LIBBY EMMONS: Far-left outlets now pretend to care about ‘free speech’ now that their antisemitism is being challenged

Progressives are finally wising up and realizing the error of their ways on free speech. A new article out from Vox issues a call to "make 'free speech' a progressive rallying cry again." The only reason they are championing free speech now is because they feel the restrictions against themselves, the same restrictions they used to silence conservatives. I believe in their right to speak freely, but despite their latest rhetoric, I do not believe they believe in mine.

They've realized that the same anti-free speech policies and practices that they've enacted on college campuses and in the public sphere to prevent misgendering and microaggressions, to deplatform speakers on everything from abortion to women's rights to climate change, are now being used against them and their latest current thing, anti-Zionism and the Palestinian cause.

The AP notes that the "lofty principle" of free speech "has clashed with the stark reality of the Israel-Hamas war," without even a mention of how it has clashed with the stark reality of biological sex, abortion, climate science, race, or any of the other causes du jour put forth as dogma by progressive academic elite. 

Restricting free speech was all well and good for progressives until they realized it could be used against them to stop them from bad-mouthing the Jews. These new efforts to cling to the mantra of free speech, to embrace the First Amendment are not at all heart-felt, not even remotely in keeping with the spirit of letter of 1A, instead it is just another attempt for progressives to enable their own ability to say whatever they want while shutting everyone else up.

Now that they are faced with their own rules restricting their speech, they are prepared to reverse course. Vox's Eric Levitz admits "protecting radical dissent requires tolerating right-wing speech." Oh, does it? Does it really? They say that now, but not because they mean it. They say it now because they want to spew their antisemitic, hateful rhetoric and they don't want to be punished for it the same way they punished oh, I don't know, Lisa Littman for offering evidence that trans is a social contagion, or Riley Gaines for saying biological sex is real, or countless professors, students, pundits, authors, commentators, and scholars who spoke truth on Covid, gender, and race, only to hear from their elitist betters that truth and honesty were not acceptable and that free speech would absolutely not be permitted.

The Intercept even complains about radical professors losing their jobs over their support for Gaza, as if countless professors and academics weren’t gleefully run out of those ivory towers of their views on trans, Covid, women’s rights, climate, anti-racism, or whatever other current cause was dogmatized in progressive spheres. But what do professors fear? Mostly, a lack of funding. It's easy to imagine that many of them feel they should have the support of donors no matter what absurdities they research or horrors they advocate for.

“There’s no official tally of the number of academic workers who have lost jobs or faced suspension over support for Palestine, not least because higher education in this country is disarticulated, often privatized, and reliant on short-term contract labor,” The Intercept writes. “By and large, professors facing job loss and suspensions over Palestine have brought these allegations into public view by speaking out themselves. Scores of academics across the country are likely under investigation, and many stand to have their contracts quietly expire without renewals.” These words sound very familar to any thought criminal over the past decade.

Levitz claims that while there was an essential element to restricting free speech over the past years, namely that censorship was good for the "well-being of marginalized groups," those same censorious tactics are now being used against those very same minority groups because those minority groups are being prevented from saying nasty things about the Jews and Israel, when those anti-Israel comments are perceived to be targeting the Jewish population globally. "In recent months, however, social justice advocates have been forced to contest the very ideas about speech and inclusion that they had once popularized," Levitz contends.

"Since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war and the resulting surge of pro-Palestinian activism at American colleges, the campus free speech debate has inverted," Levitz writes. "Now, it is Republican politicians who insist that college administrators must discern the bigotry implicit in non-hateful speech (such as the chant, 'From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free') and then silence that speech to protect a historically oppressed minority group on campus."

It has inverted, but not for the reasons the progressives want you to believe. Progressives want us to believe that their motives to encourage free speech, both in public discourse and on college campuses, is somehow noble. But for years, in Vox and plenty of other publications, the demands to stifle free speech because it is “alt-right,” or “triggering” or “offensive” or even actually “harmful,” the rhetoric claiming that “words are violence,” or present a real, physical threat to others, has been rampant on college campuses, among academics, Democrat pols, progressive activists, and has often been overwhelming.

On more than one occasion, I have heard that my words, my expression of truth and fact, causes real world harm. We all know this is absolute nonsense—yet now that the right to spew vile, race-based rhetoric against Jews and Israel is under threat, the very same anti-speech policies that free speech absolutists claimed were anathema to actual discourse and democracy are being derided.

But make no mistake, while for the moment these progressives are railing for free speech, they don’t actually mean it. They want to be able to say whatever they want without consequence and they want to hide their vitriol under the guise and honor of free speech. It is transparent. 

In 2021, Vox ran an article claiming that “Kicking people off social media isn’t about free speech.” A writer claimed that “Deplatforming is effective at rousting extremists from mainstream internet spaces. It’s not a violation of the First Amendment.” A piece in 2020 claimed “that ‘cancel culture’ is not the existential threat to free expression it’s made out to be.” 

Time and time again, progressive and leftist outlets have said that free speech isn’t for the likes of their opponents, who are just plain bad and undeserving of a place to speak. Now, they claim that those views they oppose should be embraced—if it means they get to bash the Jews.

Go ahead, have your free speech back and champion that right. But don’t for a second think that it’s not clear why you’re doing it, or that it’s not obvious that you intend to use your new-found freedom to voice exactly the same kind of objectionable speech—and worse—that you once decried. That these activists, academics, and politicians now demand the right they once pried away from dissenters shows plainly that it is not the right they uphold, but their own bias and hate.

Image: Title: pro palestine