Canadian Conservative politician Andrew Scheer picked up on this strange phenomenon back in April, saying that that the corporate media framing free speech as a “right wing value” was just plain weird. As though to drive home the point, Twitch’s Zachary Ryan called Musk a right-winger on Monday. And over the weekend, entrepreneur Samir Tabar had a question for a whiny Robert Reich:
Stop using Musk as your punching bag. Twitter was full of people who had opinions before Musk was around. What you label as ‘misinformation” are just views you don’t like. Deal with it. Since when is free speech a right wing value?
— Samir Tabar (@SamirTabar) December 11, 2022
Answer: since, well, now.
The evolution of this trend is not new. It was less than three years ago that the American Civil Liberties Union — which for decades was committed to an absolutist vision of free speech — signaled that it was no longer interested in defending the speech of those who don’t share the organization’s values.
Former ACLU head Ira Glasser has been vocal in opposing this shift not just at his old place of employment but among the left at large. As Spiked reported back in February 2020 (emphasis added), “This idea, Glasser laments, is alien to a lot of young people today, who see the ‘First Amendment as an antagonist to social justice’. Indeed, on US campuses ‘progressives’ constantly agitate for right-wing speakers, from Charles Murray to Ben Shapiro, to be banned or forcibly shut them down. ‘Hate speech is not free speech’ is a common refrain.”
That last sentence is key.
The ACLU, which in 1978 famously defended arguably the worst hate speech there is — Nazi speech — is now following the left-wing trend of labeling things it doesn’t like, and even Musk’s dedication to free speech, as promoting hate speech.