Eric Posner is an enemy of the First Amendment and an ally to barbarism.

by Sonny Bunch on September 25, 2012

Behold: the ultimate Slate pitch!

The World Doesn’t Love the First Amendment

The vile anti-Muslim video shows that the U.S. overvalues free speech

In a world linked by YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, countless videos attacking people’s religions, produced by provocateurs, rabble-rousers, and lunatics, will spread to every corner of the world, as fast as the Internet can blast them, and beyond the power of governments to stop them. Muslims need to grow a thick skin, the thinking goes, as believers in the West have done over the centuries. Perhaps they will even learn what it means to live in a free society, and adopt something like the First Amendment in their own countries.

But there is another possible response. This is that Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order. Our own history suggests that they might have a point.

To repeat myself: Eric Posner is an enemy of the First Amendment and an ally to barbarism. He should be named and shamed.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe September 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Holy crap. At 40 years old, I can’t honestly claim to be stunned and amazed anymore. I have seen notable things happen in my life (end of the USSR, fading of nuclear holocaust fears, election of a black president, the Saints winning a Superbowl). Never, ever, ever did I expect to see the left (or anyone) mount a serious campaign against the First Amendment. And given the high court’s recent record on individual rights, I am not confident there is a bulwark against it. Please, let this be another little liberal fad.


SkinsFanPG September 27, 2012 at 8:30 am

Why do all those clamoring to restrict speech fail to note why we have free speech in the first place: freedom of speech is the greatest single deterrent to tyranny. Restrict it and the state can do whatever it wants while nobody points it out. This is mind-boggling.


Gabriel September 27, 2012 at 11:35 am

Another thing to note about it is how he grounds his argument in bringing US law into conformity with prevailing international notions of law and justice. This is as good as an example as I’ve ever seen why conservatives get furious at the idea of using international law in our own case law and I’m surprised I haven’t seen more critics of Posner pick up on this angle.

(btw, here’s my own snark 1 and snark 2 on the Posner article).


Sonny Bunch September 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

That’s a very good point; someone should write that up.


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