Part II of my Exceptionalism series is up at The New Ledger. This one is unabashedly a polemic, or at least the sketch of one. Regular readers here will no doubt be less startled by it than new readers; but in my experience the startle response — intellectually reflexive and predicable— is not an uncommon reaction to what I argue therein.
But I find that the fact of the matter is that, when push comes to shove, most people really are not inclined to tolerate free speech for what the hate and fear; and, some things being hateful and potent enough to be feared, this inclination is not always and everywhere wrong.
Proscription, in a word, is present in virtually all societies: subtle ones will produce great structures of sophistry to justify the sort of proscriptive action the unsubtle will undertake crudely. Madison’s scorn for “parchment barriers” against the will of the sovereign is amply justified by history (though it undoubtedly strikes the open society liberal as somewhat odd that the author of the Bill of Rights would say such a thing.)