The Obama Doctrine? Censuring Free Speech
International Business Times – Publius – 10/1/2012
If President Barack Obama was serious last week when he addressed the United Nations, then he just quietly declared war on the First Amendment. If he was not serious, then he is pandering to murderous mobs who demanded that he denounce an obscure YouTube video critical of their faith.
"Slander" is speech. "Hate" usually takes the form of speech, too. Is Obama calling on world leaders to join him in ridiculing non-violent people whose speech he does not like? Or by “marginalization” does he mean something worse than tough words from the bully pulpit?
Obama’s new doctrine is frightening in two senses. His call to “marginalize” those who "slander" or "hate" encourages the autocrats of
Iran, , and other regimes to punish
dissidents while also threatening to shrink the free speech rights of
At first, governments ban only a few “hateful” words. But we know where this ends. Every time such broad power is given to the powerful, they determine that everything critical of their power is “hate” and therefore banned. Over time, free speech is lost.
U.S. presidents and judges
have never bestowed this power upon themselves, nor can they under
law, and this is why the country
remains free. U.S.
Obama’s words signal a sharp departure. For generations, presidents have defended the rights of individuals to say unpopular things, as long as they avoided imminent violence. Obama told the UN that even non-violent speech -- if he considers it hateful -- should be punished through government sponsored marginalization. This rewrites two centuries of First Amendment law.
Bad speech should be countered by good speech, and that is the job of the citizens, not the government. The government may not pick winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas. In
, politicians cannot punish
free speech. America
Americans have no constitutional right to not be offended. Neither does the president, nor murderous, rioting mobs in
Offending others is an American tradition. The constitutional guarantee of free
speech extends to all viewpoints. There is no exception for “hate speech,”
whatever that broad, vague term might mean. How will Cairo respond
to this gradual erosion of free speech? We must resist the temptation to
condone affronts to the First Amendment simply because we dislike the message of
the speaker. America