On balance, who have been the greatest beneficiaries of freedom of speech and thought in history? The patriarchy or women? Heterosexism or homosexuals? Monarchies or democrats? Religion or scientists? Are we still where we were before the enlightenment? Or are we freer and more rational today? Did our ability to speak freely play any part in this? Historically, who have been the greatest advocates of limits on speech? Monarchists and authoritarians? Religious leaders? Or liberals and democrats? How about progressives? Was civil rights advanced by limiting or by expanding the liberty of people to speak?
Belief in God is associated with violence. Who doesn’t know this? Should we censor those who quote scripture? Of course not. Despite the fact that Islam motivated men to fly planes into buildings and commit mass murder in a gay bar and many other atrocities across the world, I have never argued for censoring the speech of Muslims. My work has always been to criticize Islam and condemn violence associated with it. But I require freedom of expression to do this.
Imagine a world in which you were not allowed to criticize Islam. You know you don’t have to imagine such a world. There are plenty of real world examples where those who criticize Islam are canceled, even executed. You wouldn’t want to live in those countries. People are literally dying to get out of those countries.
When the Church tried to stop speech claiming that the sun not the earth sat at the throne of our solar system, did they do so by claiming that a handful of people might be motivated to commit violence on this claim? It was a possibility. Some people might be very angry to learn that the Church had been lying to them about something as important as the actual structure of the solar system. Imagine a mob in the Vatican. Or was the Church really concerned that people might actually consider whether the claim that the earth not the sun sat on the throne was false and knowing this would delegitimize the Doctrine. Obviously it was the latter. This is why the Church suppressed the message of heliocentric and punished the messenger.
All this presumes that the speech in question is connected with the violence the speech is alleged to have inspired or provoked. I put the matter that way because I want to steel-man my argument for free speech. In the case of the more violent passages in popular religious texts, I am obviously a strong proponent for the free speech right. However, peaceably assembling to ask Congress for a redress of grievances, along with free speech and a free press, a right explicitly protected by the US Bill of Rights, is not a provocation to commit violence. It is not an incitement to riot. Proximate violence is not the fault of the assembly but of the fault of those individuals and only those individuals.
What Democrats are doing is entirely contrary to the foundational values of the American Republic. Their censorious desires is more than offensive to the American Creed. It a threat to our liberty and our democracy. Listen to the rhetoric of progressives across the country. The spirit of authoritarian has possessed them.