No, Free Speech Is Not Threatened By The Right

REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Scott Greer Contributor
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ESPN host Jemele Hill calling President Trump a “white supremacist” is the latest battle in America’s grueling cultural war.

After Hill received backlash from right-wing media and became a fixture of news coverage, the White House was asked to weigh in on the subject at Wednesday’s press briefing.

“That is one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that is a fireable offense by ESPN,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders answered. (RELATED: White House Says ESPN Host’s Comments About Trump Are A ‘Fireable Offense’)

With that statement, the outrage over Hill was redirected towards the president. What Sanders said was interpreted by the media as the White House demanding a private company terminate one of its employees; an apparent sign of encroaching tyranny.

Soon thereafter, concerns of right-wing political correctness rose again to the fore of national discourse. And many of those railing against conservative “snowflakes” were respectable conservative pundits, such as National Review’s David French.

“Snowflake Republicans are no better than snowflake progressives. Respect free speech. It’s not that hard,” French angrily declared. The National Review writer admitted that ESPN has ridiculous double standards when it comes to the political views of its commentators, but he argued that that is no reason for conservatives to insist on hoisting the sports network by its own petard.

Instead, conservatives should just “rebut bad speech with better speech,” according to French.

In a perfect world, that’s all we would need to do. However, we don’t live in that utopia and ESPN is effectively saying that it will only punish conservative speech of its employees while allowing the most ridiculous left-wing comments to be aired.

In spite of that development, the result of this controversy is further reinforcing the faulty view of liberals and some conservatives that right-wing outrage is just as much of a threat, if not more so, than left-wing political correctness.

This idea is already ridiculous just taking ESPN as an example. The network has a very long record of punishing its talent who engage in right-leaning commentary or political incorrectness, but is fine with their stars comparing the tea party to ISIS. (RELATED: ESPN Has No Balls)

Hill herself faced no consequences for her actions as she wasn’t even taken off the air during the uproar. Moreover, she became a martyr to the Left as numerous pundits and commentators rushed to claim that calling Trump a “white supremacist” is merely a statement of fact.

The concern over the alleged right-wing threat to free speech is finding its greatest expression in higher education. Yes, the institution that can’t even host conservative speakers and makes life miserable for students with right-wing views is no longer a place for free discussion — thanks to the Right.

This ludicrous sentiment was echoed in two recent articles. The Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted the plights of left-wing professors who have suffered from the horror of conservative media covering their stupid comments.

The professors featured in the article have done such things as call for white people to be killed, urge the assassination of the the president and claim Texas deserved Hurricane Harvey for voting for Trump. The most they suffered, with the exception of two who lost their jobs, was receive criticism from their schools.

This feature piece led social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, a vocal critic of left-wing campus insanity, to assert that “professors now have to fear intimidation from both sides.”

Haidt accuses conservative media outlets of distorting the comments of leftist professors in order to maximize outrage among internet mobs. According to Haidt, who is a professor at New York University, the effect of covering a professor calling for violence against Trump supporters has just as much of a chilling effect on academic speech as Antifa mobs.

That might make sense only if you willfully ignore the overwhelming political bias of academia — which lends support to extreme left views — and if you’re fine with equating conservative journalism to leftist threats of violence.

Every single leftist professor who has faced backlash for their comments has usually said something so ridiculous to warrant some attention. These people do shape young minds, and if they believe that white people deserve to die, then that’s worth bringing attention to.

The only “consequence” most of these professors have faced is criticism from their schools. The Chronicle, and Haidt to a lesser extent, seem to think that the colleges should stand up for their professors when they spout left-wing hate.

Considering how the University of Missouri and Evergreen State College are both witnessing steep declines in enrollment due to their leftist reputations, school administrators are probably right to not defend calls for assassinating Trump and unironic endorsements of white genocide.

Moreover, Campus Reform or The Daily Caller covering the ridiculous comments of these professors isn’t leading to some kind of silencing. There are still many professors who continue to use social media to advocate for far left causes. The professor caste is still overwhelmingly left-wing and university curriculum still reflects that imbalance.

As evidenced by the Jemele Hill controversy and coverage of poor professors who get criticized for wanting the president dead, liberals and leftists seem to think it silences speech if the employer does not openly stand with the employee’s extremism.

Some of the commentary surrounding Hill seems to think that ESPN should go further into progressive agitation and declare the president of the United States a “white supremacist” as a company.

That would be a horrible business decision, as would be a university endorsing violence against conservatives, but that matters little when it comes to advancing “social justice.”

What these concerns over right-wing political correctness boil down to is left-wing annoyance that institutions don’t follow progressive dogma 100 percent and allow absolute freedom of speech for those on the Left.

There is no concern for the speech rights of those on the Right — outside of bad faith arguments trying to shame conservative debate opponents. The same people who think ESPN delivering a mild rebuttal to Hill struck a severe blow against the First Amendment fully supported Google firing James Damore for sharing his opinion.

Powerful institutions in America such as media and universities are still overwhelmingly progressive, and conservative backlash against the ludicrous statements of their representatives only leads to awareness of the problem.

It is not stopping any liberal or leftist from continuing to share their opinion in the public sphere, a contrast to the situation for rightists who have to live with the knowledge that their views could cost them their job and physical safety.

After a week where it cost over $600,000 in security to ensure Ben Shapiro could talk about his relatively tame brand of conservatism at the University of California – Berkeley, only hacks and fools could believe free speech faces a serious threat from the Right.

Follow Scott on Twitter and buy his new book, “No Campus for White Men.”