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Conservatives Against ‘Hate Speech’

by | May 1, 2024

Conservatives Against ‘Hate Speech’

by | May 1, 2024

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

It’s pretty sad watching conservatives argue like leftists, but it’s all over the place now.

Not so long ago they rightly ridiculed and dismissed the idea of “hate speech,” but now that “anti-Semitism” is said to be the problem, all of a sudden the idea of hate speech is A-OK.

In fact, remember when the left used to say “hate speech” wasn’t “free speech”? Looks like some Republicans have decided they were right after all; in Oklahoma the Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, just gave us the old “We’re all about free speech in Oklahoma. But hate speech isn’t going to be tolerated.”

Remember how conservatives used to argue that discussion of important issues was being preemptively shut down by leftists invoking incantations of magic words like “racism”? Apparently when we substitute “anti-Semitism” for “racism,” there is suddenly no risk of that happening.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott, who tries to portray himself as a bold maverick when all he does is follow the political winds (as during Covid), went from supporting “free speech” on college campuses to now imposing restrictions that are vague enough to make obviously ordinary political discussion potentially hazardous for students and faculty.

Even the Foundation for Individual Rights in Expression, which is not known for hostility to Israel or its policies, says the governor’s order “relies on a definition of anti-Semitism that reaches core political speech.”

My wild idea is that for the sake of the dwindling number of normal people left in America, the left and the fake right both abandon the little-girl routine, so that instead of shouting career-destroying smears at people (“white supremacist!” “anti-Semite!”) they make an actual argument instead. I get it: that’s harder to do than screaming, but let’s aspire to it all the same.

Meanwhile, among the general public, we get this polling data from the Pew Research Center: although 73% of Americans consider freedom of the press to be of great importance to the well-being of society, 51% of those polled say “the publication of false information should always be prevented, even if it means press freedom could be limited.”

Imagine being that clueless in 2024, after everything we’ve been through.

First, who is going to decide what constitutes “false information”? Probably the same people who brought us Iraqi WMDs, Russiagate, the shots will keep you from getting COVID, Jesse Smollett was assaulted by black Trump supporters in the middle of Chicago, Nick Sandmann was the villain in his standoff with Native American con man Nathan Phillps, and so on.

Anybody in that 51% worried about the major institutions that spread more “false information” than every so-called conspiracy theorist combined? Nah.

Second, is determining what is true or false always simple, and anyone who gets something wrong is therefore automatically wicked? In the ordinary course of the search for truth isn’t it inevitable that we’ll make mistakes, and that we shouldn’t be punished for that?

One thing that would help would be if fewer Americans had televisions for brains, and were capable of seeing beyond whatever the latest elite obsession is.

This article was originally featured as a Tom Woods newsletter and is republished with permission.

Tom Woods

Tom Woods

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the 2019 winner of the Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award from the Austrian Economics Center in Vienna. He is a senior fellow of the Mises Institute and host of the Tom Woods Show. Tom holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

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