Originally posted at Independent Political Report (IPR)
No visitor retains the right to post on IPR. The owner can manage the site as he pleases. But there is no reason IPR cannot attempt to replicate the free and fair society that its owner, contributors, and followers envision.
IPR currently faces a crisis of conscience. Two years ago, it took the unlibertarian step of banning one good faith commenter. Now, some on the site are calling for the ban of another good faith commenter. This reaction is a symptom of a much larger disease affecting the entire United States. Rather than forgiving unfortunate comments and disputing ideas on the highest levels of Graham’s hierarchy of disagreement, some opt to silence voices completely; the IPR equivalent of a ban. In argument, these tactics do not win. As Thomas Dewey expressed in a 1948 GOP presidential debate, pushing disputed views underground only allows those views to fester unchallenged.
When it comes to free speech, America is on the wrong track . Though it faced this direction for decades, it accelerated just in the past few weeks. Recently, two contestants from the popular reality series Big Brother lost their real life jobs after making racist and homophobic jokes on air. Similarly, the Food Network fired popular celebrity chef Paula Deen after she revealed under oath that she used the word “nigger” in the 1970s. The companies that fired these individuals had every right to do so as private entities. But these firings were a consequence of external pressure.
Likely a result of media brainwashing, in the United States today, it is worse to make a racist or homophobic comment than to promote violence or even commit actual crimes. It figures the law will soon catch up with this sentiment. One can easily foresee the U.S. government outlawing speech that incites “racial hatred,” as the U.K did in 1986.
I submit that IPR take a stand for free speech. As a symbolic gesture, allow all good faith commenters to discuss their views openly, no matter how racist, homophobic, or wrong they may be. This requires:
The reinstatement of good faith commenter Robert Milnes – though his election strategy may be completely wrong, he did not always discuss the strategy, and when he did, readers had no duty to respond.
Though these steps may be but a soft wind against a diesel locomotive, at least our collective conscience will be clear, and we can celebrate IPR as one of the last stops for free speech.
I am a contributor to IPR and wrote the above as an appeal to other contributors, the owner, and readers.