With the Innocence of Muslims director under arrest for rather thin parole violation charges, many on the right have wondered where the Left has been on free speech. Should the ACLU, who regularly champion flag burners, step in to protest the backlash against clearly protected speech? Where are the Hollywood elites whose livelihoods depend on churning out offensive films? Nowhere, of course, and one cannot fully blame them; people who go against jihadists often find themselves with severed heads. There is another reason – to the Left, free speech has always been a canard to promote progressive change.
The ACLU was founded by Communists. Needless to say, communist regimes only promote free speech when it suits their purpose, so why has the ACLU often supported free speech? In order to advance change, leftists seek to break down traditional values, including commonly held decency standards. Radicals are not necessarily against traditionalism, they simply want to create new traditions and to do so they must destroy the old. As their name implies, traditions are hard to break down, so leftists have waged a decades long war on anything that smacks of American traditionalism. The ACLU may no longer be run by Communists, but their instinct to selectively fight free speech issues remains because it advances a left wing agenda.
The anti-anti-Muslim issue fits the Left’s anti-traditionalism strategy perfectly. Last month, NPR found the one person in America who thinks the First Amendment does not protect filmmakers from offending Muslims – Noah Feldman.
Noah Feldman’s arguments are outlandish: 1. The US standard of free speech is an anomaly compared to most nations. 2. The Middle East especially does not see speech rights the same way as do most Americans. 3. Best of all, the internet provides such immediacy and reach that speech is now so proximate and immediate that the old standard of incitement does not apply.
Well, Dr. Feldman: 1. The US free speech standard is the pinnacle of human rights, which is why it is anomalous. 2. The Middle East standard is akin to Stalin’s (free speech so long as it is approved), so the fact that it exists is no justification that it should. 3. The film NPR purports to be the cause of the riots and violence was three months old when the riots started. How is that proximate and immediate?
Here is what Dr. Feldman thinks of the First Amendment:
“When it was drafted, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution didn’t contemplate the radical freedom Americans now enjoy. Its language, drawn from English precedents, was aimed essentially at prohibiting what is called prior restraint . . . once you had spoken or written, you could still be punished for what you had freely said.”
The US Constitution is written in English, and the First Amendment’s meaning is unambiguous. Punishing speech either before or after is not a government’s power. Whether it has been misapplied before is irrelevant.
Currently, jihadists are a force against what the Left views as US imperialism. Despite their reign of terror, jihadists are generally given a pass with regard to their motives. The Obama Administration condemned a single movie maker at the same level as the millions of violent Islamic revolutionaries who bomb and behead completely innocent victims. Perhaps the Left will not criticize the religion of the jihadist because leftists and jihadists share a common enemy – traditional western values.
Through this prism, the Left’s selective support of free speech seems more logical. Atheists, but not Christians at school. Gay rights, but not chastity pledge rallies. Anti-Christian, but not anti-Muslim movies. These and other groups that think the Left looks out for their First Amendment rights should think again. Maybe the Left sees some of its constituents and their free speech rights as pawns in its bigger mission to expand government control. In the end, that mission ceases to protect free speech and extinguishes it.