Free Markets, Free People

The face of creeping totalitarianism

Someone named Tanya Cohen penned a paragraph that, if you understand the difference between a right and a privilege, will make you cringe in horror:

One of the most admirable things about Europe is that most (if not all) of the right-wing rhetoric that you hear in the US is explicitly against the law there.  For example, attempting to link Islam with terrorism, saying that gay marriage isn’t really marriage, or saying that trans women aren’t really women would get you charged with discrimination and/or incitement to hatred.  Numerous European public figures have been charged with hate crimes for implying that large-scale immigration is connected to higher crime.  In fact, a politician in Sweden was prosecuted for hate crimes for posting statistics about immigrant crime on Facebook.  Assaults on the human dignity of Muslims are simply not tolerated in Europe, and Europe cracks down hard on any attempts to incite hatred against Muslims.  In a notable example, a woman in Austria was convicted of a hate crime for suggesting that the Islamic Prophet Muhammed was a pedophile.  Recently, a man in Sweden was charged with incitement to ethnic hatred for wearing a T-shirt saying “Islam is the devil.”  Nobody in Europe believes that these laws interfere with their sacred, guaranteed right to freedom of speech.  Rather, these laws protect freedom of speech by ensuring that it is used responsibly and for the purposes of good.

There are so many awful things about this paragraph it is hard to know where to start.  First, however, a right is something you have to ask no one’s permission to exercise.  It would be fairly synonymous with “freedom”.  So when you say “freedom of speech” it is something you exercise without permission.

A privilege, however, is something which is granted by some authority which defines what is or isn’t acceptable.  It is something which can be withdrawn, basically by whim. What she lauds Europe for is “privilege of speech”, and she just happens to agree the speech they’re punishing is “hateful”.  You have to wonder if she’d feel the same way if her opinions were labeled as hate speech (and frankly, to any freedom loving person, it is hate speech).

That’s the other thing about what she notes here – every one of her cites involves someone’s opinion.  What she celebrates isn’t freedom but conformity of opinion decided by some authority. Her.  And she’s fine with using the coercive power of the state to punish opinion which she and those in authority decide constitutes “hate”.  Remember Hayek’s definition of freedom?  “Freedom is the absence of coercion.”

“Freedom of speech” as a right means that while we may “abhor what someone says”, we will “defend unto death their right to say it”.   Her interpretation of “freedom of speech” is we may “abhor what someone says” and we reserve the right to “punish them for it” if it conflicts with “proper thought” on the subject.  How screwed up is that?

I can’t imagine a more dangerous idea than what this woman is presenting.  It is the germ seed of totalitarianism.  It is what has infested our institutions of higher learning thanks to leftist infiltration.  These aren’t “progressive” ideas she’s presenting.  They are as old as slavery. They are as old as dictatorship.  Cohen then goes on to attempt the redefinition of “repressive”:

Consider the case of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.  In a civilized country with basic human rights, Phil Robertson would have been taken before a government Human Rights Tribunal or Human Rights Commission and given a fine or prison sentence for the hateful and bigoted comments that he made about LGBT people.  In the US, however, he was given no legal punishment, even though his comments easily had the potential to incite acts of violence against LGBT people, who already face widespread violence in the deeply homophobic American society – and his comments probably DID incite acts of violence against LGBT people.

Most countries have freedom of speech, but only in the US is “freedom of speech” so restrictive and repressive.  Not only is the US the only country without any laws against hateful or offensive speech, but it’s also the only country where the government cannot ban any movies, books, or video games, no matter how dangerous, demeaning to human dignity, or harmful to society they may be.

So, says Cohen, “civilized” countries have restrictive speech codes that define what is or isn’t acceptable speech and jail those who violate them.  A country in which you have the right to state your opinion without censure or fear of punishment is “restrictive and repressive”.  Black is white, up is down.

Apparently what she doesn’t understand about our “freedom of speech” is it is specifically identified as a ban against government doing precisely what she wants.  It bans government from abridging free speech.  It protects everyone from government interference and oppression.  She calls specifically for government to be the instrument of punishment of speech she doesn’t like.  Given her freedom hating rhetoric, we can then assume that “civilized” can be interpreted to mean “totalitarian.”

She then makes an absolutely incorrect assertion:

In Europe and Australia and the rest of the civilized world, the ultra-libertarian, free speech absolutist position is that not all offensive speech should be illegal, but that incitement to hatred should always be illegal.

No, Ms. Cohen, that is absolutely incorrect.  Wrong.  No.

Libertarians agree that incitement to violence isn’t a part of your right to free speech.  Because, you see, libertarians believe you are free to exercise your rights as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. It is that difference that separates the free from you. Incitement to violence against another is indeed a violation of the right to free speech.  Other than that, a person gets to say what they want – it is the price of freedom, a price you are unwilling to pay.  Your path is the road to serfdom.  Stating your own beliefs without the fear of censure or punishment, as long as you don’t try to incite violence by doing so, even though others vehemently disagree with you, is freedom of speech.  There are plenty of ways for society to punish what it considers to be hate speech – just ask Westboro Baptist Church.  That’s how a free country takes out its trash.


Before moving to the US to work with human rights organizations here, I grew up in Australia, which is a much more civilized and progressive country than the comparatively backwards United States, with a much deeper respect for basic human rights.

Condescending and wrong.

Qantas is ready when your are, Ms. Cohen.



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48 Responses to The face of creeping totalitarianism

  • Tanya has the apparent maturity of a thirteen-year-old. Fascist.

    I wonder who is paying her for her “human rights” work?

    • Used to be that kind of funding came from the Kremlin.

      Now it’s probably some lefty organization like Media Matters.

    • This article i so ridiculous, I thought it was sarcasm and she was actually a conservative troll.

      • Yeah, the left is now so disconnected from reality that they’re almost parody-proof.

        For example, offhand I can’t think of anything I might sarcastically suggest a fringe feminist might say about men. For anything I can come up with, no matter how outrageous, there’s probably some leftie feminist who would agree in all sincerity.

  • The funny part is the Australia is, relatively speaking, much more homogeneous in racial makeup than is the US and, by definition, less diverse.

    So now she’s in the US where ‘progressives’, like her, have argued for much more ‘diversity.’

    And what’s the first thing she does when faced with ‘diversity’ of opinion? Stifle that diversity.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    The question I have for her is this:

    “Does this stuff occur to you naturally or do you have to really think about it?”

  • Glenn Reynolds: If you only stand up for speech you approve of, you’re a hack. If you only stand up for speech that everyone approves of, you’re a coward.

    Europe and Ms. Cohen are the definition of cowards!

  • So….
    If I disagree that something is not what she says it is and I say that out loud, that’s pretty much automatically incitement to violence?
    For example, if I say there seems to be a connection between belief in Islam and people who kill others for drawing pictures of the Prophet Mohammed, rather than stating a repeatedly demonstrated fact, I’m inciting violence, I’m practicing hate speech?
    If you point out actual facts, or statistics, you’re practicing hate, you’re inciting violence?

    Check, got it.

    I really enjoy how we automatically make the hyperspace jump from “i disagree with x” to ‘kill people who believe x!”
    Because you know I could never say I disagree with something without resorting to violence or inciting others to commit violence.

    She kinda fell short on the Swedish politician who posted statistics on immigrant crime though.
    She should have lamented that the people who gathered the statistics weren’t punished for gathering hateful statistics too.
    I mean, go big, if we’re going to go full 1984 don’t stop at 11:00 PM on New Years eve 1983.


    oh dear….
    I suppose we’re inciting hatred against Tanyale right now then aren’t we.

  • Exhibit # 1,467,667,869 in why civil war/violence with these people is going to be inevitable within the next 25 years

  • Tanya who? Is she someone we should know about? A person of influence?

    Agree with all the sentiments expressed above – but do we really need to get ginned up about what some self-professed betters says in an idiotic column? If she mattered (somewhere other than her own sphere of fellow-travelers) – well that’s a different story.

    No objections to outing her as a moron, but sometimes folks like this are best left in the shadows. Efforts are better spent (opening Pandora’s box now…) making the case in the court of public opinion.

    • I think the point is she expresses what much of the left (and certainly leftist academia) believes. And you stomp that everytime you see it.

    • As much influence as anyone else who posts on Daily KOS and has their own blogspot.
      Which gives her equal influence to QandO, for good or ill.
      Needless to say her screed on using violence to squash speech she doesn’t approve of has gained her a wider notoriety.
      She doesn’t view state squashing of bad speech as ‘violent’ of course, she thinks the enforcement bodies will send smiley face notes requesting you pay fines or present yourself for happy-time time-out in an incarceration facility run by gentle fuzzy bunnies.
      Actually I’m confident she’s all for violent enforcement on people she thinks are racists anyway.

      We must admit however, she’s very brave, being against hate speech and verbal injustice and all.
      As Tom Lehrer observed – it takes a really brave person to get up in front of a coffee house or college auditorium full of people and come out in
      favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against, like peace and justice and brotherhood and so.

  • The spreading of misinformation, including climate change denial, denial of war crimes and genocides (especially Holocaust denial), conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine propaganda, and general nonsense.

    Anti-feminist, anti-multicultural, anti-immigration, and/or anti-equality ideology.
    Insulting, disrespectful, and/or offensive speech in general and speech that violates the dignity of people. This would include, for example, jokes about tragedies along with insults and derogatory/disrespectful comments about any person, group, place, or thing.
    Speech that disparages the memory of deceased persons.

    Speech that voices approval of oppressive, anti-freedom, anti-democratic, and/or totalitarian ideologies. This would include, for example, speech that opposes a woman’s right to have an abortion and speech that approves of Israeli apartheid in Palestine.

    Speech that opposes any human rights. This would mean that anyone saying that hate speech shouldn’t be against the law would be prosecuted, since hate speech is universally recognized as an injustice and a human rights violation. It would also include propaganda for war, which is illegal under international human rights law.

    Speech that incites, instructs, assists, condones, celebrates, justifies, glorifies, advocates, or threatens violence and/or law-breaking and speech that undermines the rule of law. This would include, for example, the advocacy of gun ownership (which would be classified as incitement to violence in any civilized country). In a civilized society, advocating violence is no different than actually committing the violence yourself. Only in the US is inciting violence and murder – even inciting violence and murder against minorities – considered to be “free speech”.

    OK, this is so extreme as to suggest an Onion kinda spoof. Otherwise, we can say with certainty this young lady is certifiably nuts.

    • There was a discussion on Techdirt about her – to the point where they concluded she had created a perfect satire.

      That continued to be the case until –
      a person who was actually interfacing with her assured them she was quite serious and documented everything she suggested had already been suggested and in some cases created by various officials and people of influence.

      • Speech that undermines the authority of the state and/or interferes with the state’s ability to properly function and do its job. This would also include speech that undermines the authority of the United Nations and/or international law.

        This isn’t “creeping totalitarianism”. This is galloping.

        Anybody…of any political stripe…with a shred of Jeffersonian humanity in them will recognize this and fight it with whatever violence is needed.

        She’d have jailed Gandhi and M. L. King.

        • It’s always fun when you can convince yourself you would be the the hero in any story from any age, freeing the slaves and serfs, uplifting the poor and ignorant, bringing the full force of your 20th century (21st century) wisdom to the dark past to create enlightenment and justice and goodness (and fuzzy bunnies and cuddly kitties).

          One must never consider that on average a person would have gone along with the majority opinions of the time that we find abhorrent today.

          • I know, right? This poor lil’ pixie demonstrates some seriously bad wiring. This is inversion on an Erpian scale.

            She keeps referring to “our nation” and “our Constitution”. When did that happen, and who allowed any such infection into the body politic?

        • Just IMAGINE what she would have done with Adams, Jefferson, Madison…

  • I’m not a free speech absolutist myself, but what she’s describing is not a step-down from free speech absolutism, it’s placing restrictions on *describing* something as you think it is, and calling it “hate speech” if you try. That is indeed what is done in Europe and in Europe you do not dare describe what is being done to your culture *by* government policies. Such *descriptions* are off limits. These are the tendencies of Communist regimes and they are advocated by Communists. And Communists are always adherents of the Party Line. And while this is not yet the way American society conducts itself, it is the way American universities conduct themselves and have for quite some time. So you have a large emerging population of young people who have been trained in exactly these habits, where they still restrict themselves with the constraints of political correctness, but who will eventually wonder out loud why “we are still allowed to say these sorts of things in America.”

  • It seems serfdom is the natural human state and some people can’t wait to get back there and they are identifying pillars of self-governance that have been put in place to prevent that degression and want to take them out.

    I would bet that people defended the “Serfdom” when it was under threat from change and you could probably interchange the thousand year old rationalizations that Serfdom is a net-win to be preserved with the current defense of big government with big regulations.

    Its like Dale said in a podcast some weeks back. Some people love authority.

    • Serfdom was a respectable condition compared to what is coming down this pike. There’s an account in Edvard Radzinsky’s biography “Stalin” about how families living together in communal apartments in Moscow would cringe as they heard a neighbor being dragged off in the middle of the night. On line the next morning for the communal bathroom they would avoid the eyes of the family members left behind, and in a few days the rest of the family would also disappear, to be replaced soon by a new family, sometimes before the tea kettle had gone cold.

      This year students are removed from college classes for “upsetting” others by merely debating a narrative that they don’t agree with. Maybe soon Starbucks employees will be let go for resisting having a conversation about race with customers, a mark will be put in their “jacket,” and other doors will close.

    • That would be, regrettably, because sheepdom is the average human tendency.
      I think most, rather than just some, people love authority, they sub consciously believe it relieves them from the burden of thinking too hard.

  • I wonder how Ms Cohen squares the fact that the more people are prosecuted for these “hate speech” crimes (such as her glorious Sweden examples), the more the parties that represent this speech gain in power? All over flucking Europe the story is the same. Hate speech laws shutdown public and political discussion of what people feel in their gut so the obvious conclusion is that there is in fact something to be concerned about. It seems to be only the cossetted city intellectuals who never come across a neighbor or friend who voices some sort of concern that would technically be hate speech.

    • Or that when you repress ideas and the people who hold them, you exponentially increase the certainty that they will be squirting out in ways much less convivial to “the social order” than debate in the public square. Because they WILL be coming out.

    • I wonder if growing up in an Islamic country and questioning the teachings of Islam is hateful or offensive speech.

      Course we don’t need Tanya to enforce protections against that, we have all the other enlightened modern representatives of officialdom pitching other less enlightened people off roofs, stoning them, beheading them or hanging them from cranes in the public square so she wouldn’t have to deal with that tiring chore.

      I wonder if it get confusing sorting out what to believe and what’s okay to say in which country according to what’s currently in vogue among the intelligentsia.

      • Well, see this is the rub with any of these Collectivist notions. You GOTTA have a “Ministry Of Truth” to separate the sheep from the chaff. You are just GONNA run up against thorny questions like, “Does Islam ‘objectify’ wimmins?” You need some sumbitch to sort that and make a fatwa. You can’t leave that open to the “marketplace of ideas” because you can’t have that kind of freedom goin’ on ou-ed dar. You gotta nip that.

        …in the bud.

  • George Orwell, call your office! Mr. Orwell, Ms. Cohen on line six!

  • I wonder if this (slang female, genital anatomy) has ever considered charging those shrill, batsh*t, Islamics who carry signs about beheading those who insult her favorite primitive (to say the least) religious establishment?

    • That’s a “bourgeois” concern. She’s a Marxist and does Party line. There’s no Party line that covers Islamist hate speech. In fact, there is probably a Party line that states flatly that Islamists are not capable of hate speech because they are an oppressed powerless people. See: Blacks can’t be racists.

      • She’s right out of pst-modern playbook>

        Explaining Postmodernism

        Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault

        Stephen R. C. Hicks

        What Postmodernism Is

        The postmodern vanguard

        By most accounts we have entered a new intellectual age. We are postmodern now. Leading intellectuals tell us that modernism has died, and that a revolutionary era is upon us—an era liberated from the oppressive strictures of the past, but at the same time disquieted by its expectations for the future. Even postmodernism’s oppo- nents, surveying the intellectual scene and not liking what they see, acknowledge a new cutting edge. In the intellectual world, there has been a changing of the guard.
        The names of the postmodern vanguard are now familiar:

        Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, and Richard Rorty. They are its leading strategists. They set the direction of the movement and provide it with its most potent tools. The vanguard is aided by other familiar and often infamous names: Stanley Fish and Frank Lentricchia in literary and legal criticism, Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin in feminist legal criticism, Jacques Lacan in psychology, Robert Venturi and Andreas Huyssen in architectural criticism, and Luce Irigaray in the criticism
        of science.

        Members of this elite group set the direction and tone for the postmodern intellectual world.

        Michel Foucault has identified the major targets: ‚All my analyses are against the idea of universal necessities in human existence.‛1 Such necessities must be swept aside as baggage from the past: ‚It is meaningless to speak in the name of—or against— Reason, Truth, or Knowledge.‛2

        Richard Rorty has elaborated on that theme, explaining that that is not to say that postmodernism is true or that it offers knowledge. Such assertions would be self-contradictory, so post- modernists must use language ‚ironically.‛

        The difficulty faced by a philosopher who, like myself, is sympathetic to this suggestion *e.g., Foucault’s+—one who thinks of himself as auxiliary to the poet rather than to the physicist—is to avoid hinting that this suggestion gets something right, that my sort of philosophy corresponds to the way things really are. For this talk of correspondence brings back just the idea my sort of philosopher wants to get rid of, the idea that the world or the self has an intrinsic nature.3

        If there is no world or self to understand and get right on their terms, then what is the purpose of thought or action? Having deconstructed reason, truth, and the idea of the correspondence of thought to reality, and then set them aside—‚reason,‛ writes Foucault, ‚is the ultimate language of madness‛4—there is nothing to guide or constrain our thoughts and feelings. So we can do or say whatever we feel like.
        That last line is TELLING!!

        • Must be nice.

          Mongol hordes in v-neck sweaters eh?
          We shall do as we like and groove upon the rubble.

  • For juicy ironic deliciousness we can look today to the Swedish foreign minister getting completely bogged down in unintentional hate speech. The leftist government has been making a complete pig’s ear of relations with Saudi Arabia, cancelling defense contracts over their treatment of women. This to satisfy domestic political forces. Very lucrative contracts, many Swedish jobs involved. Now she is being accused of criticizing Islam as she described the “medieval punishments” in Saudi Arabia, which is translated as a criticism of Sharia law and by extension Islam. The silly bint does not seem to realize the there is no separation of religion, law and state in this case. An enormous amount of backpedaling is going on. But this is a direct consequence of the internal contradictions of hate speech regulations, by standing up for women (admittedly to fulfill a domestic agenda in this case) she insults Islam. So to score points with their base at home the government has jeopardized jobs, put diplomatic relations with the Arabs in the toilet and now risks confronting Islam itself. Spectacular!

    • I have read reports that Swedish blonde wimmins are coloring their hair in hopes it will make them less desirable targets for Islamic rapists.

      Of course, accord to Ms. Tanya, saying anything about that…at all…would be hate speech.

      • Might happen in schools in a few immigrant suburbs where you’ve got like 10% ethnic Swedes. But the fashion among 99% of young ladies is still to bleach their hair… there aren’t *that* many crazed rapists running around yet.

      • Ah, you guys keep using facts!
        allow me to attempt to wander down the twisted path of justifying repression of free speech as a means of saving free speech.

        Lest readers be confused This ain’t me, it’s me trying to be them 🙂


        Gathering those statistics is hateful, and they can only be intended for hate use.

        There are things which we must not allow uniformed people to discuss, and providing hate information under the pretense of collecting data and accumulating facts can be an act of hatred.
        In fact this data is frequently intended to promote repression of cultures, religions and races that may be highlighted in a non positive way by any such facts or statistics when they are reviewed by observers who are unaware of the need to ensure that such information, which might potentially lead to violence, be gathered, viewed and released only in relation to comprehending the ways in which the practitioners of repression and hatred have caused or forced certain cultures, religions or races to act in ways that reflect poorly on them when viewed by the uninformed public in general.
        Most often repressed peoples are merely striking out against their repression which tends to increase their infractions against the so called social norms and makes them more likely to have higher negative incident rates that show up as statistical spikes when matched against the behaviors of the un-repressed general populations.

        Okay, that’s enough…

        What do you think, passing grade at Cohen College?

        • Disturbingly good. (Of course, that’s a value judgment, so I repudiate myself. Actually, it was two. Damn.)

        • Uniformed people?

          no!!!!! uninformed.

          The uniformed people will be the ones we send around to arrest the uninformed hate speechers citing facts and statistics!

  • Afghan woman practices hate speech, burns Koran in Kabul Afghanistan.

    Forces in favor of preventing hate speech against Islam lynch, beat her to death, set fire to her body and dumped it on the banks of the Kabul river.
    Thank God the government authorities who would prevent hate crimes showed up to put out the fire out on the burning body.

    Yep, she really should not have provoked people who are against Islamic hate speech.

    It’s probably hate speech for me to bring this up, because it will do doubt encourage many of you to go out and do something violent to Afghanis or random people who practice response.
    Also probably spelling Koran K-O-R-A-N instead of Quran or Qu’ran.

    BTW – NBC news said she ‘allegedly’ burned the Quarn, but didn’t bother to say the crowd allegedly beat her to death and allegedly set fire to her body.
    It would appear that the necessity of using the word ‘allegedly’ doesn’t really apply here at all, but that’s just me.
    I gather they’re trying to absolve her of any crime by claiming it is merely an allegation.
    All that without considering that it was probably a fairly random crown of individuals that reacted to her actions, and perhaps wondering if we should encourage Afghan refugees to come settle in America where they can practice Islam without fear of hatred.

    See, this is all just more hateful facts. It would be better if the news just didn’t talk about this at all. Because it will encourage Islamophobia and violence.

  • I’m pretty confident it’s a parody. Everything on the “thought catalog” site looks like a parody to me.

  • btw it is always liberal jews that are pushing for this. Hitler was right.