Matt Taibbi On The State Of Free Speech In The USA

The guests for NPR’s just-released On The Media episode about the dangers of free speech included Andrew Marantz, author of an article called, “Free Speech is Killing Us”; P.E. Moskowitz, author of “The Case Against Free Speech”; Susan Benesch, director of the “Dangerous Speech Project”; and Berkeley professor John Powell, whose contribution was to rip John Stuart Mill’s defense of free speech in On Liberty as “wrong.”

That’s about right for NPR, which for years now has regularly congratulated itself for being a beacon of diversity while expunging every conceivable alternative point of view.

I always liked Brooke Gladstone, but this episode of On The Media was shockingly dishonest. The show was a compendium of every neo-authoritarian argument for speech control one finds on Twitter, beginning with the blanket labeling of censorship critics as “speech absolutists” (most are not) and continuing with shameless revisions of the history of episodes like the ACLU’s mid-seventies defense of Nazi marchers at Skokie, Illinois.

The essence of arguments made by all of NPR’s guests is that the modern conception of speech rights is based upon John Stuart Mill’s outdated conception of harm, which they summarized as saying, “My freedom to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose.”

Because, they say, we now know that people can be harmed by something other than physical violence, Mill (whose thoughts NPR overlaid with harpsichord music, so we could be reminded how antiquated they are) was wrong, and we have to recalibrate our understanding of speech rights accordingly.

This was already an absurd and bizarre take, but what came next was worse. I was stunned by Marantz and Powell’s take on Brandenburg v. Ohio, our current legal standard for speech, which prevents the government from intervening except in cases of incitement to “imminent lawless action”: Read more»

Matt Taibbi | “NPR Trashes Free Speech. A Brief Response” | TK News By Matt Taibbi | August 31, 2021


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  1. It seems to me that what one considers “harm” done by free speech might be wholly dependent on one’s world-view. Odd that those calling for an end to free speech only complain about the speech of those that they disagree with. For example, some might consider it harmful to allow transvestites to read books about homosexuality to kindergarten children, but the practice is lauded as a form of free speech by its supporters. Satan is the father of lies, and his only real weapon is deception. He intends to so deceive the world as to fool even the Elect (if that were possible). When you see these arguments being fostered you can bet that at the root is the devil doing his best to deceive the nations, and in fact, we may be witnessing the loosening of Satan’s bonds ushering in the last of these last days.

  2. From one of the comments to Taibbi’s post:

    “…The Left supported free speech until they got what they wanted, institutional and cultural power. Now they want to do away with it because it threatens them. They will disguise their desire to do so with claims of “It’s to protect you!” but ultimately, it’s all about them and eliminating their opposition…”

    I agree and it’s a tactic that didn’t just come about by accident, but has been in the making for a long time. Further, for those who just want to trash the 1st Amendment entirely, what will be the replacement? Anarchy, I suppose, for those who just want to blast the entire system to smithereens so that anyone who says anything at all in opposition to their barbarian screaming is automatically “cancelled” and threatened.

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