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Where is the right doing this?

by Greg Krehbiel on 17 April 2014

As I read The slow death of free speech: How the Left, here and abroad, is trying to shut down debate — from Islam and Israel to global warming and gay marriage I started to wonder where the right is doing this sort of thing.

Isn’t speech censorship coming almost exclusively from the left these days? Shouldn’t liberals be concerned about this?

It seems to me that liberalism has an advantage in the public square, and that advantage is that it doesn’t have the same restraints that conservatives impose on themselves.

Conservatives, for example, may hate the way the BLM is treating ranchers in Nevada, but they believe in the rule of law, so they’ll admit that Bundy is in the wrong. IOW, while conservatives have policy goals and objectives they would like to pursue, they temper these things against a broader array of concerns.

Clearly not all conservatives behave this way. Some will grasp onto any reed-thin justification for “their side.” But I see this sort of principled restraint on the right far more than I see it on the left.

Liberals don’t seem to be constrained by such things. They’re not thinking about free speech rights as they shout down the campus speaker. They don’t care about accuracy and honesty when they demagogue on women’s pay, or gun control. Barack Obama can be against gay marriage, and two years later accuse people who are against gay marriage of being bigots, and somehow that makes sense to a liberal.

Here’s how I understand this. If you have a better explanation, please enlighten me.

“Progressive” really is the better word for liberals, because everything is about moving towards some goal. The means don’t really matter. If we have to trample on some people in the process, or break some rules, well … you have to break some eggs to make an omelet.

Shouting down the campus speaker makes sense because they’re trying to create a world in which such ideas aren’t considered. This vague concept of “free speech” is far less important than the immediate concern of eliminating hate, or … whatever.

-- 2014-04-17  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 9

  1. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    17 April 2014 @ 12:59 pm

    I’ll give you one example where people on the right strongly oppose dissenting opinion. Roe V. Wade. Please note that it is no longer the law of the land. The protections for the unborn in Roe V. Wade had been overturned and superseded.

    Endorsing the protections for the unborn and the right to privacy of Roe V. Wade would be a winning strategy for Republicans. It would be a small step in the right direction for conservatives and right to lifers. It would immediately eliminate a major scare tactic and talking point of liberals and Democrats. It has the potential of creating a “clash of the titans” by driving a wedge between women’s rights supporters and Obama care supporters.

    But try to have a conversation about this with conservatives, and watch what happens.

    I agree that progressives chip away at things one small step at a time. Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to have an all or nothing strategy, always trying for a bridge too far. And so anyone who takes a reasonable incremental approach is shouted down by the right, especially in the primaries.

  2. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    17 April 2014 @ 3:21 pm

    I agree that the Republican primaries filter out any candidate that doesn’t have a very strict pro-life position, and it may be that is a bad strategy for the Republican party.

    But ISTM that is a different sort of thing than the way the left shouts down speakers at college campuses, or won’t even allow any dissenting views on man-made climate change.

    I have, in weak moments, listened to horrible people like Michael Savage, and they shout down and insult anybody who doesn’t toe the conservative line. But other than that it doesn’t seem to be all that prevalent.

  3. Ken Crawford
    17 April 2014 @ 3:22 pm

    Dave, I’m very confused by your post. Maybe I’m just ignorant… could you explain:

    How is Roe V. Wade “overturned and superseded”?

    What do you mean by “Endorsing the protections for the unborn and the right to privacy of Roe V. Wade”?

  4. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    17 April 2014 @ 3:45 pm

    @Ken: from “The Court later rejected Roe’s trimester framework, while affirming Roe’s central holding that a person has a right to abortion until viability.”

    a return to the trimester framework of Roe v Wade would be a step in the right direction, protecting the lives of unborn children.

    There’s lots more information, including information about the right to privacy (asserted by Roe V. Wade, in my opinion violated by Obamacare) in the Wikipedia article.

  5. smitemouth
    17 April 2014 @ 5:00 pm

    Maybe he’s referring to the right’s all or nothing take on abortion–not that the left doesn’t have it too.

    I don’t read so much shouting down on campuses–but at some conservative campuses, they wouldn’t even invite some liberal speaker to speak. At Bob Jones or Liberty…they aren’t going to invite someone that might have an opposing view. The speaker isn’t even going to get a chance to get shouted down.

    I’ve been reading about how some municipalities, independent of their state, have instituted minimum wage hikes. Well, supposedly the “conservative” view is that local control is better–school boards, etc., you name it. Well, the legislature in our state passed, and the governor signed, a law that prohibits municipalities from raising the minimum wage. ISTM, “overreaching government control and intrusion is bad–unless we do it.”

    This is a state where I can’t even by a real cold beer at a store because the freaking baptists control everything.

  6. rr
    17 April 2014 @ 5:48 pm

    To be fair, many conservatives did attempt to shout down anyone who questioned what the Bush administration did in the run up to the Iraq War and in the immediate years that followed as “unpatriotic.”

    That said, while conservatives aren’t perfect, the left, or at least a fairly influential segment of the left, has a much longer track record with this kind of behavior. The PC police have been in operation since at least the 1990s and have been particularly active of late. In other words, it’s a bug with conservatives and a feature with much of the left.

  7. pentamom pentamom
    17 April 2014 @ 11:17 pm

    I think there’s a difference between the metaphorical shout down in what rr’s describing, and the literal shouting down in what Greg’s describing — unless rr has something in mind of which I’m unaware. As far as I know, the “shouting down” of the people who opposed the way involved accusations, sometimes scurrilous ones, of people being unpatriotic, which may well have been an attempt to shame them into silence, but was not literally preventing them from speaking or being heard. As far as I know, the pro-war discourse of that era rarely if ever involved attempts to literally prevent those people from having a forum for speaking, or from being heard if they did speak. That’s what Greg is pointing to — that kind of literal shouting down.

    There may be cases of that from the right that I’ve overlooked but I don’t think even the most vehement behavior before the Iraq War was a case of that, unless there’s stuff of which I’m unaware.

  8. Robin R.
    18 April 2014 @ 9:12 am

    I find it interesting that it is not always the right that gets shouted down by the left. Sometimes it is left shouting down left, as in the case of preferring Germaine Greer over Aayan Hirsi Ali. This is because the left has taken on a good many(sometimes not fully compatible) causes which creates a lot of tension within their ranks. It therefore has a harder time getting their act together than its opponents on the right. For the time being, the left may prevail, but that won’t last long. They will fall apart as they have in the past, and their rightwing opponents will prevail. But by that time the left will have instituted certain social changes that the right will have to accomodate. So the new right will look a lot like yesterday’s left. That, in my opinion, is how the political dialectic in the west generally works.

  9. rr
    18 April 2014 @ 9:57 pm

    There is indeed a difference between a metaphorical shouting down and a literal shouting down. The first involves name-calling (e.g. “unpatriotic” or “bigot”) to shame others into silence while the second seeks to prevent others from speaking at all. Both the right and left have engaged in the first kind, although the left more than the right. Only the left has engaged in the second kind.