The New York Times and “Free Speech”: a belated response.
Another word about the truly noxious Bret Stephens. I intended to publish this earlier, when it was still hot off the presses, but events intervened. Meanwhile The Nation has published an essay on Tom Cotton and the phony “free speech” issue, which I’m sure takes a slightly different way to reach the same conclusion. At least that’s what I’m guessing from its title, which is identical to my wording above — since I carefully have avoided reading The Nation piece. To proceed:
In football, there’s a play call that has the running back taking a hand-off from the quarterback while starting to move to his left behind a pulling guard–and then quickly reversing his field and darting to the right, behind a tackle and tight end who weigh 500 pounds between them, while the linebacker and safety who should be there have followed the fake and left their positions wide open.
This play is known as fake left, with the runner’s number, as “22 fake left.” It’s also a typical column by Bret Stephens, whose endless play-calling consists of castigating liberals for, oh dear, hypocrisy, not being truly liberal, presumably as contrasted with himself, who is holier than they. In this case the culprits are the reporters and staffers who rebelled against James Bennett for printing Tom Cotton’s incendiary op-ed, and forced his resignation. And not a moment too soon. Stephens loves that play. That ends up, of course, with him swerving to the Right, where lies his heart.
So then, just a reminder that there would have been absolutely no hypocrisy involved in rejecting Cotton’s column; just editorial judgment — or its lack, If I sent this blog post to the Times Op-Ed they’d probably reject that too. So what? That’s what editors are for. Without their work, the Op-Ed section every day would be hundreds of pages long. And even as it stands, it is very often open to expressions of a conservative viewpoint. All too often, one might think.
However, Cotton, unlike most of the rest of us, was perfectly free to a) go on Fox news for a sycophantic interview, before probably more viewers than the Times has readers; and b) to publish his call for using military force against civilians on American soil in the Washington Times, or Wall St. Journal, or New York Post, or…but why go on? Not to mention talking hate on the Senate floor for as long as he’s able, and getting it published in the Congressional Record. On a scale of 1 to 100, the violation of his”free speech” was 0. I’d love to be forced to have as little free speech as he has.
But anyhow, for the neo-Fascist Cotton this wasn’t about free speech, it was about running for President, which is where his mind and heart are at. It was about getting points with the base for breaking the sound barrier. He did it for his ill repute, unlike Stephens not bothering to fake to the left, but just storming through the line behind the obese Right tackle in the White House. And got away with it.
How about those liberals?