Domestic Enemies Wage War on Free Speech
Obviously, the ones who committed barbarous acts Wednesday night at UC Berkeley to stop Milo Yiannopoulos from expressing his opinions, are the ones who are most culpable. But the lingering danger is exacerbated by all those who nominally reject violence but who nonetheless focus on so-called hate speech rather than on savages who inflict terror to combat it. Whether they are celebrities, professional pontificators, social media alarmists, politicians or ordinary Americans who tend to live quietly, it’s fair and necessary to regard them as domestic enemies for espousing the belief that feeling offended or worried justifies assaulting peaceful people or destroying property.
Upon learning of the mayhem in Berkeley (which occurred off-campus as well as immediately outside the school venue where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak), Hollywood comedy hyphenate Judd Apatow reacted with a warning that the upheaval will escalate.
Perhaps misreading the inclinations and loyalties of servicemembers, comedian Sarah Silverman called for a military coup.
The feral left’s bizarre notion of what warrants a coup is of course a symptom of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). For sheer absurdity, it’s rivaled only by their inventive concept of what constitutes a coup.
The insanity is hardly new. Throughout Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, his disparagers saw routine occurrences as beyond the pale. When the candidate was booked to host Saturday Night Live in November of 2015, it was met with protests. About a year later, Jimmy Fallon was criticized for “normalizing” Trump on The Tonight Show. Although he’s friendly toward all his guests, even Fallon’s comedy peers inexplicably expected him to treat Trump with hostility.
It used to be that free speech was at least somewhat of a liberal cause. In 1978, when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defended the right of the American Nazi Party to march in Skokie, IL, it was so controversial that many people cancelled their ACLU memberships. But it wasn’t difficult to find some liberals and leftists who understood the necessity of defending ugly yet lawful expression. Five years later, Larry Flynt published a cartoon in Hustler depicting evangelist Jerry Falwell having (as it says delicately on Wikipedia) “an incestuous rendezvous with his mother.” Principled feminists who hated Flynt’s depraved brand of pornography nonetheless sided with him, because they understood that if he could be punished by the judiciary for offending the preacher, so too could Johnny Carson (or any comedian) face penalties just for ruffling feathers with a joke. Is there now any progressive, leftist or liberal of renown who has publicly defended Yiannopoulos?
As I wrote in September of 2015: “Even the most popular stand-ups are no longer allowed to perform certain material at once-permissive but now-dogmatic halls of academia, and some — including Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Larry the Cable Guy — prefer to completely avoid colleges.” At UC Berkeley (former home of the Free Speech Movement) and on campuses nationwide, few things nowadays invite more peril than uttering words that offend so-called progressives who say they are fighting facism when they silence the offender by any means necessary. The oppressors’ preferred presidential candidates — Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton — both said they not only want Americans to face imprisonment for merely spending money on speech that influences an election (whatever that means), but would appoint nobody to the Supreme Court who doesn’t first pledge to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, the landmark ruling that stripped Congress of its authority to restrict independent political expenditures. When one asks a proponent of such regulation to clarify exactly who and what would be restricted, no coherent answer is ever given. Moreover, if that or any subject were to be broached in some unpredictably upsetting way, one might even get pepper-sprayed in the face.
Some of the most seditious agitators in Berkeley didn’t appear to be students, and in the coming days I’ll try to get information about their identities and affiliations. Regardless, it’s apparent that neither school administrators nor city police took the necessary steps to adequately uphold the right of a speaker and his audience to assemble peaceably and travel through Berkeley’s nearby neighborhoods free from harm.
It’s not as if nobody was aware that Yiannopoulos has repeatedly been subjected to threats and the cancellation of events. The meager and impotent response by authorities is probably attributable to the political climate in California. When Trump held a campaign rally in San Jose, police officers on the scene were poorly-positioned, and as in Berkeley, there were too few of them to handle the rioting that erupted in the streets and parking structures. Likewise, Trump supporters were brutally attacked as they departed an event held in Anaheim, and Trump himself was forced by protesters to traverse a ditch in order to enter a venue in Burlingame (San Francisco suburb), a scene that enhanced his badass image in the eyes of some.
The tendency of emotionalists to respond punitively to distressing speech, and to blame the victim when oppressors trample on the rights of disfavored speakers and their audiences, indicates a pernicious mindset that plagues American culture. We saw it over and over again while Trump was campaigning. His speeches were intended as pep rallies for supporters, yet dissenters kept intruding even though they surely knew they weren’t welcome at those gatherings, almost all of which were held on private property Trump had rented and was therefore entitled to control. Out on the streets, anti-Trump protesters were often violent, but rather than condemn the lawlessness, Trump’s critics would complain that he caused intruders who had entered the venue to be ejected too aggressively.
Ignorant protesters persistently carry on as if they are allowed to demonstrate anytime and anywhere. They sometimes invoke the First Amendment without realizing the Constitution restricts only state actors, or that courts have repeatedly ruled that reasonable time, place and manner restrictions may be imposed on those who wish to publicly kick up a fuss. In general, permits are required to march or otherwise congregate on streets. In defiance of such laws, and under the guise of repudiating intolerance, anti-Trumpers recklessly block traffic without warning. A driver who was confronted in Berkeley wisely decided to keep moving while two hooligans crawled on the car’s hood. One of them quickly fell off, but the other remained perched precariously on the vehicle as it sped away. Video footage of the incident posted on Twitter leaves his fate unknown.
Driving through a violent mob without hesitation is one good way to escape danger. Civilized people have additional options at their disposal to cope with anti-democratic attacks on freedom of expression and diversity. Members of communities threatened by marauders can demand that police make it a priority to thwart riots before they flare up, especially when authorities have unmistakable advance notice that the potential for disorder is substantial. Civil lawsuits can be filed against those who abrogate their responsibility to protect the public. This is what we need from cops every time it’s reasonably possible:
If local officials refuse or are unable to ensure the public’s safety, Trump might need to deploy the National Guard. If he does so, he will undoubtedly be criticized for reacting heavy-handedly, and be accused of fomenting a police state. But others will applaud him for it. In any case, law-abiding Americans deserve to be defended even if the president must pay a political price for it. If not for TDS-stricken reporters/pundits, nefarious media chiefs and corrupt officeholders — all of whom continue to inflame the situation — I would expect the violence and general disruptiveness of anti-Trumpers to eventually fizzle out, and maybe it will anyway. But we are closer to something resembling a civil war than most people realize. The pink pussyhat posse and their ilk believe Trump-inspired opposition to political correctness is about “hate speech.” Actually, it’s a proportionate and requisite response to domestic enemies who are clinging to an ass-backwards interpretation of facism.