I don’t remember when the phrase “hate speech” came into common use, but for some time now liberals have used it as an implicit attack on the First Amendment. Contrary to all law and logic, they press the view that anything they consider “hate speech” should be suppressed–if necessary, by the government (a government run by liberals, that is).
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour engaged in an extreme form of this fallacy while interviewing James Comey earlier today. She asked Comey whether he wished that the FBI had “shut down” people at 2016 Trump rallies who chanted “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton:
Of course, “Lock Her Up” was a feature of the 2016 Trump campaign. Do you in, retrospect, wish that people like yourself, the head of the FBI, the people in charge of law and order, had shut down that language, that it was dangerous potentially, that it could have created violence, that it kind of is hate speech? Should that have been allowed?
Video at the link. The fact that a veteran journalist could ask such an insane question is shocking. (Comey explained that in the United States, it is not the job of the FBI to “shut down” political speech.) The phrase “hate speech” is the magic talisman. But for the last two years, it has been impossible to assemble a group of three or more Democrats who didn’t call Donald Trump a traitor, or worse. Is that hate speech? Should the Democrats’ crazed smears against President Trump be “shut down”? If not, why not?
I think the real answer is that Democrats know that Republicans respect the Constitution and value free speech. Democrats can say whatever they want; there is no risk that Republicans will try to shut them down, no matter how often they claim, absurdly, that Donald Trump is a would-be dictator. But when they gain power, the shoe will be on the other foot.
Democrats have already succeeded in driving “hate speech,” as defined by them to serve partisan ends, from most social media outlets. It is only a matter of time before they make a serious effort to shut down speech in public places that is critical of their leaders, and lock up people who have the temerity to engage in it.