When Does Disapproval Become Coercion?

More

by Chris Bodenner

In a sharp and nuanced post, Wendy Kaminer warns liberals who both condemn Cordoba critics and want Dr. Laura off the air:

[L]inguistic bans enforced by social disapprobation are not legal bans that violate First Amendment rights, and Schlessinger's critics have their own rights to shame or boycott her and other speakers they disdain.  But they have no right not to be offended, and if she should be wary of encouraging bigotry, so should her liberal critics, as the furor over the lower Manhattan mosque has shown.

Muslims have a legal right to build their mosque near Ground Zero, opponents are apt to acknowledge, but, like Dr. Laura, they are excoriated for exercising their rights offensively.  "Our position is about sensitivity," the ADL explains, stressing that its opposition to the mosque has been "deeply misunderstood" and expressing pain at being accused of bigotry.  But by elevating sensitivity over liberty, the ADL promotes bigotry (perhaps unintentionally but not forgiveably.)  The ADL also promotes what John Stuart Mill famously decried as the "despotism of custom."  Sensitivity policing by private citizens is protected by the First Amendment but undermines its foundational commitment to freedom of speech and religion.  It is sophistry, or self-delusion, to claim that sensitivity-based opposition to a Muslim community center and mosque is consistent with support for the fundamental right to build it.

Jump to comments

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?

How to avoid working through lunch, and diseases related to social isolation.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down