America's finest columnist says "meh" to your precious "free speech"
Jonah Goldberg has some thoughts about Snyder v. Phelps, the Supreme Court case that determined that Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church has the right to protest outside funerals. The case was fairly open and shut — only Samuel Alito dissented, and his dissent was not that impressive — and nearly every columnist and newspaper editorial board in the nation agrees that Phelps has the right to share his objectionable speech without facing civil punishment. Jonah Goldberg thinks different, though. Sort of. Kind of.
I think the decision is a travesty. But, alas, after reading it, I also find it perfectly defensible, probably even correct.
Right. OK, well, column over. A bit short this week, but that does seem to sum it up nice—wait, I’m sorry, there’s another 650 words? But… why?
Goldberg goes on to quote various editorials about how the case is painful but correct and blah blah blah. Jonah Goldberg has no time for your pointy-headed liberal values that he says he agrees with!
These are fine expressions of general constitutional values shared by most of us. But they’re absolutely useless for figuring out how to treat speech in the real world.
Goldberg notes that many states restrict demonstrations at funerals, and no one complains, because we all agree that some speech is so bad and wrong that restricting it is OK, which is actually not really a thing that everyone agrees with. Goldberg calls Samuel Alito’s dissent “compelling,” in order to try to convince us that he read it, or read anything about the case instead of just seeing something about it on the TV, while he was waiting for “NCIS: Los Angeles” to come on. And some offensive speech is “worthwhile” and some offensive speech is “reprehensible” and it is obviously totally easy to figure out which is which because America is “serious” and it is, as always with Goldberg, a simple, stupid point, obtusely made.
This is my favorite part:
Stephen Wermiel, a professor at American University, warns, “If you start defining and banning offensive speech because someone doesn’t like it, it’s hard to draw the line, and one day you wake up and find you don’t have much protected speech.”
That’s the entire paragraph. “Meh.”
Jonah Goldberg is “a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.”
More Related Stories
- Is the Environmental Defense Fund ruining environmentalism?
- Top 5 investigative videos of the week: "Winning" Afghanistan
- Jester clowns Westboro Baptist Church
- GOP: Party of crybabies
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11