Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.
For the past two weeks, Reason, a magazine dedicated to “Free Minds and Free Markets,” has been barred by an order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York from speaking publicly about a grand jury subpoena that court sent to Reason.com.
The subpoena demanded the records of six people who left hyperbolic comments at the website about the federal judge who oversaw the controversial conviction of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht. Shortly after the subpoena was issued, the government issued a gag order prohibiting Reason not only from discussing the matter but even acknowledging the existence of the subpoena or the gag order itself. As a wide variety of media outlets have noted, such actions on the part of the government are not only fundamentally misguided and misdirected, they have a tangible chilling effect on free expression by commenters and publications alike.
Yesterday, after preparing an extensive legal brief, Reason asked the US Attorney’s Office to join with it in asking that the gag order – now moot and clearly an unconstitutional prior restraint – be lifted. This morning, the US Attorney’s Office asked the Court to vacate the order, which it did. We are free to tell the story for the first time.
The concept of “micro-aggression” is just one of many tactics used to stifle differences of opinion by declaring some opinions to be “hate speech,” instead of debating those differences in a marketplace of ideas. To accuse people of aggression for not marching in lockstep with political correctness is to set the stage for justifying real aggression against them.
So now in Baltimore, which has the nation’s seventh-highest violent crime rate, the nonracial word “thugs” is banished as racist — even when spoken by a black mayor. Thus the degradation of the public discourse proceeds.
Meanwhile, Rawling-Blake’s forced walk-back was nothing compared to the self-mortification of Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, two gay hoteliers in New York who hosted a small reception for Senator Ted Cruz on April 20. The business partners, longtime backers of gay-rights causes, strongly disagree with Cruz on same-sex marriage, but share his views on foreign policy. They invited a dozen guests to meet the Republican presidential hopeful over dinner for a discussion of politics. Apparently they were under the impression that in America it is permissible, even admirable, for voters to talk to politicians, exchanging thoughts on a range of issues.
They know better now.