Tags: free speech | heckling | hate speech | protests

Free Speech Advocates: Don't Bully Hecklers Into Silence

By    |   Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 01:08 PM

A move to embrace anti-heckling laws and to support anti-hate speech movements diminishes free speech rights around the country, an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal asserts.

In the wake of the uproar of the Sony's comedy "The Interview" and incidents around the country where political correctness has intervened to quash unpopular speech, the nation is headed toward a "heckler's veto" where the speaker — not the actors who would move against him or her — will get the blame, marking a step back for freedom, says First Amendment attorney Harry A. Fisher in the piece published Monday.

"Protesters have silenced speakers on several occasions this year, sometimes with the law’s support," Fisher wrote, citing several incidents in 2014 that have been upheld by federal courts.

Those included a 9th Circuit Appeals Court stopping California students from wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, and a 6th Circuit Appeals Court ruling against an anti-Islam Christian group after it was ejected from an Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan, Fisher said.

He also cited Ferguson, Missouri, protests and commencement speaker cancellations for Condoleezza Rice and Christine Lagarde.

"There is growing support, including among academics and racial and religious advocacy groups, that what they define as hate speech … is simply outside the First Amendment’s protection," he wrote.

"Law professors have concocted influential concepts like 'outsider jurisprudence,' 'critical race theory,' 'critical feminist theory,' and 'storytelling' theory to define some kinds of politically incorrect speech as not speech at all, but 'mechanisms of subordination.'"

Some free speech advocates are pushing back. In Michigan, even the American Civil Liberties Union has spoken up to support the Christian group, noting they were removed unfairly, even as the group had provoked a response with "crude messages" against Islam, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In an article for The Federalist, Human Events writer John Hayward described the current anti-free-speech climate as "the age of the bully." He says the emerging culture has been abetted by action on college campuses.

"The campus 'trigger warning' culture of aggressive hyper-sensitivity — don’t you DARE say anything that might challenge my beliefs! — is migrating steadily into the adult world," Hayward wrote.

"The whole notion of censorship to avoid subjective 'offense' is a demonstration of applied bullying through cultural power. You’d better suppress your thoughts and curb your speech, lest you slip up and say something that annoys those with enough cultural influence to make you pay for your transgression ... just like Hollywood studios are now going to think long and hard about making any film that might offend the North Korean regime, or anyone else likely to make the cost of free expression unbearable."

Hayward added, noting that the culture is only going to get worse: "Oddly enough, an anti-bullying crusade was one of the Left’s big causes not long ago. Their definition of 'bullying' was far too limited, their vision of the villains too narrow.

"The Age of the Bully has well and truly dawned, and it has little to do with schoolyard taunts or shakedowns for lunch money. It is difficult to find a single example of bullying tactics failing to deliver rewards, or yielding unpleasant consequences, in the world right now.

"It works, so we’re going to see more of it."

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A move to embrace anti-heckling laws and to support anti-hate speech movements diminishes free speech rights around the country, an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal and others elsewhere assert.
free speech, heckling, hate speech, protests
544
2014-08-30
Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 01:08 PM
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