Hate Speech and the New Tyranny over the Mind

Article author: 
Arthur Milikh
Article publisher: 
Center for the American Way of Life - The Claremont Institute
Article date: 
21 April 2021
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

In America, a powerful movement intent on outlawing “hate speech” continues to expand in institutional power and moral vigor with each passing year. Most Americans do not fully grasp what banning “hate speech” entails, or the political and intellectual stakes involved. Should “hate speech” be banned, America will no longer be a self-governing nation: Serious deliberation on the central political questions confronting the country would become impermissible. But the debate over “hate speech” ultimately exposes our nation’s deepest and perhaps irreconcilable moral divide: Are we a republic in which presumptively rational citizens rule themselves politically and where the freedom of the mind is protected—or are we a confederation of oppressed groups whose fragile identities must be honored and sheltered from criticism?

America is the only Western nation that does not criminalize “hate speech.”...

Meanwhile in America, Members of Congress issue their support for speech restrictions, and Big Tech’s digital oligarchs, enjoying a disproportionate power over society, continue to impose speech restrictions in exchange for access to their platforms. So are America’s colleges and universities more and more governed by an aggressive chorus of students, faculty, and administrators who demand and impose speech codes....

Without practice in self-rule and political deliberation made possible by free speech, the habits of character required for republican self-government will disappear in time. The loss of our practice of thinking independently and making judgments about the common good, the national interest, and human merit would give way to the domination of anger and resentment and a corresponding expansion of the state to adjudicate and rule individuals no longer fit for political liberty....

America’s big tech companies—Google, Twitter, and Facebook—largely imitate the premises of Europe’s “hate speech” laws. And they are currently in the midst of expanding restrictions. A leaked Google internal memo shows the company’s skeptical view of the freedom of speech...

As James Madison puts it, man has “an equal property in the free use of his faculties.”Man’s faculties belong to himself, and his speech, as a product of his mind, also belongs him..."

Courageous and patriotic politicians must fight for the freedom of speech by reminding the public of its purpose and the consequences of losing it.... But public jealousy of free speech and anger at possible future usurpations, along with other possibilities, will be the only imperfect barriers that in the long run may protect this right.


Video: Why Identity Politics Cannot Tolerate Free Speech, Center for the American Way of Life, February 24, 2021:

Arthur Milikh, Director of the Center for the American Way of Life, joins Jan Jekielek on American Thought Leaders to discuss the real goal behind the criminalization of hate speech.


... my view is that the freedom of speech really is a civilizational level question. If we lose it, this country is in very bad shape and will not recover. But if we preserve it, then America will be able to preserve because it will be able to advocate for all of the benefits, the things that continue to draw our affections to this nation, the equal rule of law, the prosperity of the sciences, the prosperity of commerce, all of those things require a country where the freedom of speech exists, so that abuses can be corrected, so that the tracks continue to run. With the loss of the freedom of speech, the country regrettably descends into an unrecognizable form of some kind of soft despotism that will be maybe almost impossible to get ourselves out of."


1:19 — How the conception of hate speech has evolved since the 1980s

4:07 — Critical race theory, identity politics, and hate speech laws

9:05 — Three reasons why we have freedom of speech

14:14 — Hate speech laws are a one way street

16:07 — Hate speech laws are ineffective in Europe

19:11 — Richard Delgado, civil rights movement, secularized religion

23:50 — The end game, how it interferes with the sciences and education

29:04 — How hate speech laws will be implemented

33:10 — What we can do before it’s too late

39:15 — Can the U.S. Constitution protect us?