the cow jumps the proverbial moon: but yet the research he did is pretty solid in respect to the secret wars — domestic, para-military wars — against the AIM.

        You, in your bubble of false-patriotism (if my assessment is correct) deliberately blind yourself to the facts about ‘straight power principles’. In this instance and thus in a hundred other instances. You simply do not want to see and understand ‘how power functions’. Thus: you remain like a child. Naive, insulated, deliberately ignorant. Manipulatable. Easily tricked.

        In this age of deceit and hypocrisy . . .

        The difference between you and me seems to be that I am not afraid to see into the machinations of power. You seem to prefer a fairy-tale.

        The FBI’s wars against radical Marxist types, and in AIM’s case as a (logical) extension of the Indian Wars, is for you ‘a bridge too far’. But the documentation is solid. It really did happen.

        Similar machinations were brought to bear against The Militia Movement. Ruby Ridge, Oklahoma.

        Shut your eyes Jim! It’s a scary world.

        To ‘see clearly in the present’ must be our objective, though it produces interior pain. But if you want to live in a kind of falsehood, you are free to.

        Yet there is — there must be — a reward for those who can see the machinations of power clearly. That is what should really interest you, but you choose to remain within (what seems to be) a fantasy structure. It’s very circular.

        • I know who my enemies are and why. You prefer the mental gymnastics of pseudo-academic deconstruction. Enjoy it, since you have the luxury.

          Unfortunately, it appears, even at my age, I will be required to help save my country from the adherents of the bullshit of Chomsky, Ward Churchill, Marantz,

          • What I find interesting about what you write — and in regard to this theme (essentially The Dread Chomsky and all its possible variations) you write exactly the same thing — is that it requires a substantial interpretive effort to understand what you are really saying, which is quite different from what appears on the surface.

            It is really tiresome, and the way you approach the topic is so shallow that it almost doesn’t warrant the retort (since you will let nothing get through to you), and yet I choose to turn this into a benefit, if only for myself. So, I will break this down:

            ‘Mental gymnastics’

            What you are trying to encapsulate, if I understand your jive correctly, is that because I read widely and know the arguments and ideas of people of all different political persuasions — and here I have to make it clear that you do not because you do not read any of them, and as I have already said you do not in any sense comprehend Chomsky’s viewpoint or his argument (nor Churchill, nor anyone really) — because I actually have experience with their ideas you are asserting that when I speak about either what is true or what is false in them that I am engaging in ‘mental gymnastics’. Feats of the mind, I take it? Vain projects? Vain undertakings?

            What is the opposite of this ‘gymnastics’ you refer to? What method and discipline are you referring to. I assume you have no idea because you only make faulty accusations and appear to have something to say.

            You are making a serious mistake, but you are too wedded to your simplistic ideas, and your simplistic (and unfair and thus unethical) judgment of me to be able to see it, to understand it. Essentially, *your problem* is based in this, or located in this area and in this error.

            You have no idea what you are talking about if the topic is Chomsky and his ideas. Either in his interpretation of American power in the political domain, or in his general philosophy (he is a philosopher and an accomplished one), nor of course in linguistics. However, what you do could be compared to asserting that because Chomsky has it wrong in his political ideas he must certainly be wrong in his linguistic theory. That because Chomsky’s orientation is socialist and sides with left-leaning popular movements (Black liberation, Gay liberation, feminism, self-determination of indigenous communities, self-determination of communities without political and economic power and clout: this list can go on quite a bit) you assume — you declare — that he must be wrong in all areas but especially in his views about ‘how power functions’ (which obviously has influenced my thought a great deal).

            Here, you are completely mistaken (in my view, as I always qualify). A person can be very wrong in one area and very right in another. It requires study and discernment to be able to sift it out. In the best of all possible environments it would require a community of concerned and also prepared people who engaged in good-faith conversation. That of course is the ideal of the University (and the ideal of the University is really a profound one).


            OK, fair enough. But please define for me the antonym of ‘pseudo’. Let’s start here:


            So, what is true academics? What is the true and proper approach to important ideas, in all areas, that you seem to be in possession of? If you have gnosis please reveal it. Don’t hold back!

            But let me be honest for you since you can’t and won’t: you are making stuff up, and you are projecting, because you have no idea!

            Am I making sense? How you have come to be, how and why you have appeared on the American Scene, how it is that you remain in ignorance and sho no desire to get out of it: this is why you are no part of the solution, but a part of the problem.


            I prefer the word ‘dismantle’ as deconstruction is something else altogether. I would argue that your pseudo-seriousness, your essential emptiness, results from cultural and intellectual processes of ‘deconstruction’. But in contradistinction what I do is constructive: I propose that something essential (intellectual and spiritual) must be recovered. So, your use of the term ‘deconstruction’ is a misunderstanding on your part. You do not really know what you are referring to.

            Now, to dismantle is quite different. For example, here I am ‘dismantling’ your badly constructed *ideas* which are little more than solidified sentiments. But my effort is 100% constructive. I am not interested in tearing down I am interested in building-up and reconstituting.


            No, I would suggest that you have a vague idea about who and what is your enemy and certainly ‘the enemy’. I say that but I qualify it too: based on what I have read of what you write. But I also am substantially unsure that most of the people who write on this blog really would be able to define ‘enemy’. It would be far better, far more intellectually honest, to turn the declaration into a QUESTION. And then, as I say, pose that question in the University.

            Unfortunately, it appears, even at my age, I will be required to help save my country from the adherents of the bullshit of Chomsky, Ward Churchill, Marantz,

            There is of course an element of truth in this, given for example the degree to which Obama had been influenced by Black Liberation theory and of course by Alinsky-method.

            This also requires dismantling. I am not opposed to the project that you seem to propose: dismantling what certain factions that have edged their way in to the interior parts of the American political system have done and are doing. No, not at all. But it is not as simplistic as you imply.

            And I would also turn your declaration about ‘saving your country’ into a question to be proposed in the (metaphorical and actual) University. Because how these things have come to be, and how your generation I might add (if I am clear about your approximate age) has participated in all of this, and how all of this developed, and what is the solution to the severe and dire problems in our present: I am not sure that you really have such clarity. Therefore it appears to me that, yes, ata superficial level you could ‘name enemies’. That’s all well and good. But much more is required if real opposition to them will be forthcoming.

          • Oh, and I almost forgot! Such is the result of your weird octopus inks! To obscure and confound.

            The observation that I made — the pointed suggestion really — has to do with ‘deep state enterprises’ and ‘machinations’ [Latin māchinārī, māchināt-, to design, contrive, from māchina, device; see machine] that are now going on as I suggest behind the scenes.

            I alluded to the FBI wars against the BPP because this shows State Police doing what you would have to see as ‘good and proper’ espionage work: to save the country from Marxist infiltrators (to put it in glossary, general terms). To put a brake on popular social organization and activism. To defeat (in a reasonable use of the word) popular democratic-based social movements. And to return things to a status quo and possibly a status quo ante.

            The topic is ‘social engineering’ and — I assert — it is those sectors and factions that have substantial economic, industrial and political power that are the ones empowered and capable to engineer socially.

            I merely am stating, without coming to conclusions about it, or making value-judgment — that such things go on. A State is bound to preserve itself and self-preservation is the essential a priori. The question — for me, for you, for all of us — is what exercise of the states’ power do we support? will we support? For example, if the Political Police root out those you define as ‘enemies’ and restore things to the normalcy you desire (a sort of *nostalgia*), will you be happy? will you give your support?

            What you seem to have issues understanding is that the essential and the core Power Structure of the US has engaged in clandestine intelligence and para-military operations in its molding of the exterior international political world. The ‘world’ built in the Postwar demanded it. Or, to gain a neo-empire and to administer it requires power-based para-military machinations. See The Managerial State.

            Is this so difficult for you to grasp? Is this difficult for anyone? Don’t you see? This is how power functions, and it necessarily must function para-democratically.

            Therefore what I am suggesting is to be aware of these machinations, and to observe them as they unfold. And they will unfold and they are unfolding. The tip of the iceberg is the ideological and counter free-speech *war* that is forming. The other side of this is the actual machinations of deeply embedded intelligence agencies and operatives. For this reason the mention of the FBI’s secret wars agains the AIM has relevancy. For this reason alone.

        • Did the FBI conduct clandestine, para-military protracted ‘ops’ against the AIM on the reservations in the 1970s.

          If ‘yes’ — and yes is the answer — what are the ramifications of the use of such para-military forces to control civil processes, abroad and also ‘at home’?

          That is the question.

  6. “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”~George Orwell. I guess Marantz never read him at all or the Declaration Of Independence. Probably not part of the curriculum at NYU School of Journalism.

  7. Something appears to be missing in Marantz’s first sentence. He states

    …just as intellectually dishonest and just as morally bankrupt.

    Just as compared to what or was there a preceding thought we did not see.

    • My fault—the predicate was off topic, but I should have included it. It was,

      “What if I’d invoked the ubiquity of combat weapons in civilian life and the absence of background checks, and he’d responded with a shrug? Nothing to be done. Ever heard of the Second Amendment?”

  8. “Child pornography is an anomaly, not treated as speech by the law because it is treated as evidence of a crime.”

    If only. Child porn also includes drawings of fictional characters, some of them not even human (such as elves). Yes, I forget the name but a famous case had a guy convicted for importing some manga that had teenage elves getting it on.

    Child porn laws (and porn laws in general) have succeeded in all but eviscerating parts of the First Amendment over the past 20 years. The laws are often ex-post facto too. Yes, technically it’s illegal to possess old pictures of Brooke Shields in “Pretty Baby”. It’s illegal to possess (or even view) 15 year old boobies (mid teen age boobs), such as used to be occasionally shown in the British Rag “The Star” not even 15 years ago before it was made illegal.Yes, it’s thought crime and since it’s done to ‘save the children’ no-one ever stops to question the Constitutional or legal precedents being set, nor the efficiency(as public policy) of throwing people looking at drawings in with people looking at real teens posing for a magazine, or real teens posing for a magazine, in with real prepubescent children engaged in sexual conduct.

    • Unless the drawing was proven to be using live models, I have no idea how that description could be accurate. You can draw anything you like: sex with babies, babies having sex with Lizards, anything.

      • You don’t know about the Protect Act?
        Until or unless parts of this are declared unconstitutional, it stands.
        One of the provisions is that:
        “Prohibits drawings, sculptures, and pictures of such drawings and sculptures depicting minors in actions or situations that meet the Miller test of being obscene, OR are engaged in sex acts that are deemed to meet the same obscene condition. The law does not explicitly state that images of fictional beings who appear to be under 18 engaged in sexual acts that are not deemed to be obscene are rendered illegal in and of their own condition (illustration of sex of fictional minors).”

        I’m sure as a lawyer you know that “I know it when I see it” doesn’t give one much protection against a charge of obscenity.

        Anyway, I’ll pass along the Elf case when I find it. One thing I do know is it was a regular Japanese Hentai manga. There were no live people involved in any way, shape, or form.

        • The case you are referring to is the 2008 prosecution of Christopher Handley, a “prolific collector” of manga. He pleaded guilty to charges related to the Protect Act, in exchange for a six-month plea deal, five years of probation, and forfeiture of his collection of manga and anime that had been seized by police, because he was facing a maximum sentence of up to twenty years.

          He was the first person charged under the PROTECT Act for the lone act of possessing art deemed obscene, in the form of seven manga graphic novels ordered from Japan, and so far, the only one, I believe. United States district court Judge James E. Gritzner ruled that two parts of the Protect Act criminalizing “a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting” were unconstitutional. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys agree that the plea deal was due to the high risk of a constitutional challenge, and the federal government even agreed that Handley would not be required to register as a sex offender.

          In other words, the statute is unconstitutional, everybody knows it, and as soon as someone decides to challenge it all the way to SCOTUS, it’s going down. There are quite a few laws on the books like that, and they are there—unethically—to intimidate and threaten. In fact, they chill speech, and are unethical to the core.

          Thanks for reminding me: I had forgotten about the dastardly Protect Act. I need to post about it, in fact.

          • Yes, the PROTECT act would be a great subject for a blog post.

            The judicial power extends to all cases ” in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority”. A law repugnant to the Constitution is void, and as such, a court lacks jurisdiction to hear a criminal prosecution arising from an unconstitutional law. Since this is a jurisdictional issue, and subject-matter jurisdiction can not be waived, a court can rule a law unconstitutional even if both the prosecution and the defense say otherwise, if such a ruling obviates subject matter jurisdiction.

    • And she relies on the “Twitter is a private corporation and platform and being non governmental is not subject to First Amendment strictures.” She then goes on to say she’s just asking Twitter to ban Trump because he’s violated their terms of use. Nothing to see here. Move on. She’s not very smart and shes nasty. A bad combination.

  9. That such a governing document that could only limit government restrictions on free speech also stood for a cultural, societal and ethical norm that freedom of speech was central to the Declaration’s summary of human rights would normally be clear to anyone who bothered to study the two documents as well as research the relationship between law, morality and ethics.

    This same argument applies to due process.

    A private organization is not normally ethically required to provide all of the procedural protections of a federal criminal trial, it is ethically obligated to not treat mere rumors of wrongdoing as true.

  10. Based on what people have been calling hate speech and incitement to violence over the past few years I think the extremists int he political left have polluted the meanings of hate speech and incitement of violence. Let me try to explain.

    In the past hate speech meant that the purpose of the speakers words was to spread hate against others, like the KKK spreading hate against blacks or the Nazi’s spreading hate against the Jews, now the political left has polluted it into meaning that if what the speaker says, no matter what it is, causes you to hate the speaker and those that support the speaker then that speaker is engaging in hate speech.

    In the past, incitement of violence meant that the purpose of the speakers words were to incite the speaker’s supporters into acts of violence towards others/opposition, the political left has polluted this into meaning that if what the speaker says, no matter what it is, causes you to react with violence towards the speaker or those that support the speaker then the speaker is inciting violence.

    Before hate speech and incitement of violence were conditions based upon the of purpose of the speaker, now it’s been polluted into conditions based upon the reaction from the opposition to the speaker or in some cases the reaction to the perceived possibility of what the speaker might say. In today’s world, if what I say (or might say) causes you to react with hate towards me and my supporters then I am engaging in hate speech and if what I say (or might say) causes you to react violently towards me and my supporters then I am inciting violence.

    I think I worded all that in a way that you can get the idea.

    The extremists have been polluting the meaning of all sorts of things over the past couple of decades in an effort to shut down their opposition but they’ve gone completely off the rails over the past few years all in obvious efforts to shut down the free speech of those they oppose.

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