What defines the radicals at Duke and at other college campuses is the attempt to suppress all speech but the speech that they favor. In fact, campus speech codes have been an unfortunate staple of college life for more than a decade and there is every indication that they are getting worse.
However, until recently, most of this kind of suppression was confined to the academic world, and while there is no excuse for it, at least the rest of us did not have to live by the rules that Karla Holloway and Houston Baker and Larry Moneta at Duke wanted to force on their students. I'm afraid that day is past and the anti-speech disease that has defined American academics now is spilling out into mainstream journalism and our body politic.
In a recent column in U.S. News, Bonnie Erbe, a mainstream journalist, called for arresting and imprisoning people who engage in speech that she declares to be "hate speech." Writing after the tragic shooting this past week at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., these are her words:
It's not enough to prosecute these murders as murders. They are hate-motivated crimes and each of these men had been under some sort of police surveillance prior to their actions. Isn't it time we started rounding up promoters of hate before they kill?She began her column with the following:
If yesterday's Holocaust Museum slaying of security guard and national hero Stephen Tyrone Johns is not a clarion call for banning hate speech, I don't know what is.Now, she does not just deal with the three men who are charged with the murders of the museum guard, abortion doctor George Tiller, and the U.S. army recruiter. No, she also targets President Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, zeroing in on this AP news passage:
"Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office," Wright told the Daily Press of Newport News following a Tuesday night sermon at the 95th annual Hampton University Ministers' Conference.Understand what she is saying. She is calling for Jeremiah Wright to be arrested and imprisoned for what he said. Notice that Wright has not called for violence against anyone; he is stating his own opinion, and the wrongness of it does not make it criminal.
Unfortunately, Erbe is not the only person out there calling for the state to suppress speech. Paul Krugman goes up to the edge in this column, but it is clear that he wants the government to shut up anyone with whom he disagrees.
Of course, hate speech to Krugman is anything that might even speak of the truth. He zeroes in on a recent statement from the Republican National Committee:
It’s not surprising, then, that politicians are doing the same thing. The R.N.C. says that “the Democratic Party is dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals.”Understand that he is including this passage in a rant against "hate speech," which means that he says any description of what Obama is doing to the economy falls into that "hate" category. Now, when the government nationalizes the mortgage industry, effectively nationalizes General Motors, take control of AIG, and determines which auto dealerships are going to be permitted to stay open, I would say that we are looking at socialism.
When government takes ownership and control of key industries -- as did Great Britain's Labor government following World War II -- that is called socialism, and at least the Brits had the truthfulness to use the "S-Word." Today, however, even using that word, according to Krugman, is hate speech, and we know that hate speech needs to be criminalized.
Of course, who can leave out Keith Olbermann on MSNBC who in his commentary on the museum murder drags in Ron Paul. Now, there most likely is no politician in the USA who is more against violence than Paul, yet according to Olbermann, Ron Paul is just another hatemonger, and because the man accused of the museum murder ranted against the Federal Reserve System, anyone who now raises any questions at all about the Fed and its inflationary policies is a promoter of "hate speech."
In a column before last year's presidential election, John Barone (also of U.S. News, interestingly) wrote that he feared the upcoming Obama regime would be "thuggish" in large part because Obama had cut his political teeth in the shadow of the modern American college campus. I hoped he was wrong, and I still do hope that the Obama administration will not listen to those who would turn speech into a crime.
Unfortunately, I don't hold out much hope, anymore. It would be one thing if those calling for suppression of speech were extremists; they are not. They are mainstream journalists (who, of course, would demand that their words be exempt from the "hate speech" laws), and now the Nobel Prize winner in economics. I fear that it only is a matter of time before words that offend our political classes and mainstream journalists will land us in prison.
Anthony Gregory had a fine column recently on Lew Rockwell's page about hate speech and collectivism, and it is worth reading. Or, at least read it while Gregory's words still are legal.
Do not forget that Great Britain now routinely imprisons people for "hate speech," as is done in Canada. The United States inherited its former love of free speech from the venerable "Rights of Englishmen" that no longer exist. And, yes, there will come a time in this country when the very words I am now writing can be enough to land me in a prison cell. That is where we are headed.