The Selective Free Speech Warrior

A backlash against the #MeToo movement rages, with conservatives spluttering about the awful feminists posing an existential threat to liberal democratic order, or some such thing.  Look, I am not a fan of Twitter’s mob mentality even when I agree with the mob. But that’s the nature of the medium, a problem not isolated to just anti-sexual harassment activists.

This backlash is a massively disproportionate response, indicative of a highly distorted media universe where pundits are rewarded for saying that the nation’s biggest problems originate with liberals — remember the obsession with “PC on campus” during the election? As I have noted elsewhere, the speech concept has been utterly perverted to suit right wing efforts to chill speech.

A few relevant links:

The linguist and progressive activist George Lakoff, author of “Don’t Think of an Elephant”, is being sued for defamation by a wealthy Georgian-American businessman who was present at the infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. Lakoff cited the businessman’s alleged involvement in money-laundering in a TV interview. The businessman’s legal team includes a lawyer who represented Trump in a previous lawsuit. I find this incredibly chilling, and deserving of much, much wider coverage than it’s getting. Lakoff has a GoFundMe set up for his legal expenses.

Also deserving major headlines is the plight of the “J20″ inauguration protesters still facing felony rioting charges. Many had their charges dropped, but 59 people still face the possibility of years in prison for merely being present when a few people engaged in vandalism. This is huge news with major implications for the right to protest.

Then there’s the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.” In this day and age of neo-Nazis, it sounds fine, right? But in practice, it conflates legitimate criticism of the Israeli government with bigotry. Many liberal Jewish groups are opposed to it for this reason. Of course, the Trump administration is appointing a fervent supporter of the act to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education.


  • Rekrul

    I find the fact that this cartoon was posted on DailyKos and that people in the comments to it are talking about the defense of free speech, to be quite amusing. Why do I say this? Because I was banned from posting on DailyKos for saying things that people didn’t like.

    I didn’t post abusive messages, I never attacked anyone personally, nor did I “spam” the comments, they just didn’t like my opinions. What opinions you ask?

    When someone would post an anti-gun article, I would sometimes comment and ask why nobody is calling for stricter laws or the outright banning of motor vehicle ownership, since more people are killed each year by traffic accidents, than are shot.

    When there were feel-good stories about confederate monuments being torn down, I’d post and ask why nobody was calling for the eradication of Mount Rushmore, which is an affront to native Americans.

    However the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I posted my opinion that Islamic countries in the middle east were inferior to countries like the US. I listed various things (lack of women’s rights, public floggings, etc). Naturally I was attacked, called a bigot, an Islamaphobe, etc. Shortly afterward I was banned.

    Here’s the really funny part; Not too long ago, someone posted a story on DailyKos about a female chess champion who was refusing to defend her title in Saudi Arabia because she refused to submit to their laws restricting women. People in the comments actually said things like that they hoped that she could regain her title when the championships were held in a more “civilized” country. Not only were these posters not attacked for saying this, others cheered them on and agreed with them.

    So I get banned for saying that countries like Saudi Arabia were “inferior”, but posters indirectly call the same country uncivilized and everyone agrees with them? Explain that one to me.

    My point is that DailyKos is no bastion of free speech. Like most SJW oriented sites, the only speech they’re interested in hearing is that which agrees with them. Anyone with opinions they don’t like is labeled a troll or a bigot and then all the supposed defenders of free speech cheer when they’re kicked off the site so that they will no longer be “assaulted” by ideas that disagree with their own.

    “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” has now become “If I don’t agree with what you have to say, I’ll fight to the death to keep anyone from hearing it.”

    • Alan Barta

      Car-nage, indeed: 35,000 die on nation’s highways annually, while 16,000 succumb to gun violence. That’s 51,000 pointless deaths. But motorists have to pass several tests and remain licensed to enjoy this dubious privilege.

  • Alan Barta

    Let us boil it down to the inviolable: The Four Freedoms, from tyranny and want, of religion and speech. They are inherent in US Constitution, ratified by entire United Nations including USA, and represent a baseline of ethics and policy in the free world. We call anyone who disagrees an enemy, domestic or foreign. Fox News, Republicans, supremacists and terrorists cannot stomach any freedom, except when it comes to themselves. But your right to religion doesn’t mean human sacrifice, or forcing myths and rules upon others, which is tantamount to tyranny. If your speech denies others a chance to thrive, then it has no place in modern society.

  • Stevie Ray Vaughn

    “A well regulated Militia,being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Translation: The Founding
    Fathers did not want a standing army in peacetime, for fear of it getting too
    powerful, rather a Militia to protect the USA from invaders. Duh.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.