Free speech in a bind: Untrustworthy governments -- and citizens

While there are important differences of both law and principle, Amazon’s decision to ban a book constitutes a much more effective and ruthless method of suppression: The minor effect is that you’ll have to go somewhere else to buy Ryan Anderson’s book, but the major effect is that in the future publishers simply will not bring out such politically risky books in the first place — it’s one high-profile intellectual murder followed by a hundred thousand intellectual abortions that will never be remarked upon.

I have never believed that the U.S. government — or any other government — has the legitimate right to ban books or political parties, no matter how loathsome they may be. I do not expect that belief to change. What has changed for me is that I no longer have my old confidence that the American people can be relied upon to sort these things out responsibly and intelligently in private life. Why? The country’s largest bookseller is a book-banner, Senate Democrats have attempted to repeal the First Amendment, Marjorie Taylor Greene is in Congress, and Republicans attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election sacked the Capitol in January.

When you cannot trust the government or the governed, you are in a pickle. And so we can probably expect to see more Americans demanding more invasive and repressive measures based on streitbare Demokratie arguments — and more jackasses giving them an excuse to do so.