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Don’t fear free speech

August 8, 2018

My dim recollection is that, for a long time, it was the right wing of the political world that was a big fan of censorship. Now the lefties are getting into the act.

You likely heard that Apple, Facebook and YouTube have all decided to censor Alex Jones (for the uninitiated, Jones is the truly repugnant right-wing nut job who, among other things, has claimed that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged). Meanwhile, the lefty stalwart The Nation magazine recently apologized for a poem it had published (let me repeat: it apologized for a poem), because it was written by a white person in the African-American vernacular and might have offended some people.

I am offended by Alex Jones, and I am offended by the censorship of his undeniably repulsive ideas, and I am offended that The Nation — THE NATION, for crying out loud! — has apologized for printing a poem.

There is no First Amendment violation in either case; the government is not doing the censoring. But who is going to decide what is “offensive” speech? One person? A committee? And what standards are they going to use?

Free speech can be downright ugly. And that is what makes it so beautiful.

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