President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team leader for US-owned media outlets wants to redefine freedom of speech and make “hate speech” a crime.
[Joe Biden transition official wrote op-ed advocating free speech restrictions, by Steven Nelson, New York Post, November 13, 2020]
So who is this person?
Richard Stengel is the Biden transition “Team Lead” for the US Agency for Global Media, the US government media empire that includes Voice of America, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
And what did he write?
Stengel, an Obama administration alumnus, wrote last year in a Washington Post op-ed that US freedom of speech was too unfettered and that changes must be considered. He wrote: “All speech is not equal. And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I’m all for protecting ‘thought that we hate,’ but not speech that incites hate.”
So who defines "speech that incites hate"?
Stengel offered two examples of speech that he has an issue with: Quran burning and circulation of “false narratives” by Russia during the 2016 election.
Regarding Quran burning
“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?” Stengel wrote.
So are Arab diplomats now authorized experts on the U.S. Constitution?
“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.”
Stengel says such speech "can cause violence by one group against another." But the group perpetrating the violence is not the one exercising the free speech.
Should Muslims have veto power over what people in our society say about Islam?
Stengel wrote that “our foremost liberty also protects any bad actors who hide behind it to weaken our society,” adding, “Russian agents assumed fake identities, promulgated false narratives and spread lies on Twitter and Facebook, all protected by the First Amendment.”
Here we go with the Russia thing again.
What about all the false narratives spread by our own Mainstream Media? Stengel doesn't mention them.
“Since World War II, many nations have passed laws to curb the incitement of racial and religious hatred. These laws started out as protections against the kinds of anti-Semitic bigotry that gave rise to the Holocaust. We call them hate speech laws, but there’s no agreed-upon definition of what hate speech actually is. In general, hate speech is speech that attacks and insults people on the basis of race, religion, ethnic origin and sexual orientation,” Stengel wrote.
Even Stengel admits that "there's no agreed-upon definition of what hate speech actually is." That makes it a weapon to be used by a dominant group to shut out speech by a less-dominant group.
“I think it’s time to consider these statutes. The modern standard of dangerous speech comes from Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) and holds that speech that directly incites ‘imminent lawless action’ or is likely to do so can be restricted. Domestic terrorists such as Dylann Roof and Omar Mateen and the El Paso shooter were consumers of hate speech. Speech doesn’t pull the trigger, but does anyone seriously doubt that such hateful speech creates a climate where such acts are more likely?”
What about the anti-white rhetoric so common today? Would that be covered?
We need to defend free speech and we need to do it now before we lose it.