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For the past few years, the Right has been trying to work a new schtick about "Guess WE'RE the free speech defenders now, liberals!" -- and more people than I'd like to admit have bought into it.


Their rules have not always made sense. For instance, it is an expression of free speech to say something racist, but a violation of it to say that the person who said it is a racist. Because that's "silencing" them, and "silencing" someone is the very worst thing you can do. Richard Spencer should be able to speak at any college he likes, but all celebrities must shut up about politics forever (unless they are James Woods or Tim Allen or the Duck Dynasty people or Scott Baio or Ted Nugent or ...) -- as must all teenagers, when said teenagers disagree with them.

It is not enough, they said, to merely let the Nazis speak. It is not enough to not send them to jail. We must listen to them as well, we must hear them out. We must not block them when they pop into our social media yelling about "the Jews." Stop being afraid of controversial views! they cried, we must allow everything into the marketplace of ideas.

Oh, how they would cry and cry when Charles Murray got booed everywhere he went, by all those intolerant SJW liberals who didn't like the fact that he believed black people were not as smart as white people for some reason. The only way to preserve the right to free speech, they claimed, was to patiently listen to what bigots have to say. Otherwise you are 1984. Obviously.

Booing people you disagree with is bad and they would never do it. Unless, of course, that person was someone who was saying something bad about Donald Trump and Roy Moore.

This weekend, oddly enough, that person was loyal conservative Mona Charen. Charen was taking part in a panel called "#UsToo," which was supposed to be about how all the mean liberal feminists don't even care when conservative women are sexually harassed or assaulted. This is not a thing. Several of the women Roy Moore was a creep to were actually Republicans. One of them, I recall, said she voted for Trump. As one of those mean liberal feminists, here is a thing I wrote about how it was definitely not OK for Al Franken to have acted the way he did towards Leann Tweeden, also a conservative woman.

If any conservative women would like to talk this over with me, I would welcome that -- because I actually really don't ever want any woman to feel like no one would care if she were sexually harassed or assaulted. I would care, and so would any other liberal feminist I know.

That being said, Charen explained, in a New York Times op-ed, that she didn't actually feel like talking about liberal hypocrisy on Sunday, or about liberal women not having their backs, she felt like talking about conservative hypocrisy and feeling like conservative men don't have their backs.

But this time, and particularly in front of this crowd, it felt far more urgent to point out the hypocrisy of our side. How can conservative women hope to have any credibility on the subject of sexual harassment or relations between the sexes when they excuse the behavior of President Trump? And how can we participate in any conversation about sexual ethics when the Republican president and the Republican Party backed a man credibly accused of child molestation for the United States Senate?

I watched my fellow panelists’ eyes widen. And then the booing began.

Charen was booed aggressively, by people who very likely would have considered it a horrible violation of the First Amendment if someone like Charles Murray or Milo Yiannopoulos were booed. By people attending a function where the far-right Marion Maréchal-Le Pen was speaking. As Charen points out...

Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen is a member of the National Front party, and far from distancing herself from her Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic and racist grandfather, she has offered him a more full-throated endorsement than her aunt has. “I am the political heir of Jean-Marie Le Pen,” Maréchal-Le Pen told the Washington Post last year. “He was a visionary. He was right about a lot of things.”

It is also worth noting that Actual Nazi Sebastian Gorka got a very warm response at CPAC.

Charen also had to be escorted off the premises by security guards, for her safety.

Clearly, this time, it was the Right who could not handle a controversial viewpoint. Had the Left behaved like this to a speaker who said the opposite, every pundit on the Right would have been screaming their head off about how the Left loves censorship.

This is important. For a long time now, many on the Right have tried to play both sides. They don't agree with the Nazis, they say, they don't agree with Alex Jones, they don't agree with the people who are out there saying all the really bad stuff -- but they love free speech so much, they are so comfortable with controversial statements, that they are willing to tolerate them. They were not, however, nearly as willing to politely listen to Charen's condemnation of Trump and Moore's behavior. This is because their goal is not "free speech for all!" or a lovely lesson in hearing out the views of those who disagree with you; their goal is to move the Overton Window to the Right. Even if they don't "agree" with the Nazis, they feel they can put them to good use. If conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism become more mainstream, their views are going to look far more moderate and reasonable by default.

The Right has never championed free speech, they have bastardized its meaning for their own purpose, and with this one incident, they have shown their true colors.

[New York Times]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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