• Am I… Conservative Alt-Right?

    May 3, 2017

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America



    The New York Times took a piece I wrote strongly defending the right to free speech, the raw concept of unfettered speech from a content-neutral position, and called it Right Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss, intended as a compliment.


    What I wrote was directly in line with the absolutist view of free speech and the First Amendment I have always taken: let them speak. Except for the very narrow and specific restrictions on speech defined over the years by the Supreme Court, let them speak. Let good ideas whoop bad ideas. Look for ways to allow more speech, not loopholes that might let an institution get away with silencing a speaker. It is as much of a philosophical argument as a legal one.

    My ideas are not particularly new. They are the same positions taken by the American Civil Liberties Union, and for that matter, most of the modern Supreme Court. I really didn’t invent anything here, though hopefully my version of the idea was neatly typed and well-presented.

    So how did I end up becoming a conservative for defending free speech?

    Though free speech should be an American position, for the most part it has been traditionally associated with progressive politics. Free speech enabled the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, got extreme acts of protest such as flag burning recognized as protected speech, ended silly and law enforcement resource-wasting campaigns against nude photos and naughty song lyrics, and grew alongside egalitarian tools like the Internet to bring all sorts of voices into the public marketplace of ideas.


    Yet in a few short months since Trump’s election, everything seemed to change.

    Some Progressives morphed into “anti-fascists” who believe it is OK to punch someone they deem a “nazi” in the head to silence their speech. Universities which made their political bones via the Free Speech Movement are trying tricks like de-platforming speakers (“You have a right to free speech but we don’t have an obligation to let you speak here.”) Those same people were only last summer raising their voices against so-called Free Speech Zones that fenced protesters off miles from the Republican and Democratic Party Conventions so they could protest to their heart’s delight without anyone hearing them.

    Students at liberal colleges are proud of themselves for shouting down invited speakers who say “offensive things,” and have even convinced themselves such a Heckler’s Vote is a form of free speech itself, instead of old-fashioned brownshirt mob rule. A key debate now is how much wiggle room private and semi-private schools have to get away with denying someone’s First Amendment rights. Some student groups are pleased when they think they’ve figured out a way around the 1A and can block a speaker, forgetting such tricks were used to silence the civil rights movement and women’s groups.

    My article defending the right of all to speak was pushed into “conservative” categories because the example I built the piece around was Ann Coulter at Berkeley. I have never heard Coulter speak. I’ve never read any of her books and to be honest, could care less what she has to say. From some quick Googling, it seems like my politics and Ann’s generally do not agree. And that’s the whole point of course –support her right to speak while not necessarily supporting what she says.

    That now, apparently, has become a right wing position to take. It is indeed a strange world.



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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • RICH BAUER said...

      1

      The NYT editor obviously confused the writer’s intention of mentioning your opinion as the right one and changed the article into a right versus left one for the click bait.

      05/3/17 9:14 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      2

      Peter…

      Just go with it….

      It makes for good copy…. And, as a side benefit….. Really pisses off the extreme left nuts.
      And they are a lot of fun to watch on youtube. Hours of good, wholesome fun.

      Don’t think I will ever get tired of watching the screaming woman from the DC protest. Its just too funny.

      M

      05/3/17 10:12 AM | Comment Link

    • Traven said...

      3

      Peter.. Old PR wisdom: “Say whatever you like about me . Just spell my name right.”
      People like the NYT are like those who live in glass houses. They shouldn’t throw stones.

      05/3/17 11:24 AM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...

      4

      Right to speak is complemented by the right not to listen; if one so chooses; nee, FREEDOM !

      05/3/17 12:42 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      5

      FYI: Laughing is not protected speech

      A Virginia woman is facing a year in jail after a jury convicted her of disrupting the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions after she loudly laughed during it.

      Per the New York Times, Code Pink activist Desiree A. Fairooz was found guilty on Wednesday of charges of disorderly conduct and parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds. However, the only major disruption that Fairooz committed was laughing during the hearing, which was enough to get her escorted from the chamber.

      Now that she’s been convicted, Fairooz could spend up to a year in prison.

      “We’ll face that music when we get to that,” the 61-year-old Fairooz said after the trial. “I’m so disgusted with so many different aspects of our current government.”

      Silence is golden, laughing is a year in the slammer.

      05/3/17 3:20 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      6

      Speaking of totally nuts, Donald Trump and the Repugnicans should be for Obamacare because it covers pre-existing mental illness.

      05/3/17 3:24 PM | Comment Link

    • Traven said...

      7

      The real historical record of the NYT from it’s inception.

      it helps to go back to the beginning of the Times dynasty, as Times veteran John L. Hess (Extra!, 1/00) did in his review of The Trust: The Powerful and Private Family Behind the New York Times, by Susan Tifft and Alex Jones (not that Alex Jones):

      “How did [Adolph] Ochs, a virtual bankrupt from Chattanooga, persuade Wall Street to set him up with the moribund New York Times? Answer: The financiers were anxious to keep the paper alive as a Democratic voice against the populist Democratic candidate for president, William Jennings Bryan, who was stirring the masses with that speech about the Cross of Gold. Ochs bought a fine new suit, set up a fake bank account as reference, and persuaded J.P. Morgan and others to bankroll the purchase. His paper promptly pilloried Bryan, and Ochs marched with his staff in a businessmen’s parade against him.

      Much has changed since 1896, but in 2017, the Times still defends establishment, business-oriented liberalism against the populist left. In part it does this by attacking the left directly—see the columns of Paul Krugman during the 2016 Democratic primaries—but the more meaningful sustenance they give to the liberal elite is to validate them as the left-most pole of respectable discourse.”

      05/3/17 4:06 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      8

      Neo Liberalism and others, you failed The People. Neo Cons., you too mfers. Onward…Have a nice day!

      05/3/17 4:29 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      9

      Tell me about Hillary, Rachel Midew, MSNBC, Podesta, Russia,D & R lies for the MIC, etc., Sorry, I deleted the rest of comments. I hope PVB writes an editorial or commentary in the NY Times, and pulls one over on them! Sarcassim rules.

      05/3/17 4:39 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      10

      Rich.

      Once again… Your wrong.

      Fairooz says she only laughed.

      The reality is… She was dressed all in pink… With one of the weird hats on… Holding an 8 foot banner… Heckling the entire proceedings… Two others that were arrested and charged …her friends… Were dressed as KKK members… Complete with those cute little white robes those bastards like…

      Good luck defending that one, Rich.

      M

      05/3/17 7:14 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      11

      Traven: My wife and I always go to the Morgan Museum before we see a show at the Irish Rep. As we pay the entrance fee I say we’re here to see Mr. Morgan’s artistic hoardings- I mean artistic holdings. The museum staff is never amused.

      05/3/17 10:07 PM | Comment Link

    • LJ said...

      12

      If one accepts conservative as “holding to traditional attitudes and values” then supporting the right to free speech, as defined by USA constitution and Supreme Court rulings, then your views qualify as conservative. I can’t see any way they fit with ‘Alt-Right’ tho’

      But when ‘main street’ and even so called ‘progressive alternative’ media define Hillary Clinton as progressive, and Kim Kardashian as feminist, it is obvious that labels really do not mean anything, or maybe can mean whatever the person using them decides they mean.

      05/4/17 12:23 AM | Comment Link

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