Voting for authoritarianism

Free and democratic societies, historically, come to an end when the people freely and democratically vote for an authoritarian leader to end freedom and democracy. (Think Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Lenin. . . .)  Now Donald Trump is saying that he wants to limit the First Amendment by changing the libel laws so that journalists and others who write “negative” things can be punished.

Trump surely lacks the magnitude of those historical tyrants, but the public’s impulse to turn in time of disillusionment to “a strong leader” who will suspend their rights continues.

After the jump, George Will catalogues Trump’s authoritarian statements and calls establishment Republicans like Chris Christie who are now supporting him to account. [Read more…]

Outlawing visits to websites

ISIS and other jihadist groups are using the internet to spread their message and recruit new members.  To combat this, Eric Posner, a prominent law professor from the University of Chicago, says that we need to put limits on freedom of speech.  Specifically, he proposes in Slate that we make it illegal for anyone to visit or link to or point other people to jihadist websites.

Again, note the syndrome:  Our security is at risk, so eliminate civil liberties!  Fear as the pretext for doing away with freedom. [Read more…]

How barring all Muslims is like gun control

Donald Trump has called for banning all Muslims from entering the United States, not only as immigrants but as tourists.  He defends this religious discrimination by invoking  Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s internment  of Japanese-Americans!

Francis Schaeffer predicted that there would come a time when Americans would be so fixated on their personal peace and affluence that they would trade away their civil liberties to someone who promised them greater security.  Today one faction of the public is so afraid of terrorism that it wants to eliminate Second Amendment rights.  Another faction is so afraid of terrorism that it wants to suspend religious freedom. *  Aren’t both of these extreme reactions fulfillments of Schaeffer’s prediction? [Read more…]

Prosecute global warming skeptics?

A group of 20 scientists is urging the president to prosecute scientists and organizations  that question global warming. Now a Rasmussen survey has found that 27% of Democrats agree with that approach.  So do 11% of Republicans and 12% of Independents. [Read more…]

Why the left doesn’t believe in free speech

Michael Barone has a fascinating column, excerpted after the jump, about how leftists, on campuses and elsewhere, are trying to silence anyone who disagrees with them.  But this should not be surprising.

The hard left, whether of the Marxist variety or the post-Marxist variety (which substitutes oppression of women, races, or other groups for the Marxist focus on economic oppression and class struggle) nearly always rejects free speech, as well as other civil liberties, whenever they get into power, as we have seen in communist regimes  If you reject individualism in favor of collectivism, believe that liberty is a bourgeois value designed to promote capitalism, and think that those in power always almost by definition suppress those who oppose them, then, yes, you will reject free speech.

The left certainly holds the power at most college campuses and in some other political and cultural circles, so of course they will impose speech codes and punish dissenters. [Read more…]

“Fundamental” vs. “nonfundamental” rights

In a column on the Supreme Court agreeing to hear a case involving a California law requiring that political donor lists be made public, George Will describes a curious legal distinction between “fundamental” rights that cannot be abridged and lesser “nonfundamental” rights that can be abridged if there is a “rational basis.”  This current case, according to Will, would take the dangerous step of applying the “rational basis” criterion to a fundamental right. [Read more…]