After Aiding Antifa, MSNBC Questions the ‘Pitfalls of Free Speech’

Over the course of last week, on NBC and MSNBC, host Chuck Todd gave a leg up to the violent Antifa movement by letting them defend their assaults on the police and innocent people not once, but twice. Todd’s interviews showed just how tolerant he was of those who use violence to shut down free speech. And while Todd was absent from MTP Daily on Monday, Katy Tur picked up his torch and proudly pushed back against the First Amendment’s acknowledgment of a person’s right to free speech.

And challenging the First Amendment,” Tur declared during the show’s opening tease. Should extremist groups have the right to rally? We'll delve into the power and pitfalls of free speech.

When Tur finally got around to targeting free speech rights later in the show, she began by bringing up the controversial rally in Boston, Massachusetts, and counter-protest that dwarfed it. “Over the weekend the debate over free speech raged on,” was how she described the events of Saturday, with no mention of the bystanders beaten or the police doused with bottles of urine by Antifa.

She defended the counter-protest claiming that they believed “the free speech event was a thinly veiled way to shield hate groups in the wake of the deadly crash in Charlottesville.

Tur then trained her sights on the liberal American Civil Liberties Union. “The ACLU helped the unite the right group obtain a protest permit in Charlottesville and says it will continue to consider requests from hate groups seeking legal help to protest,” she said.

Reading from a New York Times op-ed, Tur seemed to suggest that defending free speech was the wrong side of history. “A recent Op-Ed in The New York Times argues, quote: ‘Sometimes standing on the right side of history in defense of a cause you think is right is still just standing on the wrong side of history,’” she stated.

ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Lee Rowland joined Tur to defend her organization’s commitment to battle for free speech rights. After introducing Rowland, Tur immediately hit her with an even more ridiculous argument made by the NYT op-ed:

Lee, that New York Times Op-Ed also goes on to say: “Prioritizing the First Amendment rights could make the distribution of power in this country even more unequal and further silence the community's most burdened by histories of censorship.” Do you agree or disagree?

I can't say I agree because we've been through an entire century where we've seen the First Amendment play out,” Rowland responded. “And I'd like to think that the moral arc of the universe or the least our country is closer to justice than it was when we began decades ago.” She had to remind Tur that without the First Amendment, the progress made by the Civil Rights movement would not have happened.

Rowland explained that the beauty of the First Amendment and the goal of its advocates was “that all of us can speak truth to power no matter whether we're trying to change the status quo for better or worse in your eyes or my eyes, and still do that in a way that in the long run lifts up all voices.

It’s 2017, and NBC and MSNBC are sowing doubts and skepticism of free speech while lifting up those who look to silence and intimidate their opponents with brutal violence.

Tur's skepticism of the First Amendment was brought to you advertisers such as Nissan, Advil, and Office Depot. 

Transcript below:

MSNBC
MTP Daily
August 21, 2017
5:01:13 PM Easter [Tease]

KATY TUR: And challenging the First Amendment. Should extremist groups have the right to rally? We'll delve into the power and pitfalls of free speech. This is MTP Daily and it starts right now.

5:38:29 PM Eastern

TUR: Welcome back. Over the weekend the debate over free speech raged on. A conservative group called Boston Free Speech organized a rally in the city. Rally organizers say their event was not intended for white supremacists, neo-Nazis or the KKK, and while dozens turned out for that event, an estimated 40,000 counter-protestors swarmed Boston common and spilled out into the streets. The counter demonstrations believe the free speech event was a thinly veiled way to shield hate groups in the wake of the deadly crash in Charlottesville.

The ACLU helped the unite the right group obtain a protest permit in Charlottesville and says it will continue to consider requests from hate groups seeking legal help to protest. But now the group which fiercely defends everyone's right to free speech and the right to protest is saying they will no longer defend hate groups who want to protest with firearms.

But some critics on both the left and the right say it's time for the ACLU to rethink how they defend the First Amendment. A recent Op-Ed in The New York Times argues, quote, “sometimes standing on the right side of history in defense of a cause you think is right is still just standing on the wrong side of history.” Chuck Todd spoke with the author of that critique, K-Sue Park.

K-SUE PARK: Historically we haven't achieved a democracy that protects all speech equally and freely. Even if the First Amendment has been applied to lots of different groups in an attempt to provide equal representation.

TUR: Lee Rowland is a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech and Privacy and Technology Project and she joins now. Lee, that New York Times Op-Ed also goes on to say: “Prioritizing the First Amendment rights could make the distribution of power in this country even more unequal and further silence the community's most burdened by histories of censorship.” Do you agree or disagree?

LEE ROWLAND: Well, probably with that statement I can't say I agree because we've been through an entire century where we've seen the First Amendment play out. And I'd like to think that the moral arc of the universe or the least our country is closer to justice than it was when we began decades ago.

And we did that with a robust First Amendment, right, and nobody could say that the lines of the Civil Rights struggle didn't overcome the kind of power imbalance and structures of racism and oppression that people are pointing to today. So I actually, with all due respect to that critic and others, I think, frankly, it's asking the wrong question. I don’t think the First Amendment—

TUR (cutting Rowland off): What is the right question?

ROWLAND: The right question is what do First Amendment principles look like on the ground in our new factual reality? And I think that's something we'll have to grapple with and I think Charlottesville is an important turning point for those of us who do free speech work to think long and hard about whether or not we're going to represent groups who effectively seek to use the First Amendment, to wield it as a weapon of armed revolt. That's not what we're about at the ACLU. That's not what the First Amendment is about and it never has been.

So, the question now is: How do we effectuate these really fabulous principles, right? The principles that all of us can speak truth to power no matter whether we're trying to change the status quo for better or worse in your eyes or my eyes and still do that in a way that in the long run lifts up all voices.

And I know that I believe that defending armed groups who are hoping for a violent confrontation -- and by the way, that's regardless of whether they're white supremacists or not, but people hoping for a violent confrontation are not heroes of the First Amendment. And I do think there's a risk that if the ACLU starts representing people who are more and more heavily armed that it depresses free speech in the long run, right, because nobody wants to leave the house or go to a protest with their five-year-old and that's the world that they want to live in.

(…)

 

NBDaily Censorship Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Antifa Race Issues Racism MSNBC MTP Daily Video ACLU Katy Tur

Sponsored Links