What He Said

The subheadline on Columbia Law’s School Maurice & Hilda Friedman Professor of Law Philip Hamburger’s Tuesday Wall Street Journal op-ed is spot on.

The First Amendment protects the right to hear alternative views, not merely to express them.

Hamburger went on:

People can’t develop their views with any sophistication unless they can consider opinions that enlarge, refine, moderate, or challenge their own. So, when government demands the suppression of some speech and chills even more, it reduces the diversity, value, and moderation of opinion—and thereby diminishes the opportunity for every individual to develop and express his own considered views. Censorship inhibits the output of critical voices, which lessens Americans’ intellectual input, which in turn limits their intellectual output. Reading and speaking are inextricably linked in conversation.

If we’re blocked from hearing another’s speech, however uncomfortable it might be to us, neither we nor the speaker have free speech.

Yet that’s the goal of the Biden administration: pressure speech outlets, especially social media platforms, to erase and to block future attempts to publish unpopular speech, speech the Biden administration personages cynically euphemize as “misinformation, disinformation, malinformation.” Never mind that those terms are defined by those same Leftist cronies in the administration.

Never mind, either, that the optimal response to misinformation, disinformation, malinformation—however defined—is with speech the hearer, or better, the listener—considers to better address the question than that objected-to speech. Simply suppressing objected-to speech isn’t mere laziness; it ranges from cowardice to naked power grabbing.

What Hamburger said, indeed.

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