Whether it comes from the right or the left, viewpoint discrimination is poison to democracy. And these days, it is coming from both sides.
It is positively Orwellian — each side hopes it can exorcize words and phrases from the lexicon and thereby purge unwanted perspectives from our collective thoughts. Each seeks to cancel the other while claiming the mantle of the First Amendment as a sword to vanquish the opposition and shield their own position from disembowelment.
The political right denounces the left for indoctrinating our communities, particularly children, with woke ideas that burden them with guilt and confusion. They craft curriculum and ban books to reflect a sanitized view of reality. Not to be outdone, the political left reproaches the right for engaging in orthodoxy by rejecting all but traditional views of history and religion. To emphasize their point, they engage in protests and shouting matches in an attempt to drown out ideas they have determined to be abhorrent.
In fact, the First Amendment offers both sides the weapons and armor they seek. The First Amendment is the single strongest protection we have against controlled thought and speech; it principally protects the development and exchange of information, opinions, and beliefs through an open marketplace of ideas. An open marketplace of ideas, as its name suggests, is a place where all concepts, philosophies, and hypotheses compete and coordinate to finally arrive at a product…Read More
Lynn Greenky. is a Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University, where she taught a beloved undergraduate course about the First Amendment for 10 years. She continues to write and speak about the First Amendment and is the author of When Freedom Speaks.