Saturday, December 26, 2009

Elements of the Left Actually Defend Free Speech

Far too often, much of the left is in favor of free speech only if they agree with the speech in question. This was demonstrated yet again when Full Equality Now DC, a pro-gay marriage activist group, demanded that ads from an anti-gay marriage organization be removed from Washington DC public metro transit. Their basic argument, typical of the left, was that the message was "offensive," and therefore should be banned. Nevermind that the whole idea of free speech is to protect expression that others might find offensive. 

But, since I bash the left on a regular basis for its attitude toward free speech, credit must be given when due. And in this case, other organizations and individuals on the left, including Colbert King, author of the article I'm quoting from, stepped up in support of the right for opposing views to be heard.

The group includes Mitch Wood, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance; Arthur B. Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU of the Nation's Capital; Jeffrey D. Richardson, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club; Aisha C. Mills, president of Campaign for All D.C. Families; and activist Richard J. Rosendall
As King writes,
Speaking not only for themselves but also for people like me, they said: "Free speech is not only for those whose beliefs we find acceptable. The proper response to offensive speech is more speech. Your proper response to Full Equality Now DC, therefore, is that those who object to ads by Stand For Marriage DC are free to place their own.
King also notes,
So it was heartening to see how some citizens reacted to the issue raised by the Metrobus advertisements. The conflict provided a good -- but rare -- example of citizens standing up for the principle of protecting despised speech of a disagreeable speaker.
It's particularly rare when it comes from the left, and is therefore especially noteworthy.

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