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The hard case for Free Speech

Envision a really strong case against Free Speech, understood in the sense of someone contracting with someone else to produce political propaganda. Envision the circumstances where the First Amendment has been abused and perhaps the laws should no longer countenance it.

Imagine a guilt-ridden old currency trader, emerging from the shadows of Cold War Eastern Europe, sick in his aged bones with ill-gotten gold, but still energetic and hungry; who decides upon a conspiracy to disperse large sums for peculiar institutional purpose.

He will sow racial discord in Middle America.

He will scratch at an old festering American wound, which none of his ancestors ever knew a thing about, but which always supplies ample vulnerabilities for the shrewd manipulator. In his designing illiberality, he will finance bitterness and exploit sorrow.

Imagine that our Eastern European billionaire, whose currency-trading brinkmanship threatened whole cities and states, has paid for outside agitators to show up at some tragic local dispute, and by their menace and wantonness, throw it into the cauldron of national politics, thereby ensuring greater rancor, mistrust, aspersions, incivility.

Now imagine the agitations and protests get out of hand. Violence erupts. His political speech, his contracting for political activity, has lit the fuse of riot and disorder. A community burns. Old local businesses, with evident roots and equally evident love for their neighbors, are laid to waste.

The political speech, contracted for by a foreign magnate with millions made in usury, has set an American town on fire.

Now imagine no one ever calls him on it, in the real rough and tumble of American politics. Neither politicians nor media, though long preoccupied with the town on fire, have taken notice of the magnate’s machinations. Their curiosity slumbers. His peculations rarely noted, even his funding of controversial agitation is observed in silence.

Those writers most often driven to distraction by the personalities and names of specific financiers of American politics, can conjure no interest in this man. This peculiar financier cuts no prominent figure in journalistic conjecture on Free Speech and Citizens United.

What might we make of this geezer of the hedge funds, this antiquity from the Cold War Left, who dares to finance blood libels on Americans, who dares to hire outside activists to plunder an American town? And what might we think of his cynical use of our free system of political expression?

I do not think we will think very highly of him or it at all. Many of us will feel an instinct to tell him exactly where to put his filthy money.

Here, then, is a very strong case against Free Speech. A foreign financier, fabulously wealthy, conniving at mischief, riot, turbulence, strife. Surely he should be stopped?

But no: in the end, deliberation’s cool effect having prevailed, most of us will in our calmness agree that after all George Soros should not be forbidden by law, from sowing racial discord in Ferguson, MO. Let him spend his millions as he wishes without molestation; let only the rioters and looters face the coercion of law.

Though perhaps Soros should have the decency to use some few of those millions, to make some burnt-out Ferguson businesses whole.

Comments (6)

"perhaps Soros should have the decency..."

You're kidding - right?

It gives me the creeps to realize that Soros and probably others like him are not suffering so much as a single uneasy night about the burnings and lootings in Ferguson.

But this is not a surprise. I was deeply disappointed in a number of Christian commentators for whom the looted business owners were, to use a jargon term, invisible. They literally didn't even mention them. It was all about moaning and breast-beating about the legacy of racism and explaining to the rest of us how black people look at these things differently. If I were black, I would have been furious about it.

In a world in which the real victims of Ferguson are all-too-little noticed, it's predictable that the people who indirectly bankrolled the destructive "protests" have little remorse.

Soros is another reminder of how the rule of law is a sham in the US. There's the law for the elite and the law for everyone else. If you're a Muslim taxi driver who gives $5,000 to a charity that turns out to be a Hamas front, you can expect the FBI to kick in your door. If you're a Congressman who takes money from and runs interference for Islamic radicals, the FBI probably won't dare even name you in congressional testimony. Our system turns noblesse oblige on its head.

I entirely disagree. Aliens have no right to political speech per se.

Aliens have no right to political speech per se.

There are lots of places where aliens don't have the rights that belong to citizens.

Nevertheless, "does alien A have a RIGHT to political free speech" in the given context is a different question than "is the state IN THE RIGHT to suppress alien A's speech?" I would posit that at least in principle a state could come to a finding that although alien A does not have a "free speech right" that the state is obliged to respect broadly and across nearly all contexts, nevertheless pursuing a suppression of A's speech in THIS PARTICULAR narrow context is not a good pursuit of the common good. That is, a state could admit that A doesn't have the broad protections that a "right" implies, but still narrowly drawn concerns don't require that the common good is served by suppressing his speech - even when that speech is harmful to some extent.

However, as far as I can tell Soros is a naturalized US citizen. Which makes him not an "alien". Whether he SHOULD be a citizen is a different question.

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