Fair-weather freespeechers

First amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams takes to task partisans who only support freedom of expression for opinions they don’t find offensive:

Liberals vigilantly seek to protect the rights of adults to receive not-quite-obscene materials on the Internet, but seem all but indifferent to UN-sponsored efforts to ban the supposed “defamation” of Islam. Conservatives care deeply about such efforts to stifle speech, but offer little if any protection to American students when they mouth off outside of their schools.

Via Legal Blog Watch. Abrams raises the example of Accuracy in Media, which stridently opposes the reintroduction of the “fairness doctrine” (as does Abrams) – but used to flood the FCC with complaints about TV reports it deemed insufficiently balanced.
Damian P.

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3 thoughts on “Fair-weather freespeechers

  1. As a “freespeecher” of the centrist variety who agrees that partisans are hypocrites when it comes to free speech I think this cuts both ways. You could hear crickets chirping on the right regarding bans at various university campuses of “Israeli Apartheid” posters.

  2. I don’t know enough about AIM to know if their position was hypocritical, or not, but the facts laid out don’t necessarily support the charge.
    Despite its name, the so-called fairness doctrine was primarily used to shut conservatives out of political discourse. The recourse conservatives had was to insist that the doctrine cuts both ways and demand an opportunity to air their views.
    Being both opposed to the fairness doctrine and playing by the rules in demanding my viewpoint be heard are not incompatible positions. Likewise, I’m opposed to taxpayer susidization of home loans, but I deduct the interest I pay on my mortgage every year.
    You play the hand you’re dealt, not the hand you wish you had.

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