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civil liberties

Making the World Safe for Fascism: Free Speech and the Worship of Civil Liberties

Americans are raised to hold some things sacred. God, motherhood, the flag, and free markets are among the icons our children genuflect before. As leftists we question or reject the sanctity of some or all of these institutions, in varying degrees according to our ideology and inclinations. And yet we have our own herd of sacred cattle at whose cloven feet we worship. Chief among these holy relics is the United States Constitution, most especially it’s first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights. In particular the first amendment, that includes the civil right to the exercise of free speech, is held sacrosanct.

In the coming paragraphs I will seek to dethrone this ideological demigod. My argument is not that the principle of free speech has no value, for it does. Nor will I take an unrealistic, anarchist-purist position that we should neglect the protection of these rights in the civil arena, in the court rooms or even the legislatures. Morality dictates that while the state exists, people need protection from the state by whatever means are possible and effective.

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