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the future of free speech
Millennials Far More Open to Censorship than Previous Generations

Jonathan Chait—one of the most prominent left-of-center critics of the campus PC movement—points out on Twitter that, in the wake of the latest free speech meltdowns on college campuses, people who previously denied the existence of PC are now resorting to “whataboutism”—that is, arguing that even if left-wing intolerance of opposing viewpoints does exist here and there, other parties are guilty of free speech violations, or other rights violations, of their own.

Obviously, all threats to our open and democratic society need to be taken seriously, racism and intolerance very much included. But a new Pew survey underscores the reason why it is not unreasonable to be particularly concerned about college students’ apparent hostility to America’s traditional understanding of free expression:

American Millennials are far more likely than older generations to say the government should be able to prevent people from saying offensive statements about minority groups, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data on free speech and media across the globe. […]

Even though a larger share of Millennials favor allowing offensive speech against minorities, the 40% who oppose it is striking given that only around a quarter of Gen Xers (27%) and Boomers (24%) and roughly one-in-ten Silents (12%) say the government should be able to prevent such speech.

Meanwhile, Pew’s massive 2010 report on Millennials found that America’s young people are likely more tolerant of racial and sexual minorities than any generation in American history. Millennials were substantially more supportive of interracial marriages, immigration, gay rights, and feminist causes than any of the other age cohorts surveyed.

So when conservatives (and moderates, and, occasionally, liberals, like Chait) denounce the attacks on freedom of speech taking place on campus, it is not necessarily because they think that persistent problems of racism, sexism, and intolerance are unimportant, or even that they are being overstated. Rather, it is that while America’s next generation of leaders is making clear (if uneven) progress in fighting identity-based intolerance, it is turning its back on other, equally important, liberal values. If current opinion trends continue, American free speech norms will look much different—much more like what we are seeing on college campuses—a generation from now. The fight against racism is being won in the realm of popular opinion, while the fight for free speech is being lost.

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  • Re

    Come on, seriously, you know that people are changing over time right? That their opinions can evolve? Once they graduate they’ll be in a very different environment, something more real, less PC.

    • Andrew Allison

      This post about millennial intolerance of free speech demonstrates the fallacy of your argument.

      • Beauceron

        Well….no. Just no. An article positing the growing intolerance of free speech rights by those they may disagree with is not disproved because it got published. I don’t think the author is arguing that free speech is now totally banished– although that is certainly something to be worried about, particularly when one looks at the insanity on college campuses.

  • Andrew Allison

    Given the recent manifestation of campus intolerance, it’s hardly surprising that millennials are in favor of censorship.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Four useful “gates of speech” are these (from
    http://www.theidproject.org/blog/ethan-nichtern/2013/03/25/speaking-truth-four-gates-skillful-speech):
    1. Is what I have to say true? This is the basic question, of course. Are we actually saying something that is accurate? Also, are we taking responsibility for our own subjective experience, rather than reporting what we’ve experienced as absolute truth? But this question is only the beginning.

    2. Is what I have to say necessary? Are you the right person to share what you have to say? Would it be better coming from another person? Is it necessary that it be expressed at all?

    3. Is what I am saying kind? Twisting the knife may feel good for a moment, but only because it is what we are used to doing. When we stop trying to hurt the other person with the truth, our expression becomes much more effective, and we also realize we don’t have to bludgeon someone to get them to see where we are coming from.

    4. Is it the right time? Timing is everything. So is the medium and method. If you go off on someone via email, you’re probably going to experience the reverberations of your bad timing. Give it space, then pick up the phone or see them in person.

    Perhaps our founders, if asked, would have insisted their goal in the First Amendment was to preserve a space for “speech” that is untrue, or unnecessary, or unkind or poorly timed. Is that what we are to believe on this subject? Is that the present-day conservative position?

    • Andrew Allison

      1. Who determines “truth”, the mob?
      2. Who determines necessity, the mob?
      etc.
      Freedom of speech means exactly what it says, namely the absolute right of the individual to say (or write) anything.

      • FriendlyGoat

        People of integrity are supposed to self-regulate both truth and necessity as best they can. Obviously, we make mistakes. But “truth” in the speech gates is supposed to be what we believe to be true after making some effort to know.

        I remember hearing these gates applied as a moral teaching to the subject of gossip when I was a kid. Generally speaking, a malicious rumor about another person is either verifiable or it isn’t. We were told that if you don’t personally know, then don’t repeat it. We can certainly try to apply the same standard to other kinds of speech.

        • Tom

          Yes, we can.
          But the government should not do it for us.

        • Beauceron

          “People of integrity are supposed to self-regulate both truth and necessity as best they can.”

          That statement runs counter to your four points. A determination that something is true or not true, and that something not true is forbidden, requires someone or some group to make the determination that it is not true and then to forbid it– and to enforce it, punishing those who break the rule of what is forbidden.

          You run very close to totalitarianism here.

          • FriendlyGoat

            When you think that a call for each of us to try to be honest and kind in our talk is “totalitarianism”, we are having a disconnect.

          • JR

            You get to define what it is to be honest and to be kind. Fine. But now you are trying to force the government to agree with you and to use all the force of the government to ensure we all define these things as you do. That is the definition of totalitarianism. That is what Left is all about. Using the power of the Government to enforce its ideas and definitions of words. After all, he who controls speech and thought controls everything.

          • FriendlyGoat

            My first post to start this discussion did not mention government. Being a “please and thank you” sort of guy, I would prefer that conservatives (and liberals) exercise some discretion in our “speech” rather than having anyone from government enforce our speech. In other words, why can’t we ask for measured wisdom from our would-be politicians and just receive it because we “leaned on them” for some balanced honesty?

            This seems to provoke a knee-jerk from the fellows here that I am advocating “thought police”—-when I’m not.

          • JR

            As long as government is not involved in our judgement of what to say (except in few very well defined cases such as enticement) I’m a-ok with being civil to each other.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I guess I misinterpreted the “hearty $#@%$ You!” above, right?

          • JR

            If you interpreted it as a personal attack, then you misinterpreted. If you got it as an attack on your desire, if you have it of course, to get government involved in regulating speech in civil society, then you got it about right.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Seriously, I never suggested this was a government matter. I’d just like for Donald Trump to admit that we aren’t really going to deport 11 million people and Ben Carson to admit that “tithe tax” is a hoax. We can ask these guys on their honor—-and we can disregard them if they decline. OF COURSE we are not going after them with “speech police” that we 1) don’t have, 2) couldn’t get, and 3) don’t want anyway.

          • JR

            As long as we get to do the same to Hillary Clinton. We already do that in debates. These people are aware that they are making public statements. Unless you want to start precisely describing things like climate change, bi-partisanship, illegal immigration, etc etc. Plus, BREAKING NEWS FROM BEGINNING OF TIME, all politicians are somewhat scummy. Yes, even the Chosen One Himself.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’ll stick to criticizing Trump and Carson for their policy positions (and nothing about them personally) if conservatives will do the same for Hillary Clinton. Ya think that will be a national “deal”?

            As for Obama, he ain’t perfect. But I have liked him overall (as you might imagine.)

          • Jim__L

            The subject of the original TAI piece was how a surprising number of Millennials think “government should be able to prevent people from making offensive statements”.

            It’s easy for commenters here to take your statements as being in agreement with that… bad timing on your part, maybe?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Maybe.

            I still think the four gates for speech that I imported here have some application, but not as “law”—-sort of like the third commandment in the TC about not taking the Lord thy God’s name in vain is a “good idea” for society and totally unenforceable as a statute in a free country.

            Some millennials are grasping for some way to dial down our coarseness to each other with “offensive” stuff and I don’t blame them. But laws are tricky business.

          • Jim__L

            The problem is it doesn’t seem that millennials are all that interested in dialing down coarseness — during the campus comedy debates, they’re positively enthusiastic about bodily function coarseness. They’re also not too keen on making the debate more reasoned and less impassioned, as you can see in the Mizzou cases.

            If I may be excused for using their jargon, it’s a matter of exercising power — not just power, but domination — through defining and imposing norms. I think the problem is twofold. One, these norms are being enforced in a way completely antithetical to freedom of speech and open debate. Two, these norms are a violent reaction to the worst kind of abuses, which are by no means as widespread (nor are extreme remedies so generally applicable) as the PC thought police seem to think.

            Think about how commenters on this site misunderstand your point, take you out of context, argue against points you don’t actually believe because you have been *stereotyped* as a Leftie. It’s not the first amendment that’s in trouble here, it’s the eighth — excessive and inappropriate punishments.

            By and large people who make ethnic jokes are no more KKK members with a hankerin’ for a lynchin’ than Bernie Sanders supporters are Bolsheviks waiting for the signal to violently overthrow the government. Guys who make passes at girls who are only interested because they’re drunk, are not rapists. (People who say that women shouldn’t get falling-down drunk around people they don’t know aren’t “supporting a rape culture” any more than parents who teach their kids not to get into cars with strangers are “supporting a pedophile culture”.) People who believe that there are solid reasons marriage should be between a man and a woman are not “hating”.

            Reacting to any of them like the are a kind of fever swamp that needs to be drained to prevent a serious epidemic of fatal effects is a dire overreaction. It takes things one step further than “guilty until proven innocent” — the new legal standard seems to be “guilty despite being innocent”. And they seem to want this to be punishable by the equivalent of ecclesiastical courts, accountable to no one except the worst kind of Title IX zealots.

            This is the sort of totalitarian thought policing commenters here are so against. It is far more real, far more virulent, and a far more serious threat to freedom (and Enlightenment, Western Civilization, civilized discourse, you name it) than the problems they’re trying to solve.

            All in all, the best antidote to all this seems to be to engage with people individually and figure out what they’re about. If you find people really aren’t the awful people you imagine often enough, you come to give people the benefit of the doubt, which is essential for the sort of goodwill that constructive debate requires.

            Also, simply confronting people with the awfulness that certain interpretations of their philosophy dictates can be enough to get them to shy away from the worst parts, even if their passions could be swayed in a more toxic direction in a conversation that pushed the right buttons. Best to let them insist that they’re not extremists… it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          • FriendlyGoat

            1) I have made enough left-side comments to be stereotyped, That’s just the way it is. I wouldn’t be honest with people to try to keep them guessing whether I support right or left.

            2) I’ll take your word for it that (some) millennials can be tasteless in comedy clubs, whether as performers or audience members. I have never been to one.

            3) There is nothing wrong with telling college women to not get drunk with men, if we’re willing to tell men to not drink around women. There is no question that alcohol and drugs fuel a lot of what is called the rape culture. When we ask fraternities to host dry parties, I’ll be for criticizing drunk girls.

            4) We are not haters for expressing the list of reasons why we believe marriages are man and woman. We are reasonably seen as haters by LGBT people when we seek to impose our thoughts about that on them as a matter of law or when we denigrate them as a group. I’m not doing it. I’ll assume you’re not. Surely we understand that quite a bit of that is going on, however. I read one site that cannot seem to get beyond constant use of the term “faux marriage”—-even with marriage equality now settled in law. That’s hating.

          • Jim__L

            1) The stereotyping is a big part of the problem, though — not seeing people as individuals, but as representatives of the chimera of everything one sees as worst in one’s political opponents. Given a chance to talk, it’s clear you’re missing the lion and snake parts. 😉

            The only reason we’re able to have this conversation is, due to some personal crises that have pushed me to actually try harder to act on my Christian upbringing, I’m making more of an effort than they are to be polite. The urge to simplify and stereotype is strong, but the payoff for paying closer attention can be very, very high. Working to counteract the stereotypes is another path to this payoff.

            2) If you’re curious, see editorials on Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld saying they won’t take college gigs anymore. The college kids who vet their acts and hire them embrace ultra-raunchy sex jokes, but anything that’s ever so slightly PinC will give them vapors.

            3) I wouldn’t have a problem with that either, but the simple fact is that women are knowingly putting themselves in dangerous situations, and insisting that no one call that bad judgement. Heck, I’m not so vindictive that I think drunk drivers deserve to die in a car crash (in the same way, drunk women in no way deserve to be raped), but each one is acting in an irresponsible way that ought to be discouraged.

            4) Whether or not it’s settled law makes no difference as to the definition of marriage that divine law, traditional law, and natural law agree on. It may be something Leftists disagree with, but it’s not “hating”.

            That’s the problem… anything the Left doesn’t like gets defined as “hate”, and whaddayaknow, that magistrate now gets to say the First Amendment doesn’t apply to you and you can face legal sanctions.

            That’s EXACTLY what the first amendment was designed to prevent.

          • FriendlyGoat

            1) I’d be happy to be seen as an individual. That’s why I write so much and on a lot of topics few others will even touch, including the authors of these articles. Yes, I’m more left than right and I am not seeking to be loved in right-side places. I am seeking to balance the spin found there with some kind of independent contribution.

            I’m glad we are able to have conversations, and I’m glad you are trying to be polite against opinions not the same as yours. I hope I am too.

            2) Like I said, I don’t do comedy clubs, Not to sound goody-two-shoes or churchy, I think some of the funniest stuff can be people from denominations who are willing to go to their denominations and make light-hearted fun to the members about their own peculiarities. See http://pastors.com/44-funny-church-bulletin-bloopers-to-make-you-smile/, for church bulletin bloopers, for instance.

            This stuff would probably bore the college set except maybe in some denomination’s college.

            3) The thing about the “rape culture” is that I can’t find the upside in denying it exists—-and most of the conservative commentary I’ve seen on it can’t seem to see a benefit in anything but denial.

            If the girls are drinking too much and that is a proximate cause of the problem, we need the boys to help the girls drink less. If that suggestion is considered RIDICULOUS, why would that be? What possible sense does it make for conservatives, especially church conservatives, to get on the side of “boys will be boys” just because they despise feminists. Makes no sense to me.

            4) I’m respectful enough of the founders to imagine that they wanted a freedom of speech for the purpose of thoroughly airing ideas more than they wanted it for the purpose of a right to offend others. They were certainly aware of “fighting words” and the history of dueling to settle arguments. I have a hard time imagining they were protecting that, but I keep getting such a vibe from the comment section folks.

          • Jim__L

            1) It’s also useful if they can see *you* as an individual. That’s not easy to do, with strangers on the web. Chimeras, as I keep saying.

            2) The comedy club issue is part and parcel of the picture many conservatives have of PC culture, and it’s worth noting that PC culture is in no way fighting for the sort of polite society you envision.

            3) The upside to denying a “rape culture” is that the acceptance of that premise is used to justify witch hunts.

            I agree with the idea “dry frat party” idea. It would get a lot of pushback, but I think that it would take root a lot more places than anyone suspects. And if the girls started going to those parties, the guys would follow.

            4) The idea of “defending offensive speech” is being conflated with the idea of “defending speech that hypersensitive SJWs think is offensive”, which includes a vast array of inoffensive things. If you can think of a way to defend saying “America is the land of opportunity”, or to defend teaching books like Huckleberry Finn and the Bible without also defending the “right to offend”, I think you’d be on to something.

          • FriendlyGoat

            2) All of us need to be talking about a more polite society. Otherwise there is no chance of moving in such direction.

            3) There is no upside to denying a rape culture wherever one exists. “Witch hunt” just doesn’t fit this.

          • Jim__L

            3) There is significant debate as to whether “rape cultures” are anywhere near as widespread as Title IX’ers claim. Some of what they cite as evidence is pretty outlandish, and their methods really do resemble witch hunts, contrasted with the standards of evidence and the protections of the rights of the accused that have built up in our actual legal system over time.

            What we have now is a culture where people too frequently wake up with their arm around someone they’d never agree to sleep with, sober. Men make jokes about chewing their arms off to escape without waking a regrettable partner. Title IX’ers seem to want to be able to put these regrettable partners in prison for “rape”. At least that’s what I gather from what I’ve read about the debates.

            This is all basically trying to get a handle on the hookup culture, where sex is not reserved for loving and trusting relationships. Can we agree at least on the idea that reserving sex for loving and trusting relationships (ones that could support any children that might result) is a good idea?

            4) The Land of Opportunity vision is true enough that it makes little sense to quibble about it. Mark Twain and the Bible are far too important in our country’s history and culture to neglect them because someone among the professionally aggrieved might get their delicate sensibilities hurt.

            I’m still in favor of putting this trigger warning on every book published in the United States… “Reading books may cause you to be exposed to ideas you find uncomfortable. You have been warned.”

          • FriendlyGoat

            We used to be doing better than tonight. Your last paragraph here is too silly for you——certainly for me.

            As for hetero sex in unmarried situations, men are responsible for whatever happens unless a guy is somehow overpowered by a gang of women and FORCED into sexual activity—–period.

            MEN are responsible—–period. There is NOTHING wrong with telling our young men that THEY are to help avoid the possibility of any particular girl being a slut—–by not participating in the other half of what causes the definition of a slut. Seriously, that’s my position. We need that kind of “talking cure” and nearly no one is talking about WHO should be reversing the “hookup” culture.

            As for “witch hunt”—–most of the witches they hunted were women. The term “witch” was under-defined to mean about anything. For conservatives to use that term now to skate out from under the problem of porn-fueled mistreatment of young women by young men is another example of conservatives having gone upside down and backwards. That so many from the churches are on this particular bandwagon to defend “boys will be boys” from the feminists is STUNNING.

          • Jim__L

            Men are responsible for men’s decisions. I think we an agree on that. I think it is criminal for men to take women by force, coercion, or false pretenses, and honestly I think casual sex is ungentlemanly under any circumstances. If men were 100% behind the idea that sex should be reserved for loving, trusting, permanent relationships (marriages), and that that should be normative, hookup culture would not be an issue, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

            But here’s a premise I’m not sure we do agree on — I think women are responsible for women’s decisions. Sometimes those decisions are as poor as men’s. From what you’ve written here, I’m not sure you’ve encountered “sex-positive feminists” before. They make a very big deal of having “agency”, with full authority over (which implies full responsibility for) their own decisions. (Decisions that are not open to criticism over their wisdom or virtue, especially those that consciously and with full enthusiasm embrace behavior that previous generations would call slatternly.) While force is less likely in the cases were women take advantage of men, emotional manipulation is far from impossible for women, and can easily result in men following along (despite serious misgivings) into a situation they’ll later regret.

            I believe that NEITHER men nor women are perfect, and without the sort of guidance and norms traditional society and religion used to provide, they can pull each other in harmful directions. That’s what we’re seeing today. I think that BOTH men and women in hookup encounters, drunk or sober, are not making decisions in a wise, safe or virtuous manner. BOTH have their parts to play in making sure that sex is part of loving, trusting, and permanent relationships. BOTH have authority over their own decisions, so BOTH are responsible.

            Overall, society needs to regain the consciousness that the young, hormone-crazed part of life is not all of life, and that decisions young people make today have consequences for not just who they are at the time, but everyone they will ever be. (Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers — roles that are far more important and worthy of praise and honor than any license they claim now.) Our culture began losing that sense in the radical fringes of the 60’s, and universities are run by those radicals now.

            That’s why we’re having these problems.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I think leaning on the men is the road back to a better sex culture if there is to be any road at all. Of course there are questionable behaviors on the part of many women, including manipulations, but telling men its “okay” to be billy goats (yes, I have seen those up close) if participating women can merely be found is not a solution.

            The influences of religion on this subject are fine and welcome wherever young men are listening to them. Beyond that, it’s not a bad idea for the feminists to weigh in too—-which they now are. What young men really need is to actually contemplate the comprehensive list of what all can go wrong. There are pregnancy and STDs, as always. There are also hurt feelings on both sides, bad memories, the possibility of very mad third parties,…..and now new standards in some colleges that demand some adherence to “yes means yes and nothing else means yes”. I think it’s progress.

          • Jim__L

            I agree with just about all of what you’re saying… except the parts I don’t. :I

            It’s absolutely not fair that traditional norms have often been enforced by leaning on only women. But the solution is not for women to pick up men’s bad habits, (smoking, drinking, swearing, and the rest), a common goal of feminism for a hundred years, and that drives me to despair. I think if anyone did any leaning at all, a road would be found fairly quickly — but leaning itself is being pushed out of the norm, except when Title IX’ers do it. (Very, very heavily, I might add.)

            I agree wholeheartedly with your urging to “contemplate the … list of things that can go wrong”, and I think that the solution to those problems is to dismantle hookup culture. The solution is not to trying to impose an unworkable series of gates that would result in the best achievable case — sex within loving, trusting, and permanent relationships — being criminalized if those relationships don’t adopt a set of weird and unnecessary “yes” rituals. There may be no room for the unspoken in hookup culture, but the unspoken can and should flourish in the sort of relationships hookup culture is simply inadequate to replace.

            By the way, don’t you think it’s a little hypocritical of you to criticize other goats or being over-friendly? 😉 j/k of course.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I accept goat jokes, because we do have them and I have learned something from each of them. We unfortunately once had two small males together which were not “fixed” and their behavior was near-constant butting of each other, chain link fence destruction with horns, and an astonishing number of inappropriate sexual attempts on each other. They basically drove each other nuts morning to night. We sold them to a guy who was going to put them on a ranch to clean weeds with about thirty others.

            Now we have four small females and one slightly larger wether (castrated male). They are all pets and he cannot get them pregnant though he tries virtually every day with more vigor than I would have expected given his surgical condition. Making a long story short, the ladies are sensible and sweet, and he is often “ridiculous” with rambunctiousness, bad manners (pees on his face for attractive odor) and extreme sexual interest. He is not being mean to the girls (like the two other goat guys did to each other)—-he is just being who he is. And he is my good buddy, though he has helped me have a new perspective on “boys will be boys”. I look back on youth (not just mine but the kid culture I knew) and realize how much similarity we human fellows actually have to horny goats UNLESS we exercise judgment and restraint.

            I have this feeling that our society outside the churches is just not asking enough of fellows in that regard. So, I have had a hard time with the idea of knocking the feminists for their most modern efforts.
            I think “yes means yes” is brilliant messaging in three words and overdue to start a “talking cure” for our culture of promiscuity. My wether would be reacting with something like “Say What?” if only my little females were able to teach him “yes means yes”. He needs to hear it, but of course, he can’t.

          • Beauceron

            I think that your call for “each of us to try to be honest and kind in our talk” is a one way street. Or at least I suspect it to be so. Many on the Left, when they start talking of “hate speech,” really mean that people they disagree wshould shut the hell up.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I would only ask you to “shut up” if you are, in fact, hateful. Is that the case?

          • Jim__L

            Who gets to decide what “hateful” is?

            Would the “shut up” come with legal action?

          • FriendlyGoat

            I think we already covered that I’m not advocating legal action.

            In other questions in society we apply something like a reasonable person standard. We really don’t want to be so helpless we can no longer know what “hateful” is because the polarized sides cannot agree on anyone to decide anything.

          • Jim__L

            We could try saving the word “hate” for cases like honest-to-goodness hatred, like lynchings. There are other words we could use — dislike, antipathy, animosity, impoliteness, oppose, deprecate, you get the idea.

            Hate is probably one of the most overused (and misused) words in the political discourse right now, along with equality (even of things that are not equivalent) and aggression.

            Although I have to admit, adding the prefix “micro-” was very handy thing there. We should do that more often. As I’ve proposed before, we should start giving out micromedals for microvalor, for the microheroes who have stood up to microagression. 🙂

          • Anthony

            Critique and criticism comes along with adverse point of view @ TAI FG. But, I don’t think you inferred or explicitly mentioned government censorship/direction nor any such notion. Framing conversation (exchange) as either/or, left/right, etc. misrepresents idea of your initial post. However, as you know it is much easier to argue offense or a denial of “abstract rights” than to question normal acceptance of a coarseness in civil (political) society – what really lies underneath manufactured venom (not that you needed any clarification or assistance).

          • JR

            Yes, Center Left opinion is REALLY under attack on the web. To the barricades go those brave souls.

          • Anthony

            Vive la France!

          • Jim__L

            So we’re to try. I agree with that.

            Am I correct in concluding that if I fail, (or if you fail), we should face legal sanction for that?

          • FriendlyGoat

            No. We don’t have any mechanism for legal sanctions on things like that because our Supreme Court gutted the nearest thing we had, which was McCain-Feingold and even that was supposed to apply to election-influence organizations and did not particularly apply to anyone’s private opinion or private speech. Contrary to accusations against my thoughts in this thread, I am not recommending government speech regulation.

            Curiously, though, I just read that a recent poll says only 17% of Americans from both parties actually agree with the Citizens United decision of 2010. Somehow, we all know we’re vulnerable to being steam-rolled with purchased repetition of messaging by bigger money than any of us have—-and—–somehow—-we nearly all don’t like that.

          • Jim__L

            I’m still unclear – if in some cases legal sanction against free speech does not exist, per your beliefs is that a good thing or a bad thing?

    • Anthony

      Thoughtful contribution without being offensive, thank you. Also, on another note: http://www.epi.org/pay-agenda/

      • FriendlyGoat

        Good 11-point list at the EPI link, thanks. The last one, interestingly, is one of the many reasons I have advocated very high taxes on very high incomes for a long time—-and been ridiculed regularly for doing so, as you know.

        As for Beattyville, it would be nice for residents to know that Carson or Trump cannot change the relationship between $68/ton Kentucky coal and $12/ton Wyoming coal. The Guardian seems to understand what the residents will not.

    • Beauceron

      Who makes the decision on what is “untrue, or unnecessary, or unkind or poorly timed?”

      The government? That is subject to gross abuse. Some sort of “experts panel?”– again, totally subject to abuse and political whims.

      Apply the above for items to the Black Lives Matter movement. Is what they are saying true? I find it absurd on its face that places like Yale and Dartmouth, two of the most politically correct places on earth, suffer from systemic racism — and that is born out by the vague, ridiculous examples brought forward. Hypothetical offensive Halloween costumes is simply not a national crisis. Is what they have to say necessary? Given the privileges blacks have on campus (significantly lower entrance requirements, hundreds of millions of dollars more in scholarships, the right to use college funds to organize into groups and bring in speakers, racial and ethnic identity majors and minors), one could argue that some obviously disturbed person taking a dump on a bathroom floor, sticking their fingers into their own feces and drawing a swastika on the wall with it, is evidence of some severe mental health issues, not of institutional racism– there is certainly no evidence it was directed at black people on campus. Is what they’re saying kind? Corning white people, demanding that they say they support your cause under threat, and screaming racial epithets at them is certainly unkind. Is it the right time– who knows? I suppose there’s never a right time to air grievances, whether they’re right or wrong. If it IS true, than there is never a wrong time, is there?

      I don”t think you’ve thought your 4 points through at all.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Well, first of all. I didn’t make up the four points. I copied them in from the link shown. A variation of this has been around for perhaps 50 or more years, as I remember these as a moral teaching for kids in the 1960’s. It is to be applied more to our individual behavior than to the “speech” of a political movement, but I think the points have application there too.

        As far as I’m concerned, most of what is passing for right-side political persuasion these days would not pass the gates.

        • JR

          “As far as I’m concerned, most of what is passing for right-side political persuasion these days would not pass the gates.” This is the very essence of the problem. You would outlaw the positions of a LOT of people based on your feeling. I’m sure you think your censorship is somehow moral, and right, and for a greater good, (every censor thinks that) but do expect a hearty $#@%$ You! to your opinion whether or not what I think needs your approval to be expressed.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I didn’t suggest “outlawing” anything. I’m suggesting that conservatives AND liberals could be more careful with “speech”. If that elicits a hearty “$#@%$ You!”—–then you have illustrated a problem of our modern times.

            I really did sit under the youth teaching of a pastor decades ago who covered this subject for us, pleading with us to be empathetic and thoughtful as young people. Can you imagine us teenagers then giving him the response you gave me? I suppose our parents would have lost their minds if we had done anything like that. So what the heck happened in 50 years?

          • Beauceron

            “As far as I’m concerned, most of what is passing for right-side political persuasion these days would not pass the gates.”

            Well, yeah, you did. And you would, I suspect, if given the opportunity– or support those who would. Which is what makes you scary.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m scaring you because I didn’t cuss out my pastor as a teenager and am suggesting that we not do stuff like that as adults today when contemplating our “speech rights”?

          • JR

            Slippery answer. OF COURSE nobody wants a bunch of Tourette’s syndrome maniacs spouting off on the street. OF course we should self-censor. We are not talking about that. We are talking about government sponsored censorship. You either support it or you don’t. Individuals have ability to agree to disagree. You seem to want to get the State involved in deciding where that line should be. And THAT is what elicits a hearty $%@#$ you, not your idea that we should not shout FIRE in a crowded theater.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I don’t think I mentioned Tourette’s or shouts of FIRE in theaters.

        • Beauceron

          Yes, of course. But in posting them as you have in support of what are clearly your beliefs, you are associating yourself with them. I am arguing that belief is poorly thought out and does not consider the actual, real-world consequences and practice of those beliefs. They will inevitably end up being abused and censorious.

          If it has been around for 50 years, it is just a bad idea that has been around for 50 years.

          • FriendlyGoat

            In my original post I questioned whether our founders regarded the idea of free speech as necessary to protect that which is untrue, unnecessary, unkind or poorly timed. I asked whether that is today’s conservative position.
            You seem to be arguing that it is. Are you?

          • Beauceron

            “You seem to be arguing that it is. Are you?”

            I am absolutely arguing that. I think that’s clear. Look, you’re a Leftist (or I assume, by the positions you have expressed here today, that you are). By definition, in my opinion, much of what you believe is wrong, untrue, bigoted, self-serving, shallow, and narrow-minded. By definition, in my opinion, many of you are immune to reason, facts, the lessons of history and you absolutely loathe debate (which is why you so ardently desire to shut your opponents up). The Left has a very long history of doing just that. In fact, it’s happening right now where the Left has the most control in our society: on college campuses– where free speech zones and strict codes are ubiquitous. A place where ideas of every color and stripe should be flying back and forth has been stripped bare so that only one side has a voice.

            Do I think you should be forbidden from making your arguments, such as they are? Absolutely not. You should make them as best you can. I will in fact defend your right to make them even though I disagree with them. But you should also be forced to defend them. This is what is called the marketplace of ideas. Everyone is free to express their ideas, including those I am deeply opposed to, from Nazism to Marxism to Maoism, to Islamism. But those ideas should be met with vigorous and plentiful counter arguments.

            In the end, to be honest, I think appeals for banning speech that is allegedly untrue, unnecessary, unkind or poorly timed is merely a veil thrown over a desire to avoid having to defend your own bad ideas. You believe it only because you believe you or people you agree with will be the ones sitting in judgment of what is untrue, unnecessary, unkind or poorly timed. You cannot defend your ideas in any meaningful way, and the only way to ensure they succeed is to prevent anyone who disagrees with you from speaking. You fear alternative ideas, open debate and you despise anyone who stands up in opposition to them. So the best thing to do is stich their lips together or break their fingers. Prevent them from speaking or writing on the grounds that opposition is allegedly hateful, or untrue or unnecessary — something that you admitted to above (“As far as I’m concerned, most of what is passing for right-side political persuasion these days would not pass the gates”).

          • FriendlyGoat

            You seem to have this idea that I don’t want conservatives to speak.
            What I want is for conservatives to do as good a job truly defending THEIR arguments as you are asking of me.

            The right side seems to insist that high-end tax cuts create jobs, when they don’t, that males should adjudicate abortion when they shouldn’t, that gay people should have no marriages when they should, that unrestricted guns are good for society when they aren’t, that CO2-based climate change is not happening when it is, that unions are bad when they aren’t, that the growing world wealth divide is okay when it isn’t, that public education should be private when it shouldn’t, that unlimited secret money in politics is good when it isn’t, that corporations are people when they aren’t.

            Most of modern American political conservatism is not actually defensible. The quantity of junk “speech” thrown behind it does not change that problem. Liberals would agree with you if the “quality” of conservative speech was convincing——BECAUSE—-that’s what liberals do. We get behind convincing arguments.
            We simply are not finding them from your side, hence, we are tired of enduring the political fallout from purchased repetitions of indefensible nonsense.

          • Jim__L

            So are you seriously saying that I should be arrested for disagreeing with you on the political opinions you expressed above?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Of course not.

          • Beauceron

            “We’d have a better discussion if you would stick to issues.”

            I agree we would indeed– and I am. I am focusing on your views on censorship and curtailing free speech rights and the rather poor reasons you have attempted to muster in defense of it. You are losing that debate and so have thrown up a long list of Leftist shibboleths as a smokescreen in a vain attempt to make the argument about global warming, taxation, abortion, gun rights, etcetera very much etcetera instead of the issue on the table– your attempts to curtail the free speech rights of everyone who disagrees with you. As I said above, those are ten different debates. This thread and this debate is about free speech rights. I am focusing on that subject.This is simply your attempt at obfuscation in an effort to avoid the subject, nothing more, nothing less.. And I am not having it.

            And I take your attempt to avoid the subject at hand and your inability to even address, much less defeat, the critiques I have leveled at them for for what it is: a white flag of surrender.

            “Most of that is as indefensible as I said it was. Still the case.”
            In light of what’s gone on in this thread, a thoughtful person in your position might consider that they might also lose the debates (or at the very least have face strong, well-thought out opposition) on those subjects just as you have lost the one here about free speech rights. I suspect you sauntered onto this thread confident that you would be able to make an argument of why free speech rights should be stripped from everyone who disagrees with you. You have failed to do so. Perhaps a re-think about other subjects and your broader, narrow-minded view that everyone is wrong but you and your side is in order? Make an attempt to grow intellectually, to try and look into the views of those you disagree with and see the argument from their side instead of looking to just shut them up. It’s well worth the effort.
            Perhaps we will run into each other on a thread about global warming, or taxation, or gun rights or abortion or one of the dozen other subjects you’ve tossed out here as a smokescreen and we’ll debate those there.
            For my part, I expect the same outcome. 😉

          • Beauceron

            “You seem to have this idea that I don’t want conservatives to speak.”

            I not only think you don’t want conservatives to speak (which is a mere desire), I think you are attempting,and failing rather spectacularly, to make an argument that would allow you to actively prevent them from speaking.. I think that because you have repeatedly said as much on this thread.

            “Most of modern American political conservatism is not actually defensible.”

            And this is precisely why people of your ilk are so scary. Ill-informed opinion molded into a declaratory statement that is prima facie ridiculous. And on that basis you want to prevent people from opposing you.

            “Liberals would agree with you if the “quality” of conservative speech was convincing——BECAUSE—-that’s what liberals do. We get behind convincing arguments.”

            I would like to correct your language. You are, based purely on your series of posts here, deeply illiberal. You are a Leftist, not a liberal. That said, the number of poor policies the Left has foisted upon society on specious grounds while insisting they are right about the facts is too long to list here. And I don’t want to sidetrack a debate about free speech with a debate about, for example, the bad science the Left has pushed on global warming. That is a debate (if you will even permit such a debate at all) for another thread.

            The argument that the Left only accepts quality speech, and therefor all of their speech is quality, is the worst sort of circular reasoning– not to mention entirely self-serving in a sort of bratty, stick-you-fingers-in-your-ear while shouting “la, lal, la” sort of way.

            I would close by re-stating my opinion expressed above. As a former Leftist myself (rectified by a good deal of reading things people like you would like to prevent anyone from reading and a decent amount of life experience), I find many of the Left’s arguments to be silly, shallow, ungrounded in either facts or evidence, untethered from both reality and experience and more often than not based on wild-eyed emotional appeal rather than careful reasoning. In other words, although much less of a zealot about it, I feel about the Left the way you feel about the Right. The difference of course is that I have no wish to just shut them all up based on my own personal opinions and in fact will make sure to read some of the Left’s better writers particularl– especially– when I disagree with them on a particular policy. And that is a very big difference indeed. And that is what makes me far more of a liberal than you.

          • FriendlyGoat

            We’d have a better discussion if you would stick to issues. I listed ten for you which I believe are examples of right-side political talk being upside-down and backward. Here they are again:

            The right side seems to insist that high-end tax cuts create jobs when they don’t, that males should adjudicate females’ abortions when they shouldn’t, that gay people should have no marriages when they should, that unrestricted guns are good for society when they aren’t, that CO2-based climate change is not happening when it is, that unions are bad when they aren’t, that the growing world wealth divide is okay when it isn’t, that public education should be private when it shouldn’t, that unlimited secret money in politics is good when it isn’t, that corporations are people when they aren’t.

            Most of that is as indefensible as I said it was. Still the case.

          • Jim__L

            I think that to be practical, magistrates need to give a great deal of leeway to speech some think untrue, or unnecessary, or unkind, or poorly timed.

            To be meaningful, freedom of speech similarly has to give a great deal of leeway to speech some think untrue, or unnecessary, or unkind, or poorly timed.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You’re beginning to hit on something. “Magistrates” need to give a lot of leeway—–because we don’t ask our magistrates to be arbiters of speech at all. We are the arbiters and we could do a better job of curbing nonsense by knowing better than nonsense and demanding better. It shouldn’t be that hard to come more together on what is untrue, unnecessary, unkind or poorly timed. Donald Trump’s famous implication that our immigrants from the south might be heavily made up of “rapists” is a great example. Most level-headed people know that the immigrants now here are not more inclined to rape than our general population of citizens. So, he largely bombed on what he said,

    • Boritz

      Here is my understanding/interpretation of your post:
      People should exercise self-censorship with a motivation rooted in honesty, fairness, and concern for how others will be affected by what they say. However, some people will fail to exercise self-censorship at all or perform it poorly* (as judged by others, necessarily). In those cases the Constitution incomprehensibly (conservatives can you explain this?), gives these people a pass to continue in their way.
      BTW. This TAI article is about government censorship, not self-censorship.

      *Think Galileo espousing blasphemous ideas of celestial mechanics that were manifestly false even to the blind who can sense the passage of the sun across earth’s sky with their skin.

      • swg136

        “In those cases the Constitution incomprehensibly (conservatives can you explain this?), gives these people a pass to continue in their way.”

        I don’t think its very complicated. The founders were skeptical of human nature. I’m sure most of them would smile sardonically at someone who claimed a motivation of “honesty, fairness, and concern for … others”.(Of course, the founders also assumed a rural and stratified social order which would vigorously defend itself by ostracizing or inflicting mob violence on people who insisted on loudly espousing opinions too far removed from the herd’s. But that’s a different conversation.) This does not mean that the founders believed that people necessarily go around making statements without regard for truth value, but that you will rarely be disappointed if you presume that the ultimate foundation of a person’s opinions, especially on political or social questions, is his own utility – material or psychological. A person’s appraisal of the loftiness or purity or even honesty of his own or others’ statements and motivations was not considered in the 1st Amendment, since everyone evaluates his own as sterling and those of his opponents as dross.

        Mr Goat frames his post as an appeal for decency and honesty in political discussion. Oh yes, decency and honesty, let’s have it. Thank you, Ann Landers. Obviously everyone objecting to his statement opposes decency and honesty. Of course, in concluding this stream of wholesome pap he just HAPPENED to mention that maybe the 1st Amendment wasn’t intended to apply to people with wrong motivations, but he knows the REAL reason people are bleating against him. All Mr Goat was doing was asking questions, harmless questions!… about the amendment which gives people the right to say things he disapproves of. No bad intentions here! Just questioning the foundation of your right to say things that are offensive or incorrect according to my lights.

        A thought experiment: I believe that the main source of the black community’s problems are, at this point, endogenous, and that whatever (certainly substantial) role that white racism has played in causing their present conditions, it is no longer determinative to any meaningful degree, and blacks will continue to suffer disproportionately from every imaginable social ill (yes, including police brutality) until an internal change occurs in the black community. Demands from the black community on the rest of country are both unreasonable and unlikely to have positive effect, and should be ignored or rebuffed.
        1. Is it true? Goat would probably say no.
        2. Is it necessary? Since it’s not true, it’s not necessary. Strike two!
        3. Is it kind? Well, it’s not true, and it blames the victims, which is unkind. Strike three!
        4. Is it the right time? Is it ever the right time for untruth! Strike four!
        So this statement fails to pass any of the gates.

        Now let us presume that Goat attributes at least partial validity to my statement. Hypothetically, Goat might say that while blacks may be partially to blame for their woes, it is punching down to criticize them, and that since the problems within the black community are intractable and difficult to solve, we should do simple things like cut huge generational checks, or carefully and minutely monitor the actions and words and internal postures of the 300 million people in the country who are not black (and establish condign punishments for transgressors), and then at some hazy point of time down the road we might consider other causes of the problems of the black community. So my statements fails his conditions even in this hypothesis.

        My stated opinion resembles the opinions of an extremely large proportion of the American people, and perhaps a plurality. As far as I’m concerned, the truth of my statement is as plain as the sun in the sky. Yet Mr Goat would probably say that my statement is not entitled to pass the gate. It is wrong and hurtful! So it should not be expressed. I should self-censor. Yet I insist on saying it nonetheless! What an awful person I am. There oughta be a law…

        Contrarily, and in the same vein, I believe that assertions of the existence of universal, effective, hidden (even to themselves) racism among whites, and its overwhelming or complete responsibility for the ills of blacks, are
        false. Obviously so. Plainly so. No one in honest pursuit of the truth could arrive at this bizarre conclusion. In fact, it requires extreme exertions of will on my part to extend my imagination to the point where I am able to even understand how someone arrives at this ridiculous delusion, and some days I don’t even try and instead attribute this opinion to bad faith, rent-seeking, and mental illness. As far as I am concerned, this opinion, unanimous among blacks and widespread among liberals, fails to pass any of Mr Goat’s gates. Obviously, no one should express this opinion, and anyone who does is just an agitator, yet thatpesky amendment….

        Finally, I might point out that the article Mr Goat links to says we should use the gates in our PERSONAL LIFE. Perhaps the author would also exhort its use in political speech, but nothing in the article indicates it. As a guide for personal speech, this is fine. The plank in your own eye, and all. As a guide for political speech, it’s just a handbook for slandering your opponents and impugning their motives. Well, to each his own, I suppose. Some people
        prefer snails, some people prefer ad hominem attacks. As long as you don’t give it the force of law.

        This is what the Founders intended the 1st Amendment to be: its the anti-Friendly Goat amendment.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Well, I don’t think we can “outlaw” Donald Trump away from his wild statements or Ben Carson away from his. We probably could expect more reliability without being out of line for doing so.

        As for Galileo, we have to remember that unfettered freedom of speech in his time would give his incorrect critics as much firepower as it would give to Galileo to break through with heliocentric theory. This, unfortunately, is precisely the use conservatives are demanding for freedom of speech in 2015. If you don’t believe me, ask any young-earth creationist, any climate change denier or any advocate of Carson’s tithe tax. Free speech means guaranteed survival of myths wherever we have mythologists. Soooo—I’m back to asking the mythologists to apply the four speech gates.

    • Jim__L

      Those are really great rules for an individual’s conscience. Hand them to a magistrate, and suddenly you have Puritanism run amok.

      Can two people of goodwill differ on what counts as evidence for truth? Can we differ in our judgement of what’s necessary to say? Does the speaker have to be the perfect source, or do we have to build from crooked timber sometimes? Do we really want the courts to be filled with cases of “unkind speech”? What if the time never seems to be quite right?

      There are too many judgement calls involved here. These are decisions that should be handled far, far below the national, Title IX level, as the answers will be different for different groups, and different people, and different situations.

      People are really feeling the lack of the old rules of Common Courtesy that the 60’s destroyed. Political Correctness is an attempt to take its place, enforcing a whole new version of morality. The fact that they are attacking the old versions of morality so ruthlessly makes it pretty much inevitable that goodwill will be absent. (I’m not entirely convinced that the PC brigades think goodwill is even necessary.)

    • LA_Bob

      Goat, the issue is you introduced your “four gates” in a comment to an article about millennials and censorship. You’re suggesting that people should have consciousness of the impact of their words. Fair enough. But, you also need to have a little sensitivity to the context of your suggestion. Making your remarks here and now suggests you might be sympathetic to official censorship. Maybe you’re not, but timing is everything, dontcha know?

      Many people over the millennia have made similar observations about the impacts of words. Dale Carnegie famously comes to mind. We just don’t want a cadre of “millennials” to rewrite the first amendment to say “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech (unless it might offend someone)…”

      • FriendlyGoat

        I think it’s doubtful that anyone is going to rewrite the First Amendment and get the rewrite ratified in 38 states. That being the case, what ARE Germans to do about anti-Semitic speech after WW!!? What ARE we to do about the denigration by some of native Americans, blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, GLBT people or—-for that matter—-Republicans or Democrats? I thought a voluntary call for us to individually consider the four gates as a very MILD approach to a partial solution. It has been astonishing to me here that so many people take that suggestion my call for government coercion.

        • Jim__L

          Conservatives are concerned (rightly so) that people (conservative people in particular) are having their careers and lives damaged by people with a Twitter-mob mentality for either innocuous comments or for serious efforts to “have a conversation” that doesn’t automatically validate all PC demands. There have been high-profile cases of that in the media recently, telling us this is a problem that needs to get nipped in the bud.

          Look at proposed college speech codes, look at what is taken as a “microagression” these days. Saying “America is the land of opportunity”? Seriously? Title IX’er crybullies want to be able to excommunicate (suspend, fire, fine, jail) people for that.

          *** We don’t trust the judgement of Politically Correct people who want to define what to “offend someone” means! *** That’s why we want to retain the right to use language ***some people might find offensive*** — because there are some people who will seemingly find ANYTHING offensive (like a war memorial cross on public land). There are people who seemingly dedicate their lives to finding new things to be offended about. Given that, preventing students from getting the idea that coercion in the face of being so lightly “offended” is acceptable, is the purpose that energizes us about retaining our right to speak without risking an adverse legal judgement.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Nipped in the bud? Sounds like you guys planning some kind of legal coercion. Who defines the plants to be nipped? What is a bud? Whai is a nip? What kind of nipping tool? Who gets to do the nipping? Will it be Republicans’ government brown-shirts?

            Okay, I’m being sarcastic. But, HONESTLY, my sarcasm bears close resemblance to the blasts I get on these threads.

            If someone is slandered, libeled, or otherwise economically damaged, he/she can sue for compensation. Donald Trump is famous for going after those who go after him. Juries can decide, no?

            Today, kids need to be CONCERNED about not over-sharing in their on-line lives. Parents say so all the time. I think kids need to remind the parents of the same risks. People with reputations and business interests are simply going to have to not expose themselves to undue criticism by saying unnecessary things which can be tracked, exposed and Twitter-mobbed—or whatever.. Most adults, in my opinion, would do well to skip Facebook and Twitter and go vent their frustrations with anonymous names like we do here. We can go on and on and on and not hurt or hate each other—-because we do not know each other. We are debaters of ideas, not neighbors inviting ourselves to have real feuds.

        • Jim__L

          By the way, we don’t trust courts either — they “discover” new rights all the time, pulling them out of thin air. At this point it would not surprise a single conservative if the Supreme Court decided that the First Amendment guaranteed “freedom from speech”.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I don’t know if it was to you or to someone else that I once opined that we liberals feel the Roberts Court has done more damage to our side than to conservatives. The Right is very, very mad at the second upholding of ACA and the gay marriage right the court “found”. Our side is still mad about Citizens United, McCutcheon, Hobby Lobby and a host of cases weakening the position of poor voters and workers. Net, net, you guys have been winning over the past 10 years, and my side is astonished that the gay marriage thing is such a big deal to the Right. The cases against US actually infringed on a lot of people and gay marriage actually infringes on no one.

            As for “freedom from speech”, a serious problem we do have is kids not being able to go to schools in many places and enjoy a freedom from bullying. But the Supreme Court will never touch it.

  • Beauceron

    You blame it on a generation at your peril.

    It’s not “Millennials,” it’s the Left. Younger people have always been further to the Left– then most of them grow up, evolve and become more centrist or right-leaning, although the Left, with it’s near total control of the educational system and dominance of the media, plays an even larger role amongst younger people than it ever has before.

    And the Left’s love of censorship is nothing new. They have always approached freedom of expression as the preserve of their own. Free speech is for them, and no one else. Those who oppose are tarred with “hate speech” or whatever sort of “ism” or “phobia” of is currently fashionable. This is not something new, it’s the natural progression of some of the Left’s core beliefs. And it’s going to get far worse.

    • theresanursemom

      How long before comedians start getting yanked off the stage and beaten by angry mobs? Not long I suspect….the millennials won’t know what they had, until it’s gone….

  • Kahane had it right!!
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