Institutionalizing Intolerance: Bullies Win, Freedom Suffers When We Can't Agree To Disagree

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” ― Benjamin Franklin

What a mess.

As America has become ever more polarized, and those polarized factions have become more militant and less inclined to listen to - or even allow for the existence of - other viewpoints, we are fast becoming a nation of people who just can’t get along.

Here’s the thing: if Americans don’t learn how to get along - at the very least, agreeing to disagree and respecting each other’s right to subscribe to beliefs and opinions that may be offensive, hateful, intolerant or merely different - then we’re going to soon find that we have no rights whatsoever (to speak, assemble, agree, disagree, protest, opt in, opt out, or forge our own paths as individuals).

In such an environment, when we can’t agree to disagree, the bullies (on both sides) win and freedom suffers.

Intolerance, once the domain of the politically correct and self-righteous, has been institutionalized, normalized and politicized.

Even those who dare to defend speech that may be unpopular or hateful as a constitutional right are now accused of “weaponizing the First Amendment.”

On college campuses across the country, speakers whose views are deemed “offensive” to some of the student body are having their invitations recalled or cancelled, being shouted down by hecklers, or forced to hire costly security details. As The Washington Postconcludes, “College students support free speech—unless it offends them.”

At Hofstra University, half the students in a freshman class boycotted when the professor assigned them to read Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Artificial Nigger.” As Professor Arthur Dobrin recounts, “The boycotters refused to engage a writer who would use such an offensive word. They hadn’t read the story; they wouldn’t lower themselves to that level. Here is what they missed: The story’s title refers to a lawn jockey, a once common ornament of a black man holding a lantern. The statue symbolizes the suffering of an entire group of people and looking at it bring a moment of insight to a racist old man.”

It’s not just college students who have lost their taste for diverse viewpoints and free speech.

In Charlottesville, Va., in the wake of a violent clash between the alt-right and alt-left over whether Confederate statues should remain standing in a community park, City Council meetings were routinely “punctuated with screaming matches, confrontations, calls to order, and even arrests,” making it all but impossible for attendees and councilors alike to speak their minds.

In Maryland, a 90-year-old World War I Peace Cross memorial that pays tribute to the valor, courage and sacrifice of 49 members of the Prince George community who died in battle is under fire because a group of humanists believes the memorial, which evokes the rows of wooden Latin Crosses that mark the graves of WW I servicemen who fell on battlefields far away, is offensive.

On Twitter, President Trump has repeatedly called for the NFL to penalize players who take a knee in protest of police brutality during the national anthem, which clearly flies in the face of the First Amendment’s assurance of the right to free speech and protest (especially in light of the president’s decision to insert himself—an agent of the government—into a private workplace dispute).

On Facebook, Alex Jones, the majordomo of conspiracy theorists who spawned an empire built on alternative news, has been banned for posting content that violates the social media site’s “Community Standards,” which prohibit posts that can be construed as bullying or hateful.

Jones is not alone in being censured for content that might be construed as false or offensive.

Facebook also flagged a Canadian museum for posting abstract nude paintings by Pablo Picasso.

Even the American Civil Liberties Union, once a group known for taking on the most controversial cases, is contemplating stepping back from its full-throated defense of free (at times, hateful) speech.

“What are the defenders of free speech to do?” asks commentator William Ruger in Time magazine. 

“The sad fact is that this fundamental freedom is on its heels across America,” concludes Ruger. “Politicians of both parties want to use the power of government to silence their foes. Some in the university community seek to drive it from their campuses. And an entire generation of Americans is being taught that free speech should be curtailed as soon as it makes someone else feel uncomfortable. On the current trajectory, our nation’s dynamic marketplace of ideas will soon be replaced by either disengaged intellectual silos or even a stagnant ideological conformity. Few things would be so disastrous for our nation and the well-being of our citizenry.”

Disastrous, indeed.

You see, tolerance cuts both ways.

This isn’t an easy pill to swallow, I know, but that’s the way free speech works, especially when it comes to tolerating speech that we hate.

The most controversial issues of our day—gay rights, abortion, race, religion, sexuality, political correctness, police brutality, et al.—have become battlegrounds for those who claim to believe in freedom of speech but only when it favors the views and positions they support.

Free speech for me but not for thee” is how my good friend and free speech purist Nat Hentoff used to sum up this double standard.

This haphazard approach to the First Amendment has so muddied the waters that even First Amendment scholars are finding it hard to navigate at times.

It’s really not that hard.

The First Amendment affirms the right of the people to speak freely, worship freely, peaceably assemble, petition the government for a redress of grievances, and have a free press.

Nowhere in the First Amendment does it permit the government to limit speech in order to avoid causing offense, hurting someone’s feelings, safeguarding government secrets, protecting government officials, insulating judges from undue influence, discouraging bullying, penalizing hateful ideas and actions, eliminating terrorism, combatting prejudice and intolerance, and the like.

Unfortunately, in the war being waged between free speech purists who believe that free speech is an inalienable right and those who believe that free speech is a mere privilege to be granted only under certain conditions, the censors are winning.

We have entered into an egotistical, insulated, narcissistic era in which free speech has become regulated speech: to be celebrated when it reflects the values of the majority and tolerated otherwise, unless it moves so far beyond our political, religious and socio-economic comfort zones as to be rendered dangerous and unacceptable.

Protest laws, free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors (and championed by those who want to suppress speech with which they might disagree) have conspired to corrode our core freedoms, purportedly for our own good.

On paper - at least according to the U.S. Constitution - we are technically free to speak.

In reality, however, we are only as free to speak as a government official - or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube - may allow.

Emboldened by phrases such as “hate crimes,” “bullying,” “extremism” and “microaggressions,” the nation has been whittling away at free speech, confining it to carefully constructed “free speech zones,” criminalizing it when it skates too close to challenging the status quo, shaming it when it butts up against politically correct ideals, and muzzling it when it appears dangerous.

Free speech is no longer free.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long been the referee in the tug-of-war over the nation’s tolerance for free speech and other expressive activities protected by the First Amendment. Yet the Supreme Court’s role as arbiter of justice in these disputes is undergoing a sea change. Except in cases where it has no vested interest, the Court has begun to advocate for the government’s outsized interests, ruling in favor of the government in matters of war, national security, commerce and speech. 

When asked to choose between the rule of law and government supremacy, the Supreme Court tends to side with the government.

If we no longer have the right to tell a Census Worker to get off our property, if we no longer have the right to tell a police officer to get a search warrant before they dare to walk through our door, if we no longer have the right to stand in front of the Supreme Court wearing a protest sign or approach an elected representative to share our views, if we no longer have the right to voice our opinions in public—no matter how misogynistic, hateful, prejudiced, intolerant, misguided or politically incorrect they might be—then we do not have free speech.

What we have instead is regulated, controlled speech, and that’s a whole other ballgame.

Just as surveillance has been shown to “stifle and smother dissent, keeping a populace cowed by fear,” government censorship gives rise to self-censorship, breeds compliance, makes independent thought all but impossible, and ultimately foments a seething discontent that has no outlet but violence.

The First Amendment is a steam valve. It allows people to speak their minds, air their grievances and contribute to a larger dialogue that hopefully results in a more just world.

When there is no steam valve - when there is no one to hear what the people have to say - frustration builds, anger grows and people become more volatile and desperate to force a conversation. By bottling up dissent, we have created a pressure cooker of stifled misery and discontent that is now bubbling over and fomenting even more hate, distrust and paranoia among portions of the populace.

Silencing unpopular viewpoints with which the majority might disagree—whether it’s by shouting them down, censoring them, muzzling them, or criminalizing them—only empowers the controllers of the Deep State.

Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.

It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance, civility and love, but what it really amounts to is the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite.

We’ve allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we need someone else to think and speak for us. And we’ve allowed ourselves to become so timid in the face of offensive words and ideas that we’ve bought into the idea that we need the government to shield us from that which is ugly or upsetting or mean.

The result is a society in which we’ve stopped debating among ourselves, stopped thinking for ourselves, and stopped believing that we can fix our own problems and resolve our own differences.

In short, we have reduced ourselves to a largely silent, passive, polarized populace incapable of working through our own problems with each other and reliant on the government to protect us from our fears of each other. 

So where does that leave us?

We’ve got to do the hard work of figuring out how to get along again.

Charlottesville, Va., is a good example of this.

It’s been a year since my hometown of Charlottesville, Va., became the poster child in a heated war of words—and actions—over racism, “sanitizing history,” extremism (both right and left), political correctness, hate speech, partisan politics, and a growing fear that violent words would end in violent actions.

Those fears were realized when what should have been an exercise in free speech quickly became a brawl that left one activist dead.

Yet lawful, peaceful, nonviolent First Amendment activity did not kill Heather Heyer. She was killed by a 20-year-old Neo-Nazi who drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians in Charlottesville, Va.

Words, no matter how distasteful or disagreeable, did not turn what should have been an exercise in free speech into a brawl. That was accomplished by militant protesters on both sides of the debate who arrived at what should have been a nonviolent protest armed with sticks and guns, bleach bottles, balloons filled with feces and urine and improvised flamethrowers, and by the law enforcement agencies who stood by and allowed it.

This is what happens when we turn our disagreements, even about critically and morally important issues, into lines in the sand.

If we can’t agree to disagree—and learn to live with each other in peace and speak with civility in order to change hearts and minds—then we’ve reached an impasse.

That way lies death, destruction and tyranny.

Now, there’s a big difference between civility (treating others with consideration and respect) and civil disobedience (refusing to comply with certain laws as a means of peaceful protest), both of which Martin Luther King Jr. employed brilliantly, and I’m a champion of both tactics when used wisely.

Frankly, I agree with journalist Bret Stephens when he says that we’re failing at the art of disagreement.

As Stephens explains in a 2017 lecture, which should be required reading for every American:

“To say the words, ‘I agree’—whether it’s agreeing to join an organization, or submit to a political authority, or subscribe to a religious faith—may be the basis of every community. But to say, I disagree; I refuse; you’re wrong; etiam si omnesego nonthese are the words that define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere. Galileo and Darwin; Mandela, Havel, and Liu Xiaobo; Rosa Parks and Natan Sharansky — such are the ranks of those who disagree.”

What does it mean to not merely disagree but rather to disagree well?

According to Stephens, “to disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.”

Instead of intelligent discourse, we’ve been saddled with identity politics, “a safe space from thought, rather than a safe space for thought.”

Safe spaces.

That’s what we’ve been reduced to on college campuses, in government-run forums, and now on public property and on previously open forums such as the internet.

The problem, as I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, is that the creation of so-called safe spaces—where offensive ideas and speech are prohibited—is just censorship by another name, and censorship breeds resentment, and resentment breeds conflict, and unresolved, festering conflict gives rise to violence.

Charlottesville is a prime example of this.

Anticipating the one-year anniversary of the riots in Charlottesville on August 12, the local city government, which bungled its response the first time around, is now attempting to ostensibly create a “safe space” by shutting the city down for the days surrounding the anniversary, all the while ramping up the presence of militarized police, in the hopes that no one else (meaning activists or protesters) will show up and nothing (meaning riots and brawls among activists) will happen.

What a mess.

Comments

MoreSun loop Thu, 08/09/2018 - 01:08 Permalink

When America?.......   What will it take?.......

"ADL: Questioning The “Holocaust” Is “Hate Speech” That “Attacks Jews”:

http://therealistreport.com/adl-questioning-the-holocaust-is-hate-speec…

 

REMOVE ALL JEW SUPREMACISTS FROM ALL POSITIONS OF POWER-NOW!

Prosecute, Shut Down & Confiscate all Funds of ALL Jew Supremacist Racist Foreign Agent Organizations, such as: Aipac, Adl, Aclu, Splc, Jdl, Jdo Jwc, Ajc, Zoa, Cfr, and a thousand more by using the FARA ACT & RICO Laws.

Americans enmasse must immediately file Class Action Lawsuits against same aforementioned jew supremacist racist foreign agent organizations-Shut Them Down!

 

In reply to by loop

HopefulCynical Last of the Mi… Thu, 08/09/2018 - 08:47 Permalink

We have entered into an egotistical, insulated, narcissistic era in which free speech has become regulated speech: to be celebrated when it reflects the values of the majority and tolerated otherwise, unless it moves so far beyond our political, religious and socio-economic comfort zones as to be rendered dangerous and unacceptable.

Yep - the snowflake Millennials, raised by the self-absorbed Boomers, are seeking to complete their parents' attempted subversion of our Republic to Marxist 'Utopia.' Trump's election, along with Brexit, LePen/Wilders/etc. showed the globalists that the Overton Window was swinging back away from their commie wet dreams, so they've beaten the Boomer/Millennial hornet's nest with a dozen baseball bats, attempting to gin up enough violence to scare us anti-Marxists into silence.

They have no motherfucking idea what sort of unholy shitstorm is about to rain down on them - ALL of them. There aren't enough bulletproof limos or hired thugs in the world to protect the International Instigators from the consequences of their actions. Fact.

In reply to by Last of the Mi…

jin187 King of Ruperts Land Thu, 08/09/2018 - 05:23 Permalink

The fucked up thing is that the "protest" didn't even start that way.  Some reporter noticed Kaperprick had been kneeling before the anthem after he'd already been doing it for months, and when he was asked why, he said he won't stand for this country's flag, because we're a bunch of murderers and oppressors.  The word protest wasn't even mentioned until his 3rd or 4th interview, weeks later, where he then claimed he was protesting, starting a movement, and the rest of the canned do-gooder liberal horseshit spectrum, in order to get the heat off himself for his original comments.  Then of course all the liberals' well trained monkeys ran out and started mimicking him in support of things they never gave a fuck about, and now anyone that remembers what really happened is a "rayciss".

Not to mention how we're supposed to believe he's now blacklisted, solely due to his beliefs.  Somehow the talking heads never remember how he and his feminazi girlfriend shit on Ray Lewis and Ozzie Newsome, two of the finest men you'll ever see, right when they were about to offer him a job back in the NFL.  That's two proud ass hard-working black men.  The gubmint even railroaded Ray Lewis on murder charges, trying to force him to testify against someone else, ala Paul Manafort, so if anyone knows how corrupt and unfair the system is, it's Ray Lewis.  Real niggas like them won't even give this fake ass high yellow wannabe martyr a fucking job, but it's "collusion" between a bunch of evil rich white men.  Where have we heard that before?

In reply to by King of Ruperts Land

lock-stick TeamDepends Wed, 08/08/2018 - 23:59 Permalink

It's all ONE SICK, PATHETIC SPAMMER!!!

•• roea.rita ("I SUCK DICK ON THE INTERNET FOR LAND ROVERS!")

•• Adolfsteinbergovitch ("I TORMENT THE WOMAN WHO SUCKS DICK!")

•• Cryptopithicus Homme (bitcoin spammer - imaginary "friend")

•• Free This (ABOVE, in all his 7th grade glory - JACKASS  as new icon!)

•• lisa.roy39  ("I SUCK DICK ON THE INTERNET FOR LAND ROVERS!")

•• Leakanthrophy (PORN for Jesus!)

•• 07564111 ("I PRETEND I DON'T KNOW ANY OF THEM!")

•• MoreSun (whacked, OH SO WHACKED!!)

•• Africoman

•• Sanctificado

•• beemasters

•• PrivetHedge

•• Cheolli

•• bobcatz

dozens and dozens and dozens of banned log-on's -- more than seven years!

 

....and all the while, the pathetic little SPAMMER sits in his leaky, moldy, smelly single wide in Western New York, surrounded by garbage and dirty clothes, trying to find his dick amidst rolls of fat, talking to his ACTION FIGURES and wondering where his life went.

In reply to by TeamDepends

glenlloyd TeamDepends Thu, 08/09/2018 - 00:04 Permalink

The situation has come from a President (44) that did much to split the national dialogue.

I can't have a conversation with the left because there's no foundation or logic for what they say. Essentially they open their mouths and garbage comes out, and they think that it somehow makes sense when in fact it does not.

Further, they're ranting and raving about things that haven't happened. LGBTQ people 'fear' Trump because of what? He's done nothing to them but they're all stigmatized by his Presidency.

The left doesn't want to accept that he's actually done some good, at least in the short term, for the economy, regardless of whether that falls apart later on this year give him the credit he deserves.

The ravings of lunatic leftists that are repeatedly discredited with simple examples don't make any difference either, they just dismiss and move on to some other hate-filled rambling about how Trump done them wrong.

Half the time they know nothing of what they speak and the other half is so incoherent I can't be bothered with it.

When they finally get off their meds (state funded I might add) and come back down to earth, maybe they'll recognize the error of their ways.

In reply to by TeamDepends

FishOn TeamDepends Thu, 08/09/2018 - 08:39 Permalink

LOL it's mainly the left who can't control themselves or have civil debates. It's the alec baldwins of the world who resort to throwing homophobic slurs at the drop of the hat.

 

In OC MD they have a 380 boat tournament going off this week and the number of Trump flags is impressive. The mere sight of them 'triggers' libbies into a babbling bucket of curses. Keep in mind these same libbies approve of kathy giffords beheading trump. And remember the rodeo clown who lost his job for merely wearing an Obama mask??

In reply to by TeamDepends

Skip BankSurfyMan Thu, 08/09/2018 - 00:30 Permalink

AJ is just a con man making a buck. Nothing more. His only crime has been being pro-Trump.
They are going to SHUT IT ALL DOWN, the GOYIM KNOW!!!

Jewish Intellectual Activism for Internet Control
July 24, 2018 Andrew Joyce, Ph.D. Dr Joyce is a retired professor from England.

A “Jewish Swarm Consciousness”: Israeli App Orchestrates Interference in Politics Across the World

Anyone who has ever participated in discussions related to Jews or Israel on the internet, especially on mainstream sites, cannot help but be struck by the ruthless efficiency with which remarks critical of the Chosen Race are removed. It is as if there was some kind of Jewish swarm consciousness constantly superintending the conversations of the world. Well, it seems there is.

UN Passes Resolution Declaring Free Expression on the Internet a Human Right
Andrew Anglin July 10, 2018

But the honorable Mr. Hughes is correct in stating that these abuses of the right to free expression are happening in all parts of the world.

Virtually every EU member state is violating this ideology by banning criticism of Jews and other minorities on the internet, while also outlawing “denial” of the alleged Holocaust of the Jews.

Much more shocking, however, is that the United States, over the last year, has proven itself to be no better than China or the EU with regards to defending internet freedom.

I just want to make something perfectly clear: my personal rights to freedom of expression and legitimate dissent have been viciously abused by the United States government.

My website, Dailystormer.com, was taken down from the internet by GoDaddy, and then stolen from me by Google. The backbone infrastructure service, Cloudflare, refused to serve my content. Tucows, a major backbone service, denied me service.

As I documented fully at the time, all of these major companies serve Islamic terrorist and pro-pedophilia content.

Following this, I was subjected to an organized campaign of disenfranchisement by virtually every single company capable of providing me with service. I have been denied service by more companies than I can even count. This has been ongoing for nearly a year.

I have done nothing illegal. I have not been accused of, let alone charged with, a single crime.

And yet the US government has allowed for an organized conspiracy of completely unregulated oligopolistic corporations to deny me access to the internet.

This is absolutely no different than if I was told I had a right to eat food, but every single grocery store and restaurant organized together to deny me service, and so I was left to starve in the street while the government watched.

If private companies are allowed to organize to deny freedom of speech to an individual, while the government refuses to intervene, this is absolutely no different than a government ordering content removed from the internet.

In reply to by BankSurfyMan

jin187 Skip Thu, 08/09/2018 - 05:47 Permalink

Here's the problem.  You see, sane people like myself don't care what you put on the internet, because you're just a Nazi fucktard.  We get a cheap laugh, imagining you foaming at the mouth, spittle flying, while you desperately mash your keyboard warning the universe about Jew-this, and Jew-that.  It's quite entertaining, much like watching monkeys toss shit all about in a zoo.

Unfortunately, the average fuckwit views your hate speech as some kind of threat to civilization.  They don't care about their right to free speech possibly getting taken away in the future, so long as the big bad evil Nazi doesn't get his free speech.  The corporations just want money, and they will do what the lowest common denominator tells them to do, because that's their customer.  That leaves the government, which is more than happy to gain the ability to silence people they don't like with a wink and a nod to a few well-connected Antifa-types, rather than having to defend obviously unconstitutional laws in court.

But cheer up.  You'll always have the ability to hand out as many flyers as you want outside your local Knights of Columbus chapter.

In reply to by Skip

fireant BankSurfyMan Thu, 08/09/2018 - 00:38 Permalink

Fascists insist on controlling the message.....who is the fascist here?  Who is going to all ends to control the media, the message?  The leftofascists of course.  Free speech only applies to them it seems, and they are too retarded to understand that they are the emperor with no clothes....every single person with a brain sees straight through their utter bullshit.

Why do they demand control of the media, like Goebbels?

In reply to by BankSurfyMan

SmokingArgus GoFuqYourself Thu, 08/09/2018 - 00:39 Permalink

The Marxists, who wish for censorship shall fail. While it may be a long battle, those with courage shall continue to speak truth to power. Moreover, as long as Americans resist being disarmed, as the long embedded culture of the right to self-defense is perhaps even more ingrained in the psyche, the Orwellian politically correct hall monitors shall fail to to take the hill.

 

In reply to by GoFuqYourself

PrivetHedge SmokingArgus Thu, 08/09/2018 - 04:38 Permalink

The truth is like a big spring and censorship has to be worked on continuously in order to keep it down.

The pharisees have always had this problem and most of their energies go into hiding their secrets, propaganda and censorship because they are too fundamentally stupid to notice the rod they create for their own back.

When there is too much obvious truth for their efforts to suppress the dam bursts and they are swept away as has happened many times in the past.

This is why the pharisee jew achieves nothing, it spends all its energies being the parasite and hiding it until the charade and/or host collapses. Note the lack of jewish architecture in the world - they are simply a destructive parasitical religion that never achieves anything good.

In reply to by SmokingArgus

jin187 PrivetHedge Thu, 08/09/2018 - 05:55 Permalink

Oh, but I thought it was all Khazars, and lizard people, and shit like that, not the people filling the synagogues.  You guys gotta remember to stick to the story, that you're not a bunch of Nazis, because you're just after a few of the 5903485 tribes of Jews.  Ones that aren't even real Jewish tribals, let alone the religion itself, or the innocent worshipers.

In reply to by PrivetHedge

Bigly Wed, 08/08/2018 - 23:53 Permalink

Is it a mess?  Only the left is unhinged. 

Cut off their propaganda fix, the lying MSM, and it would reduce crap right there. (And break up the monopolies)

SmokingArgus Endgame Napoleon Thu, 08/09/2018 - 00:52 Permalink

Correct. However the primary censorship here liess in the creation of broadcast licenses during the "Progressive Era" via the FCC. Abolish the license and return fidelity to the First Amendment as it is obvious such applies to all forms of mass communication, not just the printing press to wit was the only available means at the time of Secession away from Great Britain.

In reply to by Endgame Napoleon