The Corner

Discussing End of Discussion

Conservative commentators Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson have a new book, End of Discussion, about what they term “the outrage industry.” Over at Bloomberg View, I’ve got a review of it.

A concern about national character runs through the Supreme Court’s free-expression cases. In 1927, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that free speech could rarely be a threat to “courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning.” In a 1989decision striking down laws against flag-burning, Justice William Brennan quoted that comment and explained that the court was striking a blow for the country’s “resilience.”

An important reason that we celebrate free speech, then, is that — to put the point negatively — we don’t want to be fearful and brittle people, or a fearful and brittle people.

That’s exactly what Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson think we’re in danger of becoming. . . .

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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