Does London-born CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour believe she’s still in Britain, where hate-speech laws can be used to suppress expression the establishment doesn’t like? One could think so, given that she actually suggested to ex-FBI director James Comey yesterday that perhaps his agency should have “shut down” Trump supporters’ anti-Hillary Clinton chants of “Lock her up!” during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Amanpour broached the matter on her eponymous CNN show when she interviewed Comey and asked, “Of course, ‘Lock her up’ was a feature of the 2016 Trump campaign. Do you in retrospect wish that people like yourself, the head of the FBI — I mean the people in charge of law and order — had shut down that language, that it was dangerous potentially, that it could’ve created violence, that it’s kind of hate speech? Should that have been allowed?”
“That’s not a role for government to play,” Comey replied. “The beauty of this country is people can say what they want, even if it’s misleading and it’s demagoguery” — that is, like what Comey proceeded to say.
To wit: “The people who should have shut it down were Republicans who understand the rule of law and the values that they claim to stand for. Shame on them, but it wasn’t a role for government to play” (video below).
Comey’s self-righteous finger-wagging is interesting given that Trump supporters’ anti-Clinton rhetoric paled in comparison to leftists’ anti-Trump rhetoric and actions (note that Clinton herself called many conservatives “deplorables”). Not only have there been continual demands to imprison Trump — and the never-ending invective of calling him a “racist,” fascist, and Nazi — but also veiled calls for, and depictions of, his assassination.
But this makes easy placing Amanpour’s trespass in perspective. Just imagine the reaction if, let’s say, Fox News host Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity asked the current FBI director if the agency should have “shut down” vitriolic anti-Trump rhetoric before the 2018 midterms. Leftists — led by CNN, no doubt — would call him a fascist for even suggesting it.
Yet more ominous here than just typical leftist double standards is Amanpour’s use of a certain term: “hate speech.”
In 2006 I wrote an essay entitled “How We Will Lose Our Freedom of Speech.” I opened mentioning an epithet-laden outburst by actor Michael Richards (who played “Cosmo Kramer” on Seinfeld), directed at black hecklers during one of his nightclub performances; it was big news at the time. “Representing the two targets of Mr. Richards’ bile, Frank McBride and Kyle Doss, ‘civil rights’ attorney Gloria Allred appeared on Hannity and Colmes Thanksgiving eve,” I related. “The stone-faced Allred opened with a very telling assertion, boldly proclaiming, ‘This is not free speech, this is hate speech!’”
This was no innocent statement. Utterances such as Allred’s have a devastating effect. As I explained:
As a dissenting justice in the 1958 Baer v. Kolmorgen case, one Judge Gallagher is quoted as having warned that “if the court does not stop talking about the separation of church and state, people are going to start thinking it is part of the Constitution.”
But the courts didn’t stop, and the result is that four decades later this “fact” is imprinted upon the American mind. So much so, that now the average Joe has been inured to the denuding of the public square of historic religious symbols out of respect for this supposed “principle” of the Constitution.
And this is why Allred’s statement bears mention. There are social engineers in our time — and I count Allred among them — who are trying to imbue the American mind with the notion that so-called “hate speech” is not protected under the First Amendment. Now, let’s try to understand how this will be effected by taking a lesson in social engineering 101.
First, use the term “hate speech” as much as possible so as to burn it into the lexicon and establish it as a category unto itself. And it’s not hard. This has already been accomplished with terms/concepts such as “sexual harassment” and, the concept of which hate speech is a corollary, “hate crime.” Then, be sure to juxtapose the two terms frequently, as beautifully illustrated by Gloria Allred herself. Saying “This is not free speech, this is hate speech!” creates further separation between the two, cementing the notion that they are starkly different verbal species. Once this is accomplished, the idea that the latter is protected by the former may seem laughable.
Understand in its entirety what is being achieved here. Not only will this strategy persuade many legislators and judges that hate speech isn’t protected under the Constitution and therefore can be criminalized, it will also influence the man on the street. And this harks back to the old advice, “If you really want something, act like you already have it.” As long as you continually condemn “hate speech” and juxtapose it with “free speech,” more and more people will assume that it already is illegal. And once enough Americans believe this, all that is left is to make it official. And the beauty of this is that you don’t even have to lie. Success hinges mainly on the positioning of words, timing, tone and, most of all, re-pe-ti-tion.
Oh, you think it won’t work?
To a great degree it's already a fait accompli. After decades of positioning (this refers to Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci’s idea about the placement of leftist ideologues in positions of influence for the purposes of altering the culture), with social engineers in academia, the media, entertainment and various organizations and activist groups, it isn’t uncommon to find Americans possessed of this lie. I myself have met them, and even pundit Bill O'Reilly uttered this misconception on his cable television show. Remember, as eighteenth century philosopher William James said, “There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough people will believe it.”
It would be wholly unsurprising if, like O’Reilly, Amanpour actually believes there is a hate-speech prohibition in U.S. law. Journalists aren’t a very swift or scholarly bunch.
I went on to explain in my essay that we shouldn’t count on the Constitution preventing hate-speech law since the document already is viewed as “living” and has been continually trampled. “Just as they were able to perform the intellectual contortions necessary to read the separation of church and state into the First Amendment,” I wrote, “so will they read freedom of speech out of it.”
Note, too, that the precedent for this could be foreign law, in which hate-speech prohibitions are status quo. After all, many jurists agree with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who once proclaimed that when formulating opinions, judges “must look for inspiration beyond our borders, to the laws and constitutions of other nations.”
That said, let’s be clear: A hate-speech prohibition exists neither in the Constitution nor in lesser U.S. law. This may change, however, if we keep repeating the big lie that one does often enough.
Image: screenshot from YouTube video