The narrow-minded, anti-democratic left speaks
John Greenfield, the transportation writer for the Reader, exults that Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass is taking the buyout offer from the new owners because, among other reasons, it leaves Chicago with “no conservative newspaper columnist.”
Earlier today, I wrote that it’s not a good thing to shut out one side of the political debate, as I likewise noted that Kass’ departure leaves no conservative columnist at the Tribune or the Sun-Times. Greenfield disagrees, writing, “Mission accomplished: John Kass has been deplatformed. Yes, it’s part of the tragic gutting of the Tribune. But Kass’s departure is still good news.”
In it he says,
Perhaps the best thing about Kass leaving the Tribune is that Chicago currently has no conservative newspaper columnist. That will help shift our city’s political conversation to the left. That is, closer to what’s considered mainstream in just about any other wealthy nation.
Holy shit, where to start?
Maybe we should begin with the irony about how a newspaper writer whose livelihood and opinions are protected by the idea of free speech should rejoice that another newspaper writer has been “deplatformed” because of his views.
Or we could go back in history to find a comparison in the whacko commie hunter, the late Wisconsin Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy. Or recall the Hollywood Blacklists that–shall we say?–“deplatformed” scriptwriters and others in the entertainment industries because of their suspected far-left and “unpatriotic” sympathies.
Then there’s the idea that only writers who reflect the “mainstream” should have a platform. Opinions outside of the “mainstream”–i.e. the accepted wisdom or popular view–should be marginalized. Assign them to the attic, out of sight with the crazy uncle.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
― George Orwell
Greenfield’s reason for deplatforming Kass is because his views are so wrong, insulting, uniformed, dangerous. As in Kass’ “dangerous” pandering to the “tinfoil-hat crowd” when he wrote his observations about the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol. As Greenfield saw it:
But Kass crossed a new line of harmful absurdity on May 11 when he tweeted, “I condemned Trump for Jan 6. I don’t believe the election was stolen. Trump’s election lawyers made fools of themselves. But I’ve always entertained the possibility that it may have been rigged.”
For that, Greenfield argued that Kass’ sin was giving “oxygen to [Donald Trump’s] election-theft fiction.” As if “entertaining the possibility” of a stolen election is reason enough to be deplatformed. I don’t think it was stolen, but I’m willing in a democracy to allow those who believe it was stolen to be allowed to make their case instead of getting summarily removed from the public square.
“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
― Louis Brandeis
Greenfield also lists Kass’ other offenses, among them the ridiculous and untrue (but nonetheless repeated) charge that his criticism of billionaire George Soro’s support of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was evidence of Kass’ anti-Semitism.
Somehow, defending my liberal values of free speech, liberty, and rights of the individual has become a conservative position.
Like Kass, I’m a conservative, but I’m not here to argue about the merits of Kass’ views. I’m trying to argue that a variety of views is essential to self- government, Whether you agree with them or not, they are legitimate issues of public policy. That I would disagree with Greenfield doesn’t mean that I want him to be fired–as he once demanded of Kass.
“My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.” ― Christopher Hitchens
If Greenfield was alone in his absurdity, he could be ignored. But a response is required because he is a symptom of the left’s autocratic impulses to silence–through ridicule, social media censorship or other methods–differing views.
That makes them not just illiberal but also dangerous.To subscribe to the Barbershop and be notified when I post, type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.