National Security

Protecting free speech means allowing dissenting opinions too

The marketplace of ideas fails when free speech is suppressed

Image Credit: Michelle Malkin

Freedom of speech is precious, and we must fight to protect and preserve our ability to practice it. I stand by conservative author, thinker, and activist Michelle Malkin and her outspoken criticism of what is being called Conservative Inc.

She recently spoke at the inaugural America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) and of course, is being bashed for not only speaking there, but defending some of the activists deemed inappropriate by “mainstream conservative activists and groups aka “conservative inc.”

But here’s the deal folks, the market of ideas doesn’t function properly if we don’t protect speech we disagree with. Can you imagine if I went around saying Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders shouldn’t be allowed to speak about his love for communists? Or better yet, that Mike Bloomberg shouldn’t be able to talk about his protection through the use of firearms because he’s rich and gets threats within a few seconds of pitching his proposal to implement stringent gun controls on us law abiding citizens, leading me to wonder why he thinks making criminals of law abiding citizens is a workable solution when he’s been apologizing for a stop and frisk policy that did just that all around the country?

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The point here is that I wouldn’t know about these people’s crazy ideas if their speech were suppressed. More importantly, I wouldn’t know I need to challenge these ideas with the one’s I believe are the best, or most appropriate, or more effective than their bad and crazy ones.

It’s always useful to use examples from history to make one’s point so here are two opposing examples that support the idea that protecting free speech is the only way for a free society to operate instead of suppressing speech and ideas we don’t like. It is idea suppression thinking that leads to the rise of authoritarians who seem to burst on the scene of civilization all at once like Adolf Hitler did in the first part of the 20th Century.

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I remember that his ideas were suppressed so much that he actually was sent to prison to stop them. But, the opposite effect is what happens, while ideas are suppressed from public discussion, they grow and gain support in the underground, whether they are good or bad ideas.

While I mention Hitler here as an example, the road to American independence can also be viewed through the same lens. In that case, the suppression of ideas resulted in a growth of them in the population out of sight of the oppressors, eventually leading to armed conflict over the ideas. There are many paths the founding of the United States could have taken but the British suppression of speech and other liberties like bearing arms, resulted in the suppressed ideas winning the day.

Of course, since I’m speaking out in support of MS Malkin, now I’m being attacked for advocating she not be attacked for supporting freedom of expression and the marketplace of ideas. I don’t care.

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Defending freedom is what I’ve dedicated my life to, and risked it more than  a few times fighting America’s enemies so Conservative Inc is only making Michelle’s point, and mine. Their “cancel” strategies only serve those who oppose freedom, not protect it.

The point? Suppression of freedom of speech keeps us from identifying ideas that can destroy our way of life until it’s too late to do anything about them, and if we support idea suppression, we deserve that destruction. Keep going Michelle, I firmly say, keep going.

The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of LifeZette.

meet the author

Rob Maness is a retired Air Force Colonel, a former wing and squadron commander, veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, a survivor of the 9/11 Pentagon Attack, Board Member of Military-Veterans Advocacy, The Second Amendment Institute, WGI Global. and Host of the Rob Maness Show on LifeZetteTV.

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