Unusual Circumstances

How leftists weaken principles and threaten freedom

Following the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the political left has been in a frenzy. A cloud of leftist hysteria has begun to loom over our politics, posing a threat to the very foundations of our republic. The principles that yield freedom and justice, once moral and constitutional imperatives, have been diminished by the left to mere suggestions. The reinterpretation of principles that permits progressives to support this moral erosion all hinges upon the argument that “these are unusual circumstances.”

The argument by leftists that “these are unusual circumstances” is used today to justify breaking fundamental constitutional principles. Recently, the internet flared over the question, “Is it okay to punch a white supremacist?” Modern progressives answered resoundingly in the affirmative. They believe that the freedom from being attacked for one’s ideas does not apply in the “unusual circumstances” of white supremacists. This is nothing more than a case of leftists drawing arbitrary lines to justify their failure to live up to constitutional principles.

According to the theory of natural law that underpins our constitution, there is only one answer to this question: no, it isn’t okay to punch a white supremacist. If allowances are made for violence against white supremacists, why can’t that same allowance be made for every group we disagree with? Civilized society depends on the freedom to think anything you want as long as you don’t commit acts of violence against others. Our founders were (and our laws are) very clear: the only justification for violence is self-defense.

In order to frame the issue in a way that allows them to be violent against people with whom they disagree, a number of my progressive friends have declared that opposing white supremacy is in fact an act of self-defense. This is because the Trump presidency and the perceived rise of white nationalism constitutes “unusual circumstances.” The terrible ideas put forward by white supremacists are viewed as a violent aggression upon progressives, for which a violent response is justified. Once the situation has been labeled as an unusual and violent circumstance, that classification is used to justify violations of free speech and civil liberties. They had it coming, right?

Now, I need to be clear. White supremacy is an awful idea that has no place in modern society. However, it is just that: an idea. White supremacists have the same right to hold a rally as human rights activists do. I hate that it has to be that way, but it does absolutely have to be that way. If one group of people can be forcibly silenced for their beliefs, who’s to say I won’t be next? Freedom of speech for anyone is only possible if absolute freedom of speech is assured to everyone. In other words, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Ridding the world of ideas as terrible as white supremacy is a challenge of the utmost importance. Silencing or engaging in violence against white supremacists is morally and constitutionally corrupt, not to mention counter-productive. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Allowing terrible ideas to be exposed openly is the quickest way to put a stop to them. Such ideas simply can’t survive in the marketplace of ideas.

Principles must be applied evenly in every circumstance, otherwise they aren’t principles. We don’t get to pick and choose when we invoke the principle of free speech. While it may be correct that these are “unusual circumstances,” that is no excuse to suspend anyone’s civil liberties.

On the contrary, these unusual circumstances are a test of our principles and of our ability to maintain them. The left is actively eroding our liberty by wavering on the foundational principles that make liberty attainable. I fear the possibility that we will succumb and forget what freedom means; but, I remain optimistic that there are enough people like me who will fight to keep the flame of liberty alive.

If you don’t believe in free speech for even your worst enemies, you don’t believe in free speech at all.