The Progressives Run from Free Speech

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who has a plan for everything, just announced “an alarming new plan to punish companies that knowingly disseminate ‘disinformation’ online,” writes David Harsanyi.  She’s demanding Democrats combat “false and inflammatory information” on social media platforms. “Disinformation erodes our democracy,” she says, because it’s meant “to divide Democrats, suppress Democratic votes, and erode the standing of the Democratic nominee.”  It could never occur to Warren that disinformation has ever been, or would ever be, deployed by Democrats to erode the standing of a Republican.  False news on social media only threatens a 2020 Democrat victory, since, obviously, only a Democrat victory could be synonymous with “democracy.” 

Warren is still doing CPR on the dead horse that Russian manipulation of social media “influenced the 2016 election’s outcome.”  She cites the Senate testimony of Philip N. Howard of Oxford University that tweets leading up to the election showed a 'one-to-one ratio of junk news to professional news.’”  But the myth that Russians permeated Twitter with pro-Trump messages has been gutted more than once, and, as reported by Willis L. Krumholz at theFederalist, Facebook’s chief security officer said “the vast majority” of 3,000 ads the Russians allegedly purchased [for $100,000] “did not reference the election, voting, or a particular candidate,” but focused on “amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum.” 

Nor does Howard define what he means by “professional news.”  Trump voters haven’t forgotten that the ratio of junk news from mainstream media outlets to reliable reporting was a whole lot higher than one-to-one in favor of junk.  We have professional news to thank, in large part, for the Russia hoax, when “[t]he media relentlessly peddled baseless propaganda to delegitimize and derail the Trump administration.”  The spread of professional news falsehoods only got worse after the election.  When CNN reported that WikiLeaks offered Donald Trump the stolen DNC emails before making them available online, the story was almost instantly exposed as untrue.  Still, as Glenn Greenwald explained, “it’s hard to overstate how fast, far, and wide this false story traveled. Democratic Party pundits, operatives, and journalists with huge social media platforms predictably jumped on the story immediately, announcing that it proved collusion between Trump and Russia….”  Nor is it right that social media and Big Tech’s bias favors conservatives.  RealClearPolitics’ Adriana Cohen describes “Google…obviously manipulating search results to shape public opinion and damage the president, while social media networks are censoring conservatives with deceptive algorithms and other shadowy tactics to advance their own political agenda.”  When not banning conservatives outright.      

But Warren achieves maximum chutzpah (or whatever the Cherokee word for it is) by demanding that all Dem nominees “condemn the use of disinformation and pledge not to knowingly use it to benefit their own candidacy or damage others” – immediately after her deliberate lie that Trump “has welcomed foreign interference in our elections, inviting interference from a host of countries that have an interest in the outcome, including Iran and China.”

Elsewhere we’re hearing from law professor Terry Smith that some people’s votes should be illegal.  Smith’s thesis, embraced by Noah Berlatsky at NBC, is that “racist voting is not just immoral, but illegal,” and “[t]he government… has the ability, and the responsibility, to address it.”  According to Smith, racist voters are violating the Constitution every time they “pull the levers to harm black people.”  How do Smith and Berlatsky know which voters are casting their ballots with the intention of harming blacks?   With simple, if circular, logic.  Berlatsky explains that Trump is such a liar it was irrational to vote for him, so all those voters saying they voted for him in 2016 because they liked his policies better -- or dreaded a President Hillary – must be lying to hide their racist motives.  Berlatsky assures his readers that he’s got “research” that suggests that “plenty of Trump voters were indeed strongly motivated by racist resentment and anti-immigrant animus.”

Now that argument sounds airtight enough to invalidate 63 million votes! 

My own research suggests that all progressive know-it-alls are categorically incapable of deciphering the motives of anyone who does not think exactly like they do.  The evidence of this is their 100% failure rate at explaining our point of view.

Getting opposing points of view wrong is all in a day’s work for Michigan’s ideologue attorney general, Dana Nessel. Disagreement with her simply isn’t a valid point of view: all it can be is hate. And expressing those views is hate speech, which she defines as “offend[ing] people.” 

Last March Nessel and Agustin Arbulu, former head of the state’s Department of Civil Rights, teamed up to announce their policy to aggressively investigate hate crimes, to “stem the scourge of hate and bias incidents in Michigan.”  Nessel launched her own hate-crimes unit, expressly relying on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s libelous "hate-group" designations, as a starting point for likely suspects.  Arbulu proudly announced plans for a Stasi-like database for documenting bias incidents. 

As noted here last April, Nessel got swift pushback in the form of a lawsuit filed by Michigan’s American Freedom Law Center, which SPLC had maliciously designated a hate group.  AFLC claimed various constitutional violations, like targeting AFLC for its political views “under the color of state law and authority.”  In response, Nessel tried denying that tracking “hate incidents” was her actual policy: she only intended to go after actual hate crimes.  This contradicts her original announcement that the HCU’s purpose was “to fight against hate crimes and the many hate groups which have been allowed to proliferate in our state.” 

The district court didn’t buy it, handing down a stiff denial of her motion to dismiss AFLC’s lawsuit.  Judge Paul Maloney ruled that Nessel’s policy, “[b]y implicitly endorsing SPLC’s list of hate groups, which includes AFLC,” harmed AFLC through lost donations, loss of reputation, and a chilling effect on AFLC’s speech. 

Nessel’s low view of the First Amendment is shocking in an attorney general.  The amendment guarantees open and robust debate among competing points of view, which is vital to a functioning republic.  But through Nessel’s lens of progressive intolerance, she can only see the First Amendment as a shield for horrible people who slink around “thinking hateful thoughts, saying hateful words, or associating with hate filled people.” 

In her motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Nessel assured the court she would never target the AFLC just “because of its conservative views.”  She even acknowledges AFLC’s First Amendment protections:

[AFLC] is even free, if it chooses, to engage in hate speech, because the First Amendment includes the freedom to offend people. And… to bond with other organizations and individuals even if that bond is based solely on hatred for those who might look or act differently than them -- because the First Amendment protects that, too.

But that description bears no more resemblance to the AFLC than Adam Schiff does to St. Thomas More. 

Today’s progressives are flatly unable to comprehend the thoughts or motives of those who don’t think like they do. Last March Nessel all but plagiarized Hillary in a speech about a “dark cloud… of bigotry, hatred and intolerance, a cloud of xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and especially Islamophobia.”  (She was talking to a group of Dearborn Muslims, which may be why she forgot to mention sexism.)

People who believe this poorly of their fellow cannot possibly treat them with justice.  Which is why they have no business governing us.

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan.  You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com.

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who has a plan for everything, just announced “an alarming new plan to punish companies that knowingly disseminate ‘disinformation’ online,” writes David Harsanyi.  She’s demanding Democrats combat “false and inflammatory information” on social media platforms. “Disinformation erodes our democracy,” she says, because it’s meant “to divide Democrats, suppress Democratic votes, and erode the standing of the Democratic nominee.”  It could never occur to Warren that disinformation has ever been, or would ever be, deployed by Democrats to erode the standing of a Republican.  False news on social media only threatens a 2020 Democrat victory, since, obviously, only a Democrat victory could be synonymous with “democracy.” 

Warren is still doing CPR on the dead horse that Russian manipulation of social media “influenced the 2016 election’s outcome.”  She cites the Senate testimony of Philip N. Howard of Oxford University that tweets leading up to the election showed a 'one-to-one ratio of junk news to professional news.’”  But the myth that Russians permeated Twitter with pro-Trump messages has been gutted more than once, and, as reported by Willis L. Krumholz at theFederalist, Facebook’s chief security officer said “the vast majority” of 3,000 ads the Russians allegedly purchased [for $100,000] “did not reference the election, voting, or a particular candidate,” but focused on “amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum.” 

Nor does Howard define what he means by “professional news.”  Trump voters haven’t forgotten that the ratio of junk news from mainstream media outlets to reliable reporting was a whole lot higher than one-to-one in favor of junk.  We have professional news to thank, in large part, for the Russia hoax, when “[t]he media relentlessly peddled baseless propaganda to delegitimize and derail the Trump administration.”  The spread of professional news falsehoods only got worse after the election.  When CNN reported that WikiLeaks offered Donald Trump the stolen DNC emails before making them available online, the story was almost instantly exposed as untrue.  Still, as Glenn Greenwald explained, “it’s hard to overstate how fast, far, and wide this false story traveled. Democratic Party pundits, operatives, and journalists with huge social media platforms predictably jumped on the story immediately, announcing that it proved collusion between Trump and Russia….”  Nor is it right that social media and Big Tech’s bias favors conservatives.  RealClearPolitics’ Adriana Cohen describes “Google…obviously manipulating search results to shape public opinion and damage the president, while social media networks are censoring conservatives with deceptive algorithms and other shadowy tactics to advance their own political agenda.”  When not banning conservatives outright.      

But Warren achieves maximum chutzpah (or whatever the Cherokee word for it is) by demanding that all Dem nominees “condemn the use of disinformation and pledge not to knowingly use it to benefit their own candidacy or damage others” – immediately after her deliberate lie that Trump “has welcomed foreign interference in our elections, inviting interference from a host of countries that have an interest in the outcome, including Iran and China.”

Elsewhere we’re hearing from law professor Terry Smith that some people’s votes should be illegal.  Smith’s thesis, embraced by Noah Berlatsky at NBC, is that “racist voting is not just immoral, but illegal,” and “[t]he government… has the ability, and the responsibility, to address it.”  According to Smith, racist voters are violating the Constitution every time they “pull the levers to harm black people.”  How do Smith and Berlatsky know which voters are casting their ballots with the intention of harming blacks?   With simple, if circular, logic.  Berlatsky explains that Trump is such a liar it was irrational to vote for him, so all those voters saying they voted for him in 2016 because they liked his policies better -- or dreaded a President Hillary – must be lying to hide their racist motives.  Berlatsky assures his readers that he’s got “research” that suggests that “plenty of Trump voters were indeed strongly motivated by racist resentment and anti-immigrant animus.”

Now that argument sounds airtight enough to invalidate 63 million votes! 

My own research suggests that all progressive know-it-alls are categorically incapable of deciphering the motives of anyone who does not think exactly like they do.  The evidence of this is their 100% failure rate at explaining our point of view.

Getting opposing points of view wrong is all in a day’s work for Michigan’s ideologue attorney general, Dana Nessel. Disagreement with her simply isn’t a valid point of view: all it can be is hate. And expressing those views is hate speech, which she defines as “offend[ing] people.” 

Last March Nessel and Agustin Arbulu, former head of the state’s Department of Civil Rights, teamed up to announce their policy to aggressively investigate hate crimes, to “stem the scourge of hate and bias incidents in Michigan.”  Nessel launched her own hate-crimes unit, expressly relying on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s libelous "hate-group" designations, as a starting point for likely suspects.  Arbulu proudly announced plans for a Stasi-like database for documenting bias incidents. 

As noted here last April, Nessel got swift pushback in the form of a lawsuit filed by Michigan’s American Freedom Law Center, which SPLC had maliciously designated a hate group.  AFLC claimed various constitutional violations, like targeting AFLC for its political views “under the color of state law and authority.”  In response, Nessel tried denying that tracking “hate incidents” was her actual policy: she only intended to go after actual hate crimes.  This contradicts her original announcement that the HCU’s purpose was “to fight against hate crimes and the many hate groups which have been allowed to proliferate in our state.” 

The district court didn’t buy it, handing down a stiff denial of her motion to dismiss AFLC’s lawsuit.  Judge Paul Maloney ruled that Nessel’s policy, “[b]y implicitly endorsing SPLC’s list of hate groups, which includes AFLC,” harmed AFLC through lost donations, loss of reputation, and a chilling effect on AFLC’s speech. 

Nessel’s low view of the First Amendment is shocking in an attorney general.  The amendment guarantees open and robust debate among competing points of view, which is vital to a functioning republic.  But through Nessel’s lens of progressive intolerance, she can only see the First Amendment as a shield for horrible people who slink around “thinking hateful thoughts, saying hateful words, or associating with hate filled people.” 

In her motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Nessel assured the court she would never target the AFLC just “because of its conservative views.”  She even acknowledges AFLC’s First Amendment protections:

[AFLC] is even free, if it chooses, to engage in hate speech, because the First Amendment includes the freedom to offend people. And… to bond with other organizations and individuals even if that bond is based solely on hatred for those who might look or act differently than them -- because the First Amendment protects that, too.

But that description bears no more resemblance to the AFLC than Adam Schiff does to St. Thomas More. 

Today’s progressives are flatly unable to comprehend the thoughts or motives of those who don’t think like they do. Last March Nessel all but plagiarized Hillary in a speech about a “dark cloud… of bigotry, hatred and intolerance, a cloud of xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and especially Islamophobia.”  (She was talking to a group of Dearborn Muslims, which may be why she forgot to mention sexism.)

People who believe this poorly of their fellow cannot possibly treat them with justice.  Which is why they have no business governing us.

T.R. Clancy looks at the world from Dearborn, Michigan.  You can email him at trclancy@yahoo.com.