(July 3, 2018) The New York Times and The New Yorker recently published articles suggesting that free speech should be censored because Conservatives have “weaponized the First Amendment.” If they were merely editorials both would signify a shocking betrayal of a bedrock American principle. But both publications suggest that they are not merely editorializing. The New York Times, for example, presents their analysis as front page news—as though it is factual and not merely opinion. Their fundamental complaint is that “free speech disproportionately protects the powerful.” By quoting a supposedly authoritative law school professor they also imply that “free speech reinforces and amplifies injustice.” Given a near lifetime of respect for both publications,* I could not have been more surprised if someone had slapped me in the face with a wet cat.
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In terms of Civil War memory, however, it is not the rich and powerful who are abused by a retreat from free speech. The chances that people attacked, censored, and suspended from school for displaying Confederate icons are also receiving invitations to join the prestigious Bohemian Club are about as likely as a Cherokee Indian getting elected Pope. More typically they are physically attacked by groups of bullies merely for displaying the emblems, as this 50-second video undeniably documents.
Perhaps without realizing it, both The Times and The New Yorker are notifying readers that the publications believe the only permissible speech is that which is consistent with their viewpoints. It’s elitism run amok and as obvious as cow patties on a snowbank to anyone who does not drink the highbrow Electric Kool-Aid.
Andrew Kalvan provides a cogent analysis in the video below.
*Since the late nineteenth century The New York Times has been controlled by Adolph Ochs and his descendants in the Sulzberger family. Although Adolph’s father was a Union officer stationed in Cincinnati during the Civil War, his mother was caught smuggling quinine across the Ohio River to Kentucky Rebels in a baby carriage. The federal government had declared quinine as contraband to the Southern states in order to deny the South an effective treatment for malaria. After the war Adolph’s mother became a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.