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Rancor replaces reason as speech-stifling becomes game

Photo by: Casey Curry Bill Maher said on his show late Friday that even though Fox News host Laura Ingraham has been "a deliberately terrible person, saying horrible things," young gun safety advocates have to expect criticism if they are entering the public arena. He said they shouldn't target advertisers


Bill Maher, on his recent “Real Time” episode on HBO, ripped into leftists for cheering the social media booting of Alex Jones — something which even his liberal mind looked at as a chilling path toward tyranny and clamped free speech.

Democrats would do well to pay attention.

Today’s Alex Jones is tomorrow’s Louis Farrakhan is the next day’s — Bill Maher. In other words: What goes around, comes around.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist,” wrote Protestant pastor Martin Niemoller, who spent seven years in a Nazi concentration camp before his death in 1984.

“Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist,” he went on.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

That’s the left, on free speech right now.

“I’m going to talk about free speech for a minute because Alex Jones, who is not my friend, who tells crazy lies about me, is thrown off Twitter, I think, and Facebook and a few other platforms,” Breitbart reportedMaher as saying, to the clapping of his audience.

And then this: “Well, if you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech. That’s free speech for the speech you hate. That’s what free speech means.”

Bingo. The First Amendment — which prohibits Congress from making laws that stifle the freedom of speech — was intended as a protection on citizens’ rights to criticize their government and express their opposition views, even if those views are taken as offensive. Inoffensive speech doesn’t need protection, after all. And it’s that spirit that’s guided America since founding, both in the Constitution and courts and, minus some limits, in private markets and sectors.

We’re losing that spirit, though. Rancor has replaced reason. Clamping conservative speech has become the Democrats’ favorite game; chilling independent thinking has become the left’s mode of politicking.

“We’re losing the threat of the concepts that are important to this country,” Maher said. “Either you care about the real American shit or you don’t. And if you do, it goes for every side. I don’t like Alex Jones, but Alex Jones gets to speak. Everybody gets to speak.”

Everybody. Exactly.

Because memo to the left — one day, as Niemoller found, there will be nobody left to speak for you.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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