Was there a time when being published in The New Yorker meant you were a better, smarter, more capable writer than, say, a liberal blogger?
I dimly remember such a time.
But in reading Kalefa Sanneh’s “The Hell You Say” – an apologia for gutting the First Amendment and letting government decide how much freedom of speech we really need, because that’s the way Europe does it.
It’s a target-rich environment of bad research and lazy writing, a bit of journalism of entitlement that would fit in on Minnesota Progressive Project.
Yep. That bad.
I picked one bit – in which Sanneh argues that unregulated speech as we know it really only started in the past 100 years due to – wait for it – white privilege:
This, in essence, was Justice Holmes’s rationale, in 1919, when he argued in an influential dissent that antiwar anarchists should be free to agitate. “Nobody can suppose that the surreptitious publishing of a silly leaflet by an unknown man, without more, would present any immediate danger,” he wrote. Free-speech advocates typically claim that the value of unfettered expression outweighs any harm it might cause, offering assurances that any such harm will be minimal. But what makes them so sure? America’s free-speech regime is shot through with exceptions, including civil (and, in some states, criminal) laws against libel.
Right. But defamation requires both untruth and actual, tangible, real damages. It’s intentionally hard to win a defamation / libel case. For good reason.
By what rationale do we insist that groups—races, communities of faith—don’t deserve similar protection?
Races? Who would file the petition?
Communities of faith? Boy, are us Christians going to go to town when we lawyer up.
Many free-speech arguments turn on a deceptively simple question: what is speech? It’s clear that the protected category excludes all sorts of statements. (The First Amendment will be of no use to someone who writes a fraudulent contract, or who says, “Hand over your wallet and iPhone,” and means it.)
And in not knowing the difference between Speech and Robbery,Sanneh has not only forever destroyed The New Yorker as a source of useful journalism, but ousted Grace Kelly from her throne as the least cogniscent writer in the world.
The howlers come with a density that I’ve only rarely encountered, much less tackled.
Indeed, so insidiously bad is the piece that Greg Lukianoff mobilized ten free speech advocates to tackle and beat Saleh’s piece unconscious.
Read Sanneh to see the id of today’s left in action.
Read Lukianoff to see it dismembered.
There’s your assignment for the day.