Many Democrats are fundamentally opposed to free speech. They understand that if people are allowed to speak freely, they’ll point out all of the problems with the liberal ideology. Instead, they figure that they can just silence their opponents to stop this from happening. Thankfully, this regressive tactic is causing some of the left to speak out.
During an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) distanced herself from her colleagues’ desire to silence those they disagree with. Specifically, she spoke out against UC Berkeley for their actions against conservative thinker Ann Coulter, and claimed she should be allowed to speak. According to her, if you don’t like her, don’t go.
While discussing “hate speech” and censorship, Sen. Warren told him, “you know, look, Ann Coulter has just gotten a much bigger platform because someone tried to deny her a chance to speak. My view is: let her speak and just don’t show up. If you don’t like it, don’t show up.”
Her statement was in response to a question about “hate speech” asked by Tapper. “There was this big issue going on about conservative pundit, Ann Coulter, and whether or not she has a right to speak at Berkeley – she was invited by the Berkeley Republicans,” he said, referring to the fact that many are trying to stop her from speaking. He questioned her about this, asking, “former Vermont governor and DNC chair, Howard Dean, tweeted last week: ‘Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.’ Is that true?”
Although she defended Coulter’s right to speak, she avoided answering the question. Many claim that talking about controversial topics, such as immigration reform is hateful. According to them, anyone guilty of spreading “hate speech” must be silenced. Tapper’s question specifically asked her to state whether or not she agrees with this notion. Instead of being direct, she avoided the question. It’s likely that she did this to avoid losing potential voters in the upcoming Presidential election if she decides to run. Regardless, she should’ve completely rebuked the left’s push to silence those they disagree with.
Dean’s statement could not be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, “hate speech,” as it’s commonly known, is absolutely protected by the First Amendment, so long as it doesn’t incite imminent physical violence. Unfortunately, facts don’t matter to many liberals. They’ll keep trying to justify their regressive behavior by labeling speech they disagree with as hateful.
Others on the left have also deviated from their party’s usual rhetoric and are instead standing up for free speech. In response to his outrageous tweet, Bill Maher countered by noting that hate speech is definitely protected by the First Amendment and made a distinction between legal “hate speech” and unlawful threats. He explained that so long as someone is not threatening the life of someone else, they’re allowed to say awful things, noting “this is why the Supreme Court said the Nazis could march in Skokie. They’re a hateful bunch – but that’s what the First Amendment means. It doesn’t mean just shut up, and agree with me.”
People are allowed to say terrible things because it’s too dangerous to allow the government to police speech. If there is precedent allowing the government to silence someone over the content of their speech, then bad actors can use and abuse that same power in the future to attack their opponents. To avoid this, people must be allowed to say whatever they want, so long as it’s not said to intentionally threaten and doesn’t lead to imminent danger. Maher compared the left’s behavior to book burning, saying, “this goes on all over the country on campuses. They invite someone to speak, who is not exactly what liberals want to hear, and they want to shut her down. I feel like this is the liberals’ version of book burning. It’s got to stop.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also criticized those trying to silence the conservative. In response to reports that she may be canceled, he said, “I don’t like this. I don’t like it.” He reasoned, “obviously Ann Coulter’s outrageous ― to my mind, off the wall. But you know, people have a right to give their two-cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation.”
Coulter’s problems began earlier this month after agreeing to speak at the University of California, Berkeley on behalf of the UCB College Republicans. Despite meeting the school’s outrageous demands, the school still decided to cancel the event, citing “safety concerns. Specifically, administrators said they were “unable to find a safe and suitable venue for [the] planned April 27 event featuring Ann Coulter.” They also explained that “in the wake of events surrounding the planned appearance by (right-wing speaker) Milo Yiannopoulos in February, as well as several riots which have occurred in recent weeks in the city of Berkeley, we have increased our scrutiny regarding the time and location of high-profile speakers so that these events can go forward unimpeded.”
Outraged by the cancellation, Coulter criticized the decision on Twitter. “I acceded to Berkeley’s every silly demand (never made of lib speakers). Called their bluff & they canceled anyway,” she said. In follow-up tweets, she stated that “no school accepting public funds can ban free speech,” and noted that she’s “instructing Berkeley student group to spare no expense in renting my speaking venue, part of my legal damages,” referring to a lawsuit filed on behalf of those organizing her event.
I acceded to Berkeley's every silly demand (never made of lib speakers). Called their bluff & they canceled anyway. https://t.co/EQsiAEWPpW
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) April 19, 2017
According to Harmeet Dhillon, the lawyer defending the conservative students who are hosting the speech, by attempting to change previously agreed upon conditions, the school is trying to silence Coulter. She argues that the school’s “sole discretion” to ”unilaterally declare that certain facilities — all the desirable facilities are ‘not securable,’ when they were securable for Vicente Fox last week” fails “the smell test of credibility.” She believes it’s a “double standard” and claims that it’s being used to discriminate against conservative speakers. She also noted that “security fees” are another way liberals try to censor those they disagree with, telling reporters that the left uses the additional cost as a way to make the events unaffordable for those interested in attending.
Despite the massive lack of support, Coulter is determined to give her talk. Dhillon claimed that “if the Mayor of Berkeley cannot maintain control of his city, the Governor should call the National Guard because that’s a serious public health issue.” If there are protestors at her speech behaving like they did at Yiannopolus’ event or the city’s pro-Trump rally, the extra support may be necessary.
The authoritarianism of the left must be opposed. If they’re successful, it will be a crime to think differently than them. They’ve made it clear that they’re willing to use violence against those they disagree with, much like the so-called Islamic State. Anyone engaging in what is essentially terrorism must be held accountable for their actions. Political violence and intimidation will not be tolerated.