Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
It was actually a straight news piece, but, when it comes to The New York Times, straight news pieces frequently lead to OpEd columns or Editorial Board opinions.
By Melissa Eddy and Aurelien Breeden | August 6, 2019
The massacre of 22 people in El Paso, an attack announced in a hate-filled manifesto about an immigrant “invasion,” has revived debate about the limits of free speech, protected by the First Amendment in the United States.
But in Europe, where history has proved that domestic threats can be as devastating to democracy as those from abroad, freedom of speech, while a constitutional right, comes with certain caveats. Restricted in scope and linked to specific threats, these limitations are based on the premise that protecting certain ideals, such as the public good or human dignity, can justify curbing what individuals are allowed to say.
Free speech is constitutionally enshrined in both Germany and France, as it is in the United States. But there is an important difference.
“The big nuance between the First Amendment and the European texts is that the European texts allow for possible limitations” on speech, said Emmanuel Pierrat, a French lawyer who specializes in publishing and free speech issues.
It’s a long article, with plenty of documentation concerning limitations on the freedom of speech in democratic Europe, for things like denial of the Holocaust — for which people can be, and have been, thrown in prison — as well as publishing things which could, basically, hurt someone’s feelings. Marine Le Pen, the populist French leader the Times chooses to describe as “far right,” is being prosecuted for posting images of Da’ish violence on Twitter.
I searched the Times opinion section, looking for one of the columnists to have jumped on the bandwagon, to tell us just how much smarter the Europeans are than us, to have such reasonable restrictions on harmful speech; at least so far, I have found none. But in the back of the minds of the Editorial Board, one thought must be present: were it not for our almost unfettered freedom of speech, and the internet to let anyone publish what they wish, Donald Trump just might be a private citizen right now.
Were it not for our freedom of speech, could WikiLeaks have published the emails hacked from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, and the Democratic National Committee, exposing the cheating going on in that campaign and the fact that Mrs Clinton was drunk in mid-afternoon? With Barack Obama as President, would the details of Mrs Clinton’s email scandal have been allowed to be published, were it not for our First Amendment protections?
That Mrs Clinton did not like the First Amendment is made obvious by the fact that she pledged to have introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, railing against ‘billionaires’ being able to control our elections.¹
Jennifer Rubin, the (purportedly) conservative columnist for The Washington Post but in reality just another #NeverTrumper, laments that the Democrats have enough respect for freedom of speech — at least of their speech — to allow Representative Tulsi Gabbard Williams (D-HI 2nd District) on the debate stage,² or have reporters covering author Marianne Williamson’s campaign.
There are, of course, the leftists on social media calling for restrictions on both our First and Second Amendment rights, claiming that “hate speech” causes mass shootings, and if the so-called “red flag laws” pass, we can count on our rights being restricted by people opposed to those rights in the first place:
In the aftermath of this weekend’s mass shootings that killed at least 31 people, attention turned to what could be done to prevent something like this from happening again.
“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process,” Trump said in televised remarks from the White House on Monday morning. “That is why I have called for red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders.”
A red flag law enables those who have seen warning signs (aka red flags) to seek a court order to intervene and temporarily prevent someone who is in crisis from having access to a firearm. For example, under California’s red flag law, it’s legal for family members to ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat.
The President did not elaborate further on what he meant in Monday’s speech, so it is not clear if he was proposing a federal red flag law, endorsing an expansion of red flag laws across more states or simply advocating for better enforcement of the laws currently on the books.
At this point, red flag laws exist only at the state level, and only 17 states plus Washington, DC, have passed such laws. The number of states with red flag laws increased after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, where proponents said such a law would have stopped the shooter from accessing a deadly weapon.
Do you want your constitutional rights held in abeyance on the judgement of people who can’t even tell males and females apart?
There is a real hostility toward our constitutional rights out there, from people who believe that what they say and do ought to be protected, but what people with whom they disagree should be stomped down and stamped out. If one of the Double Dozen Democrats wins the 2020 presidential election, we can pretty much count on a major assault on our rights.
¹ – Despite Donald Trump being a billionaire, Mrs Clinton’s campaign outspent Mr Trump’s by a wide margin, $500 million. Mrs Clinton railed against so-called “super PACs,” but she raised $204.4 million from them, while Mr Trump received less than half of that, $79.3 million. Mrs Clinton’s campaign received 16% of its money in donations of $200 or less, while Mr Trump’s campaign took in 26% of its funds from small donations.
² – Mrs Williams is showing more support in the polls than Senators Mike Bennet (D-CO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), both of whom Mrs Rubin touted.
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