Carol Platt Liebau: Agents of State Authority

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Agents of State Authority

Daniel Henninger asks whether Hillary Clinton, on the floor of the US Senate, would defend Rush Limbaugh's right to speak:

When Sen. Reid attacked Mr. Limbaugh on the floor of the Senate, some felt that Mr. Limbaugh was a big boy and perfectly capable of defending himself. I'm not so sure. If Mr. Limbaugh and his critics at Media Matters want to have a street fight, that's their business. But Sens. Reid and Salazar aren't just a couple of opinionated guys; they are agents of state authority, and they were leaning hard on Mr. Limbaugh. If you are Media Matters, if you are a man or woman of the Left, does state pressure on someone's political speech discomfort you? Or is it a welcome, even defensible, repression of harmful right-wing speech?

I fear it's the latter -- and that this kind of repression is much more likely to come from the left than from the right. That distinction has its genesis in the distinction between liberal and conservative views of the government's proper role. In a conservative's view, government should be limited, and should be focused less on facilitating "the good" (whatever one's view of that is) than in preventing bad behavior that gets in the way of others realizing their God-given potential.

In contrast, the left espouses a much more interventionist state that does more than essentially deter wrongdoing. In the left's view, the state is an engine of justice, a vehicle for righting wrongs, and a voice for those defined as "underdogs" in some way or another.

That's why the left is happy to try to find ways to silence right wing radio, but cavils at warrantless wiretapping of terrorists -- while on the right, using state power to go after terrorists is A-OK, but regulating the internet (the left wing analogue to talk radio) has never gotten any political traction.


Blogger The Very Sane Woman Who Points Out the Obvious said...

It's not the business of the senate to denounce or praise Rush Limbaugh for what he says.

Now I agree with most folks, what Limbaugh said about the troops was horribly offensive. But why, out of all the horribly offensive things that this man has said, pick this one thing?

Likewise, the senate should be excoriated for their anti-American denouncement of Moveon and the ad that they ran in the New York Times. That was an indefensable slander on Moveon and the first amendment.

4:04 PM  

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