What’s Wrong with the World

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The Left vs. Free Speech

In Canada:

"Ezra Levant's...Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights...is a chronicle of injustice, with outrage on every page.

"Levant - formerly the publisher of the Canadian conservative magazine The Western Standard - was...hauled before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for having the temerity to publish something a radical imam didn't approve of [i.e., the Danish Cartoons]...

"...Canada no longer has freedom of speech. The 'human rights' commissions (HRCs) all over Canada, staffed by bureaucrats and not following normal legal procedures [have] morphed into star chambers weighing in on what the press could print, what pastors could say from the pulpit, whether certain Bible verses could be displayed publicly, and so on...

"...These commissions have the power to impose financial and legal penalties, and yet they don't adhere to the most basic protections of due process found in a real court of law...

"And it was worse, even, than that: the state paid for the prosecution, while the defendant incurred any and all legal fees...Even if you were eventually declared innocent of the charges against you, you would not be reimbursed - the process itself is in effect a penalty..."

"...Levant does his level best not to revel in his own indignation, but to chronicle the myriad injustices suffered by those who have not had the means to fight back...We learn how a restaurant was punished for firing a cook with Hepatitis C; how an HRC held a trial over the complaint filed by a male hairstylist that some womet at his salon school called him a loser; how a rape-crisis center was sued for not wanting a burly male-to-female transsexual as a rape-victim couselor...

"...the chief investigator of the national HRC...is notorious for launching a 15-month-long taxpayer-funded investigation into a small Toronto publication called Catholic Insight on the basis of its stated opposition to gay marriage..."


In the U.K.:

"The Dutch MP and Party leader, Geert Wilders...has been told he cannot enter the U.K. Wilders was due to speak to fellow Parliamentarians at the House of Lords...

"...Wilders was presented with a letter written on hehalf of the Home Secretary stating that she 'is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs...would threaten community harmony and therefore public security...

"The thing that would 'threaten public security,' let alone 'community harmony,' is that twice in the last month Wilders has been invited to speak in the House of Lords and twice...Muslim 'leaders' have explained that they will provide a mob to object..."


In the U.S.:

"- - A Christian photographer was forced by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission to pay $6,637 in attorney's costs after she refused to photograph a gay couple's commitment ceremony.

"- - A psychologist in Georgia was fired after she declined for religious reasons to cousel a lesbian about her relationship.

"- - Christian fertility doctors in California who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian patient were barred by the state Supreme Court from invoking their religious beliefs in refusing treatment.

"- - A Christian student group was not recognized at a University of California law school because it denies membership to anyone practicing sex outside of traditional marriage..."


In the U.S., again:

(A pack of lefty jerks prevent immigration-restrictionist congressman Tom Tancredo from speaking at the UNC).

* * * * *

So far as I can determine, this sort of incipient totalitarianism is, today, a wholly owned property of the left. There is no present-day right-wing equivalent.

Isn't that strange?

Or have I missed something?

Comments (14)

I'd like to be able to say that no one who could be said in any sense to be "on the right" would do anything like this. Of course, "anything like" is rather vague. The Fairness Doctrine was originally put in place (I believe) by the Nixon administration! I think there is a combination of factors. On the one hand, leftism as we presently have it really does lend itself more readily to totalitarian and anarchistic suppression of opposing opinion than do conservative ideas. On the other hand, human nature is such that power tends to corrupt. Hence, the present totalitarianism on the left is in no small part a result of the fact that the left is now in power in the West and can afford to show the iron fist within the velvet glove.

Don't worry, though, Steve. The whizzes at the DHS have reliably informed me that our current economic woes will produce a surge of right-wing extremism that will dwarf all of this ubiquitous leftist thuggery by comparison. Just you wait.

I'm sure if we intoned "free speech" enough times, eventually the Left would come to its senses, right? After all, they really believe in "free speech", and they're just get a little confused at times.

Myself, I'm inclined to think that the Left believes in "free speech" as a political weapon, to be used when opportune. Whatever benefits the Left in its war against the Right it will use, however it wants to define it. At times that includes "free speech." When rightist use "free speech" against the Left, "free speech" is discarded easily enough.

The left hold the collective good over and above the individual in situations where they clash; hence their willingness and the ease in throwing individual human rights aside. It's the socialist mentality coming through.

In my country, leftism is far more rampant than the US, public support for a political party comparitive to the Republicans is around 7%, and our legal structure is pretty much how you described Canada. We have a human rights commission driven by anti-discrimination statues, our "constitution" is a subordinate piece of legislation, as in where a right conflicts with another piece of legislation the other trumps the right and it includes a section stating that courts cannot strike it down.

I could add a list of kiwi examples.

There have been a few successful attempts to turn the rules back on the lefties, cry discrimination the other way, (it is very difficult to succeed due to how stacked the deck is in favour of the left). So in that sense New Zealand might provide you with some examples of the right doing it too but the small handful of us that make up the kiwi-right would still rather the HRC was abolished, the constitution entrenched (with only first generation rights) and the anti-discrimination laws sent back to the UN.

Where I wrote "statues" I meant "statutes".

Another thought as to why the left behave like this almost exclusively is that the right support rights because of a desire to set limitations on the state, the left support rights out of a desire to limit powerful groups in society and to protect one disenfranchised group in society from another.

I think one major reason one sees more leftist than rightist totalitarianism is quite simply because leftist ideas are at war with human nature. Hence they can be spread throughout society only by force. This is a point Michael Levin makes in _Feminism and Freedom_. Feminism will always be in conflict with freedom, because it is contrary to the real nature of human beings. Thus, to get people to pretend everywhere and in all ways that men and women are the same, you have to use force.

We're going to see a sort of bizarre illustration of this conflict with human nature requiring the use of force when we see laws/threats of suit forcing everyone to call a biological male a female and to treat him as a female because he chooses to "identify" as a female.

Lydia, that's also the essential theme of Jim Kalb's new book (The Tyranny of Liberalism). Basically Kalb makes the case that because liberalism attempts to apply a single standard of "equal freedom for all" to every single possible social context, and because that standard is so radically at odds with the way the world really is, then liberalism must constantly be reinforced, people must constantly be re-educated, and society must constantly be monitored and restricted in increasingly intrusive ways. Reality and human nature are such that a denuded and barbarically simplified principle like "equal freedom for all" cannot possibly deal with the way things work out in practice. Of course those negative consequences of such thoroughgoing radicalism wind up making society less capable of dealing locally with the problems of everyday life, and therefore liberalism becomes self-reinforcing. More liberalism means more social disintegration, which means more liberalism as people try to sort out all the increasing proliferation of social dysfunction using the only allowable tools, namely more "tolerance" and more official governance of everyday life.

I'm constantly struggling to make sense of the connection (or lack of connection) between the _substantive_ nature of liberalism and the supposedly contentless, meta-level nature of liberalism. Take, for example, the "equal freedom for all" motto, applied to every possible social context. Now, that sounds contentless and meta-level. But we all know pretty well that there are liberals who would just love to tear apart Christian nuclear families, force them to have their children brainwashed by the liberal state, and so forth. They would dress it up in terms of "educating the children for citizenship" and the like, but the point is that a fundamentalist, home-schooling family that believes in male headship and where the girls all wear dresses and never cut their hair is a sort of nightmare for the committed liberal. He shudders when he thinks of it, and he certainly doesn't want it treated equally with, say, a homosexual male couple raising an adopted child. He wants the latter to be privileged over the former. (Please understand that I'm not saying there are no possible problems with the kind of fundamentalist family I've described. I'm just describing something the liberal really doesn't want to treat equally with other social arrangements.)

Now, one might say that, hey, it's _impossible_ to maintain actual equality among all social arrangements, so the liberal _has_ to be inconsistent. Well, that's true. But at that point we are forced to realize that the liberal's continual totalitarian exception-making to his supposed principle of equality does fall into a pattern, and it's a pattern set by his various contentful ideas of human nature, the good life, justice and injustice, etc. For example, the good life, to him, is one in which sex is incredibly important, in which sexual license is held up as a model, in which homosexuality is definitely affirmed and celebrated, and so on and so forth. Abortion is a good thing and a solution to many problems. Christianity is not only false but is to be distrusted. Women can do anything men can do. And so on and so forth. The liberal worldview has all these substantive positions on all sorts of topics, from sex to race to Islam. And it's those substantive positions that we're facing in the new totalitarianism, not any sort of abstract notion of the equality of all people and all social arrangements.

Lydia, I don't think that contemporary liberalism really has a substantive commitment to equality for all social arrangements--only equal freedom for all individuals. The supposed desire that all sorts of relationships, families, and sexual behaviors be treated as on a level par is rhetorical, and the reasons that certain arrangements become favored over others is that they more neatly accord with the notion that equality freedom to act for all individuals is the most vitally necessary requirement for justice.

So social arrangements which seem to restrict individual freedom of action in any meaningful way do not meet the same stringent standard as those that don't. Thus the nuclear family is not really the same as the atomistic "family." The practical result is that families per se are defined out of existence, because as traditionally understood they impose identities and obligations on individuals which are not perfectly equal in all respects. Sure, you might hear some liberals say that they just want gay marriages afforded the same respect as all other kinds of loving relationships, but the premise which underlies their support for such "leveling" is ultimately about individual autonomy, so the result ends up being a hostility to any form of marriage which cannot accommodate such a radical conception of the relative value of equal freedom.

In short, liberals very often don't really think what they think they think, though many of the more thoughtful ones are beginning to make friends with and embrace the consequence of their devotion to autonomy as the highest good, and explicitly to declare traditional arrangements substantively inferior on those grounds.

Limiting the political speech of their opposition, all the while proclaiming the value of 'free expression' from the housetops when it comes to other matters (profanity, blasphemy, pornography), has long been a tactic of the Left. Didn't Marcuse say something like "freedom of speech need not be extended to those on the Right"?

"freedom of speech need not be extended to those on the Right"?
More generally, freedom of speech need not be extended to the Low Man.

Marcuse called it "progressive intolerance," which he defined as tolerance for movements of the left, and intolerance for movements of the right." You can't get a lot more straightforward than that.

Yes, that's what it amounts to. There is no principle that the left really WANTS upheld, not if you are talking about either the leftists in power or the rank and file (I am guessing about some 20% of the country) that vote left without fail. They just want a specific picture of happiness to be enjoyed by them, the chosen supermen, and to heck with those who don't see it that way - those LOW MAN types don't deserve to have their point of view heard.

It would be nice if there were no parallel rightist group of comparable size who feels the same way about themselves and those as don't see eye to eye with the right agenda. Is that the case? I am not talking about fringe groups that (collectively) amount to a piddling .5%, like the American Nazis, etc.

In any case, the fact that there are right hypocrites who denounce the left agenda does not validate the left agenda, nor invalidate the more thought-filled parts of the conservative stance.

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