Dan Vallone: There’s no place for Steve Bannon in New Hampshire

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 12:45:14 AM. A healthy democracy relies on a vibrant marketplace of ideas. As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in his dissent in the 1919 case Abrams v. United States, “the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in...
A healthy democracy relies on a vibrant marketplace of ideas. As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in his dissent in the 1919 case Abrams v. United States, “the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” This bold embrace of free speech is at the heart of our willingness to challenge falsehoods, put forth new ideas and drive our nation toward a more just society. But there is a dark side to our expansive defense of the First Amendment. As with all marketplaces, there has always been an illicit market in the trading of ideas; a space where merchants of outrage (to borrow a phrase from The Economist) peddle white nationalism, anti-Semitism and other conspiracy theories laced with vitriol. Through concerted legal efforts and herculean moral movements, by people of all backgrounds and beliefs, we have steadily reduced the intensity and reach of activities in this market. Landmark civil rights acts and Supreme Court decisions enshrined in law America’s foundational idea that all people are created equal. We made progress, however imperfect, toward a more meaningful conception of justice; and over the past 20 years witnessed a steady decline in the number of hate crimes (as reported by the FBI). Today this progress is under attack. In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported 917 hate groups in America, up from 784 in 2014. This uptick is representative of a concerted effort to puncture the shield of...Read more
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