Why do Democrats Hate the Bill of Rights?

Right now, Americans are more divided politically than at anytime since the Civil War. The reason is that half the country–Democrats–have moved so far to the left that they no longer support the traditional and uniquely American freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Democrats gave up on the Second Amendment decades ago. Thirty years ago, Democratic candidates often won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. Now they rarely do.

Democrats are shakey at best on the Fourth Amendment, as evinced by their lack of concern over the government’s domestic spying. They think the Tenth Amendment is a joke. And now they are turning on the First Amendment. Here’s a former Chairman of the Democrat Party:

And here’s the same statement from the Democrat Mayor of Portland.

Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Polls show that also the Democrat rank and file oppose free speech.

If the government is allowed to censor ‘hate speech’ then the government will be in the business of censoring speech, and the First Amendment will effectively become null and void. Anybody who claims some sort of ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment has, as Reason‘s headline correctly states, abandoned the First Amendment.

If you require more evidence that the left opposes speech, just take a look at the college campuses. The universities are dominated by the political left. That’s where the left, more than anywhere else in America, gets to set the rules. And under the left’s rules, free speech is suppressed more than anywhere else in America. Speech is tightly regulated officially by speech codes, and unofficially by leftist mobs. Both faculty and students fear to speak their minds. The campuses offer a peek at what the left would do if it had the power. It would crush free speech.

Interestingly, the modern liberal’s hostility to free speech is a relatively recent development. Fifty years ago, Democrats were actually more strongly committed to free speech than were Republicans. James Burnham in his classic 1964 analysis of modern liberalism, The Suicide of the West, comments several times throughout the book on the modern liberal’s almost fanatical devotion to free speech. But that was following a period during the Cold War when attempts were made to censor the speech of communists. In those days, unlike today, liberals also liked Russia. They flipped on both Russia and speech for the same reason–both ceased to be communist causes.

American freedom is uniquely defined by the Bill of Rights, and in particular the First and Second Amendments. In the rest of the world, only a very few isolated places, such as San Marino, recognize anything like a citizen’s Second Amendment right to self defense. And essentially no place else in the world respects anything like a First Amendment right to free expression. Even in the English-speaking countries like the U.K. and its Commonwealth, which share a common legacy of political rights with the U.S., ‘hate speech’ is illegal and the state can and does persecute and prosecute citizens for their speech.

In their indifference (at best) or hostility (at worst) to the First and Second Amendments, Democrats are definitely in the majority, if not in the United States, then in the world. If Democrats had their way, the Bill of Rights would effectively whither away, and the United States would become a lot more like the rest of the world.

Becoming more like everyplace else might not sound so bad, but here’s the thing–the U.S. is supposed to be different. The U.S. was founded to be different, primarily in elevating the ordinary man. In America, unlike Europe and the rest of the world, the ordinary man was very big. He was a citizen, not a subject. But now when the ordinary man tries to exercise his uniquely American rights, Democrats condemn him for ‘clinging to guns and religion.’ Essentially Democrats have given up on America.

If Hillary Clinton had won the election, she would have appointed a Supreme Court majority hostile to both the First and Second Amendments, and a Court that also would have acceded to her administration’s inevitable lawlessness. This would mark the end of America as an oasis of ordered liberty.

If the Democrats succeed in destroying American freedom, then maybe it’s time for some of us to plan our escape. Brazil, for instance, starts to look relatively good. No Bill of Rights, but at least the food and weather are better.

The Tyranny of ‘Hate Speech’ Laws

Instead of catching terrorists, police in the UK are busy making threats against citizens.

I would remind the Cheshire Police to think carefully about what they are saying before posting messages online. Although they may believe their message is acceptable, citizens who cherish liberty could find it extremely offensive, since it disrespects fundamental free speech rights. At some point, the people might notice that agents of the state are not protecting their rights and decide to take corrective action.

Note that this tweet is a literal expression of tyranny, not just for the obvious reason that it threatens punishment for speech, but because it deliberately seeks to create a chilling effect on speech by instilling fear. The tweet stokes fear by invoking the arbitrariness of Britain’s hate speech laws. The laws are vague and selectively enforced, so it’s difficult for the people to know what might or might not be a crime. The Cheshire Police deliberately exploit this uncertainty by reminding people ‘Hey, you think you’re OK, but you never know when you might be facing a large fine or up to two years in prison!’ That’s an attempt to intimidate the citizenry. In a word, tyranny.

Citizens should not have to face uncertainty about whether or not they’re on the right side of the law. A fundamental requirement of the Rule of Law is that the law should define a bright line. Britain’s ‘hate speech’ laws and the actions of the Cheshire Police therefore contradict the Rule of Law.

Notice also that the law, or at least the interpretation of it by the Cheshire Police, defines an illegal act according to the arbitrary reaction of others: “other people may take offence.” Since discerning in advance what might or might not offend someone can be difficult, leaving it up to others to determine what offends them creates further legal uncertainty that is inconsistent with the Rule of Law.

Memo to the Cheshire Police: When you’re on the wrong side of the Rule of Law, you’re on the side of lawlessness and tyranny.

U of Arizona Using Taxpayer Money to Employ Red Guards

The Red Guards were gangs of students empowered by Chinese authorities in the 1960s to terrorize the population by enforcing ideological orthodoxy. Fifty years later, the University of Arizona is launching its own version of the Red Guards.

Administrators at the University of Arizona are now accepting applications for “social justice advocates,” whose job it is to snitch on other students accused of bias. They’re also expected to hold educational programs about “the mosaic of diversity, multiculturalism and inclusivity” and maintain “social justice bulletin boards” in student residence halls.

The job, which officially calls (archived link) for the advocates to “report any bias incidents or claims to appropriate Residence Life staff,” pays the student workers $10 an hour. They’re expected to work 15 hours a week, which means they could be making as much as $600 a month to police their fellow students.

Reminder: The University of Arizona is a state-sponsored institution, which means the university is governed by the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, which protects free speech. Under the laws of the United States, therefore, it is unlawful for the University of Arizona to police the speech of its students. In fact, such an organized attempt to police speech constitutes a ‘conspiracy to interfere with civil rights,’ which under 18 U.S. Code § 241 is a federal felony. Furthermore, 42 U.S. Code § 1985 enables victims to sue for damages in federal court.

Personally, I would encourage any students whose rights are violated by the 21st century Red Guards to sue their university from here to Timbuktu.

Also, it is long overdue that the Justice Department step in to protect the rights of Americans on campus. During the Obama Administration, federal bureaucrats famously issued a Dear Colleague letter to universities regarding sexual assault. At the very least, Justice needs to start by sending a Dear Colleague letter reminding universities that suppressing free speech is a federal felony.

Or at least that’s a possible strategy if we still believe the universities are worth saving. Otherwise, an alternative would be to just leave the universities free to continue to discredit themselves until they implode. Because in the long run, parents are not going to willingly shell out tens of thousands of dollars for their children to attend Maoist indoctrination camps where they’re encouraged to play the role of Red Guards, repressing the rights of their fellow students.

I also don’t believe that citizens should or would willingly allow their hard earned tax dollars to be spent on employing Red Guards at $600 per month.

Call me an optimist, but I gotta believe the universities implode before they go full Maoist.

Ireland’s Blasphemy Law: Back to the Dark Ages

Anyone who loves liberty and free-thinking should be very concerned that Ireland actually criminalizes blasphemy.

Police in the Republic of Ireland have launched an investigation after a viewer claimed comments made by Stephen Fry on a TV show were blasphemous.

Yeah, there was a time in the Western world when blasphemy was considered a serious crime. We call that period The Dark Ages.

Officers are understood to be examining whether the British comedian committed a criminal offence under the Defamation Act when he appeared on RTE in 2015.

Fry had asked why he should “respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world…. full of injustice”.

He later said he was not “offensive towards any particular religion”.

And what if he had been offensive towards a particular religion? That still shouldn’t be illegal.

According to a report in the Irish Independent newspaper, no publicised cases of blasphemy have been brought before the courts since the law was introduced in 2009 and a source said it was “highly unlikely” that a prosecution against Fry would take place.

Highly unlikely or not, no free-born citizen should ever have to worry about such a prosecution. And the fact is that Fry was approached by a police detective and told he was under investigation. The police actually devoted detective resources to policing speech. Good to know that Ireland is apparently free of real crime.

Is it unfair to refer to Ireland’s Defamation Act as a ‘blasphemy law’?

The law prohibits people from publishing or uttering “matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”.

Yup, that’s a blasphemy law.

This particular law has only been on the books since 2009. I gotta say, when I was young I always expected the 21st century would be better than this. Instead of jet packs and space colonies, we got pre-Enlightenment speech codes.

Even more disconcerting that such a law exists and is taken seriously by police is the apparent fact that hardly anybody seems to care. Ireland’s blasphemy law does not seem to be a burning political issue. Will it become a prominent issue in Ireland’s next general election? Do any Irish politicians ever get asked “Why do we have this medieval law on our books?” Rhetorical questions, of course.

The ongoing war on speech is a war on thought. It won’t end well.

Reminder: Campus Violence that Suppresses Speech is a Federal Crime

A New York Post editorial offers a good roundup of prominent speakers who have recently been prevented from giving speeches by what Ace calls the “feral humanoids” who infest university campuses.

UC-Berkeley this week canceled an April 27 Ann Coulter speech, fearing riots….

Masked, rock-throwing thugs prevented a February speech by Milo Yiannopoulos….

Berkeley’s move follows the Black Lives Matter disruption of a UCLA speech by the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald, and efforts to muzzle her the next night at Claremont-Pomona College….

Last month, goons stopped American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray from delivering a moderately conservative talk at Middlebury College, with Professor Allison Stanger hospitalized by the violence.

Of course, only speakers on the political right are muzzled; the commandant of a North Korean gulag could probably speak unimpeded, as did Iran’s Ahmadinejad at Columbia a few years ago. And the excuse given by university officials is always the same: safety. Here, for instance, is Berkeley’s statement on nixing Coulter.

“We have been unable to find a safe and suitable venue,” said the letter from Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. “Given current active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully.”

“Active security threats,” you say? And where might those threats be coming from? ISIS? North Korea? Why no, the threat of violence is coming from Berkeley’s own students and employees. So what the Berkeley Vice Chancellors are saying is that they cannot maintain order among their own people. This is a huge admission of failure on the part of the university administration.

The primary mission of the university is to maintain an environment of free intellectual inquiry. But instead of fulfilling that mission, the university administrators prefer to run their institutions as left-wing indoctrination camps. The administrators probably have it within their power to maintain order. The universities (scandalously) even have their own armed police forces. They could arrest, and subsequently suspend or expel students who engage in disorderly conduct. As Thomas Lifson points out,

There are plenty of law enforcement resources available to the University of California if it wished to preserve the tradition of open inquiry upon which the many public (i.e., taxpayer) subsidies and privileges available to U.C. are premised. When Governor Ronald Reagan faced a campus insurrection at Berkeley, he called in the National Guard and tear-gassed the protesters in Sproul Plaza – the very place the anti-Milo rioters used to destroy property and threaten lives.

If they took action, Berkeley officials could insure freedom of speech and assembly. But they choose not to. They willingly allow the Heckler’s Veto to censor speech, because they agree with the hecklers.

Unless these universities restore free speech and inquiry, they are not worthy of continued support from the public. Maybe a few lefties are willing to pay tuition and taxes to support far-left camps posing as institutions of intellectual inquiry, but most people are not. It is high time that taxpayers and their elected representatives insist that universities clean up their act. When administrators like Berkeley’s Scott Biddy and Stephen Sutton claim that they cannot allow speech–because safety–the state legislature should respond by asking for their resignations. Or as the New York Post put it,

Increasingly, US campuses are the exact opposite of the bastions of free thought and debate they’re supposed to be. If the schools can’t save themselves, society has every right to demand new management.
[Emphasis added.]

Not only should people lose their jobs, but the civil rights division of the Justice Department would be justified in launching a criminal investigation, particularly in the case of Berkeley. Many of these schools including Berkeley are state-run institutions, which means they must abide by the First Amendment. Back in February, Berkeley city and university officials let rioters run wild, making no arrests, even though they were beating people and causing over $500,000 in damages.

Moreover, complicity in violence and intimidation that prevents people from exercising their Constitutional rights is a crime under 18 U.S. Code § 241.

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same;…They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years…

Every time campus leftists organize to use intimidation to shut down conservative speakers, they haven’t just been rude or unsporting, they have committed a federal crime. It is a crime, and long overdue that the Justice Department start treating it as such.

I also agree with Professor Glenn Reynolds that President Trump would be justified in sending in the National Guard to protect campus speakers, as Eisenhower did in Little Rock to allow black students to safely attend high school. Both cases involve not just public safety, but also an essential issue of Civil Rights.

The University as Holiday Resort: Yale Edition

The new video by We the Internet does a great job explaining the reasons for the current parlous state of free speech and inquiry at American universities. The focus is on Yale University, but Yale’s pathologies apply generally to academia as a whole.

Silence U Part 2: What Has Yale Become?

At pjmedia.com, Richard Fernandez reviews the video and concludes that

Yale is becoming a kind of jail which hands out professional credentials to those hardy enough to serve out their term. Until then its inmates should be careful not to make waves. The wardens in Miltmore’s story are college administrators who’ve created a kind of politically correct kingdom where they — not the professors — are the rulers; where conformity not inquiry, is the most highly valued virtue.

But the university seems like a jail only to libertarian or conservative heretics who reject the ruling-class orthodoxy. To non-heretics the university offers a pleasant experience filled with parties and a wide range of recreational activities. Instead of a jail, the modern university more closely resembles an extended four-year religious summer camp, where instruction in the ruling-class catechism is combined with social and outdoor activities, a kind of holiday resort or sanatorium for the next generation of the ruling class. The appropriately descriptive term used in the video is “the gilded camp.”

As the video points out, the reason the university has become a kind of resort is “the customer service mentality.” As a result, a huge bureaucracy–“the administrative squid monster”–has been installed in order to “keep the fun going.” As a former Yale professor says, “It’s not about what we expect from you [the student], it’s about what we can do for you.”

The squid monster is primarily interested in feeding itself and is “not that committed to the search for truth.” Instead of a place of open inquiry, therefore, we get the religious summer camp, where lots of fun is available for everyone who does not question orthodoxy, but those who dare to rock the boat shall be persecuted as heretics.

The video tellingly contrasts the Yale of today with the Yale of 1974 which produced the famous Woodward Report in defense of free speech. A primary goal of today’s campus agitators is to ban ‘hate speech,’ but more than forty years ago the Woodward Report explicitly considered that argument and rejected it.

Shock, hurt, and anger are not consequences to be weighed lightly. No member of the community with a decent respect for others should use, or encourage others to use, slurs and epithets intended to discredit another’s race, ethnic group, religion, or sex. It may sometimes be necessary in a university for civility and mutual respect to be superseded by the need to guarantee free expression. The values superseded are nevertheless important, and every member of the university community should consider them in exercising the fundamental right to free expression.

We have considered the opposing argument that behavior which violates these social and ethical considerations should be made subject to formal sanctions, and the argument that such behavior entitles others to prevent speech they might regard as offensive. Our conviction that the central purpose of the university is to foster the free access of knowledge compels us to reject both of these arguments. They assert a right to prevent free expression. They rest upon the assumption that speech can be suppressed by anyone who deems it false or offensive. They deny what Justice Holmes termed ”freedom for the thought that we hate.” They make the majority, or any willful minority, the arbiters of truth for all. If expression may be prevented, censored or punished, because of its content or because of the motives attributed to those who promote it, then it is no longer free. It will be subordinated to other values that we believe to be of lower priority in a university.

As the video documents, however, today’s Yale has effectively dropped its defense of speech. When some professors tried to defend free expression, they came under withering assault from students and some faculty, and the administration did not defend them.

Rather than the Woodward Report, today’s Yale is more accurately summarized by the exclamations of ‘screeching girl.’

It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? It’s about creating a home here!

OK! Now that’s settled, we can get back to roasting heretics marshmallows over the (gilded) campfire.

Anti-Lincoln University

At Lincoln University in the UK, a conservative student group made a post to social media highlighting the university’s low rating on free speech. In response, the university’s student union took action to…wait for it…censor the conservative students.

A student union has banned a university Conservative society from using its social media accounts – because they challenged its position on free speech.

Lincoln University’s Conservative Society has been censored by its student union after it posted an image online showing that the university had been ranked “very intolerant” on free speech in a recent survey.

In response, the Students’ Union swiftly suspended the society’s social media accounts, on the grounds that highlighting the university’s ranking had brought it into disrepute.

In this case, it’s not the Conservative Society that is bringing the university into “disrepute.”

This episode reminds me of the time that George Costanza attended the meeting of ‘Rageaholics.’

Seinfeld- George Rageaholics

Does Generation Z Love Liberty?

Blogger “The Audacious Epigone” used data from the General Social Survey to produce a graph that shows increasing support, among people under 40, for censoring speech. I have taken the liberty of copying A.E.’s graph below.

Note that, back in the day, liberals were more supportive of free speech than were conservatives. But now, the reverse is true.

In any event, given the apparent long-term trend, A.E. comes to the pessimistic conclusion that “we’re a decade or two away from an outright majority opposing the first amendment.”

Well, maybe. Trends always continue–until they don’t. For a long time, young people have been getting more and more hostile to free speech, but some people are now claiming that the newest generation–Generation Z–is poised to reverse the trend.

Generation Z is the Post-Millennial generation, born after 1994, and so just coming of age right now.

Charlie Peters, a Gen Z’er and student at the University of Edinburgh, argues that Generation Z is embracing free speech as a reaction to political correctness and the censorious speech policies of university administrators and campus leftists.

With all of this book-burning and platform-denying madness sweeping up much of the media’s interest in campus culture, the gradual rise of another group of students has gone under-reported. British and American millennials and post-millennials – also known as ‘Gen Z’ – are warming to conservatism.

In the United States, college tours by speakers popular with conservatives such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Steven Crowder, Ben Shapiro and Christina Hoff Sommers have become huge events. There has been a spike in membership in conservative college clubs including Young Americans for Liberty, which boasts 804 chapters filled with 308,927 members.

In the United Kingdom, free speech societies have been started across the country.

‘Speakeasy’ groups have been founded at the LSE, Leeds, Queen Mary, Cardiff, Oxford, Manchester and at Edinburgh, where I study. In these groups, ‘unacceptable’ conservative thoughts are debated amongst liberally-minded (as all good conservatives are) students.

Moreover, some student unions have voted to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS).

Analysis from market research firm, The Gild, shows that ‘Gen Z’ is the most conservative generation since 1945. The research reveals that ‘Gen Z’ Britons are more likely to favour conservative spending, dislike tattoos and body-piercings, and oppose marijuana legislation.

The youth and student members of the British Left have given up trying to win arguments on principle, preferring to shut down the views of those they opponents. But ‘Gen Z’ live in the time of mass media where anyone’s political views can be shared worldwide at ease. By pushing a “you can’t say that” attitude, the young Left in the UK and the US are reducing their opportunity to respond to conservative ideas, and, as a result of this, conservatism is on the rise.

Nowadays, the only thing that is stopping a student from accessing a new idea is a censorious gag from a student union or NUS apparatchik. Whilst the student Left have historically campaigned in support of causes that the West’s youth have been favourable towards, such as the anti-war and anti-austerity movements, they are now picking on something that is dear to us: freedom of information.

Students of my generation have grown up in an era of mass-communication. Each year has brought new tools for the flow of ideas, conversation and media. The rapid expansion of affordable technology has been matched by the growth of the social media market. When it is common for students to be able to easily interact with anyone in the world via a portable computer that fits in their pocket, nothing seems more silly to us than cliquey calls for censorship.

That is why young people and students are becoming conservatives – they’re the only people making the case for a freedom that they love.

If Peters is right, the leftist establishment’s open hostility to free speech is backfiring in a big way. Let’s hope he is right, because nothing less than the survival of freedom is at stake.