From the Red Hen to Maxine Walters’ remarks at a “Keep Families Together” rally Saturday to the streets of Berkeley, Calif., the left and its allies in the media are laying the groundwork to justify the behavior of their most excitable activists.
As for the Red Hen, the Lexington, Va., restaurant that expelled Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her party on Friday night, the owner not only came back to the restaurant to throw her out, she followed most of the party as it went to another restaurant and harassed them there.
“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” she told the Washington Post after the incident. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”
Waters urged the crowd of DC-area activists, “If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. You push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
She tried to lead a chant of “no sleep, no peace” and told the crowd “We’re going to win this battle because while you try and quote the Bible, Jeff Sessions and others, you really don’t know the Bible. God is on our side.”
At Berkeley, they are building an argument that the First Amendment does not apply to speech that causes emotional harm to those who hear it, or if it’s too expensive.
In a story in the New Yorker, writer Andrew Marantz sketches the case that free speech should and does have to compete with other rights. In Brown v. Board of Education, Marantz quotes John Powell, a Berkeley law professor with joint appointments in the departments of African-American Studies and Ethnic Studies, as saying, “They finally found that segregation was inherently harmful. And what was the harm? The Court was very explicit: It’s psychological harm. This means that there is precedent for weighing psychological injury as a real concern.”
He later quoted Powell saying, “There are any number of areas – gay rights, animal rights, housing – where legal reformers have set out to change the law. If our speech laws looked more like Canada’s, would that be the end of democracy as we know it?”
In fact, it would. Canada’s “Human Rights Commission” has harassed right-leaning journalists for years, including Mark Steyn and his sidekick Ezra Levant, whom Steyn says had to use all his savings to fight a complaint from the province of Alberta’s human rights commission.
Marantz then quoted another professor, cultural theorist Judith Butler, speaking before the Berkeley Academic Senate: “If free speech does take precedence over every other constitutional principle and every other community principle, then perhaps we should no longer claim to be weighing or balancing competing principles or values. We should perhaps frankly admit that we have agreed in advance to have our community sundered, racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied, that we are, in effect, willing to be wrecked by this principle of free speech.”
Free speech came at a steep price at the University of California, which, he wrote, “had done everything within its legal power to let [Milo] Yiannopoulos speak without allowing him to hijack Berkeley’s campus. It was a qualified success that came at a steep price in marred campus morale and in dollars – nearly $3 million, all told.”
He closed with a quote from political philosopher and professor Wendy Brown: “These aren’t easy problems. But I don’t think it’s beyond us to say, on the one hand, that everyone has a right to express their views, and, on the other hand, that a political provocateur may not use a university campus as his personal playground, especially if it bankrupts the university. At some point, when some enormous amount of money has been spent, it has to be possible to say, “OK. Enough.”