Proving that it is totally not an enemy of the American people, Jeff Bezos-owned blog The Washington Post published an opinion piece Tuesday calling for limits to the First Amendment.
“Why America needs a hate speech law,” read the headline from MSNBC political analyst Richard Stengel.
Why do we need laws to curb perhaps the most important right granted to American citizens by God and protected by government, according to the esteemed MSNBC guy? Well, two reasons. The first is that much of the rest of the world has “hate speech” laws.
“But as a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier,” Stengel said. “Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran. Why, they asked me, would you ever want to protect that?”
In Stengel’s opinion – one that surely would not be taken seriously if the D.C. beltway was a meritocracy – appears to be that America should move more towards a more Arab-type policy on speech. Arab countries, particularly the Islamic ones, have some of the most restrictive speech laws in the world.
“It’s a fair question. Yes, the First Amendment protects the ‘thought that we hate,’ but it should not protect hateful speech that can cause violence by one group against another. In an age when everyone has a megaphone, that seems like a design flaw,” he continued.
He went on to note that the First Amendment was written and ratified during what he describes as a “simpler era.” Except during that “simpler era,” the idea of free expression was well-understood by those who framed the Constitution, and that free expression was certainly not, as Stengel claims, a “design flaw.” It was a design feature.
“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it,” Thomas Jefferson said in 1791.
This reporter prefers Jefferson to the MSNBC guy.
But there’s a second reason why Stengel wants to limit American speech. His team lost in 2016, and he’s bitter about it.
“In the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, Russia’s Internet Research Agency planted false stories hoping they would go viral,” Stengel said. “They did. Russian agents assumed fake identities, promulgated false narratives and spread lies on Twitter and Facebook, all protected by the First Amendment.”
We’re back to the Russian scaremongering, despite the fact that there has never been a correlation between this alleged social media influence and President Donald J. Trump’s victory. Ask someone like Stengel exactly how much the scary Russians helped Trump, if at all. The answer is undefined. It has never been qualified.
“The Russians understood that our free press and its reflex toward balance and fairness would enable Moscow to slip its destructive ideas into our media ecosystem,” Stengel said.
But America’s “reflex toward balance and fairness” enables him to spill his reactionary bile in the pages of The Washington Post, too. It’s as though Stengel hasn’t considered that limiting speech could mean he’s next in line to be censored.
This is the type of content, unfortunately, that Americans have come to expect from one of its largest papers – the same one that attempted to whitewash the record of a dead terrorist over the weekend, only to semi-apologize for it later, and update its story after backlash.
Just another day at The Washington Post.
Peter D'Abrosca is a freelance investigative reporter, author, and conservative political commentator.
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