Tuesday, February 21, 2006

BIG BROTHER CONSERVATIVES. As we have seen, many conservatives made a show at least of free-speech solidarity in the Danish cartoon case. Other prominent right-wingers, however, noticed that the uproar has left freedom of speech lying defenseless by the side of the road, and could not refrain from putting in the boot.

We have previously examined the case of General Ralph "Blood 'n' Guts" Peters, who denounced the cartoonists as Europeans and arty-farties. Now we have the loathsome Maggie Gallagher, who adds, quite unnecessarily, to her cartoon column this hint of what sort of democracy she feels America ought to be encouraging in Iraq:
Frustrated and appalled legislators in five states are seeking to ban protests at funerals. Sounds reasonable to me. I don't think such a law would be inconsistent with democratic freedom, any more than I believe the First Amendment really does require us to permit flag burning.

And so too I can imagine with much disturbance that (say) a democratic Iraq could choose to ban depictions of Muhammad. It is perfectly possible to protect sacred symbols or sacred moments in ways that do not violate core principles of free speech necessary to robust, democratic life.
The wording's a little tricky -- how much "disturbance" do you think she'd put up with? -- but given that she smooths her path with flags and funerals, I assume that the readiness she expresses at the top of the column "to sign onto the First Amendment absolutist brigade" is merely the prologue to a conversion narrative.

To this Hugh Hewitt adds, "The freedom to publish anything doesn't mean we ought to," his "we" in this case seeming to mean whatever War Emergency Board he dreams of heading up when Bush gets serious about the War on Em Ess Em.

We'll see how they run now that David Irving has been found guilty by an Austrian court of fraud for his Holocaust-denying crap. Already Roger L. Simon is doing the "normally I'm a free speech extremist, but..." thing with the same suspender-snapping sanctimony that usually accompanies his "I left the left or the left left me" schtick.

This could be fun, in a grim kind of way. As the philosophical basis of conservatism is increasingly revealed to be a mere cover for Republican looting of the Treasury, and the "movement" sprouts the kind of millenarian fringe-groups that presages a crack-up, it may be that the authoritarians in the bunch feel they might as well say what's really on their minds and see how the rabble react.

(edited for clarity, believe it or not)

UPDATE. Commenter RobW points out that Irving was nailed for denying the Holocaust, not fraud. Apologies for the slop. Meanwhile an anti-Danish-cartoon guy cites the Irving verdict as a good model for legal protection against blasphemous funnies. Guess when this all shakes out, we'll all end up on the appropriate sides.

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