The Fight for Free Speech

Fundamental to freedom is free speech. Free speech is the first freedom lost as despots seek and solidify power over people.

In his excellent article “The Fight for Free Speech” the late Walter E. Williams makes a compelling case for free speech and against the tyrannical trends trying to take away freedom of expression from political opponents. In the remainder of this post I excerpt several portions of Williams’ article.

“The violence, looting and mayhem that this nation has seen over the last several months has much of its roots in academia, where leftist faculty teach immature young people all manner of nonsense that contradicts commonsense and the principles of liberty. Chief among their lessons is a need to attack free speech in the form of prohibitions against so-called hate speech and microaggressions… It is a tragic state of affairs when free speech and inquiry require protection at institutions of higher learning.”

Right on. I’m going to say here what many so-called intellectuals will consider to be a “microaggression” (or macro, perhaps), or may even be considered by some as “hate speech”: I utterly disrespect and despise anyone — particularly the supposedly “educated” of academia — who seeks to silence or censor their political opponents. Their efforts are evidence that the beliefs they so desperately seek to shield from questions and criticism are wrong.

A monopoly of ideas is just as dangerous as a monopoly in political power or a monopoly in the production of goods and services.

A monopoly of ideas — i.e. the silencing and censoring of opposing ideas — is precisely what leads to and perpetuates monopolies of political power, and the inevitable totalitarianism, oppression and suffering inflicted upon the masses by those who hold the monopoly.

We might ask what is the true test of a person’s commitment to free speech? The true test does not come when he permits people to say those things he deems acceptable. The true test comes when he permits people to say those things that he deems offensive.

Anyone who claims the right to free speech for themselves, but denies that right to someone else they deem “offensive” or “wrong”, is not just a hypocrite, but is also a tyrant.

Tyrants everywhere, from the Nazis to the communists, started out supporting free speech rights. Why? Because speech is important for the realization of leftist goals of command and control. People must be propagandized, proselytized and convinced. Once leftists have gained power, as they have in most of our colleges and universities, free speech becomes a liability. It challenges their ideas and agenda and must be suppressed.

I can only imagine the self-recriminations and regrets rampant among the “useful idiot” academics, journalists and news people who used their free speech rights to propel to power Lenin and Hitler and Stalin and Mao and Ho Chi Min and other brutal despots, only to later be compelled to be pathetic propagandists or, if they dared oppose their masters, to be numbered among the expendable millions of cold corpses. The complicit professors and pundits of today may find themselves in such a predicament one day in the not-too-distant future.