The First Amendment Isn’t Supposed To Be A Partisan Issue
The extraordinary and unprecedented rise in censorship of free speech, and the growing level of attacks, using either violence, economic pressure, or lawsuit harassment for exercising free speech is a reality that threatens the most basic right Americans enjoy.
Protecting the First Amendment is increasingly portrayed as a partisan issue. Mounting attacks arise almost exclusively from the left, and cast any opinion differing from theirs as “dangerous.” There are even attempts to brand opposition voices as “domestic terrorists.”
It is not just Antifa-type radicals that are the perpetrators. Just two examples: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has previously introduced legislation to limit the application of the First Amendment in paid political speech. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has stated she is acquiring a list of Trump supporters for purposes of undisclosed retribution. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) encouraged violence against Trump personnel.
Complicating the dilemma is the role of key elements of the private sector, including internet giants Facebook and Twitter, in practicing censorship. The same can be said for Hollywood, which vehemently blacklists entertainers who refuse to follow Progressive dictates.
The current vehemence of the Progressive anti-First Amendment push gained its strength from the precedent first set on universities across the nation.
A recent UW-Madison survey found majority support among students for cracking down on offensive speech. That new survey shows that 63 percent of students on campus believe the government should be able to punish “hate speech.”
The College Fix reports:
“The question asked was: ‘How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement: The government should be able to punish hate speech?’ An overwhelming majority responded that they agreed, while 29 percent disagreed, and six percent were unsure. Further, 40 percent of students agreed the government should be able to restrict the speech of ‘climate change deniers’ and 50 percent of students believe the government should be able to restrict the speech of ‘racially insensitive people.’”
“Offensive speech” in this context doesn’t necessarily include violence, which Progressive groups such as Antifa employ, or racist comments. It is, instead, essentially anything that the Left disagrees with.
Not content with attacking those who take positions the Left disagrees with, those who refuse to affirmatively endorse Progressive mantras are also victimized. One example: The College Fix found that students who refuse to join in Leftists seeking to condemn those sporting the “blue line” pro-police symbol are vilified and penalized.
The totalitarian environment that began in academia has now become the norm in the larger society. More than mere words, direct governmental and economic punishment is being urged against those who question Leftist orthodoxy. Businesses that advertise or provide donations to centrist or conservative candidates or causes are subjected to being thrown off advertising venues, or having boycotts levied against them. Performers who refuse to kowtow to leftist policies are thrown into unemployment. Elected officials who oppose Progressive policies or question leftist leaders have seen their book deals and campaign fundraisers cancelled.
The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal recently reported that, “Margaret Sullivan, the [Washington] Post’s media columnist, wrote that ‘corporations that advertise on Fox News should walk away’[.] […] Thomas Friedman in the Times also called for a business boycott of some Fox News shows.”
Frighteningly, the goal the Left is pursuing is not just the silencing of opposition voices, but bankrupting them and subjecting them to criminal prosecution as well. The growing Progressive tactic labelling opposition voices as “domestic terrorists” is a page right out of Stalin’s playbook. Indeed, some Leftists have openly called for “deprogramming” and “re-educating” those they disagree with.
The Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell notes: “This is the nightmare many conservatives have warned about and have been outright dismissed by the media as alarmists and conspiracy theorists…”
Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government (website usagovpolicy.com). He is the co-host of the syndicated radio program, Vernuccio/Novak Report, and is also a contributor to Fox News. His columns appear in many newspapers. After graduating Hofstra Law School, he was a legislative editor for a major publishing company, then served in both Republican and Democrat Administrations. Following the 9/11 attack, he was appointed to run the hard-hit Manhattan branch of the New York State Workers Compensation Board.
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