Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The War On Freedom Of Expression: Tactics, Strategy, Objectives, And Motives

     Among the things my fiction readers have cited to me as particularly meaningful to them is the following:

     “Of all the musts and must-nots of warfare, this one is paramount: you must conceal your motives. Unless he is insignificant in comparison to you, once your opponent knows your motives, he'll be able to defeat you. He'll probably even have a choice of ways to do it.
     “You must move heaven and earth, if necessary, to discover your opponent's motives. His tactics will be determined by them. If his motives change, his tactics will follow. There lies your opportunity, if you can get him to adopt tactics unsuitable to the conflict.”

     [From On Broken Wings]

     The military analyst always reasons from the enemy’s tactics to his strategy, thence to his objectives, and finally to his motives: the concealed desires and fears that really animate his campaign. Ponder that while I finish my yogurt. It’s the meat of today’s tirade.

     Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch will be aware of the anti-free-expression trend currently infesting American centers of “higher education.” What tends to pass under the radar is the emergence of that trend in high schools:

     It was just before Christmas break when 17-year-old University of Pennsylvania-bound Michael Moroz wrote an opinion piece for the Central High school paper, the Centralizer.

     In it, he criticized the racially charged University of Missouri protests at the time and suggested that Michael Brown, the black teenager killed in 2014 by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., was "a delinquent" who was "at worst, justifiably killed, and at best, a thug."...

     When the column hit the paper’s Facebook page, threats poured in. Moroz said he was forced to stay home initially, and when he returned, threats and harassment prompted him to withdraw and finish his senior year on home study.

     “When everything started to happen, I was surprised,” Moroz told “Whenever we posted an op-ed, we never got a reaction like I did with this one. In retrospect, I was naive to think that this would have been the same. Now, it’s more disappointing than anything.”

     Moroz said the harassment has continued on social media since he has entered independent study and claims even his former teachers and staff at Central have taken part.

     A high-school newspaper op-ed prompted an outpouring of threats against its author – some of them from presumably adult teachers. Those threats were apparently serious enough to induce the author to leave the school.

     What works on college campuses was bound to manifest elsewhere. Moreover, the “pre-intimidation” of younger, more emotionally vulnerable teens and pre-teens would tend to ease and simplify the Left’s suppression efforts at later stages of life.

     The Left’s war on freedom of speech has become too obvious for anyone to deny. The Left doesn’t trouble to deny it. Instead its spokespeople proclaim themselves against “hate speech,” the working definition of which appears to be “whatever the Left doesn’t want expressed.” That “freedom for the thought we hate” has been extended even to Nazis, Communists, and outspoken proponents of shari’a doesn’t trouble them at all. Nor are there many persons in journalism who’ll confront them on the hatefulness of their sentiments.

     Many people would contend that the sort of tactic described above is only possible because of Internet anonymity. Yet many of the threats and calumnies against persons who voice opinions the Left wants to suppress are made quite publicly, under the correct names of the attackers. In the usual case, they suffer no penalty for their behavior, successfully chilling the expression of Left-disapproved sentiments at effectively zero cost.

     Persons who donate to conservative causes and organizations must fear to be attacked in this manner. Family-owned companies founded on Christian moral and ethical principles are routinely targeted. In the most extreme cases of the day, state officials have discovered that they can’t pass laws that protect religious freedom without being vilified and threatened – in several recent cases, by the executives and legislators of other states.

     The tactic allows us to infer the strategy behind it.

     Once again, an earlier essay is relevant:

     In his fine 1967 book The American Tradition, Dr. Clarence Carson noted that liberal opinion about freedom had settled on a rather stunted view: that free speech plus a voting mechanism provided all the freedom the nation could ever require. Of course, that view leaves everything else to be legislated, regulated, and taxed to the hilt -- an electorally ratified totalitarianism in which everything not compulsory is forbidden -- but that's all right because we're still free to complain about it....

     Should our legislators ever presume to pass a law criminalizing "hate speech," and should a case under such a law reach the Supreme Court, would the Justices uphold the law, taking refuge once more in "international opinion"? Given recent developments, it's hard to be confident that they wouldn't.

     Liberal attachment to free speech and open elections has always been shaky. Herbert Marcuse's famous essay "Repressive Tolerance" has beckoned to them from the ideological darkness for forty years. Considering how far they'll go to overturn an election in which they came out second best, just how much would it surprise anyone were they to use "evolving standards," "living document" and "clear and present danger" themes to attack what remains of the right of free expression guaranteed by the First Amendment? And given the demonstrated proclivities of supposedly conservative Republican legislators, who want to retain their power and perquisites quite as much as their liberal Democratic counterparts, how much resistance to the notion could we expect the GOP to mount?

     Intolerance of conservative and libertarian sentiments is now the norm, socially and institutionally if not yet legislatively. I have no doubt that there are busy little beavers working on the latter course.

     I oppose many things the Left favors:

  • Same-sex marriage;
  • “Progressive” taxation of incomes;
  • The welfare state in all its excrescences;
  • Any and every “anti-discrimination” law;
  • Abortion on demand at all stages of gestation;
  • Government-run education at any and all levels;
  • Laws and policies that limit private Americans’ freedom of choice;
  • The entire extra-Constitutional regulatory apparatus of the federal government;
  • The practice among judicial bodies to “interpret” laws to say other than what they say.

     I could extend that list, but I think you get the idea. I’m outspoken about all those things. I get as much vicious email as my inbox can hold. I dismiss it all; most of my detractors are cowards who wouldn’t dare to debate me publicly, much less raise a hand to me. The proof is in the consequences: all I get is vicious email – and my name and address are publicly available.

     Frank Yerby once had a character say that “To threaten is the act of incertitude, of cowardice.” I was uncertain of the truth of that assessment when I first encountered it, but no longer. He who threatens either has no ability to act, or hopes he won’t need to do so to attain his objective.

     The strategy of threats and demonization allows us to infer the Left’s objective: a bloodless victory over conservative opinion. The motive is fear: the Left’s fear that its essential cowardice, like the laziness that infuses its demands for free stuff, will become too evident to be concealed.

     Food for thought.


darkdoc said...

The left is now adopting the tactics they have always condemned as "McCarthyism". They still react with horror at actors and writers being blacklisted and losing jobs for their viewpoints = but it isn't the same when the thought crimes are committed by the right.

But hypocrisy is almost something to be proud of if you can get away with it.

Avraham said...

Very insightful essay

Akaky said...

Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, said Mr Wilde, unless it was Dorothy Parker.

Pascal said...

Thank you for another great analysis of another of the Left's incremental tactics.

"I have no doubt that there are busy little beavers working on the latter course [legislating intolerance]. "

Already happening. First the AG of NY demanding all papers of corporation having ever opposed climate change prior to mounting prosecution or aiding civil suits; and then AG Lynch shortly thereafter threatening a wider sweep. (This suggests it might be worth looking more into how one might avail from your conclusion of what threats really indicate.)

If there is any doubt this encroachment needs to be taken seriously, one need only see it as the first increment following up from what several radicals (e.g. FDR junior) have suggested: that climate "deniers" (actually debunkers) are deserving of the death penalty.

Structurally, all this movement could be destroyed by charging Congress with supporting a belief system based on "science" in violation of the 1st Amendment's prohibition against laws establishing such. (Not really science, but a consensus of chosen "scientists" who exist solely to defend politically favored hypotheses that already have proven failed.)

Problem is that the threats of which you wrote have had a hugely deleterious effect on outspokenness. Galileo's house arrest and Bruno's execution were 17th Century. Here it is the 21st Century. What more proof is needed that the Progressive Movement is regressive?

What more can be done?

Anonymous said...

I gave up fear, many decades ago. I watched multi-star generals get very nervous during the Hungarian Crisis of 1956, worried about Soviet ICBMs on Paris. Later on, I got my old race car all backwards at high speed at Road Atlanta.

The last thing I'll ever be scared of is mouth music. :-)

I've had Leftists try to give me a hard time. I just point out to them the sad failure of medical research: No grow-up pill available to enhance maturity among Leftists.



Pascal said...

Following up now that I have more time.

1. That example I left should be RFK Jr not FDR Jr.

2. Here is a significant link discussing the legal threats aimed at those who substantively dissent with the climate fraud consensus following on the heals of the despicable campaign launched by your state's AG against Exxon-Mobil. Democratic attorneys general to police climate change dissent. As I said, what you averred has already begun, only now it's a widely concerted effort.