Power Grab Behind Democrats' War On Free Speech

Reflections on the testimony given by Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger to Congress

In 1989, the year I graduated from high school, the Supreme Court did something that made me and other liberal Democrats proud: it voted 5-4 to protect the right to burn the American flag. Eleven years earlier, the ACLU had defended the right of neo-Nazis to march through Skokie, Illinois, where many Holocaust survivors lived. Sixteen years before that, Berkeley students launched the New Left by challenging campus regulations on freedom of speech.

Given that history, I could never have guessed that, 34 years later, I would find myself defending the First Amendment from progressive Democrats who are, at this moment, trying to establish a national censorship system through our universities, liberal philanthropies, and social media companies.

Democrats on Thursday didn’t come out directly for censorship. Mostly they slandered Matt Taibbi and me by claiming that we were only reporting on the Twitter Files for cash and clout while undermining our credibility by testifying before Congress.

But it’s censorship they are after, and it’s our fear of losing our freedom for which we are fighting.

It was finally revealed what Democrats were after when one asked Matt if he agreed with Twitter owner Elon Musk’s decision to take down a tweet of a swastika interwoven with the Star of David, which the bipolar rapper formerly known as Kanye West had posted.

Taibbi said, rightly, that it was a hard question, and argued eloquently that the freedom of speech includes the freedom to be wrong.

It is shocking that anybody in America, much less the party of the ACLU, needs to be reminded that freedom of speech protects all speech, not just speech approved by the Elect. And yet that’s very much where we are.

The Left today has thus arrived in a place precisely 180 degrees opposite of where it was in the 1980s, 1970s, and 1960s. The rebels have become the persecutors.

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Michael Shellenberger