The Mirror

TWITTER FIGHT! Sally Kohn, Charles C.W. Cooke Differ On Freedom Of Speech

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
Font Size:

The fighters: CNN lefty analyst Sally Kohn and National Review‘s conservative leaning Charles C.W. Cooke.

What the fight’s about: Loosely freedom of speech and the murders that transpired last week at Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Who started it? Kohn fired off the tweet that incited the argument. But it was Cooke who initiated direct contact by reacting to what Kohn had written.

The arguing steadily escalated, but on the hot tamale scale, this fight gets only 2 out of 5 tamales. The pair kept it reasonably civil even though it did not really end on a terribly friendly note — which, by the way, is the worst kind of Twitter fight. These things should never end well and definitely not with a virtual handshake. What’s the fun in that?

Here’s how things played out.


KOHN: “What kind of logic is that? and how exactly do you think you’re defending free speech my arguing it should be compelled?”

COOKE: “Not compelled by law, naturally. But Charlie Hebdo printed what it did precisely because it had been threatened.”

KOHN: “I didn’t suggest you meant legally compelled by law…”

COOKE: “I think @DouthatNYT put this best.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 2.40.46 PM

KOHN: “So much for free speech. And logic. And, ya know, decency,” wrote Kohn, linking to Cooke’s above comment.

KOHN: “Yeah, the argument that because people are offended, we should offend them more is just…”

KOHN: “And *discerning factor* of violence seems like fig leaf justification…”

KOHN: “Because others act with heinous violence gives us the excuse, no, requirement (!) to behave uncivilly?!!?”

COOKE: “That’s the second bad-faith, deliberate misrepresentation in a row. So I’ll bow out and just bid you a good Sunday.”

KOHN: “Lastly, doesn’t bother u that being deliberately insulting does what terrorists want, widening gulf btw Islam & ‘the West’?”

WTFEVER: “Solution: KILL ALL MUSLIMS. No more gap.

COOKE: “No.”

Who won the fight? Well, while it’s never a great idea to keep talking once you’ve declared yourself done (and yes, many of us have done this despite our better judgments), it appears Cooke laid out his arguments better than Kohn. At the same time, Kohn held her own in terms of sticking to her convictions, and reached a fevered pitch with lots of exclamation points, question marks and sarcasm.

Would these two ever agree to meet and break bread? The Mirror asked each of them. Cooke readily replied, “Of course I would. For that matter, I’d sit down with pretty much anybody. (Pretty much.) My objections to Sally, who seems to be one of the nicest people in the business, are wholly intellectual.” Kohn also agreed to a hypothetical meal. “For the record, OF COURSE!” she told The Mirror. “And I would say that to what I believe is Charles’ point (echoing Douthut’s), the idea that violence/reaction to offense somehow retroactively rationalizes that offense and argues for offending more is, well, that’s just antithetical to my values not to mention, I think, to playing any constructive role in combating islamic fanaticism. I’ve always found Charles to be one of the more thorough and thoughtful conservatives on Twitter…and maybe we could find some Halal restaurant to break pita at.;)”