‘Free Speech’ Is Not a Get-out-of-Jail-Free Card for Terrorist Sympathizers

The ongoing war Israel-Hamas War has led to many progressives having their first experience with holding unpopular views and not being protected by the government or the prevailing secular culture. Leftists who have held opinions based on progressive orthodoxy their entire lives are discovering that speaking out in favor of Hamas’s terrorism can have actual consequences.


My colleague Jeff Charles posted on Monday about that phenomenon in Free Speech and the Israel-Palestine Debate: Where Do We Draw the Line? I have a bit of a different take from his.

The odious, terror-simping outlet Intercept posted about the unfortunate things happening to people who have surfaced to support the idea that killing civilians is a lawful way of waging war. In Senate Condemns Student Groups as Backlash to Pro-Palestinian Speech Grows, Murtaza Hussain complains about a climate in which celebrating murder is considered beyond the Pale of acceptable behavior.

In recent weeks, the editor-in-chief of the nonprofit scientific journal eLife, Michael Eisen, was forced to resign after sharing an article from The Onion satirizing public indifference to Palestinian civilian deaths; a top Hollywood talent agent, Maha Dakhil, was removed from the board of her company for suggesting on Instagram that a genocide was taking place in Gaza; and numerous journalists engaged in nonpolitical coverage, as well as ordinary corporate employees both in the United States and beyond, have faced reprimands and dismissals over their statements on the war.

In one of the most high-profile and egregious instances of retaliation, the head of the major global technology conference Web Summit was forced to apologize and resign after posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “war crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are.”

You can add to that law school students having offers of employment withdrawn (Cancel Culture Finally Comes for the Left, and I Can’t Stop Laughing), and the head of asylum applications at the Department of Homeland Security placed on leave and under investigation for sending blatantly antisemitic social media messages supporting Hamas’s terrorism (Former PLO Spokeswoman Working for the Biden Administration, and It Gets Crazier From There). Just today, Elite Models NYC dropped Camilla Deterre (never heard of her before today, but she looks like she models whatever is hot for meth addicts this season) for antisemitic and pro-terror comments.


Others have had the same experience.

The post includes this perspective.

The libertarian-leaning free speech organization the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression has been among a handful of organizations to speak out directly on behalf of people targeted by recent crackdowns. “True threats, incitement to imminent unlawful action, and harassment are not protected,” the organization said in a recent statement. “But the recent calls to punish speech about the Israel-Hamas conflict extend well beyond expression that falls into one of those narrow categories.”

The efforts to introduce ideological tests, which by nature tend to be highly open to interpretation when it comes to political issues, represent a dark portent for the future of speech generally in the U.S. Whereas many have noted that the private sector functions as a de facto censor by threatening individuals with financial ruin over their political views, the growing push to enact more stringent legal and bureaucratic barriers to free expression represents the culmination of what liberal free speech advocates have long feared.


The post goes on to call out Senator Marco Rubio for introducing a Senate resolution to invalidate the visas of Hamas supporters. To the author, booting terrorist simps out of the country is a danger to the Republic. And no castigation of Republicans would be complete without hitting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis ordered the “Students for Justice in Palestine” chapters in the Florida university system disbanded for “material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization” because it was. Its “Day of Resistance” was focused on supporting Hamas. He didn’t suppress support of the so-called Palestinians; he encouraged the members of the disbanded groups to form new groups that didn’t cheerlead for jihadis slaughtering civilians. This tweet, or “X” or whatever is solely to show the letter Governor DeSantis signed because the writer of the tweet obviously had not bothered to read it — it doesn’t mention antisemitism, and Florida has no law against it — and just made up what it says.

What is happening here is two things. First, the terrorist-simp left is trying to appropriate the term “cancel culture” as a rhetorical cloak. My good friend Mike Ford wrote about how the left twists language to get their way; see Most “Assault Rifles”…Aren’t. Cancel culture refers to combing through past writings, including high school and college essays, to find statements that could be used to convince an employer to fire the person or to derail a nomination or a college to expel them. “Cancel culture” has never applied to saying stupid stuff and being called on it. And there is no evidence that anyone caught up in supporting terrorism is in any danger of expulsion from college. The idea here is to embrace the term, insist they are victims of it, and condemn as hypocrites anyone who claims to support free speech but doesn’t support Hamas sympathizers.


The second thing they are trying to do is change “free speech” to cover the advocacy of genocide. First, free speech applies to government interference with your right to speak out. It doesn’t mean that you can’t suffer consequences for doing so. People who spoke out against homosexual marriage in California were subject to doxxing and losing their jobs. That was the price they paid for defending Western Civilization, so defending terrorism should also have a price.

In short, there is no relationship between what is happening to Hamas supporters and the “cancel culture.” The response the terror apologists are getting for proclaiming their fealty to Hamas is not an infringement of free speech. It is the reaction of what remains decent and worth saving in our culture to a call to genocide by people who should know better.

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