16 October 2010

Freedom of Speech

Not surprisingly, a letter to the editor of this morning's Wall Street Journal (Saturday, 16 Oct 2010) reminded me of a couple of other articles I have read recently concerning freedom of speech. A couple of days ago, 11 October to be exact, there was an article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the back page of the op-ed section—In Holland, Free Speech on Trial—and an editorial on a related matter which mentioned our own lame Senator Max. I hate it when the WSJ mentions Max because I know it will be embarrassing for him and for his lowly constituents. First of all, the more important of the two concerned the trial of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands for using "hate speech" in public. Apparently our Muslim friends have more freedom to speak their minds than the rest of us. The connection with the editorial was the inquiry initiated by Senator Max regarding identification of donors to some political activist group, an obvious though lame attempt to chill the giving of donations, i.e. a variation on free speech.

I always thought that our friends on the Left were big free speech fans, granting it to a fair number of unsavory activities, but now I'm not so sure. Or is free speech only given freely to their friends and allies? Yesterday, while having lunch at Perkin's Restaurant on 27th St, I was reading a David Crisp editorial in his "free and independent" Billings Outpost. The only worrying thing in the article, which is mainly a thoughtful consideration of why conservative thought is so evident on talk radio, was the whiney paragraphs lamenting the fact that the First Amendment is a big hurdle in the Left's approach to chilling the Right's voice, which they of course call "fairness." I wonder, is there any room for seeking truth in this argument? We didn't allow the Communist Party in this country because they were interested in the overthrow of our government and had no allegiance to seeking truth. Can we afford to allow our friends on the left to selectively enforce the First Amendment?

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