by Timothy Lane 6/7/14
Jonathan Goldberg has a last-page article (this is of course where Mark Steyn used to appear) in the June 2 issue of [i]National Review[/i]. He discusses the issue of free speech, and especially the liberal jihad against it, with regard particularly to the recent homosexual issues (such as Jonathan Eich being kicked out of Mozilla and the NFL draft and aftermath). In doing so, he comes close to an important observation that occurred to me a few decades ago, but which hasn’t come up before.
Goldberg notes that liberals are quite happy to defend unreasonable speech. They will defend the vilest examples of pornography, black masses (he also discussed the proposed black mass at Harvard), or the antics of extremists such as Nazis marching through Skokie (a city populated heavily by Jews who survived the Holocaust at the time this was an issue) or the vicious antics of Westboro Baptist Church.
And yet, they are viciously intolerant of conservative rhetoric, no matter how reasonable. This is where he strays into interesting territory, though he seems to confine his observations to the “campus Caesars”. Nevertheless, he does see the key aspect: a reasonable conservative argument is a genuine threat to liberalism, whereas those they defend are no threats at all (and, indeed, often help liberalism by increasing the sense of victimhood of groups such as Jews, blacks, or homosexuals, an aspect Goldberg didn’t bring up).
I realized this somewhere close to 30 years ago as to why the ACLU would defend the Nazis marching through Skokie, but not pro-lifers demonstrating peacefully outside of abortion clinics. It wasn’t that they opposed the pro-lifers (though they do), since they also oppose the Nazis. But the Nazis were no political threat (quite the contrary), whereas the pro-lifers were (and remain so, which is why they continue not to support their civil rights).
It’s nice to see Goldberg make this point, and more people should see it – and realize the implications.
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