If you thought that the debate about free speech versus hate speech had cooled down a little, just take a look at Twitter.
In between breathless exclamations that President Donald Trump is the next incarnation of Hitler, a tyrant dragging us back into the dark ages and bringing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale to life, the left has seized on a curious and dangerous (albeit old and repeated) attempt to limit the First Amendment under the guise of outlawing “hate speech.”
One such leftist – Michael Oman-Reagan – took to Twitter to lament America’s free-speech “myth”, as he called it, and to talk about how limits on “hate speech” will make us more free. In a series of tweets, Oman-Reagan says the following:
“The US free speech myth is toxic. There are laws restricting hate propaganda” in Canada – you know what? Canadians are not less free.”
In fact, Glenn Greenwald wrote in Salon that Canada’s laws are “creepy tyranny” and says:
I’ve written many times before about the evils of “hate speech” laws that are prevalent in Canada and Europe — people being fined, prosecuted and hauled before official tribunals for expressing political opinions which the State has prohibited and criminalized. I won’t rehash those arguments here, but I do want to note a particularly creepy illustration of how these laws manifest. The far-right hatemonger Ann Coulter was invited by a campus conservative group to speak at the University of Ottawa, and the Vice Provost of that college sent Coulter a letter warning her that she may be subject to criminal prosecution if the views she expresses fall into the realm of prohibited viewpoints.
Biblical speech opposing homosexual behavior is also a hate crime, as is “anti-transgender speech” which is punishable by up to two years in prison. And Canada is working on a anti-blasphemy bill that critics say would criminalize “Islamophobia”, or any criticism of Islam.
Oman-Reagan goes on to write that “People have less free speech in an environment where hate propaganda is protected than they do in a place where it is restricted.”
Oman-Reagan is arguing that less free speech equals more free speech. Somehow. In a magical land of unicorns and fairies.
That makes no sense to the thinking person. “Hate propaganda” is not eliminated when it is outlawed; it flourishes in bodies that skirt the law and hide it from public view. Hate speech is best exposed to the sunlight, where it can be counteracted with more free speech.
Why does Oman-Reagan fail to see this fact or is willfully ignorant it? Is he afraid the robust exchange of ideas – even ideas he finds abhorrent – might mean people agree with the ideas he finds abhorrent? Remember that the left has cast a wide net in what is defined as “hate speech” these days – mere disagreement with, say, transgender transitioning of five-year-olds is not only “hate speech” but “violent speech.”
Or does Oman-Reagan really mean that the ideas he likes and approves of flourish better when left unchallenged by his definition of “hate propaganda?”
In a completely un-ironic follow up to his “Canadians aren’t less free” comment, Oman-Regan then goes on to state, “If Donald Trump had been running for office in Canada he could have been charged with a crime for his hate propaganda.”
Remind me again how Canadians are more free, Mr. Oman-Reagan?
I’ll give you a hint: people threatened with criminal charges aren’t more free.
I did not vote for Trump and find his presidency rather laughable, if not downright depressing some days, yet to say his rhetoric rises to the level of criminal prosecution is beyond comprehension. Unless, of course, the goal of such laws isn’t to protect speech but to punish unpopular speech.
Oman-Reagan ties his comments into immigration, “When someone says Mexican immigrants are rapists” – there is ZERO value in protecting lies meant to rip apart human society.”
Does this apply to speech directed towards whites, who are continually referred to as oppressors who must be exterminated in certain leftist circles? Or at speech towards men, all of whom are classified as rapists, according to some feminists? Or at speech directed towards Christians, when they’re called bigots and homophobes for their faith? Or women who, when they don’t toe the left’s line, are called vile names and threatened with “hate f*cking”?
If not, why not?
Oh, because, “Free speech doesn’t exist in the US, the myth of it does. That myth is used to protect the powerful majority who incite violence and hate.”
There we go. The aforementioned groups – whites, males, certain women, Christians – are the “powerful majority” who “incite violence and hate.”
But when comedian Kathy Griffin holds up a bloody head of Donald Trump – a gory image his 11-year-old son thought was real – it’s “comedy” and protected. It’s not inciting violence…it’s art that “creates dialogue.”
Except the left – which thinks Trump is a tyrant hellbent on oppressing the American people – fails to see this legislation will return to bite them in the rear. They assume they’ll have, or regain, and forever hold power to enforce these laws. Except they won’t. And they do not like being held to their own rules.
One needs look no further than Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) bought a ticket to an all-women showing of “Wonder Woman” in New York City. The left lost their collective minds, and when several conservatives pointed out that they were the ones who said businesses couldn’t discriminate against who they served (see all the kerfuffle over Christian bakers and gay wedding cakes), suddenly the rules they wanted enforced on everyone else when it came to business and serving the public, miraculously, shouldn’t apply to them.
And in Portland, where a white supremacist and Bernie Sanders supporter, Jeremy Joseph Christian, stabbed three men (killing two of them) when those men tried to stop Christian from harassing Muslim women, the mayor took the act of violence and is trying to use it to cancel an alt-right protest permit for July. A group unaffiliated with Christian’s act is now being punished for his crime, and the left is seizing this opportunity to shut up speech it doesn’t like.
Oman-Reagan takes particular umbrage with the alt-right, claiming the “Alt-right very upset about this. Seem to never have considered that people have more free speech without crushing healthcare debt…”
Hello, non-sequitur. Healthcare debt has precisely nothing to do with free speech. But, since we’ve already debunked that, let’s look at crushing debt in Canada, which went from $834 billion in 2007/2008 to $1.3 trillion in 2015/2016. This equals 64.8% of the economy, or $35,827 for every Canadian. Wait times in Canada are skyrocketing, and spending on health care is some of the highest in the world.
Whoops. Math is apparently not Oman-Reagan’s strong suit, either.
Oman-Reagan continues with his belief that other countries with speech regulations are “more free” than the US – and adds Germany and Finland to the list. Germany is seeking legislation that would fine social media companies $55 million for “not reacting swiftly enough to reports of illegal content or hate speech” and in Finland calls to criminalize it have been made by top law enforcement.
Who gets to define what is and isn’t hate speech? The answer is simple: the person with the thinnest skin, backed by the full weight and force of the government.
In a world as perpetually offended as ours, the limits on speech would be very severe indeed.
Or leftists, who falsely assume they’ll forever have a stranglehold on public office and the commissions that police such speech.
“Everywhere you go in the US there are police, and they are policing the increasingly privatized public spaces. From borders to cities,” continues Oman-Reagan.
Who, exactly, does he think will enforce laws against hate propaganda?
So we will have more of them.
In the UK, the police routinely deal with and investigate reports of “hate speech” – such as comments made by journalist Kate Hopkins, who was called out for telling British men to stand up to jihad in the wake of the Manchester bombing. A police report was filed.
Oman-Reagan is an anthropologist at Memorial University in Newfoundland, so one would think he would have a grasp on the histories of cultures and see that the limits on free speech and free expression always have dire consequences. Yet the left isn’t concerned with those consequences because they want to be the arbiters of what is and isn’t acceptable, and they think themselves infallible to changing political tides and social backlash.
They are not meant to create a freer, more civilized society. They are meant to silence opposition to the prevailing narratives of the day and give certain groups – usually leftists – the ability to control not only what we say, but what we think.
These limits benefit no one and we must speak out against them, while we’re still allowed to do so.