What was it, two weeks ago? It couldn’t have been much longer than that. We’re just trying to remember the last time we heard some mainstream journalist cry about President Trump and the unthinkable threat he poses to the press, our liberties, and the First Amendment. We know for sure that we heard some babble about it when Shepherd Smith resigned from Fox News, but we’re trying to remember if there’s an even more recent example. We feel sure that there is. The media has been incessantly ringing that bell since before Trump was even elected.
Which was why we were astounded to see Richard Stengel – the former managing editor of Time magazine and a current contributor to MSNBC – argue in the pages of the Washington Post that we need to cripple the First Amendment. Why? Because of hate speech, naturally.
“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 insisted.
Lord help us from modern thinkers and their attempts to out-genius the Founding Fathers. No really, we need some serious help here.
Stengel said that his time serving at the State Department under President Obama had come to change his views about protecting hate speech.
“As a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier,” he said. “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?”
Unreal. We should change our fundamental free speech protections to bring them more in line with those of the Arab world? Did Stengel really think this through?
Apparently realizing that would not make a popular argument, Stengel instead calls on the U.S. to work within the boundaries of Supreme Court precedent, follow the example laid out by Europe and Canada, and experiment with “hate speech statutes to penalize speech that deliberately insults people based on religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.”
We hope you’re listening, atheist groups. This guy wants to make mocking Christians – your entire business model – illegal.
“All speech is not equal,” Stengel finished. “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. It undermines the very values of a fair marketplace of ideas that the First Amendment is designed to protect.”
It does nothing of the kind. And to imagine that we would be better off with government-implemented “guardrails” on our speech is to abandon the fundamental underpinnings of our entire country. Stengel should be ashamed of himself.