Things Conservatives Like to Censor: Porn, #BlackLivesMatter and Criticism of Israel

Typewriter with word PORN typed out.
(Twitter Trends 2019 via Flickr)
Right-wingers are no slackers when it comes to censorship, but unlike most liberals, conservatives prefer censoring pornography, Black Lives Matter and folks finding fault with Israel.

When it comes to trampling free speech and the First Amendment, radical left-wingers seem to have all the fun these days. What with the #MeToo movement, intersectionality, microaggressions, safe spaces and cancel culture, woke millennials and Gen Zers have unabashedly owned censorship as a means to their own dystopian dead-end, where everyone agrees with their social justice agenda and no one is ever offended.

Still, many Republicans and social conservatives also heart limits on freedom of expression. They just have different stuff that they want to censor. Here then are three examples, torn from recent news reports, of right-wingers getting their britches in a twist over speech that they despise.

BLM leader DeRay Mckesson at a June 2017 forum in San Francisco. (TechCrunch via Flickr)

Black Lives Matter

Republicans tend to have issues with African-Americans. Witness that whole “Southern strategy” thing where for decades they’ve usurped the Democratic Party in Southern states by employing dog whistles and code words to win over white voters. Tuskers especially don’t like it when African-Americans take to the streets to protest police brutality — one reason many of them are less than keen on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Writing for The Atlantic, University of Baltimore Law School Professor Garrett Epps recently explained how a three judge panel of the deeply conservative U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals broke with  Supreme Court precedent in Doe v. Mckesson, finding that DeRay Mckesson, a well-known leader of the Black Lives Matter movement, could be sued for a 2016 incident at a BLM protest, in which a cop identified only as “John Doe” was hit in the head by a projectile thrown by an unknown person.

Mckesson didn’t throw the object, and he didn’t incite anyone to do so. He helped lead an act of civil disobedience that blocked a bridge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that’s where the police officer was assaulted. This was enough for the Fifth Circuit panel — made up of judges nominated to the bench by Republican presidents — to allow the lawsuit to proceed.

As Epps observes, the ruling ignores a 1982 SCOTUS decision in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardwarewhere the high court held that the leaders of a demonstration can only be civilly liable if they, “authorized, directed, or ratified specific tortious activity,” incited lawlessness or issued orders “to carry out violent acts or threats.”

If the Fifth Circuit decision holds, it could have a chilling effect on anyone who wants to plan a protest. SCOTUS rulings like the one in Claiborne Hardware were crucial to the success of the civil rights movement. Epps notes that such decisions even protect President Trump from civil claims, when he sics his supporters on protesters at a MAGA rally.

But then, Trump is not Black Lives Matter, so…

Teddy bear watching Teddy bear porn.
Literally, everybody’s watching it… (Stewart Clark via Flickr)

Pornography

The internet forever released the libidinous genie of adult content into the world. Some of us are old enough to recall when you had to rent an X-rated video, buy a magazine or check out a peep show with a pocket full of tokens. But no more. Porn is ubiquitous online, and according to Gallup, the number of Americans who find pornography “morally acceptable” has risen each year since 2011. Last year, it stood at 43 percent, a seven point increase over 2017.

And yet many social conservatives, and some radical feminists, remain hellbent on rolling back the clock to pre-internet times. For instance, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), founded in 1962 as the interfaith religious organization Morality in Media, pushes a profoundly repressive agenda, with NCSE prudes preaching, per the group’s website, “the seamless connection between all forms of sexual exploitation” as driven by pornography.

NCSE wants porn eradicated from the face of the earth, and it demands that all U.S. obscenity laws be enforced. But since American society is refusing to cooperate with this unhinged neo-Victorian jihad, NCSE has reverted to Plan B; i.e.,  passing legislation, with the aid of Republicans, in Arizona, Utah and several other states, that declares pornography to be a “public health crisis.”

You know, like opioid abuse, but with hairy palms instead of dead bodies…

Problem is, groups like NCSE link porn to a whole host of human ills, including the bugbear of “sex trafficking,” child porn, porn addiction and so on. This is all hooey, of course, but it’s enough to motivate Republicans to pass meaningless “public health crisis” legislation. Foreseeably, it could result in attempts at widespread censorship, such as in the UK, which is set to introduce a national age-verification system for online adult content starting in July.

Photo of a protest in Manhattan.
Pro-BDS demonstration on Broadway in Manhattan, March 2014. (The All-Nite Images via Flickr)

The BDS Movement

Get your cerebellum out of the sewer, folks. BDS has nothing to do with E.L. James’ smutty novel Fifty Shades of Grey. Rather it refers to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which targets Israel over its policies toward Palestinians in much the same way the boycott of South Africa in the 1980s targeted South Africa’s system of apartheid.

Supporters of Israel claim the two situations are not equivalent and that the BDS movement is in fact anti-Semitic. While the former is certainly accurate, the latter frequently is not.  It is possible to support Israel’s right to exist while deploring its actions in certain areas.

Democrats and Republicans like trying to outdo each other on which party is more pro-Israel.  Jewish Americans traditionally favor Democrats, so maybe that’s why Republicans have been more vocal in their unquestioning support of the Jewish state of late. Many Rs have doubled-down on otherwise bipartisan anti-BDS legislation, passed in 27 states, which requires that state contractors not participate in a boycott of Israel.

The ACLU says anti-BDS laws run afoul of the First Amendment. So far, federal judges in Kansas, Texas and Arizona have agreed and blocked the enforcement of anti-BDS statutes in those states.

In the past, SCOTUS has ruled that boycotts are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Supporters of anti-BDS measures argue that no one has a First Amendment right to a government contract, and so the laws are constitutional. Sounds like one of those games that the Supreme Court’s black-robed legal umpires will one day have to call.

For more on BDS, check out:
Aiming to Strike Down Laws That Target Anti-Israeli Boycott Movement, ACLU Scores Direct Hit in Kansas

For more tales of anti-porn rage, read:
Ohio Town Gets Religion, Officially Proclaims ‘Pornography Awareness Week’

About Stephen Lemons

Stephen Lemons is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than 20 years of experience covering everything from government corruption to white-supremacist gangs. In addition to Front Page Confidential, his work has appeared in Phoenix New Times, the Los Angeles Times, Salon.com, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.