Podcasts/Sacred Tension-The FIRE ST final627qe
The_FIRE_ST_final627qe SUMMARY KEYWORDS free speech, government, first amendment, incitement, speech, discord server, idea, conversation, people, talk, leftist, liberty, means, conservative, power, public forum, student, tolerance, culture, amazon SPEAKERS Adam Goldstein, Stephen Bradford Long
00:00 You're listening to a rock candy Podcast. I'm Erica Michelle, I host a voice diary called brown sugar diaries on the right kick network where I spill all the tea about my dating experiences life lessons, my journey to healing and wholeness my life as an entrepreneur, student, doctors, CEO of a nonprofit, and I give my opinion on the current happenings of the world. You see why I have a lot of stuff to talk about, tune into brown sugar barons wherever you listen to podcasts and listed on this team or while you cook your business should okay.
Stephen Bradford Long 01:03 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. In this episode, I speak with Attorney Adam Goldstein from fire the Foundation for Individual Rights and education. In this episode, we get deep into the weeds of free speech what it is the difference between free speech law and free speech culture, and the broader conversation about free speech and tech platforms, the limits of tech platforms the way free speech interacts with the right wing versus the left wing. This was a really, really interesting conversation. And I learned a lot from it. And I hope you enjoy it as well. But before we get to that, I have to thank my latest patrons. My patrons are my personal Lord and Savior. I truly could not do this. Without them. They ensure the long life of this show, and that I can continue to bring you interesting content every single week. So for this week, I have to thank my latest patron Angie, I so appreciate it. Angie, I truly could not do this without you. Especially right now when I'm working less because of COVID. And if you want to join her number, maybe maybe she's not her, maybe he's a healer, or are they if you want to join their number, then please go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long and for $1 A month $3 $5 You get extra content every week including the house of heretics podcast as well as early access to content. However, if you are unable to give right now because the economy is in fact on fire and we are all struggling I completely understand. There are a few simple ways that you can support this show. One of the ways is to just subscribe. Wherever you are listening to this whatever pod catcher you're on. Just hit subscribe and if you are on Apple podcasts, leave a five star review. All of that tells our algorithmic overlords that the show is worth sharing with others and if you're on social media, please share it there, share it with your friends spread the satanic love as always special thanks to my editor and producer Dante slash llama boy he edited this episode. Also a special thanks to my Discord server, there is a link to my Discord server in the show notes. It is a fantastic little community. And I also need to shout out my sponsor, the satanic temple.tv, a streaming platform by and for satanist or the satanic adjacent you can get one month free by using my promo code, sacred tension all caps, no space at checkout. Please take advantage of that there was all kinds of fascinating, interesting, enjoyable stuff on the satanic temple.tv. All right. Well, with all of that finally out of the way, I am delighted to bring you my conversation with Adam Goldstein. Adam Goldstein. Welcome to the show.
Adam Goldstein 04:19 Thank you very much for having me. Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 04:21 So I wanted to have you on to talk specifically about free speech. You know, I am a degenerate far leftist. And, you know, in my space in my sphere that I run in, there was a lot of discussion about the limits of speech, how we should navigate speech, how we should navigate the speech of others. And I think that there is a lot of discourse and also a lot of confusion about this subject. And so I wanted to have you on to talk specifically about that. But before we get into it, tell us some about who you are, what you do and the work of fire which is your organization.
Adam Goldstein 04:59 Absolutely. Well, as you said, I'm Adam Goldstein. And I still am. And at the moment, I'm a Senior Research counsel, which essentially means they come up with difficult questions, and I try to answer them for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Stephen Bradford Long 05:11 Oh, that's perfect. So you can answer our difficult question. That's what they pay
Adam Goldstein 05:15 me to do is I sit there and I think about the big questions and think of trying to think about the best answers for them. Beautiful, beautiful. I started at fire in November 2016. And then for 13 years before that, I worked for a place called the Student Press Law Center at the Student Press Law Center, I gave legal help to high school and college journalists. And now at fire, I give help to college students, whether they're journalists or not, about the free speech rights and fire is a I could call it militant, non partisan, in that we help if there's a speech problem, we want to be there to help it it doesn't matter what the etiology underlying it is, if there's a and due process and individual rights in general, my specialty being free expression, obviously.
Stephen Bradford Long 05:54 So the work of fire say what that acronym stands for one more
Adam Goldstein 05:59 time. Sure. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Stephen Bradford Long 06:02 Great. So fire focuses specifically on academic freedom and liberty within academia. Is that correct? Freedom
Adam Goldstein 06:10 within a campus or connected to a campus? Yeah, that's a good way to think of it. Okay.
Stephen Bradford Long 06:14 Very good. And, you know, I first encountered the work of fire through Greg Lukianoff, of course, who is the president of fire, I read his book that he co authored with Jonathan Hite, the coddling of the American mind, which was very, very interesting. And that kind of led me down the rabbit hole to fire and checking out the work that all of you do. So let's just start really, really simple. What is free speech?
Adam Goldstein 06:41 Well, free speech is a fundamental individual liberty is how I might characterize it, it's the and I would argue it's the most fundamental individual liberty, which is unpopular to say, right after an election, because whenever an election season comes around, then all the voting rights advocates want to tell you that voting is the most fundamental liberty, I think that even before you can vote, you have to you have to be able to campaign and to campaign you have to be able to speak. So freedom of speech is the liberty to express any idea up until the point where it causes the government to cease to function or it or it prevents the ordinary operation of a campus, I guess, if you want to look at it within the campus context.
Stephen Bradford Long 07:22 So I would interpret what you're saying as speech is permissible up until you know, your your fist ends at my face, kind of that kind of stuff, which is also
Adam Goldstein 07:35 why there's a lot of discussion and misunderstanding about free speech right now, because the concept of where rights begin or end has what it's always in flux to a degree, but it's been bent so far, that it's almost, you know, becoming a full circle where there's some circular reasoning as to where right should begin or end.
Stephen Bradford Long 07:51 So correct me if I'm wrong, but I really see two kind of broad spheres in which the Free Speech discussion takes place. One is this fear of law and the First Amendment and then the next fear is free speech, culture, free speech as a cultural issue. And that makes sense. Does that make sense? Perfect sense.
Adam Goldstein 08:14 And I think that's a discussion I wish more people were having right now because they're okay, great, can understand one without the other.
Stephen Bradford Long 08:20 So I think free speech law, First Amendment issues tend to be maybe a bit clearer. I when I think about speech, and offense, and debate and all of this stuff in our culture, the First Amendment stuff tends to be pretty clear to me, where as free speech, culture issues, that's where stuff gets more complicated for me. Right. And so let's talk about First Amendment, what qualifies as a First Amendment issue?
Adam Goldstein 08:55 Well, something becomes a First Amendment issue when some government officer and since 1925, that can be federal or state government before 1925. It was just Congress, right? And then the Supreme Court started to incorporate these protections into the 14th amendment saying that, well, if the states can't bridge your rights, then the captain perspective has mineral rights. So if some government officer takes some action, that either punishes encourages or attempts to control the speech of a private citizen, or in some contexts, like in the education sphere, and employ, because with higher education, there's a concept of academic freedom, which is sort of not quite the same as the First Amendment, but it's sort of related to the First Amendment.
Stephen Bradford Long 09:38 Now is that is it related? Because say state schools, take money from the government and therefore, say if a principal tried to crack down on a pro Palestinian protest, that would that would be a First Amendment issue at say a state school Right,
Adam Goldstein 09:59 exactly. That There's, if you've got a state school and in some cases, there's some states where even being a private school might not necessarily exempt you from a state imposed obligation to respect the speech rights of those of certain demographic groups. And I say that because two of the biggest states have laws that would interfere with the ability of a private school to do that. California has a law called the Leonard law that says, on a private campus, watch what they have it for both k 12. And for higher ed, no private education organization can discipline a student for speech that would be protected off campus by the First Amendment or the California constitution.
Stephen Bradford Long 10:36 So state universities, state schools, if say, a principal or an administrator, crack down on a deviant satanist like me, for, you know, for speech, that would be a First Amendment issue. And then at a private school, depending on the state, it is also a First Amendment issue. Right? Okay.
Adam Goldstein 10:59 I mean, in New York, and the reason I thought about this is because you mentioned pro Palestinian activism, and my alma mater pays me to say Fordham University in New York is obviously it's a private institution is a Jesuit institution doesn't take state money. But our New York has this civil rights law called article 78. It's a very strange New York specific thing where if a private school has engaged in a decision that is considered either arbitrary or insufficiently based, in fact, you can actually go to a state court and have the decision overturned. And there's a battle going through right now, because Fordham for over four years now has tried to prevent the formation of a Palestinian rights club or Palestinian support club, I guess you might call it. And then Fordham's argument was we don't want to have a explicitly political student organization. This is a place where there's College Republicans, College Democrats, college libertarians, somehow pro Palestinian advocacy now, and there's also, you know, there's like a Muslim Students Association of Jewish students association. I wouldn't say that Fordham is a political, there's a political science department. So the idea that this is somehow advocacy on behalf of Palestinians is somehow this line that can't be crossed without undoing the fabric of Fordham. Well, I spent seven years there between undergrad and law school, I have no idea what they're talking about,
Stephen Bradford Long 12:18 right. And so First Amendment protections is to deal with situations like that, where it seems like it is based purely on a maybe disgust response or a fear response that someone's speech or an offense response that someone's speech is, is, I guess, dangerous in some way. And you know, that this is really important to me, and because I am a degenerate faggot, Satanist, and there are so many people in this country who would want to silence me, right? There are so many people who would want me to not have the platform I have on this podcast, there are people who think that I am leading hundreds and 1000s of people astray. I know that because they've told me as much. And so to me, because I am a minority. I am a religious minority. I am a sexual minority. My life, my work and my life is only possible because I have free speech protection. And because offense alone is not a good litmus test for who gets to be silent or not. Do you think that's accurate?
Adam Goldstein 13:34 Oh, absolutely. I mean, you've tapped into something that I think nobody gets viscerally they have to live through some bad experiences to reach the point you're at, which, because a lot of times I'll go to campus, and what you'll hear is, you know, if I'm a student who's I'm, I'm a minority, I don't want people to say things that make me feel unsafe. So I think that we need to have rules that stop other people from saying things that would make me feel unsafe. And at a base level, it sounds good until you've lived through a couple of situations. And you start to realize, if the basic problem I'm having is that I'm not part of the powerful group, giving the powerful group more power to stop things will never work to my benefit. There's a there's a blowback, that if I'm running out group, I can't ask the people in power here, people in power have more authority to stop what people are doing as if they're going to use it to protect me. It doesn't work. We've tried it many times and like the history is full, especially recent European history of states that are giving authority to the government to stop speech on the theory that that benefit will accrue to the disenfranchised. It does not ever, not in the long run maybe for like a
Stephen Bradford Long 14:36 week and you know, minorities and minority religions, minority identities. We are the first ones who are silenced Who do I think will be the first ones to be silenced. When there's a change in regime or when I give the power to other people to shut someone down based purely on offense. It's going to be me. It's good. wanting to be my fellow LGBT people and people of color, you know, that's just the way it's going to be. So that's the that's the situation in kind of the First Amendment is fear and the First Amendment really, my understanding is that it's there to protect all that to protect the ability for people to kind of slug it out verbally. Right? And none of this means that there can't be vicious. Right? Well, I
Adam Goldstein 15:27 was it the number that I have to explain to people is it's very easy to fall in love with the First Amendment and I did to in my life, and to fall in love with it in the sense of put on a pedestal and say this is should be the this is the Northstar. This is the guiding light of our society. The First Amendment is the lowest level of acceptable behavior before American society ceases to function. That doesn't make it a good idea in terms of like, how we should guide our principles. It's like the law is meant to stop us from falling apart as a country, it doesn't make moral choices for us, it doesn't tell us what is right or wrong. The idea that, like you have the First Amendment and you're done, and like society is going to work the way you want it to is naive, in the sense that like we the first thing that is important and fundamental, but it's the it's the baseline. So when people say, well, it's okay to ban somebody from social media, because that doesn't implicate the First Amendment. That's the legal equivalent of I'm 18. And I can do what I want. You know, if someone sees me cutting my toenails with a chainsaw, and they say, you know, that's probably not a good idea. And my response is, I'm 18. I can do what I want. I'm legally correct, but I might still be an idiot. So and this is where, okay, got it rich culture, this idea that, yes, the First Amendment is what we must do. Free speech, culture is what we should do.
Stephen Bradford Long 16:42 And thank you so much for that image that is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. Now.
Adam Goldstein 16:47 That's a lot of a lot of times like, hey, it doesn't violate the First Amendment to do this. It's like, what is it not breaking the laws what you're supposed to do, right? Like, like, you don't get you don't get credit, because you didn't break the law, you didn't violate the First Amendment? That's right. I take care of my kids, right, let's that's the same thing we're like, doing the bare minimum legally does not make you a good person or may mean you're doing a good thing. It just means I want to imprison you. That's,
Stephen Bradford Long 17:10 that's a great, that is a fantastic point to make. Because I do sometimes, and I, maybe, let's put a pin in this. But I do sometimes see, especially on the internet, kind of being free speech, free speech as a Anarchie of bad ideas, just let we're not going to push back on them. And that is a misunderstanding of free speech. It's like what you're saying this is a total baseline, of, of how society should run, but it doesn't tell us anything about how to be moral. So before we move on, let's talk about the public square. What is that? And how does how does the First Amendment apply to that setting the public
Adam Goldstein 17:55 square, there's this concept of like the public forum test, and for a period from the late 60s into the early 80s, the Supreme Court was in love with public forum tests. So now it's written into all of our free free speech law. There's different types of public Well, I'm gonna say forums, I'm going to de Latinization I would say for right as the proper Latin plural, but I'm trying to get trying to be Latin myself a little bit get more planes.
Stephen Bradford Long 18:21 When in Rome. Yes, yeah. Talk to the stupid not to talk to a stupid gay bro like me. So tone it down.
Adam Goldstein 18:29 To talk to you know, I think in general, there's this. It's stuff like that. I mean, it's a little thing but uh, stuff like that, that makes people think lawyers are another species like, can we just talk to people like people?
Stephen Bradford Long 18:42 I mean, they aren't, you know, lawyers remind me of like, so many lawyers remind me of the Vogons from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Adam Goldstein 18:51 I'd say there's nothing there's nothing worse than like watching a lawyer on TV sometimes thinking oh, that's why everybody Oh, I'm already mad at this guy. Because he's because he's being a jerk or whatever. And on top of this, now, when I go out, people think of him that's yes.
Stephen Bradford Long 19:03 Yeah. Okay. Well, hopefully, hopefully, we can humanize the lawyer some in this
Adam Goldstein 19:08 public forum. Yeah. The there's the traditional public forum, which is like the steps of City Hall, the Speaker's Corner in the park, the places where since the dawn of Western civilization, we would expect people to go out and be able to speak unmolested, at least unmolested by the state. Put it that way, sometimes there might be some shouting. But usually, that's the where there's a right to speak truth to power and steps of City Hall is another classic one. There's then the designated public forum, a place that isn't traditionally a public forum. But we as a society sort of come together to say we think this is where we want speakers to be. And especially in the context of like religions and alternative religions. The big one, there would be the meeting rooms and public libraries for a whole generation of people. That's where like you would go if nobody else would give you a room. You know, whether whether you know you're you're practicing an alternative religion or you want to play Dungeons and dragons, you could go to the public library and get a meeting room like anybody else. There's then also this concept of the limited public forum, which is a public forum that's set aside for one particular speaker or set of speakers or one particular purpose. You'll see this when like the town Council's city council, we're gonna have a public forum on retirement, unlike retirement funds, you can come up and say anything you want to about retirement funds, you don't have any number right to speak freely in general. But if you're on topic, you can say whatever you want. And in the college context, you see a lot of designated public forums for students where any student can come and complain about, you know, the college's racial equity record, or any student can come and hand out flyers for their club. So that's the that's the designated public forum. The pandemic is not the main reason for this, but it's factored into this idea that increasingly private spaces have taken over and encroached on that, just through evolution of society, where you're much more likely to want to post on a privately on social media site about your club, then you're gonna want to go stand in the quad about your and talk about your club, unfortunately, in mostly every case, put a little asterisk there for a second, mostly every case, those places have just not been recognized as forums. For the general public, there's still private property in some sense. And that means your right to speak there is limited to whatever the owner wishes to extend.
Stephen Bradford Long 21:18 Okay, so now this gets into free speech culture, right. And so and this is, I feel like particularly complicated and, you know, I have spent how many untold hours on this podcast and off just trying to talk through this stuff, because I feel like the emergence of social media and these tech giants that are so huge, almost, almost to the point of being invisible, that our public square has been privatized, in a way. And it has not just been privatized, but it's been privatized with, you know, multibillion dollar algorithms that are incredibly powerful, atomized society, radicalize us cause disinformation, you know, all kinds of stuff like that. So this, this feels like a totally new era that we're in. And it's hard to kind of get my footing in terms of how I think about it, because it's so new, and it's so big. What are your thoughts on that? What I just said,
Adam Goldstein 22:18 there's a lot of scary layers to it. I mean, for one food to just sort of go on one thread that spoke to me immediately was the idea that we don't realize how fractured we've become, in the sense of, it's not even transparent to us how reactive our social media sites and just our media sites in general are to our interests. And we see it in little ways, right, like we see, like, we were thinking about going, going to why and then three days later, there's ads for snorkels on our Facebook, right, like it's little stuff like
Stephen Bradford Long 22:48 that, but plugs, whatever your whatever, whatever, whatever. Color into
Adam Goldstein 22:55 leather, you know, it's all it's like you were having a conversation about it, and maybe you know, the echo heard you or whatever and and maybe you're annoyed or maybe
Stephen Bradford Long 23:04 things my echo hears in my household, I don't I Amazon has so much shit on me.
Adam Goldstein 23:10 Like those T shirts, if I'm not on lists, somebody's not doing their job. Yeah, exactly. I remember like 20 years ago, when remember, we used to have homepages on like Yahoo, and you can personalize your news. And I was thinking, is this really a good idea? Because the most important thing in journalism was editorial judgment. And you're now giving up your editorial judgment to an algorithm that's going to decide oh, he doesn't like seeing stories about disasters. He likes seeing stories about football. So I'm gonna even more football stories. Like, Well, I appreciate the effort. But maybe you should tell me about the disaster to where like, we're not necessarily even working off the off the same of the same choir book, so to speak, where like we're seeing different realities to to a different degree. And when people start to spin news stories and little ways, emphasize certain facts drop other facts were and those make the circles within our little our bubbles of social circles. We ended up with sort of a group thing, limited to one bubble that is incompatible with the group think in a second bubble discussing the same event because we're not we're not getting the share at the same shared information, or at least presented the same way.
Stephen Bradford Long 24:10 Let me ask a question that I think applies to both of these fears of First Amendment and free speech culture. Let's go ahead and bring up Godwin's Law. So let's let's take a Nazi let's take a neo Nazi. Where is the line between his speech and inciting violence? Because a lot of a lot of people would see his speech as fundamentally hateful and fundamentally inciting violence. And so where is the line cultural? Or where's the line between inciting violence and free speech?
Adam Goldstein 24:51 incitement is tough to do, okay. No, and people have been throwing around that word a lot. It makes me very nervous because one of my big concerns is we start to erode what the definition of incitement is, because it really is a very limited series of things it requires. First of all, there has to be an imminent chance this this thing could happen. There has to be a receptive audience that wants to do this thing. And and it has to be something that I could say that triggers the audience do this thing they weren't going to do anyway. And so there's a lot of pieces to that, that I think a lot of things we've been calling incitement, don't the dominoes don't quite all stack up. Where if I'm saying this to an audience that isn't physically there, or that I have no reason to think is going to imminently be able to carry this out, I'm not really inciting them. And there's a great deal of political hyperbole that we've protected for years, where you know, encouraging people to be angry isn't the same thing as encouraging them to storm a building encouraging people to get politically active isn't the same thing as as encouraging them to assassinate someone? Right, these are. There's different pieces there. Now, you can make hypotheticals where you say, Okay, I see the mob, they're outside, they've got torches and pitchforks, and I'm gonna stand up and I'm gonna say, let's go in there and rip their guts out. That might be incitement
Stephen Bradford Long 26:03 would do what Donald Trump did at the Capitol, would that be considered incitement in that very narrow sense?
Adam Goldstein 26:10 I know there's a lot of people who would who would disagree with me on that and a lot of legals legal scholars, who would I've watched the tape and I can't see, I'm not seeing because he certainly encourages them to go to the Capitol, we're going to the capitalism illegal, that's not the thing that they did. That was illegal. You know, he didn't say go hang pens, he didn't say he said, we're gonna go there and give and give our Republican legislators courage to do the right thing. Well, giving people courage is sort of almost like a homework movie standing outside and everybody says, Oh, they're all out there. I'm gonna go do the right thing. I didn't see the incitement to imminent lawless action. I mean that, okay? That's the second part, you'll see incitement, the whole thing is incitement to imminent lawless action. Okay. So the action, you have to be calling for something illegal, and it has to be something that's going to happen immediately. There was imminent action, but I didn't hear him say do something illegal. So that's where for me, I don't think it quite met the standard. I know, there's people who would disagree. But I'm very worried if we start saying some things are incitement, if they don't actually call for someone to do something illegal. All kinds of things are are incitement that might end up encouraging people to do illegal things. But you know, I don't know that. If I say we should go do something about our taxes and somebody burns down the IRS. Well, I didn't tell them to bring down
Stephen Bradford Long 27:23 Got it. No, so Okay, so let's parse this out some so let's say you know, I'm a radio personality. And part of my whole platform is a lab. All lawyers are bastards, okay. And lawyers are actually you know, reptilian overlords, they are actually the Vogons they are here to destroy the human race, and they all deserve to be dead. Would that be incitement?
Adam Goldstein 27:50 Unless there's some other facts that still sounds like just political hype?
Stephen Bradford Long 27:53 Okay, so then let's say I take it a step further. Let's say all lawyers are bastards. They are all monsters. They are our reptilian overlords now I want all of my followers to glitter bomb every free speech lawyer in the country that would be incitement
Adam Goldstein 28:10 that sounds that could be incitement Okay, good. Any reason to think somebody might actually do it? Now it's incitement to a pretty minor minor battle. It's like, you might get you might get a sternly worded letter from the DEA, I don't think you're gonna be thrown in jail for inciting a glitter bomb, okay.
Stephen Bradford Long 28:29 Well, unfortunately, my, you know, I'm very much a pacifist. So, you know, the, the only incitement that I'll ever be doing would be made, you know, something like glitter bombing. So, Okay, interesting. So when people say we should shut down Nazis, because of their toxic beliefs, because their beliefs are fundamentally hateful, that is something that the government would not be able to do,
Adam Goldstein 28:57 right. The government couldn't participate in that. And in fact, if it was in a public space, like, like an actual like, like a park or a college campus, where they were they booked a meeting room, the government would have an affirmative obligation to prevent the D platforming of the Nazi there. The government actually that's and that's the hecklers veto doctrine that if the government stands by and does nothing in a government space while someone is censored, then the government is essentially using its power to endorse the censorship and their obligation is to stop, okay, the interference with the speech, okay, which doesn't mean silencing the dissent. It means moving the dissent to a place where both speeches can take place and okay. And as Betsy DeVos because I was at she went spoke at George Mason early in her in her term as education secretary. There were a lot of people standing right outside expressing themselves. And they had managed to move, you know, kudos to the administration there to move the protesters to where to where you can hear the protesters inside the event, but they didn't stop the event from happening, and you can hear the speech outside the event but they didn't stop the protest. You It's not always going to be as perfect as it wasn't that instance. But it's nice when it does work. Okay,
Stephen Bradford Long 30:03 great. So I think what I'm hearing you say is free speech does not mean not pushing back. It doesn't mean not trying to win the argument. It doesn't mean, you know, arguing as viciously as you can, what it does mean is that the government cannot infringe on speech unless it meets the very narrow definitions of things like incitement. I've heard libel and slander in there as well.
Adam Goldstein 30:34 Yeah, defamation is unlawful, if it meets its copyright infringement is probably the biggest category that goes unpunished. Okay? That there's probably more copyright. You know, in our life, everyone who publishes raise, worried about defamation. in your lifetime, you probably see five or six instances of defamation, whereas you'll probably see 500 to 600 instances of copyright infringement, but nobody thinks about it, because it's sort of it's in the water a little bit. And
Stephen Bradford Long 30:57 it's so ubiquitous, right? So there's a meme that kind of goes around on leftist spaces. And it is a cartoon of Karl Popper's paradox of tolerance. Are you familiar with this?
Adam Goldstein 31:09 I'm familiar with the paradox of tolerance. I'm not familiar with the cartoon. So this started
Stephen Bradford Long 31:13 circulating, I think, after the Charlottesville rally, basically, the application of the paradox of tolerance. This cartoon reads should a tolerant society tolerate and tolerance? The answer is no, it's a paradox. But unlimited tolerance can lead to the extinction of tolerance. When we extend tolerance to those who are openly intolerant, the tolerant ones end up being destroyed and tolerance with them. Any movement that preaches intolerance and persecution must be outside of the law as paradoxical as it may seem, defending tolerance requires to not tolerate intolerance. So this is not actually the exact quote from Karl Popper. I don't think he included the must be outside the law part. But this is kind of a re envisioning of Karl Popper's paradox of tolerance, which was in a footnote, and, and one of his books so I, I see this as a very popular meme in a lot of leftist spaces. Is this meme a healthy way to look at free speech?
Adam Goldstein 32:29 I think it's, this is another example of it sounds great on paper, but if you've lived it, you know, it doesn't work. Okay. I mean, this is essentially the same rationalization that's used by China. Okay. This idea that the domestic except you know, they call it domestic tranquility, they don't call it tolerance. But this idea that you can have any opinion you want to as long as it doesn't challenge domestic tranquility, and by domestic tranquility, we mean,
Stephen Bradford Long 32:50 the domestic tranquility, by the way sounds like the sketchiest drug ever, that? I would I would try it once.
Adam Goldstein 33:00 Because like, I want to know, but like, yeah, I could try to crow be able to, like do anything like I dropped domestic tranquility once I woke up three days later.
Stephen Bradford Long 33:09 All right, go on.
Adam Goldstein 33:11 Yeah, like that's, that's the problem is that if you've decided that in the name of tolerance, you're going to suppress intolerance. You have decided what tolerance means. And you've decided what intolerance means. And having done that commits you to a perspective that entrenches one viewpoint and suppresses others there. It's an irreconcilable position with actual Liberty where because once you've said, we must be intolerant of intolerance, you've said intolerance is good, as long as it's intolerance in the direction I think is the right direction.
Stephen Bradford Long 33:40 And who watches the watchmen? In other words, exactly, we,
Adam Goldstein 33:43 we have the same problem with something else that people have been making. God, the number of bad legal takes on social media this month has been soul crushing. One is that people have said, Oh, that first amendment doesn't protect falsehood. First of all, it does. That's completely wrong falsehood. And if you really wanted to get into the nitty gritty of we don't talk about a lot, because it isn't exactly the most patriotic discussion to have. But like, objectively speaking, the central premise of the Declaration of Independence was incorrect, right? Like, mathematically, we were getting a good deal in terms of our taxes. Mathematically speaking, we were paying less for the same services that British subjects were paying over there. There's I think everyone has sort of discussed that much of the premise of the Civil War was questionable. The idea that the colonies viewed the Constitution as a blood pact, that they can only leave through death was was probably alien to them. And yet, that was that was the central conceit of we must save the Union. So the first amendment has always protected falsehood, okay. And the reason why it has to protect falsehood is because who decides what's true, right? It's the same problem with who decides what's tolerance who decides what's in total.
Stephen Bradford Long 34:49 So how, how do we how do you reconcile the hurt and pain that say racist speech? causes to black people, or the hurt and pain that transphobic speech causes to trans people with free speech. How does that how does it how does this
Adam Goldstein 35:17 work? And I should say in some way, it isn't fully reconcilable. I mean, there will never be a point of complete tranquility in any free space, right? That Liberty presupposes the ability to hurt people, to some degree emotionally, not physically. And the best I think we can do is what we've always tried to do right is to is to support people who are in pain, and to be the better alternative to the things we see that are wrong to win those to win those arguments that inevitably come up. But there's a there was kind of an exchange. This is a little bit of a weird analogy, but it's the shortest encapsulation I can think of how to explain why inefficiency is sometimes good. And it was the 1980s. It was a supreme court appeal, during the Rehnquist Court, and it was the third appeal of a death penalty sentence. And Rehnquist had read had read out, trying to be clever, make a point how much it was costing the state to deal with this guy's death penalty appeals, even though they seemed frivolous to him. And at some point, Thurgood Marshall, now, the Supreme Court does not normally talk to each other, they talk to the attorneys. So this was a breach of protocol, Thurgood Marshall turned in his chair and looked at rank was and said it would have been cheaper to shoot him when they arrested him Woodman. And the core idea is that liberty is an expenditure, it's always cheaper, it's always faster, it's always less fractious, to give people less liberty, because liberty is the freedom to do things that are terrible to people. And it's the freedom to say things that are terrible and to hurt people. The problem is, as we were talking about, if you create a world where someone has the power to silence you, or someone has the power to silence your enemy, they will turn it around to you at the first opportunity and maybe sooner. And that's actually I mean, this is not again, there's not a perfect analogy. But during the Obama administration, we saw the senators change rules to get judges approved because they because the Democrats didn't have 60 votes. And that was the tradition. So they use the nuclear option and for everything, but the Supreme Court reduced it to 50 votes. Right, right. And as soon as the Republicans were back in power, they did the exact same thing. And then they packed judges the other way, and the end, they removed it for the Supreme Court. And that's how you got the Supreme Court we have now the analogy there is, you know, if you create weapons, because your opponent is terrible, they will eventually use them on you. And this is it's like an arms race. It really is. And so this is again, where the culture and the law don't necessarily align. I think the law requires us to permit people to say things that are going to cause actual real psychological harm to other people, right. And our obligation, culturally, is to do everything we can to ensure that one those people realize if they intend to make themselves pariahs, let them make themselves pariahs but to to offer the support necessary to show the people who are the victims of that to say, You know what, those people are messed in the head. And I think that even if censorship is the most important thing, if it like victims of censorship, I worry in the K 12 Space students get cynical about the First Amendment because they're censored through their college through their high school experience. Yes, the most important thing they need to know is that this is an aberration. This isn't normal, this isn't right. And I think that's also true for when people say hateful things about other groups. The most important thing for anybody who's a victim of that kind of speech to know is you're right, they're wrong. And we're gonna be here with you, even though we're not going to try to imprison them for being jerks, essentially.
Stephen Bradford Long 38:39 Right. And so I can see how, you know, culturally, we can do that how culturally we can stand on the side of trans people? Is that something that government can do as well, in terms of providing resources in terms of equal rights? That kind of stuff? Right. And
Adam Goldstein 38:55 it absolutely should. Yeah. And that's, and that's something that in terms of free speech, we don't we don't always appreciate is that the government is entitled to be a speaker, and it's allowed to have opinions about some things. And certainly one thing it's allowed to have an have an opinion about, is like the right of everyone to feel safe and secure and be part of this participatory society. So to the extent it's necessary for the government to step in and make specific regulations, and then that's where you can do things like workplace discrimination, where the government actually can step in and say, Hey, this guy is allowed to be a transphobic if he wants to be transformed, but if he's being transphobic, during work hours, and it's causing your employees to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, your obligation as the employer is to either fire that guy or silence that guy, because you have an obligation to make sure that everyone feels like they can work. They're
Stephen Bradford Long 39:40 brilliant. So I run a Discord server for this podcast and I think one of and it's a pretty awesome server. By the way, shout out to my Discord server. They're amazing and you should all go join the sacred tension dis Discord server. There's a link in the show notes. I think one of the reasons why the server works so well is because there are rules Right, there are rules to the server. You know, I've just learned that, you know, when I was putting this together with my mods, you know, people who are quote unquote turfs, trans exclusionary radical feminists, having them on on the discord server just creates a horrible toxic atmosphere and disrupts the peace of my private little Discord server, therefore I am, it is completely within my right to say, You know what, in order to maintain the peace and tranquility of the server, we're just not going to have certain conversations here, that this is just not going to happen. Because this is this is the way that I maintain the peace on the server. You know, another example Yasha monk and as recline were arguing on a podcast recently, and as recline brought up the point that one of the most peaceful places on the internet was Reddit, or subreddit slash, T. T. A, it is just pictures of tea is just, you know, pictures of people drinking tea and, and people's favorite tea. And one of the things on that subreddit is conversations about the health benefits of tea are banned, because they just learned, they just learned that people start fighting over the health benefits of tea and it disrupts the chill of sub of that subreddit. Is that a free speech issue? No, I mean, okay. Because there are so many people who say that would be that I've encountered on the internet. Yeah, there's,
Adam Goldstein 41:30 you know, the, the University of Twitter law degrees out there. You know, to the extent and especially especially something like like, like this court, like your server is your home, and you can invite people in your home or kick them out if you want to. There's also something to be said in terms of free discourse have to get to the really nuanced questions and the rarefied issues, you have to stop debating the big, like, the big stuff at some point. Right. And this is this has been a lot of the issue about like, I mean, this is this, this isn't the issue of it. But one of the reasons why all lives matter became so offensive, was it was being used as a bludgeon to derail conversations about the specific threats that the black community was facing, correct? Yeah. And that was not hostility to all lives matter was not because anybody thought all lives didn't matter. It was still good all lives matter was because when when you're trying to get into like, really specific, nuanced issues, and like one of those really nuanced issues, just for example, that is hotly debated elsewhere to is, why, why is why are interactions between people of color in general, black people in particular, and law enforcement so deadly? And is it because they're more likely to be shot in the interaction? Or because there are more interactions? And it looks like it's the latter that it's not so much a question of like, once the interaction starts, the rate at which people are shot is not, it's not differentiated by race at all. But the issue is that if you're in a heavily policed community, because of broken windows policing, or stop and frisk or whatever, yeah, because
Stephen Bradford Long 42:57 of like, basically a militarized occupation, right?
Adam Goldstein 43:01 If, if you have one interaction with a cop every 10 years, your odds are going to be, you know, point 001. And if you have 10 interactions with a cop every year, it's point 001 per interaction. And so that, but but that's a conversation you can't get into until you get past all lives matter, right? Because, because if if we say, Oh, we're not going to pay any special attention to any group, because all lives matter, then you end up not so in the same thing about having conversations about trans identity and the struggles that trans community faces. It's fine to have arguments to have arguments with turfs but you can't have those those second level conversations if all you're doing is arguing exactly
Stephen Bradford Long 43:34 yes. Thank you for saying that. You need those spaces as part of free speech you for saying that yeah, you know, I as a content creator, I have free speech and I get to determine who is and is not on my platform who is and is not on my Discord. I am the queen I can be had anyone figuratively. I'm not inciting violence.
Adam Goldstein 43:56 Of course, you know, when it gets when it gets complicated is when at some point you become Amazon.
Stephen Bradford Long 44:00 Yes. Okay. So thank you. So let's let's actually segue into Amazon because here's, here's the thing I'm going to put on my little paranoid leftist hat on so let's talk about Amazon and parlor. So parlour was just recently nuked from the internet by Amazon. I see that and I have two very conflicting emotions. The first and biggest emotion is honestly just my gut reaction is great, wonderful, because I was on parler to spy on it. I went by the username Haggard's come sloth, because it was all about, you know, free speech and free expression and being yourself and so I decided that I would just flaunt my full degenerate self and so I was on there as Haggard's comm slot. And I, you know, watched all the insanity that was going on, and I was like, this is true. The body politic should truly not tolerate this the body politic, we should decide, collectively as the populace that this is unacceptable. And so My first response, and kind of biggest response to Amazon being kicked off was a fantastic same with Alex Jones. Same with, you know, Stefan Molyneux, so on and so forth. But then there's a second thought. And that second thought is my paranoid leftist hat, which is, when is that going to happen to me? And how, how do we determine the rightness or wrongness of a platform like that, especially when it's private, and Amazon is private, and yet the public square has been privatized in a lot of ways. And we know what happens when people get kicked off of them. Milo INNOPOLIS is done. Stefan Molyneux is done. Alex Jones isn't done. But that's because he's like a fucking hurricane and will never be done until he has a hemorrhage on camera while screaming about gay frogs. But in but in general, in general, it's like, we know what, when Stefan Molyneux was D platformed. We know where he went, he went to gab or or he went to, to places like that where there just is not the audience. And that's the end. Right? Same with Milo. That's the end. And my first response is good. These people should be forced out of culture, they should be forced out of public discourse. That's, that's like my first response. And then it just gets way more complicated. The moment I get deeper than that. I don't know. Could you help me figure this shit out?
Adam Goldstein 46:26 I think so maybe I had a similar, similar first response of mine was, if they had had this level of coordination a couple years ago, we wouldn't know what it was noting was because they would have erased from existence. And we never would have heard it would have would have known his name. Glenn Greenwald, wouldn't be anybody would know they would leave their accounts. Yeah, that would have been it. And maybe that's me being extremely paranoid. But at some point, I think Amazon has easy yes, please. The easiest one, when you're controlling a third of web traffic at this point, I think that and this is this is my opinion, this isn't fires position, I'm in favor of fires, nowhere near having having a position on this because it's so far off campus. But I start to worry that why aren't we treating Amazon like a common carrier in the same way we would treat a phone company or a water company. And that like, if you're, you know, the argument for years had been well, you don't really need the internet. And I just don't think that argument, well hold water to No, not at all anymore. I think that is now a basic thing, that should be a utility. And everybody should have the right to kick somebody out of their home until your home constitutes a third of the possible places there are to stand in the world. At that point, I'd say you are now the phone company, you are now the water company, you have to sell this to everybody with the money to buy it.
Stephen Bradford Long 47:35 Without the internet, I'd be a bad lady.
Adam Goldstein 47:39 I don't want the sewage company to say oh, you can't flush your toilet anymore. Because we read your Twitter account. Like that's my concern is like that, to me is a level of control over individual lives. We shouldn't give any corporation that controls that much stuff.
Stephen Bradford Long 47:50 So making it a public utility. Would that mean that and maybe this is just a basic confusion on my part. But would that mean giving the government the power to determine what is or is not acceptable on the platform? And is that a problem?
Adam Goldstein 48:05 Well, to an extent, except the government would still be bound by the First Amendment. Okay. So it would be imposing the standards of the First Amendment upon that, even if it stayed private, you can still regulate it by that standard. That's how we've regulated utilities in general where you can have a private power company, although it didn't work out for California, but there are places where there's private power companies and private public works companies. And in those places, they're still regulated by the government to the extent that they can't just decide they didn't like what someone's speech was and cut off their water. If someone pays their bill, they've got to sell them the water, we're talking about a very narrow slice, like we're talking about the Oracles, the Amazons,
Stephen Bradford Long 48:40 people who own a very, very narrow who just provide servers,
Adam Goldstein 48:44 right? Like, they're not in this context. They're not a content publisher, obviously, Amazon's a content publisher, but they'll sell they'll sell you space for anybody's content. The concern, you know, I'm okay with kicking people out of out of private homes or out of private companies stuff. I'm uncomfortable with the idea that you can kick them functionally offline. One is that, as you pointed out, it doesn't actually change their beliefs. They just become harder to police. Yeah, like right now. There's this thing about is parlor that's getting space from from from Russia now. And Ben was from Russia. So not only do we not have an easy way to police them, but people we probably don't want them talking to
Stephen Bradford Long 49:22 you right now. Right? So it just got even worse. Okay. That's interesting. So now let's talk about something like Twitter or Facebook, the banning of Donald Trump, for example, when when Donald Trump was banned, I was like, Thank God, the malignant tumor is gone. Praise Jesus. Praise Satan. Hail Satan. He's He's off my platform.
Adam Goldstein 49:45 I think a lot of people had that reaction. Yeah, the impression like yes,
Stephen Bradford Long 49:49 yeah, I'm like fantastic. A platform as giant as Twitter, or Facebook, or YouTube. They are basically now the public square But privatized, how do we navigate that? How do we navigate the banning of Donald Trump? How do we navigate banning? Milo Yiannopoulos? How do we just all of that stuff? How do we navigate that in this kind of brave new world of gigantic tech platforms?
Adam Goldstein 50:18 So first of all, the easy part is obviously the law legally, they can do that, that and I think legally, they should be able to do that. I think it would be uncomfortable. And I think it would be flatly unconstitutional to require them to publish speech of people they don't like period. You can't just take a private companies platform and force them to speak, that's compelled speech. That's like forcing someone to, like, say the Lord's Prayer, you just can't do it. Got it. But from a free speech culture standpoint, and this is something I should have said earlier, is that you know, about this idea of like free speech law being enough. Well, Russia has a constitutional provision for free speech, North Korea protects free speech in their constitution. Turkey protects free speech and their constitution. These are places that imprison journalists like it like nothing. So having it in your law isn't enough to give it meaning. It's like the First Amendment means functionally, whatever we as a society, decide it means whatever meaning we give it, and I get nervous cheering for the idea that the First Amendment means the government can't silence you, but the private corporations can because I don't feel like the private corporations are more likely to be concerned with my well being than the government. I mean, I'm skeptical of the government, but I'm not It's not like I'm skeptical the government because I think Mark Zuckerberg is like my benevolent uncle. Yeah, right. Like, and I was seeing the same people, the same people who were saying that Russia was a was a malignant actor who corrupted our elections by buying Facebook ads are now saying that Facebook is good because they've been Donald Trump. This doesn't seem like an ideologically principled position. To me, I'm concerned that we think that it's bad if Russia buys an ad, because we might see the ad, but it's good if Facebook decides what we should or shouldn't see. And part of the thing that makes Donald Trump the wrong poster child for the conversation is because he's a he's a known, right? We know, even if you ban Donald Trump, we sort of know what that what he was going to post and what it's going to look like. The problem is once Facebook has the power to ban people, we don't know what else they're banning. So like, we can cheer for banning Donald Trump, but we don't know who else they've decided to ban.
Stephen Bradford Long 52:17 So I have several thoughts here. One is I work for a small locally owned business, my small locally owned business, we have freedom of speech, if we wanted to put a big gay pride flag in our window, we can do that if we wanted to put a Black Lives Matter flag we can do that there would be a lot of conservatives up here in the mountains who would fucking hate that but but we can do that. And that's fine. I guess what I'm hearing is that there's a problem of scaling. There's a problem of like, say my company becomes this massive, gigantic you know, we become like Microsoft, we spoke we start in my garage and then it scales up and and we become this monopoly that's when it becomes more challenging like because what applies equally to a tiny business applies to a gigantic business right? That's that's exactly the problem. So on the one hand, just as I think think through this out loud encroaching on the on the freedoms of a big business, could that come blow back to small businesses?
Adam Goldstein 53:23 That's that's certainly a fear. I mean, one of the things that that is interesting about this conversation is that we're we're putting like Amazon Facebook and Twitter in the same bucket in a certain sense. And one of these things are not like the others in that Amazon is huge. Facebook is huge. Twitter comparatively is
Stephen Bradford Long 53:42 not that huge. Yeah, only has like 2 million users or something right? So that yeah,
Adam Goldstein 53:47 I'm not super troubled by banning by banning Trump like yes there's a place where a lot of people have decided this is where we're gonna have the conversation but just the the difference in scope is just easy to see by the virtue of you know, parlor and gab popping up where's the alternative Amazon to the alternative Facebook right like there's I guess there's an alternative Facebook's out there but like alternative Amazon has anyone even trying to say well, I'm gonna make my own network backbone that's gonna write with me right
Stephen Bradford Long 54:15 so this is when my when my socialist comes out so I hear a lot of far leftists suddenly becoming massive libertarians when they talk about would they with this today suddenly, you know, suddenly all these far leftist become like massive libertarians like, oh, they you know, private businesses can do whatever the fuck they want. This is perfectly fine. This is perfectly fine.
Adam Goldstein 54:42 Like government paid health care, universal basic income and the private private businesses.
Stephen Bradford Long 54:50 Yes, exactly. And I'm just like, literally half a second ago. You were talking about workers rights. Literally half as half a second ago you were talking about anti trust, like how do I even want to begin to say this? Maybe I haven't had enough coffee today. Or maybe these ideas are just really super big and I'm struggling to wrap my head around them. I see when when Alex Jones was D platformed. A lot of people lost their mind. And what I wanted to say to them was Alex Jones being platformed is literally the least Orwellian Huxley in thing these platforms do to us. They track our every step, they track your skin tone to track your responses to ADS, they are manipulating you. They are hoarding your data and selling it to third parties with your kind of tacit permission, but only because you don't understand it that the amount of scary draconian shit that they are doing is mind boggling. Honestly, them banning Alex Jones is like, just the very tip of the iceberg. And then on the other hand to the leftists who, who were celebrating, and I was and I still am one of them. I'm like, yes, thank God, Alex Jones is gone. Praise jibbers. Like, that's fantastic. But at the same time, where do limit and protections within businesses that leftists and socialists are always talking about how does that fit in to this? And it's just like, I don't know, I I'm so ambivalent, I think it is totally reasonable to be ambivalent about the shutting down of parler, I think is totally reasonable to be ambivalent, deeply ambivalent, about Alex Jones being D platformed. Because, on the one hand, I'm like, I think this is good for society. On the other hand, I'm like, maybe, maybe it isn't, and maybe there are deeper problems within these businesses that would have to be addressed. I don't even know, what are your thoughts on that?
Adam Goldstein 56:50 Well, I can certainly as I'll take on the role of a cleric of the First Amendment and say that, I absolve you of your guilt for that tension, that normal and healthy, like, it is normal and healthy. Because because, and this is this is what a point that in terms of free speech, culture, I have to I have to make for people is that free speech, culture is not natural, like natural human order is, I'm bigger than you, and I'm going to beat the shit out of you until I get my way. That's what we did. That's what we did for many, many centuries. It's, it's, it's contrary to our instincts to have a free speech culture. And because it's contrary to our instincts, we're going to have those moments where bad things happen to bad people. And it's really, you know, every emotional response we have is going to be fucking good. Like, yeah, I was hoping something bad would happen to this guy was sick of him anyway. And then we have to go to the second step and say, you know, he may be pond scum. But even pond scum has a place in this first amendment culture we're trying to make. And that's where you get into compromises. And you get it you get into these difficult questions of, well, if, if I'm saying it's good that he's banned from this big platform, but I don't necessarily want them obliterated from the internet, because it's bad to have the power to obliterate people from the internet. How do we, how do we change the structure of our regulatory systems, so that it's possible for someone with a repulsive opinion, to have their own little corner, while still having the freedom for people who have businesses to kick them out? And to say, I don't like this guy, I don't want to be associated with this guy. And that's a legitimate concern for you know, anybody but I can't I can't cry for Amazon. But like, businesses that aren't quite at that scale, I understand that just because you know, you have 20,000 employees doesn't necessarily mean it isn't important to you to land the Gerber ads or whatever, that you're trying to keep yourself safe or safer. Taco Bell? Yeah, like,
Stephen Bradford Long 58:44 yeah. What do you think of the term hate speech?
Adam Goldstein 58:47 It's to me, it's, it's the same thing as as tolerant of intolerance is like who? Who decides what's hate? If hate just means that something I intensely don't like, then I intensely don't like lots of things, but I should be allowed to express that. I mean, there's an argument that like, because it, just like the domestic tranquility thing, there was an argument that civil rights marches were hate were hateful. Yeah. Right. They were saying, Oh, we hate we hate the government and we hate society. Because, well, you know, because it's institutionally racist, but that's still Hey, they still saying, hey, so are they're expressing a hostile feeling towards someone? Whoever has the power to diss whoever's the power is going to decide what hate means, right? And that's been true in Europe where there's been hate speech legislation, you see that everyone passes hate speech. And they all say, Oh, we're going to use it to protect the marginalized communities. And who do they go after they go after Palestinian activists, they go after people who call the leaders of the country names right there. They're not asking the government to take power to protect the marginalized just doesn't ever work.
Stephen Bradford Long 59:50 Yeah. And you know, there was something that you said a minute ago that I think is worth coming back to, which is free speech, culture. or, and just all the new nuances of that, like is our is me banning turfs from my Discord server of a freak free speech culture issue or not? I don't think it is. But it's interesting to have that conversation. Yeah,
Adam Goldstein 1:00:15 I mean, but you know, you have to decide what the purpose of your server is an if it can be served by having tariffs on it, and maybe it can't Yeah, but like the Free Speech culture also needs to have those second level Congress. Yes. Got Exactly. And this is actually why I can turn this around to to another example of fires work where we we opposed the Supreme Court's decision in Southworth, it was the case I'm thinking of where they they required cut wellness, it wasn't software there was was a Christian legal society, maybe they said that it was lawful for a college to have an all comers policy and require student groups to take all students
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:51 and all comers policy, what does that mean? all comers policy
Adam Goldstein 1:00:55 means you can't, as a student group, have a restriction on who can join, okay. And this was a this was a Christian student group that said you can join the group, but you can't be leadership if you're not Christian. Like if you don't accept Jesus as your savior, you can't run the group. And the college said that's not good enough. You have to accept anybody Ha, as leader of the group.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:14 So I as you know, atheist, satanic, gay, I could become a leader in that group. Under this policy,
Adam Goldstein 1:01:24 they are required to accept you as a leader of the
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:27 group. And that would make it not Christian anymore. That's the argument isn't
Adam Goldstein 1:01:30 I mean, and see why this is something we would oppose. Because when you make that rule, you think that's going to be the end of it, or no, of course not, because the turfs are going to join the trans group. Right? Exactly. Jews running the Muslim student organization, you're going to have Republicans running the Democrats, you're you're taking all of those necessary conversations that you can only have by getting people in like minded people in a room to have that conversation. And you're just derailing all of them. Do you read any actual conversations within your group?
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:58 Okay, so that's really interesting. So, so free speech extends to allowing people to protect spaces to have what you call those secondary or second level conversations. That's
Adam Goldstein 1:02:10 freedom of association to Right, right. And that's called free speech. It's in the same in the same amendment. So yes, like you have to be able to free and free association by its nature means freedom to not associate freedom to disassociate, because otherwise that's not free association. Let's just everybody's required to associate with everybody
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:27 the freedom to to Yeah, so the freedom for me to place the banhammer on someone that is me practicing my freedom of association on my Discord server. Exactly. Got it. Yes, that makes and your
Adam Goldstein 1:02:38 freedom of speech to it's like they they are where you can say, this is this is the place where we have the conversations about us this is this is us. Yes. When we go out there, we'll have the conversation with you. But here, this is us. I think
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:49 that's fantastic. I think that's a very good way of articulating this. Now, let's talk some about stereotypes of left and right, because I feel like at least in the circles that I have run in free speech, just as a term as a concept has become a right wing term. I feel like it has become kind of cringe it's kind of cringe just kind of eye roll like oh, look at this chuck talking about free speech. You know, look at this rube this this, you know, right wing logic, bro. Talking about free speech, and, and it it elicits this cringe response, I think for a lot of leftists, and then the right perceives the left as being very anti free speech as as cracking down on on free speech and not believing in free speech. And as someone who works in this area, as someone who who lives and breathes this conversation is denial of free speech is trying to shut down other people's first amendment rights. Is that something that manifests exclusively on one side? Or is it a human problem?
Adam Goldstein 1:04:05 I'm glad you brought this up, because there's a big disconnect between the public perception of what's going on. And what's going on these answers that yes, it is definitely a universal human problem. I see censorship from every direction and the most common censorship is from no direction the most common censorship is about people in power who are inconvenienced by people not in power on the college campus. That means a student who said something that's uncomfortable for the administration. Hmm. You know, there was we just sent a letter today about Haskell Indian Nations University where the college president told a student reporter not to report because he was asking uncomfortable questions. And he's felt that asking these questions was disrespectful. I mean, that's an example of this isn't about left or right. This is about your pain to me, and I want you to be quiet. Yeah. And that's by far the most common. And this is a very mild defense of college administrators, but I should say it, nobody calls me to tell me what Great time they're having with their college administration, I only hear problems. It doesn't make it normative. That just means I only that's people just don't call me to tell me if everything's great problem there, I'm sure most administrators aren't like this, most are just fine. But within that, within that space, I hear just horror stories after horror stories about this power imbalance in terms of left and right. Part of that is driven by the demographics of the university. Okay, where if you go back 3040 years, right, 3040 years ago, free speech was something that the left talked about, it's the Berkeley Free Speech Movement at Martin Luther King flees actually was the left. It was it was on the right, where people were just so sick of hearing about this free speech, just you know, so that they can have their deviant lifestyles, everyone talk about free speech. Right? Well, that even then, universities were probably three liberals to one conservative in terms of their administration, because this was a job education was a job that has always attracted people who are concerned with relationships and individuals and development of human beings. And they tend to be slightly left of center, they're not necessarily concerned with states institutions or governments in the same way. Now that obviously, that's there's an asterisk because this some disciplines have been more conservative and others. heart surgeons tend to be more conservative jet pilots tend to be more conservative. These are places you probably want someone not to be too unusual of a thinker
Stephen Bradford Long 1:06:18 and attract what we want your itself. So I mean, there are places that just self select for certain personality types and certain personality types, like openness to experience, can can determine someone's kind of political affiliation. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Well,
Adam Goldstein 1:06:35 it's since the 70s, when it was about four to one right now, depending on disciplines, its overall, colleges are about 12 liberal faculty members per conservative, and depending on which discipline you're in, if you're in the social sciences, it's 44. Liberals per conservative, and most conservatives tend to be older and rotating out. The reason I bring this up is because the perception that the left is intolerant of free speech is a lot driven by the censorship on campus. And since on campus, it's the left that's in power more, you tend to see more censorship of conservatives in this one particular metric. If there's one particular alignment, that doesn't mean that there aren't there definitely are liberals being censored. They're being censored by conservatives, sometimes its liberal is being censored by further left liberals. But in general, there's just as much censorship coming from the right. It's just coming from off campus onto campus, right. And this is where you see the you know, a professor makes a joke, like, white genocide, white genocide, when I was thinking of the Babson professor who talked about the Ayatollah auto name 52 American cultural sites he's going to he's going to destroy right because the joke joke being Can you name 52, American cultural heritage sites, and conservatives came right for their heads and conservative Oh, you can't let them say this terrible thing. There was a Essex County College, it's a that's a New Jersey Community College where she went, the professor got terminated, essentially, because she went on Fox, I'm Tucker Carlson, and made fun of Tucker Carlson complaining that there was a black lives matter only Fourth of July bar barbecue. It's like, Oh, your white privilege card won't get you into this one thing, boo hoo, hoo. And, of course, on the right, people lost their mind and went after her. So the perception that there is no censorship coming from that direction, or that there isn't free speech, there isn't a free speech problem in absence of conservative censoring liberals is just, they're not physically on campus. So we don't see them as much, right. But there's just as much of that pressure coming. Because so much of this perception is driven by the snapshots we take of the campus and the campus is so overwhelmingly liberal. Liberal I mean, left, people on the left have power not that they're actually liberals, but that people with left ideology have power, they use it to suppress conservatives on campus. So it's a big miss. It's a big misconception, just by the, the alignments of these of these institutions.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:08:49 So basically, what I'm hearing you say is that it's about who's in power, and it's about human beings being empowered. This is what oh, yeah, human, this is what human beings do. This isn't exclusive to the right or to the left, or center. This is human behavior. This is a human impulse, which I think is why Greg Lukianoff you know, he has a blog called the eternally radical idea. And he explained that that phrasing which is free speech is the eternally radical idea. It is. It is this idea that is radical in all times in all places, because it is so contrary to our nature. Yeah, he
Adam Goldstein 1:09:27 has another term he uses called censorship gravity, and which is this idea that the higher you get in power, the more powerful that draw back into censorship is, hmm. Which is sort of how you explain you have figures like John Adams, being a founding father talking about liberty, and then the Alien and Sedition Acts up and well didn't have power when he was talking about liberty. He was talking about liberty when he was going against the powerful British. When he had powers suddenly the Alien and Sedition Acts happened. Now here's a list of things you can say about the government, as if he himself would not have been imprisoned.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:09:58 Right for the things he said about To the British, okay, for people who don't know, tell them what the Alien and Sedition Act is
Adam Goldstein 1:10:04 the the Alien and Sedition Act was, you know, the first Congress's immediate retreat from from Liberty, where there were a bunch of there was a fear of war with France. And to avert or to allay that concern, anyone who said anything that could have been construed as anti government could be detained indefinitely, right. So it's recognized today as one of the most monumentally unconstitutional things that government has done on par with internment camps in World War Two. And it's one you're looking for an example of times we didn't live up to our promise and a, you've moved past, you move past the basic premise of slavery. This is one of the top three or four things you would come up with is that, what could the First Amendment really have meant? If the Alien Sedition Acts were actually consistent with it. And of course, they weren't consistent with it. They were an example of somebody, somebody having great ideals when they didn't have the power. I will say modern historians have sort of redeemed John Adams a little bit, and they've kind of said, well, the steps he actually like, he did do this, but he didn't really use it against me. He himself never invoked it. He supported it, but he himself never actually imprisoned anyone. And his reputation was tarnished, in part because he negotiated with France to avert the war. And that was seen as being sort of like soft and disloyal. When in reality, he averted a war that would have cost 10s of 1000s of American lives, if not hundreds, so that in this weird way, he was bad on free speech, but kind of a hero. So, but that's the modern interpretation. Certainly. There's no question that the Alien and Sedition Acts were contrary to the First Amendment contrary to his free speech, culture.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:11:37 Yeah, absolutely. So I think this is a great note to end on just that, you know, free speech is uncomfortable, and that what's important is that we keep talking as as a culture as a community that having hard conversations is what it means to be human. And that we should just keep doing that. And it's
Adam Goldstein 1:11:57 okay to mess up is lovely, I would say, but it's, yeah, it's okay to get the line wrong. It's okay to not be sure you're doing the right thing. I think if we're if we try to be a good conscience, hear each other and care about each other, then we will make it through even if at times, you know, there's times when I in other context, I would censor somebody and you have to go back and say, you know, what I had, I had a gut reaction, and I went too far. And there's times where I didn't censor somebody. And I should have said, you know, what, you probably need to, you need to find a new newspaper to write for type thing where like this, you know,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:12:24 I had an experience like that, actually, several weeks ago, where I did not practice the best judgment. And I had someone on my show, who said, things that I wish he hadn't said, or that I wish that I had responded to better, I'll probably do another show about that. And just kind of a post mortem. Yeah, it happens. This is all a work in progress. We're all figuring this shit out. And it is, it is entirely kind of counterintuitive to us. Like, it feels like we're co opting parts of our brain that were evolved for completely different purposes, to do this incredibly new exercise that, you know, is totally new in our human development, and the full scope of human history, this, this idea of speech and talking things through and all of that stuff, it is just incredibly new and incredibly challenging. And I'm still figuring it out. Yeah,
Adam Goldstein 1:13:17 I think we're all gonna be figuring out for the rest of our days and that the the one great virtue of free speech above the individual liberty, is that there's always a chance, you know, they always say there's always going to be someone smarter than you. my fervent hope is that people smarter than me come along, and have more refined ideas of how to actually live the liberty that I I'm trying to preserve for everyone, right. Like, I feel like the great virtue is, at least I'm not silencing the people smarter than me. If I'm wrong, they will come along.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:13:47 Absolutely. All right. Well, this has been great for people who are interested in your work. Where can they learn more about fire? Check out the fire.org Beautiful Yeah, everyone go check it out. It is super interesting. And by the way, I want to hear back from you if you agree, if you disagree, please go to my Discord server. Most of the conversation about my episodes and articles takes place on my Discord server. There is a link in the show notes you can also always leave a public comment on my website for this post at Steven Bradford long.com You can also write me an email just please don't send me death threats and or dick pics. All right, well, that is it for this show. As always, the music is by the jelly rocks and eleventy seven you can find them on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to music. This show is written produced and edited by me Steve and Bradford long and it is a production of rock candy recordings as always Hail Satan, and thanks for listening
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