Short Take: Constitutional Tourists

In a scathing review of Adam Carolla’s documentary, “No Safe Spaces,” Anthony Fisher coins the phrase “free speech tourists.”

A true commitment to free speech requires defending the right to express the most vile, transgressive, and unpopular ideas. And the truest demonstration of that commitment is to hold one’s own political tribe to account when it fails to walk the walk on the principle.

You won’t find such introspection in “No Safe Spaces,” a new documentary that exemplifies the growing “free-speech tourism” on the right.

There’s irony buried in this hypocrisy. Free speech was once in the exclusive possession of liberals, a cause célèbre at Berkeley, where a movement was born to secure the right to say whatever one chose to say. It’s now a tenet of white supremacy on the radical left, as it turns out that some people say things that offend. This isn’t exactly news, although it informs Corolla’s propaganda.

While the movie provides solid cases against the logical fallacies made by left-wing activists, it fails to address free-speech violations on the political right and takes the safest route possible by preaching to the choir.

This is tribalism, where pointing out the faults of the other tribe, while ignoring the faults of one’s own tribe, has become a daily ritual, replete with canned arguments about who started it, who’s worse and why the same fallacious contention in your tribe’s hands is true, while it’s outrageously false when wielded by the other tribe. This, too, isn’t exactly news.

But there is a difference, and one that distinguishes Fisher’s criticism of this clearly tourista “documentary” from what it could, and should, have been.

“No Safe Spaces” is indicative of a frustrating trend in an era where the freedom of speech is regularly under attack from both sides. Instead of soberly addressing threats to free speech, the movie relies on some dubious “free-speech warriors” who often don’t practice what they preach.

Fisher goes on to explain how the “protagonists” in the film, Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin and PragerU’s Candace Owens, are run-of-the-mill hypocrites, complaining of campus progressives while threatening defamation suits against their own challengers. It’s not only fair criticism, but entirely correct. And as the cherry on top, he notes how “alt-right friendly comic Owen Benjamin” was adored until he went anti-Israel and was “de-platformed” for his heresy.

Basically, the complaints are entirely legitimate, but entirely one-sided and hypocritical. These aren’t “free speech warriors,” but self-serving warriors who love their own free speech but not anyone else’s. In other words, “free speech tourists.”

While Fisher’s critique is sound, it misses one point that strikes me as critical. The right, the conservative folks for whom this documentary was created, were never the tribe who stood for the Constitution. They weren’t marching in Berkeley. They didn’t defend the Nazis in Skokie. They were never the side of free speech. They were never the side of the Constitution. They never claimed to hold the constitutional high ground.

So now they’re hypocrites because they discovered the First Amendment when it served their interests? When were they not? The same is true for the Second Amendment, dear to a great many conservatives who had little use for the Fourth, Fifth, etc. But to be fair, they were always constitutional tourists, willing to care only when it served their interests, and otherwise pretty much hating everything about constitutional rights.

The left, on the other hand, claimed the constitutional high ground. It went to war over it at Berkeley, in Skokie, in a thousand other battles, protests and causes. While the right only used the Constitution when it was good for them, the left owned it, and was willing to suffer the indignity of supporting the right of Nazis to march to not be hypocrites, to prove their fight was principled.

Anthony Fisher’s criticism of the documentary as “free speech tourism” is absolutely correct, but the right was always just passing through. That the left vacated the premises, on the other hand, has left the Constitution unoccupied by either tribe. It’s just a few of us old-time liberals who are squatting there, and it won’t be long until we’re put on a sled and left in the woods.

17 thoughts on “Short Take: Constitutional Tourists

  1. Richard Kopf

    SHG,

    I love the last sentence of this post, particularly the part that ends with “it won’t be long until we’re put on a sled and left in the woods.” In your case it would be the Gator without gas, but no matter.

    Your point, evocatively made, remains. Old-timey liberals like yourself are not only passe but are increasingly left for dead.

    All the best.

    RGK

    Reply
  2. Bear

    Does a bear sled in the woods?

    Doesn’t matter. I’ll be there too, growling “The constitution matters!” until the end.

    Reply
  3. John Barleycorn

    Inquiring minds need to know where you came up with “put on a sled and left in the woods”?

    Is this sentiment sort of like the impulse gap between synapses before your first cup of cofee or more like the diffusion of a neurotransmitter after your first of coffee?

    I will give you one thing though… it is a very unique phrase. Congratulations, I knew you still had it in you to come up with a few gems in 2020.

    You are off to a good start, will this be a chapter in the book?

    Reply
      1. John Barleycorn

        Nice and clean too…

        null

        I will send you the screen cap before it get defiled by the tourists from the “camps”…

        I will have to check my notes but this may indeed be your first original 2020 “solo google thought result”…

        Keep the pace and you may be going places this year…. 😉 But don’t you worry the woods are fun even if you cant keep up…

        Reply
    1. Patrick Maupin

      The phrase is an interesting synthesis. Very forward looking. How is senicide handled after global warming melts the permafrost and forests spring up in the far north?

      Reply
      1. Jim Tyre

        “Free speech tourism” is confusingly similar to “libel tourism”. The latter means something else entirely, which I imagine SHG knows.

        Reply
  4. Hunting Guy

    Robin Sacredfire.

    “Bubble: A safe space where people that don’t like to be confronted with the consequences of their actions live. Often known as the perfect environment for those that are too immature to assume responsibility for their lack of realistic perception, and instead focus their energy in maintaining an image of perfection to the outside world, while hiding their real thoughts, quite usually very sadistic and selfish. Bubbles can easily blast when a small portion of truth or justified anger hits one, so people that live inside a bubble are particularly sensitive to those that tell them things they can’t comprehend, even, and in particular, when such things are correlated with their immoral social behavior. And as people that live inside a bubble need the bubble as much as they fear the outside world, they often blend unrelated words with their own nonsense to keep the danger of having a bubble exploded far from sight. This includes being an hypocrite when calling one ungrateful, offending someone while calling such individual aggressive, and using negative depreciation with arguments that fit their agenda of keeping themselves within ignorance while bringing others further to that paradox. People that live in the bubble believe anything they hear but always assume that their beliefs are independent, as the bubble stops them from seeing further and admitting something they can’t see or accept. Therefore, until the moment in which everyone will be happy to have a microchip attached to their brain and google glasses stopping them from seeing the world as it is, the bubble will be known as a transitory stage, between an unempathetic dumbness and being a brainless humanoid vegetal on two legs.”

    Reply
    1. B. McLeod

      Recently, I had a dream in which I visited Hell. It was in a giant bubble and all the people there were miserable. Later in the dream, I stopped by Heaven. It was also in a bubble, but the people there weren’t farting

      Reply
  5. Keith Kaplan

    The left, on the other hand, claimed the constitutional high ground. It went to war over it at Berkeley, in Skokie, in a thousand other battles, protests and causes.

    The story’s in the past, with nothin’ to recall;
    I’ve got my life to live, and I don’t need you at all.
    The rollercoaster ride we took is nearly at an end;
    I bought my ticket with my tears; that’s all I’m gonna spend.

    Reply
  6. Ken Mackenzie

    Mark Knopfler got there first in “Industrial Disease”:

    I went down to Speakers’ Corner,
    I was thunderstruck,
    They’ve got free speech tourists,
    Police in trucks.

    Reply

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