By Michael David Rawlings
In "The World Doesn't Love the First Amendment", Eric Posner unwittingly reveals what we conservatives have always known about leftists: namely, they don't love the First Amendment either.
Salman Rushdie recently claimed that bad ideas, "like vampires . . . die in the sunlight" rather than persist in a glamorized underground existence. But bad ideas never die: They are zombies, not vampires. Bad ideas like fascism, Communism, and white supremacy have roamed the countryside of many an open society. —Eric Posner
This is the only statement in Posner's piece with which I agree. The rest of his ideas solicit the sort of reactionism that would allow the zombies to roam unchallenged.
For example: As often happens, what starts out as a grudging political settlement has become, when challenged from abroad, a dogmatic principle to be imposed universally.
"Imposed universally" is a startling choice of words given that Posner's conflating the unbridled free speech of Americans in a technologically global forum with an imposition of unbridled free speech on others abroad. The only imposition being suggested here would be that exerted against the unbridled free speech of Americans, unless he's suggesting that we Americans are demanding that all societies have unbridled free speech because we demand nothing less in ours.
That's not startling, that's absurd.
Posner continues. . . .
Suddenly, the disparagement of other people and their beliefs is not an unfortunate fact but a positive good.
I'm gettin' a weepy, snot-stained hanky feelin'.
What do bad manners, whether intended or perceived, have to do with the provisions of unbridled free speech? The positive good, obviously, is unbridled free speech; the intended or perceived disparagements are incidental.
It contributes to the "marketplace of ideas," as though we would seriously admit that Nazis or terrorist fanatics might turn out to be right after all.
Let's turn this on its head: as though the self-appointed arbiters of "decency" in history have never been the "Nazis or terrorist fanatics" of the world.
So symbolic attachment to uneasy, historically contingent compromises, and a half-century of judicial decisions addressing domestic political dissent and countercultural pressures, prevent the U.S. government from restricting the distribution of a video that causes violence abroad and damages America's reputation.
As the saying goes, never has so much been attributed to so little. No. The cause of the recent troubles goes to the depravity of mindless, nose-picking barbarians ginned up for decades by evil men with an agenda of world domination, not to any video. And how is America's reputation damaged by the insanity that rages in Islamic societies?
And so combining the liberal view that government should not interfere with political discourse, and the conservative view that government should not interfere with commerce, we end up with the bizarre principle that U.S. foreign policy interests cannot justify any restrictions on speech whatsoever.
. . . as if the first were true about the liberal view, as if the second were not a subliminal slight, an incomplete description of the conservative view and as if, in this instance, it were not America's very sovereignty assaulted, the video merely the pretext of cynical thugs . . . as if an unapologetic defense of human liberty were not a vital interest of U.S. foreign policy.
The rest of his piece is more of the same. . . .
Also see "The First Amendment and Zombies".