The editors of the University of California-San Diego’s Guardian have appointed themselves the arbiters of the First Amendment, and they know exactly where the right to free speech ends: When people use it to show support for Donald Trump. According to them, graffiti written to glorify Trump cannot be defended by the “familiar and tired platitudes of the First Amendment.”
This should set a great many minds at ease. For years, liberals have been thwarted in their attempts to bring European-style “speech codes” to the U.S. And one of the biggest questions standing in their way is who, exactly, gets to decide which speech is worthy of prosecution? But now, the UCSD Guardian’s editorial board has cleared it up. They will decide. They are the deciders. Now let’s see if they have any palatable reasoning to back up their argument.
Quick scan…quick scan…quick scan…
Aaaand no, it turns out they don’t.
In fact, as you read through their op-ed, it becomes clear that they don’t actually think that Trump “chalkers” are violating the First Amendment; they are just using this as a way to criticize the way these supporters behave. They accuse them of being antagonistic, racist, and cowardly. They taunt them as being too insecure in their beliefs to actually debate the issues. They knock down a few strawmen as well. Just listen:
Claiming that offended persons should therefore learn to accept or tolerate the Trump chalkers’ messages simply because their messages are protected under the First Amendment is not a valid justification; people offended by the messages of Trump followers have every right to be angry, frustrated and hurt by those statements given the context in which they are used, and they are allowed to express their anger without needing to temper themselves for the sake of respecting “free speech.”
Sure they are. But then, who’s saying otherwise?
An editorial like this could hardly come at a more timely moment. For the last year, college liberals across the country have used their First Amendment rights to force deans out of their positions and make ridiculous racial demands that have no connection to reality. Yet, no one (at least, no one on the left) ever criticized these protesters for taking their campuses hostage. No one ever said they needed to engage in an intellectual debate with their opponents. No, no. If blacks say they are oppressed, that’s the end of the ballgame. Anyone who tries to argue must be run out of town.
Both liberals and conservatives have every right to criticize the way their opponents speak and the methods they use to get their message across. Last year, when LGBT supporters were trying their hardest to put a pizza place out of business, conservatives rightly spoke out against their cynical efforts. But what we didn’t do was question whether or not they should have the right to organize such a movement. It never came up, because the answer couldn’t be more obvious. It’s only the liberals who start talking about the limits of the First Amendment.
Maybe because they know a dirty little secret: When everyone is afforded a clear voice, conservatism triumphs every time.