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Hard to believe that speech is free now


THIS is where all the mewling about “political correctness” ends up:

That “stupid little fucker” happens to be one of the most powerful people in the USA, whose speech is automatically granted a metaphorical megaphone as big as the Ritz by the fact that he’s a US senator (And also a realistic aspirant for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, which is why he’s so eager to have his fascistic rants cleaned up and published in The Paper of Record: see this excellent thread from Times veteran Virginia Heffernan on exactly how this brand of sausage gets made).

You would think the following is so obvious it wouldn’t have to be said, but here we are:

(1) Deciding what to publish on a a newspaper’s op-ed page has literally nothing to do with censorship. Censorship happens when the one entity in society that is granted a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence (the state) uses that monopoly to keep something from getting published.

(2) The editors of the Times’s op-ed page have to decide every day what views should be treated as sufficiently worthy of their editorial respect to get published on the nation’s most prominent forum of that type. You can call that “censorship” if you like, but it’s unavoidable by nature, and it’s also actually a good thing: an enormous number of views aren’t worthy of respect. When a newspaper publishes an op-ed, it endorses the view put forth in the op-ed to the extent that it by practically overt implication is telling its readers that the view ought to be treated as one worthy of respectful consideration.

(3) Fascism is not such a view. Donald Trump is a fascist, as are his enablers and aspiring successors, such as Tom Cotton. Voluntarily publishing fascist propaganda, which is what Cotton’s op-ed is — in a prettified, suitable for consumption by Thoughtful Centrists and Open-Minded Liberals form, see Heffernan’s thread on this linked above — is a bad thing to do, for reasons that are unnecessary to elaborate on, unless you’re a fascist or an idiot.

It’s no coincidence that Andrew Sullivan is trying to put criticism of the Times for publishing Cotton’s screed on his PC’s Greatest Hits album:

The idea that “liberalism,” in the classical sense of the word, somehow requires people not to criticize the editors of the nation’s most prominent op-ed page for choosing to publish fascist propaganda is the kind of deeply incoherent nonsense that the Kool Kidz of Intellectual Dark Web (remember that?) love to offer up to credulous morons who like to be think of themselves as open-minded, when what they actually are is fashy-curious.

. . . The basic problem here is that prestige journalism in this country can’t function if it accepts two propositions.

(1) Fascism shouldn’t be promoted.

(2) The Republican party is now functionally fascist.

If “don’t publish Richard Spencer” and “don’t publish Tom Cotton” are now as a practical matter identical propositions — and they are — then the Both Sides model breaks down completely. And that model shapes everything that prestige journalism does.

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