Thursday, February 08, 2018

‘Hate speech’ is no reason to ban Bannon

In the past week, we’ve seen fervent objections to the news that University of Chicago professor Luigi Zingales has invited former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon to take part in a debate at the university over globalization and immigration. Many students and faculty are calling for the invitation to be withdrawn and for Bannon to be banned from campus, since he “traffics in hate speech and white supremacist ideologies."

This is the familiar “hate speech isn’t free speech” argument being used to de-platform or censor campus speakers, usually on the right. But the argument is feeble.

For one thing, it violates the spirit of our First Amendment, which the courts have interpreted to mean that there should be no restrictions on public speech unless it incites clear and present danger. The argument also violates the University of Chicago’s liberal speech code, which states that the proper response to ideas deemed offensive is “robust counterspeech that challenges the merits of those ideas and exposes them for what they are.” Properly, the university has refused to ban Bannon.

The Constitution and the university protect nearly all forms of speech because the free exchange of ideas — the bulwark of education, democracy and the quest for justice — requires that speech be allowed, even when it strongly counters our own beliefs, nearly everyone’s beliefs or, indeed, advocates censorship itself.

Why? Because one person’s hate speech is another person’s free speech. Not so long ago we saw left-wing speakers banned for what was considered “hate speech” — speech in favor of Israel, against abortion or promoting evolution. Banned speakers have included Michael Moore, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tony Kushner, Richard Dawkins, Julian Bond and even Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This shows that one generation’s “hate speech” can be another generation’s norms.

Further, who gets to decide what “hate speech” is? Whom would you trust to censor speakers? And how would you feel if your own views were censored? That’s why the founders wisely chose to make nobody a censor. Censorship may make you feel vindicated, but it doesn’t eliminate offensive ideas; it only drives them underground. The best disinfectant, and surest path to the truth, is open airing of all views.



Bird of Paradise said...

To Brain Dead liberals Hate Speech is any speech from a Conservative that hurts the sensitive feelings of whining little snowflakes makes them want to cry and grab their liberal coloring books and climb into their playpens

Anonymous said...

Do these snowflakes ever stop to think that their claims of "hate speech" from Bannon are in fact hate speech from their own mouths? Their hypocrisy is astounding.

Anonymous said...

one generation’s “hate speech” can be another generation’s norms.

Reminds me of the old idea that the new religion's demons are the old religion's gods.