The Corner

Law & the Courts

And the Gold Medal for Worst Free Speech Commentary Goes To . . .

Congratulations, Qasim Rashid, your short essay in Time is the worst thing I’ve yet read about about free speech. Titled, “What Pamela Geller Advocates Is Not Free Speech,” it is not only utterly devoid of anything approaching a coherent constitutional analysis, it gets the moral equation exactly backwards. Rashid essentially argues that free speech jurisprudence developed for the purpose of protecting the civil rights movement, and Geller isn’t part of the civil rights movement. Oh, and he quotes utter nonsense comparing her speech to speech that led to the Holocaust. Yes, he did. Read for yourself:

America’s current free speech model developed as an attempt to protect — not demonize — religious and racial minorities. “U.S. law only began to protect hateful speech during the 1960s,” writes Garrett Epps. “Southern state governments were trying to criminalize the civil-rights movement for its advocacy of change. White Southerners claimed that the teachings of figures like Martin Luther King or Malcolm X were ‘hate speech’ and would produce ‘race war.’”

Courts sided with American icons like Dr. King, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks, not because they advocated unpopular ideas of hatred or destruction — but because they faced ongoing hatred and destruction at the hands of racist white southerners. As the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and leading Jewish American Rabbis note, Geller represents the antithesis of the moral courage that was Rosa Parks.

Repeated demonization can inspire violence. This is a fact. “During the Holocaust, the Nazis went beyond making us social outcasts; they systematically slaughtered our people with unspeakable cruelty. Because we know so well what it is like to be outcasts, we must never, through our deeds or words, make others into modern-day lepers,” says Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the largest Jewish denomination in North America. “[W]hat [Geller] does, what she represents, has no place in a Jewish community that is built on tolerance and understanding.”

Where to begin? First, the idea that free speech jurisprudence is little more than an extension of the civil rights movement is sheer fantasy. Indeed, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of racists and civil rights leaders alike, and most leading free speech cases had nothing to do with race at all. But that’s almost a side issue compared to the utterly dreadful use of the Holocaust to condemn Geller. In point of fact, it is the jihadists, not Geller who not only threaten genocide but do everything in their power to make it happen. If not for the protection of the IDF, Jews in Israel would face indescribable slaughter. Until American air strikes and Kurdish resistance helped slow ISIS, Christians and Yazidis stared genocide in the face. Religious minorities behind ISIS lines still face mass executions. To bring up the problem of genocide then peg it to speech uttered by a woman who’s not harmed a single human being in her life — all while actual genocidal maniacs are rampaging across the Middle East — is beyond the moral and intellectual pale.

Here’s Rashid’s big ending:

No law, no matter how specific, can legislate morality — and speech is essentially a moral issue. If we truly want peace, society must rise above the intolerance that Geller and ISIS alike espouse.

How many pilots has Pamela Geller burned alive? How many Muslims has she beheaded? How many young Muslim girls has she kidnapped to sell into sexual slavery? When did she declare a theocracy and issue orders that everyone must convert or die? Dear Mr. Rashid, Pamela Geller expresses opinions you don’t like. But if you ever found yourself in the new caliphate, you would have to conform or die a horrible death. There is no meaningful sense in which Geller and ISIS are “alike.”

Most Popular

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

Election-Meddling Redux

It is not an attack on the American election. It is an influence operation aimed at the American media, using the $60 billion per annum American intelligence apparatus to pull it off. And it’s working. On Wednesday night, it was suddenly announced that U.S. security services would conduct a press ... Read More

Election-Meddling Redux

It is not an attack on the American election. It is an influence operation aimed at the American media, using the $60 billion per annum American intelligence apparatus to pull it off. And it’s working. On Wednesday night, it was suddenly announced that U.S. security services would conduct a press ... Read More
Elections

Biden Lies Again and Again

Joe Biden is a career liar and he lied some more in the debate, for instance when he dismissed the now well-supported New York Post story about Hunter Biden's business dealing as "a Russian plant." There is zero evidence for this. He offered this line: There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said ... Read More
Elections

Biden Lies Again and Again

Joe Biden is a career liar and he lied some more in the debate, for instance when he dismissed the now well-supported New York Post story about Hunter Biden's business dealing as "a Russian plant." There is zero evidence for this. He offered this line: There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said ... Read More
Culture

Equality and Envy

We are not the same. Neither men, nor women, nor races, nor ages, nor nationalities, nor in wealth, nor in training, nor in beauty. We are not equal in any way. And that is a reason to be proud and happy, because at the end of the day we are human and not the product of some factory. Let us once and for all ... Read More
Culture

Equality and Envy

We are not the same. Neither men, nor women, nor races, nor ages, nor nationalities, nor in wealth, nor in training, nor in beauty. We are not equal in any way. And that is a reason to be proud and happy, because at the end of the day we are human and not the product of some factory. Let us once and for all ... Read More