An OpEd published at the Washington Post on Tuesday referred to the First Amendment as having been “engineered for a simpler era” and now that “everyone has a megaphone” via the internet, the First Amendment “should not protect hateful speech that can cause violence by one group against another.”
Condoning anti-speech legislation is no different than promoting blasphemy legislation. Americans and all people of good will must fight against speech suppression of any kind.
The author of the horrific OpEd, Richard Stengel, is a “distinguished fellow” at the Atlantic Council, The Atlantic Council, it should be noted, formed a partnership with Facebook “to fight fake news” in May 2018. So the guy advocating a clamp-down on “hateful speech” also gets to choose what is considered to be “fake news” at Facebook?
What could possibly go wrong?
Stengel was also Time magazine’s 16th managing editor from 2006 to 2013. Sickeningly, he was additionally “the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs from 2013 to 2016.”
He writes in part:
But as a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier. Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran. Why, they asked me, would you ever want to protect that?
It’s a fair question. Yes, the First Amendment protects the ‘thought that we hate,’ but it should not protect hateful speech that can cause violence by one group against another. In an age when everyone has a megaphone, that seems like a design flaw.
Strengel, who surely would have admired Neville Chamberlain for his appeasement policies toward Adolph Hitler, recently criticized President Donald Trump for using strong language against the recently killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying that Trump’s language would “….alienate mainstream Muslims…”
Stengel continued in the disturbing OpEd:
Why shouldn’t the states experiment with their own version of hate speech statutes to penalize speech that deliberately insults people based on religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation?
All speech is not equal. And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I’m all for protecting ‘thought that we hate,’ but not speech that incites hate. It undermines the very values of a fair marketplace of ideas that the First Amendment is designed to protect.
Stengel is “all for protecting ‘thought that we hate,'”? What does that even mean?
What if someone insults someone’s mother? Is that “speech that incites hate”? Will all insults or perceived insults be subject to prosecution under Stengel’s “speech that incites hate” criteria? Interestingly, Stengel mentions the practice of Koran burning as [wrongly, according to him] covered under the First Amendment. But isn’t calling for “Death to America” also “speech that incites hate”?
As far as this author is concerned Twitter and Facebook already have a way to silence “speech that incites hate,” It is the blocking functionality.
Appeasement does not work, Mr. Strengel. Speech suppression most certainly does not work. This author imagines that Strengel would have similarly condemned Winston Churchhill’s pre-war rhetoric, clutching his pearls that his words would inflame the “moderate” Nazis.
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