Richard Nixon chose little-known Maryland governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate for his 1968 presidential bid. Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey lampooned Agnew in this “Laughter” ad, created by Tony Schwartz, best known for the infamous “Daisy Girl” commercial for Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
I think most observers would agree that over the past 20 years or so, we’ve been witnessing a paradox when it comes to free speech. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever before to express oneself, especially in a public way (thank you, internet).
[Read the full text at Reason.com]
On the other hand there is a huge attack on all sorts of speech that can in any way, shape, or form be deemed offensive. From trigger warnings to microaggressions and everything in between, all speech is suspect these days.
In popular culture, there are outliers such as South Park, Family Guy, and Tosh.O, where the envelope of taste and propriety is not so much pushed as shredded completely. Just in terms of comedy, does anyone think Inside Amy Schumer or Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s “Beloved Aunt” episode would have seen the light of day when Janet Reno, the Clinton administration, and all of Congress was voting overwhelmingly for the Communications Decency Act?
That terrible law would have regulated the emergent web like a broadcast network in the name of protecting kids from sexual material. It only was gutted after the Supreme Court struck it down in 1997. Christ, back in the 1990s, Bill Bennett and Joe Lieberman were giving our “Silver Sewer Awards” to Rupert Murdoch and the Fox Network for airing Married…With Childrenand The Simpsons, and The Weekly Standard was making “The Case for Censorship“!
Which makes it more important not simply to show solidarity with the dead and wounded in France but to rehearse the arguments for unfettered trade in ideas and speech. A good place to start is the reissue of Jonathan Rauch’s more-important-than-ever book Kindly Inquisitors. Originally released in 1994, the Cato Institute republished as 20th anniversary edition and Reason.com published a new foreword by Rauch.
And yet for all our expressive freedom, there’s a huge pushback against speaking freely, especially on college campuses and in many news platforms. Chris Rock doesn’t play colleges anymore because audiences are buzzkills:
I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative…. Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.
You.GovAs unimpeachable a progressive satirist as Stephen Colbert was targeted with a #CancelColbert campaign while mocking Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s devotion to his team’s nickname and mascot image. Lefty comic and actor Patton Oswalt no longer reads Salon because
…they write articles “Did The Onion Go Too Far?” or “ Is Patton Oswalt Supporting Rape? ” They already know the answer, but they know by feigning ignorance they can create all this debate about it. It upsets me because I used to really, and still do sometimes, love the articles Salon writes. They used to have Heather Havrilesky and Glenn Greenwald, and now they have become Fox News with all this look-y look-y shit. It hurts progressives. It’s very personal but the fact is that that they want comedians to think twice, three times, four times about any kind of comedy.
A YouGov poll taken just last fall found that equal amounts of Americans support and oppose “hate speech laws,” defined as laws that would “make it a crime for people to make comments that advocate genocide or hatred against an identifiable group based on such things as their race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.”
[Order Jonathan Rauch‘s more-important-than-ever book “Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought“, Expanded Edition]
Thirty-six percent said sure and 38 percent said no way. That’s disturbing enough on its own, but here’s something even more unsettling: Fully 51 percent of self-identified Democrats supported hate-speech laws.
That’s not good. Read the rest of this entry »
Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics
(Crown Forum, 387 pp., $28) [note-I am currently reading this book, and will post my own review sometime soon–the Butcher]
A new collection explains why Charles Krauthammer turned right at the crossroads
Stefan Kanfer writes: TGIF has assumed a new meaning for Charles Krauthammer’s ever-growing legion of fans. Every Friday, with the regularity of a metronome, his column appears in the op-ed section of the Washington Post. It is immediately discussed and analyzed, sent to friends via e-mail and fax, snipped out and attached with refrigerator magnets, and widely quoted in the media.
A famously liberal newspaper would seem an unlikely home for conservative opinion. But the Post has its whimsical side, and so does Krauthammer. Tracking the course of his career, for example, he recalls the question of a wide-eyed reporter: “How do I get to be a nationally syndicated columnist?” The reply: “First go to medical school.” In fact, that’s how the commentator did start on his epic journey. What he neglected to mention, however, were the detours encountered en route to the Post and Fox News.
Educated at McGill University and Oxford, the young Canadian entered Harvard Medical School in 1970. His first year at Harvard had barely begun when he was severely injured in a diving accident. The spinal damage was irreparable; he would never walk again. For a lesser soul this would have meant, at best, years of rehabilitation and a change of profession. But Krauthammer was fiercely ambitious and academically brilliant. Confined to his bed for 14 months, he stayed the course and graduated with his class. After that came a residency in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a move to Washington, D. C. In the early 1980s, while engaged in medical research, he began writing speeches for Vice President Walter Mondale and contributing essays to the New Republic and Time. At that point, Time was at its most schizophrenic. In one issue, readers would find Strobe Talbott writing “How Israel Is Like Iraq.” In another, Krauthammer would object to “the conscious deployment of a double standard directed at the Jewish state and at no other state in the world.”
How could America not love a song called “Click With Dick”?
Emma Green writes: The pep was palpable. As scenes from the 1960 presidential campaign flashed by during a screening of JFK hosted in partnership with The Atlantic, the addictive, saccharine soundtrack was mesmerizing. Political jingles cheerfully urged listeners to vote for Kennedy, then Johnson, then Nixon—men, each song manically assured, who could lead America. It felt like a rogue a cappella group had taken the auditorium hostage.
For some reason, today’s campaign songs don’t quite capture this quality—Springsteen and Kid Rock lack that special perkiness. To revive a little of our republic’s former campaigning joy, The Atlantic has dutifully assembled a sample of the political earworms unleashed on the unwitting American public in 1960.
That year’s master of the campaign song was, of course, John F. Kennedy. His famous friendship with Frank Sinatra helped him secure “High Hopes,” a 1959 hit that was tweaked a little to fit Kennedy’s campaign.
An excerpt from Charles Krauthammer’s new book, Things That Matter
Moving from Left to Right
Charles Krauthammer writes: I’m often asked: “How do you go from Walter Mondale to Fox News?” To which the short answer is: “I was young once.” The long answer begins by noting that this is hardly a novel passage. The path is well trodden, most famously by Ronald Reagan, himself once a New Deal Democrat, and more recently by a generation of neoconservatives, led by Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. Every story has its idiosyncrasies. These are mine.
I’d been a lifelong Democrat, and in my youth a Great Society liberal. But I had always identified with the party’s Cold War liberals, uncompromising Truman-Kennedy anti-Communists led by the likes of Henry Jackson, Hubert Humphrey, and Pat Moynihan. Given my social-democratic political orientation, it was natural for me to work for Democrats, handing out leaflets for Henry Jackson in the 1976 Massachusetts Democratic primary (Jackson won; I handed out a lot of leaflets) and working for Mondale four years later. Read the rest of this entry »
From David Greenberg, Aug 25, 2008
…Unfortunately for Biden, more revelations of plagiarism followed.
…Over the next days, it emerged that Biden had lifted significant portions of speeches from Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. From Kennedy, he took four long sentences in one case and two memorable sentences in another. In one account, Biden said that Pat Caddell had inserted them in his speech without Bidens knowledge; in another account, the failure to credit RFK was chalked up to the hasty cutting and pasting that went into the speech. From Humphrey, the hot passage was a particularly affecting appeal for government to help the neediest.
Yet another uncited borrowing came from John F. Kennedy. If that wasnt bad enough, Biden admitted the next day that while in law school he had received an F for a course because he had plagiarized five pages from a published article in a term paper that he submitted. He admitted as well that he had falsely stated that British Labor official Denis Healey had given him the Kinnock tape. Healey had denied the claim. And Biden conceded that he had exaggerated in another matter by stating in a speech some years earlier that he had joined sit-ins to desegregate restaurants and movie theaters, and was thus actively involved in the civil rights movement. He protested, his press secretary clarified, “to desegregate one restaurant and one movie theater.” The latter two of these fibs were small potatoes by any reckoning, but in the context of other acts of dishonesty, they helped to form a bigger picture…
…Newsweek soon reported on a C-SPAN videotape from the previous April that showed Biden berating a heckler at a campaign stop. While lashing out at the audience member, Biden defended his academic credentials by inflating them, in a fashion that was notably unbecoming and petty for a presidential candidate…
“I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect”
Biden sniped at the voter.
“I went to law school on a full academic scholarship.”
That claim was false, as was another claim, made in the same rant, that he graduated in the top half of his law-school class. Biden wrongly stated, too, that he had earned three undergraduate degrees, when in fact he had earned one—a double major in history and political science. Another round of press inquiries followed, and Biden finally withdrew from the race on Sept. 23.
The sheer number and extent of Bidens fibs, distortions, and plagiarisms struck many observers at the time as worrisome, to say the least…