Among the most distressing distempers on the liberal side of the American public policy debate is the mushrooming pressure to repeal the First Amendment and put officials in charge of censoring political speech. How things have changed. Liberals like former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once were the stoutest defenders of the right of every American to speak his mind.
When the right was misused for speech on behalf of abhorrent ideas like racism and fascism, Brandeis famously said "if there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." Proponents of this approach stretch back to James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and forward to Floyd Abrams and Mitch McConnell.
|There's a rising generation of liberal activists who have absolutely no qualms about depriving people with whom they disagree of their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.|
But contemporary liberals like Michael Yaki and Ian Inaba aren’t interested in patiently advocating to educate, they demand the very silence Brandeis so eloquently rejected. Neither Yaki nor Inaba are household names, but they are indicative of the rising generation of liberal activists who have absolutely no qualms about depriving people with whom they disagree of their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
Yaki, as noted recently by UCLA Law Professor and Washington Post blogger Eugene Volokh, is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a former senior adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi when she was speaker of the House. Before that, he was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Yaki favors speech codes on campus because “it has to do with science. More and more, the vast majority, in fact — I think — overall in bodies of science is that young people, not just K through 12 but also between the ages of 16 to 20, 21, is where the brain is still in a stage of development.” That argument would be familiar to antebellum slave masters, who justified human bondage for those they viewed as less civilized, or, as Yaki might put it, in a lower “stage of development.”
Inaba is executive director of the Citizen Engagement Laboratory, a liberal foundation backing the Forecast the Facts project. Following the Los Angeles Times decision to ban letters to the editor from climate change “deniers,” Inaba’s group began lobbying other major media outlets to follow suit. Forecast the Facts doesn’t bother on its web site to provide the names of its officer or staff, but the Foundation Search database shows a $50,000 grant from the Avatar Alliance Foundation to the Inaba group’s education fund for the media lobbying project. A second grant of $10,000 was given to the education fund by the Susie Tompkins Buell Foundation to support the project.
Forecast the Facts describes itself as “a grassroots human rights organization dedicated to ensuring that Americans hear the truth about climate change.” The reality is that Forecast the Facts only wants Americans to hear its approved version. Perhaps the group thinks most Americans are like Yaki's college students, not sufficiently developed mentally to think for themselves.