Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trimming Hedges

Eugene Volokh delves bravely into American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (the Drunkablog feebly (but nastily!) mocked author Chris Hedges last week), and emerges with some more cwazy quotes from the Nation Institute senior fellow:
The radical Christian Right must be forced to include other points of view to counter their hate talk in their own broadcasts, watched by tens of millions of Americans. They must be denied the right to demonize whole segments of American society.
Volokh, wondering whether he is really advocating the suppression of the speech of those he deems "fascists," notes an appearance by Hedges on NPR's Talk of the Nation last week during which he confided to Neal Conan:

I think that -- you know, in a democratic society, people don't have a right to preach the extermination of others, which has been a part of this movement of - certainly in terms of what should be done with homosexuals.

Extermination of others? Then the New Lifers who welcomed former male prostitute Mike Jones to their church Sunday must have been on their very best behavior, especially since it was Jones' meth-and-gay-sex story that led to their pastor's downfall. Hedges continues:

You know, Rushdoony and others have talked about 18 moral crimes for which people should be executed, including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and all - in order for an open society to function, it must function with a mutual respect, with a
respect . . . .

(Wiki on this Rushdoony person.)

. . . for other ways to be and other ways to believe. And I think that the fringes of this movement have denied people that respect, which is why they fight so hard against hate crimes legislation -- such as exist in Canada -- being made law in the United States.

[NEAL] CONAN: But Chris, to be fair, aren't you talking about violating their right to free speech, their right to religion as laid out in the First Amendment?

"But Chris, to be fair . . ." That's it, the only time Conan makes a pretence of challenging the guy. Otherwise he just lets the former NPR reporter (according to Volokh) repeat his Alternet interview, at times almost word for word.

Mr. HEDGES: Well, I think that when you preach -- or when you call for the physical extermination of other people within the society, you know, you've crossed the bounds of free speech. I mean, we're not going to turn a cable channel over to the Ku Klux Klan. Yet the kinds of things that are allowed to be spewed out over much of Christian radio and television essentially preaches sedition. It preaches civil war. It's not a difference of opinion. With that kind of rhetoric, it becomes a fight for
survival . . . .

There he goes with the exterminatin' again, and now we got civil war and the fight for survival to go with it. I think somebody's ready for a teensy-weensy 72-hour involuntary hold, don't you?

Several commenters on Volokh's post claim Hedges represents no more than a fringe on the left, but he's so much like Ward Churchill, both in his arguments (America is a racist, fascist, genocidal suckhole of capitalist evil, and religion is worse) and in his prescribed remedies (the suppression of free speech--Ward, of course, via his much-debunked argument that the Ninth Amendment trumps the First), that people who support Churchill would have a hard time not supporting Hedges--and everybody knows how much the left (the academic part of it, anyway) supports Ward.

(via Instapundit)

Update: Volokh posted his Hedges piece at Huffington Post and writes of the reaction:

[A] bunch seemed to endorse, expressly or implicitly, Hedges' proposal. Naturally, commenters on a blog aren't representative even of the readers of that blog, much less of any broader movement. Yet it seems pretty clear that there are people out there who share Hedges' view.

Nevertheless he doubts Hedges represents "a vast movement," and of course he doesn't. But, as with Churchill, there are sure enough people who agree with the guy to worry a person.

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