Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Asserts That "Freedom of Speech Does Not Extend to Racist Groups":

[UPDATE: The statement I criticize below has now been corrected by Alan Potash.]

That's the view of Alan Potash, the ADL's regional director for Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. Pretty appalling, it seems to me — simply false as a statement of current free speech law (which it sounds like it is), and deeply misguided as a matter of what the law should be.

And in the wake of attempts to condemn Israeli policies as racist, it should be pretty clear to American Jews that such a position could easily be turned around them. After all, any university administration that takes the view that Israeli actions towards the Palestinians are racist could easily conclude that defenders of those actions are racist as well, and therefore suspended or driven off campus. Or how about Orthodox Jews (and perhaps quite a few other Jews as well) who believe that homosexuality is against God's will? Once "racist groups" lose their free speech rights, it's hard to see why "homophobic groups" wouldn't equally lose them.

What about groups that express deep religious hostility, as I've heard many Jews do with regard to the Jews for Jesus? Perhaps such hostility is justified, or perhaps not, but after "racist groups" lose their First Amendment rights, "religiously bigoted groups" might come close behind. I think free speech protection even for the "ideas we hate" is the right approach in general; but even if the ADL is narrowly focused on its own community's concerns (as some groups well might), it should still, I think, reach the same result.

Note that the director isn't even making the ostensibly narrow arguments in favor of banning speech that advocates violence, or that uses epithets, or some such. So long as you are a "racist group[]," "freedom of speech does not extend" to you. I hope the national ADL promptly condemns Mr. Potash's statements.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Anti-Defamation League Plains States Regional Director Corrects Statement on Free Speech:
  2. Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Asserts That "Freedom of Speech Does Not Extend to Racist Groups":