We’ve heard a lot over the last few years about left-wing hostility to free expression. On occasion I’ve written about this subject myself. But as much as I dislike campus histrionics and self-righteous Twitter swarms, a far greater threat to free speech comes from people on the right — or, at any rate, people opposed to the left — using the courts against their critics.
The Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, sometimes seen as a free speech warrior, has twice sued Ontario’s Wilfrid Laurier University for defamation, part of a controversy that arose after a teaching assistant there was chastised for showing a video of Peterson in class. He has also threatened to sue Kate Manne, a writer and assistant professor at Cornell, for calling his work misogynist. The failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore sued four women who accused him of sexual abuse.
And, of course, there’s Stephen Elliott, the writer suing Moira Donegan, creator of a crowdsourced spreadsheet of allegedly abusive men in the media industry, as well as the people who contributed to it. Through the suit, he’s trying to force the disclosure of these people’s names, something that would have profound implications for every part of the internet where anonymity is the norm.