It’s no surprise that Anthony Fauci, who believes attacks on him are “attacks on science,” is extraordinarily thin-skinned. But today, after being grilled by Senator Rand Paul over his involvement in concerted attacks on apostate scientists, Fauci deflected by noting that a man who’d threatened to kill him had been arrested a couple of weeks ago. Fauci went on to, in part, blame Paul for threats against him, claiming that Paul’s accusations “kindle the crazies,” and even pulled out a printed copy of a “Fire Fauci” headline from the senator’s website.
Is Fauci really arguing that calling for his firing — from a job he’s held since 1984 — is tantamount to inciting violence? Does that go for the Democratic Party rhetoric that motivated a Bernie Sanders fan who attempted to murder, among other Republicans, Paul on a baseball field in Alexandria in 2017? Or progressive rhetoric that motivated a mob to menace Paul and his wife on D.C.’s streets in 2020? Nothing in Paul’s critique of Fauci calls for any violence. It calls for a mendacious government official to be fired because he’s been awful at his job. Even if Paul is wrong, political discourse shouldn’t be inhibited by the prospective actions of third-party nuts. We don’t let those nuts undercut our ability to freely express our political disagreements. Those who do are usually engaged in a transparent attempt to chill speech.