In the digital age I guess we’re not ever going to live through the sort of tragedy we just saw in South Carolina without seeing it turned into a justification for more laws and restrictions by the sort of people who think every problem can be solved by more laws and restrictions.
Usually, and certainly in this instance, mass shootings inspire demands for more gun control. But 2016 hopeful Hillary Clinton has a unique spin. She actually seems to think that we could curb mass shootings by controlling speech.
“We have to have a candid national conversation about race and about discrimination, prejudice, hatred,” Clinton said in an interview with KNPB’s Jon Ralston. “But unfortunately the public discourse is sometimes hotter and more negative than it should be, which can, in my opinion, trigger people who are less than stable.”
“For example,” the former secretary of state added, “a recent entry into the Republican presidential campaign said some very inflammatory things about Mexicans. Everybody should stand up and say that’s not acceptable. You don’t talk like that on talk radio. You don’t talk like that on the kind of political campaigns.”
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump told the audience. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
This isn’t the first time the Clinton’s have pushed this canard. Way back in 2010, amid the tea party protests around the country, I interviewed former Clinton advisor Dick Morris who recalled the way his bosses used the Oklahoma City bombing against their critics in the 1990’s. Democrats were trying a similar tactic in 2010, and now here we have Hillary Clinton trotting it out again in 2015.
What they’re proposing is a sort of heckler’s veto. Say something provocative, say something controversial, and you could potentially be triggering some violent act.
Which sounds like a good way demolish the 1st amendment to me.
But let’s suppose that Hillary Clinton is right, that America’s commitment to expansive and generally unlimited discourse and expression, is somehow contributing to violence in our society. Let’s suppose that relatively unfettered free speech is triggering mass shooters or other incidents of violence or property damage or whatever.
Is that enough of a reason to diminish our first amendment rights?
That seems to be what Clinton is suggesting, and whether or not she’d be willing to go so far as to implement that sort of suggestion as policy, it’s a little scary that someone who is an election day away from being the leader of the free world would be thinking that way.