The war between Israel and Hamas clarifies, once again, the American situation
Free speech is vital to all Americans. And the test is when you despise what is being said. The limits to free speech, decided in various Supreme Court Cases are:
"incitement, defamation, fraud, obscenity, child pornography, fighting words, and threats."
Everything else is allowed.
As a Jew living in the American diaspora (and vitally interested in a safe and secure Jewish homeland), I am more concerned with upholding free speech than I am with hateful, anti-Semitic rhetoric on college campuses.
Pretty sure I said this here before: most people do not have principles; rather, they have in-group loyalties.
A government that bases rights on race is apartheid. One that bases it on religion is a theocracy. Both are, in all cases, bad.
The freedom of speech is the bedrock of our Democracy. We must allow people to say what they want to say freely - without being tossed off social media or from other news sources. That said of course there are always repercussions to things we say. The key here is that speech cannot be suppressed by the government either officially or through the threat of some type of sanctions. Speech we don't like is just that - and we always have the right and opportunity to disagree - not to repress. It has been awful for me to see Democrats who have advocated the deletion of comments from FB or X because they disagree - whether it be about Covid policy or Israel or something else. We must preserve our democracy and that means defending the rights of people we disagree with.
The idea that Jews should be afraid on campus because thousands are chanting about the destruction of Israel and encouraging intifadas gets into calls for violence. So, yes, talk about cease fires, talk about settlements, talk about a free Palestinian state. But don’t make Jews have to hide in rooms when you pound on the doors. Don’t engage in intimidation. Don’t engage in bullying. There would be a zero tolerance policy for any student who made black students feel unsafe; comparatively there’s huge tolerance for free speech of Palestinian sympathizers.
I’d be interested in hearing more about what you mean by: “The explosion of DEI was as inevitable as its ultimate failure.” What DEI efforts, measured how?
Free speech is for the first time in my lifetime, at threat of being burned at the stake. It is a great irony that it is the Democratic party that lit the fuse. Thank you for standing up for this bedrock principle when it is unpopular to do so.
I mean, the entire reason we got Trump after Romney and McCain before is that conservatives were tired of playing with one hand behind their back when it came to morality, American ideals, and basic philosophical principles like this. While the left was kind of coming to realize they were unleashing a monster in the summer of 2015, Trump's rise to political fame caused lefties to double-down on speech restriction psychosis.
It's not "hypocrisy" if, after a dozen years of being on the run, you give some payback in a situation when other side is *clearly* (to American independent observers) going beyond the pale. The left *has* to get a taste of its own medicine, *and* realize that it's been at fault for this decade-plus in this area and *truly* do some introspection, or there won't be any lasting change. When major figures on the left (including the institutional left, like NYT and WaPo) start putting out major mea culpas (in the "sorry we didn't post about all these atrocities Saddam Hussein did earlier but we wanted to keep our access" manner from CNN), *then* we can start thinking about calling a truce here.
Hey, that sure sounds like a familiar situation now doesn't it?
Andrew Sullivan isn't the only one of the four 'anti-woke' ppl you first mentioned who has stuck to his free speech principles. Bari Weiss ran a piece in the Free Press specifically saying that speech about the war shouldn't be shut down even if you disagree with it, Glenn Greenwald has talked about the criminalization of pro-Palestinian speech and protests in Europe and the calls for them to be punished here in the US almost every night on his show as well as on Twitter. Tiabbi has also called out the same. If you haven't noticed any of that then you just haven't been paying attention.
What a lot of people seem not to understand is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a war, and one that is now a serious threat to world peace. The question of proportionality is literally beside the point. What matters is that the war ends, not that it goes on forever in multigenerational tit-for-tat violence that some outside observers deem "proportional."
For perspective here: to end the Pacific War, the Americans burned all the cities of Japan, killed a million civilians and blockaded the entire country so that the living could get neither food nor fuel from the outside. Was anyone talking about this as a "disproportionate response" for the 3,000 or so military deaths at Pearl Harbor? The participants would see this as a total irrelevancy. The Japanese Imperial regime, like Hamas, was a genocidal death cult and a dire threat to world peace. The only relevant metric was whether this stupendous level of violence was going to end the war faster. Because the Americans ended the war this way, it became possible for Japan to become the peaceful, prosperous nation and good world citizen that it is today. And many millions of Japanese are alive today because we did that.
If the war ends now, the grandchildren of the Palestinian survivors might indeed be able to live freely between the river and the sea, beside and in peace with their Jewish neighbors. But the war has to end first. After the events of this month, do you see any other pathway for that?
This is thoughtful. It raises the question for me, however, that while free speech should be protected, I am comfortable with there being certain consequences for speech that is particularly irresponsible or hateful.
I am not uncomfortable, for example, with a potential employer holding a law student responsible for their comments and choosing not to hire them. That approach seems consistent with free speech - the speech is protected, but for practical and other reasons, I don’t have to hire the person at my firm or company.
I am concerned with the “bus doxxing” behavior too, but I don’t think you’re saying it shouldn’t be permitted, though it creates safety issues for those individuals.
In sum, free speech can be protected, but speakers cannot be expected to be free from consequences associated with their speech.
I care. But I do think there is also a spectrum here. Here's how I come out on the various controversies and questions:
- I think any restrictions on the ability to protest against Israel or for Palestinians (or even Hamas) are wrong. Clear first amendment freedoms.
- Don't think anyone's immigration status should be affected by their political beliefs either.
- Think the firing over the Onion article was utterly ridiculous and the ArtForum one was wrong as well.
- While had I been the decision maker at the 92nd Street Y, I would not have postponed the lecture. Having said that, I don't have a significant problem with the decision either. I think it's legitimate for a Jewish organization to decide that now is the not the time it wants to honor and/or highlight folks who are critical of Israel. Similarly, I think it would legit for a Muslim org to make a similar decision about someone calling for support of Israel's actions in Gaza.
- Thought the mobile billboard and Ackerman's call for a list of names are wrong. Having said that, while I generally believe that people's politics should not affect their jobs (unless politics are an important component of that job), I do think there are lines. I would have concerns about my company hiring or keeping on someone who signed a petition defending the KKK or Timothy McVeigh, and I think defending Hamas is on that same moral plane. So while I don't think we should be seeking out the names of college students in the orgs that signed some of those statements (many of whom likely had no idea about the statements), if someone intentionally supports organizations like Hamas, the KKK, Hezbollah, or the Proud Boys, I think that's probably fair ground to be considered in employment decisions.
Sorry Ross. Your empathy is laudable but your reasoning is so deeply flawed as to be laughable. Someone once said "kindness to the cruel inevitably ends in cruelty to the kind."
Nobody disputes that innocent Palestinians died and will die. That's one of Hamas's goals; to lure the weak minded and illogical thinkers to their side.
The difference in this war is simple. One side targets civilians. One side doesn't. One side gleefully boasts of its inhumanity and genocidal goals. The other is reluctantly engaged in a war is doesn't want, but has no option except to pursue.
If you don't understand the difference, you might belong to the group noted above.
The eradication of Hamas is a gift to Israelis, Palestinians and the world.
I’m sorry you do not know the difference between free speech and hate speech.
This is a principled article. Good stuff RB.
Thanks for this....