Thursday, August 18, 2005

That political speech thing

Here at PajamaGuy we're always glad when His Virtualness catches up with us.

What have the real threats to speech in America been? Nat Hentoff is a likely source, but I would say all wars, which I don't find overly troubling (including the current one), Alien & Sedition, of course, and McCain Feingold is a huge, and perhaps fatal one. Other than that, what are we talking? The Red Scare? I expect LAGuy and a great number of others to leap to McCarthyism, but I'm a bit less sympathetic to that argument.

LAGuy responds: I can list plenty of threats, including the ones above, without having to resort to McCarthyism. You leave off, for instance, the widening of harassment laws so that soon everyone anywhere will have to watch what they're saying. Then there's the FCC forever trying to broaden its power by limiting ours. Of course there's the category of "hate" speech, where society decides that certain ideas are so popular, and certain people so powerful, that speaking out against them is breaking the law itself. In general, a lot of people seem to think they have a right not to be offended. Even when they don't claim it's illegal, you can see this in how some anti-war people go nuts when, after years of condemning everyone and everything they don't like, someone has the nerve to criticize them back because it actually seems to matter now.

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