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)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

What makes a story great? The storytellers behind House of CardsThis American LifeThe Moth, and more reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down