Freedom of speech is no longer a universal value among the American left. A majority of Democrats now favor so-called “hate speech” laws that would criminalize certain speech deemed as offensive by some politburo, according to a YouGov poll.
Those against freedom of expression tend to be younger millennials but there are notable exceptions among older left wing celebrities. Purported comedian and Netflix talk show host Chelsea Handler recently tweeted that it might be nice for the United States to adopt the same restrictions on free speech that Germany has in place.
2 Chinese guys were arrested in Berlin for making nazi salutes. Wouldn’t it be nice 2 have laws here for people who think racism is funny?
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) August 7, 2017
The story that Handler was referencing involved two Chinese tourists who reportedly made the Nazi salute in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin. While it was clearly an insensitive photo-op, that’s all that it was. In any other country the act would be dismissed as such if it were even noticed at all.
But, Germany has strict anti-Nazi laws in place that were enacted immediately after the fall of the Third Reich. At the time, the anti-free speech laws were seen as necessary protections to ensure that the National Socialist Party wouldn’t re-form after the war. These political restrictions have remained mostly untouched for seventy years and are still enforced to this day.
Chelsea Handler clearly didn’t understand the context of the laws which those Chinese tourists violated. She assumed that a progressive, liberal European country like Germany simply had anti-racism laws that prevented individuals from making hateful gestures in public. It’s hard to say whether it’s better or worse that she got it so wrong.
Either way, for someone who makes their living expressing themselves, Handler proposing laws against free speech is the height of irony. If she supports the original laws that criminalized the Nazi party she’s guilty of supporting political repression. If she supports what she believes are laws against racism, she’s guilty of supporting the criminalization of free speech.
Both of those beliefs were once unheard of among the American left. Chelsea Handler’s willingness to support such anti-free speech measures openly speaks volumes to the dramatic changes that have taken place within the left. The anti-fascists are becoming more and more fascist by the day.
(Photo of Chelsea Handler speaking onstage at the Chelsea Handler and Chef Jose Andres Heat Up The Kitchen panel during the 2017 Vulture Festival at Milk Studios on May 21, 2017 in New York City. by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Vulture Festival.)