Why the left doesn’t believe in free speech

Why the left doesn’t believe in free speech November 9, 2015

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.

From Michael Barone, Liberals’ response to dissent: Shut up | Washington Examiner:

Consider the proliferation of speech codes at our colleges and universities. The website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sets out the speech codes at 400 of the nation’s largest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning. The liberals who run these institutions — you won’t find many non-liberals among their faculties and administrations — have decided to limit their students’ First Amendment right of freedom of speech. . . .

We are told that speech codes are necessary because some students may be offended by what others say. In recent years we have been warned that seemingly innocuous phrases may be “microaggressions” that must be stamped out and that “trigger warnings” should be administered to warn students of possibly upsetting material.

Sadly, students join in on the fun. They demonstrate to block speeches on campus of people like George Will, Condoleezza Rice and IMF head Christine Lagarde. Musn’t let any dissenting voices or dissident ideas be heard. This is liberalism at work in America today. . . .

Colleges and universities remain largely no-go territory for those who disagree with prevailing campus opinion. A notable exception is Liberty University, founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, whose mostly conservative students in great numbers listened politely and attentively to a speech by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Quite a contrast with places like Harvard.

Beyond the campus, liberals are also eager to restrict free speech. This is apparent in some responses to those who argue that global warming may not be as inevitable and harmful as most liberals believe, and that while increased carbon emissions would surely raise temperatures if they were the only factor affecting climate, some other factors just might be involved.

Many liberals won’t hear of this—and don’t want anyone else to either. On websites, they call for global warming “deniers” (a word used to suggest kinship with those who deny that the Holocaust occurred) to be imprisoned or even executed as heretics. Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has called for criminal investigations of global warming theory critics under the federal anti-racketeering statutes.

[Keep reading. . .]

I’m not accusing all “liberals” of being against free speech.  “Liberal,” after all, comes from the word for “freedom,” as in “liberty” and “the liberal arts” (the kind of education designed to form a free citizen).  But sometimes leftist ideology loses that kind of liberalism.

And I am aware that regimes of the “right” also suppress free speech.  But those too tend to be collectivist  and to have a Nietzschean view of power.


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