America’s two most important rights are free speech and the right to bear arms. Without the first, no people are free; and without the second, there is no first. Totalitarians always go after both; that is, they silence and disarm them. For decades, the left has been open in its war on the Second Amendment. They’ve struggled more with the war on speech, but they may finally have come up with a new approach that will sneak around constitutional muster.
When it comes to speech that incites violence or is otherwise imminently threatening, the law has always been clear: The threat must be very explicit and imminent for the speech to lose its First Amendment protections. At the most simplistic level, saying, “I wish so-and-so were dead” is not an actionable opinion. However, saying, “I’m going to kill so-and-so this week” or “You all need to kill so-and-so; I’ve got a plan” is criminally actionable speech. (The standard is more sensitive when speech is directed at the president, of course.)
This constitutional limitation on making (conservatives’) political speech criminally actionable has long vexed the left. They’ve trained their young acolytes that speech is violence (so much say that almost half of college students say “hate speech” should get the death penalty) but, so far, courts haven’t fallen for that gambit. Unless speech creates an imminent threat, it gets a pass.
Lately, though, the left has come up with a new concept that seeks to say that any speech that opposes leftist policies is actual and imminent “terrorism.” Or as leftist academia calls it, “stochastic terrorism.”