Conservative Writer David French: We Should Be More Tolerant of Speech That Offends Us

Do you believe the First Amendment protects speech that offends you?

If you can say yes, then you truly believe in free speech. But as National Review’s David French pointed out in a recent piece, too many people will “zealously defend” the speech they like and bend over backward finding reasons to shut down speech from their “ideological enemies.”

French joined Wednesday’s “The Glenn Beck Radio Program” to talk about his piece on the NFL protests and why we need to listen to one another – even when we don’t like what we hear.

He gave a theoretical example to show the other “side”: What if President Barack Obama had threatened former football pro Tim Tebow’s religious expression and called for the quarterback to be fired?

“You can’t tell me that the entire conservative world wouldn’t absolutely meltdown at that,” French said. “We need to stop being so outraged about speech we disagree with.”

In the article headlined “I Understand Why They Knelt,” French asked some important questions:

*Who is a bigger threat, a few football players or the most powerful man in the world?

*How many leftists saying kneeling during the anthem is “free speech” think a Christian baker’s religious freedom doesn’t matter?

*How many conservatives who decried Google for firing an engineer with the “wrong” opinions think it’s OK for the president to threaten the free speech of private citizens?

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

STU: So David French wrote an article. He's a senior writer at the National Review. And when I saw the headline, I had to find out how he got there. The headline was I Understand Why They Knelt. It's an amazing read. And he joins us now to talk about that. And also, Judge Moore's win last night.

GLENN: Okay. So, David, welcome to the program. Let's start first with Judge Moore, if you have any thoughts on that at all. What does that tell you? What happened last night?

DAVID: You know, it tells me that the populist wave that swept Trump in and the populist wave that is really dominant in the South is still dominant. I mean, we -- a lot of people forget that Trump really capitulated -- really began to lock down the nomination and Super Tuesday, which is a Southern-dominated primary. And if there's one thing -- if you follow the politics of the South, if you studied the politics of the South, populism has sold here for generations.

GLENN: Yeah.

DAVID: So it doesn't surprise me at all.

GLENN: Populism in the South -- this is why this is so controversial. And please, if you're listening in the South, instead of getting mad, let's have a discussion and talk about actual history. But populism in the South, really with reconstruction and even the Civil War, populists created this illusion that the Civil War was not about slavery, it was about state's rights. Which is so clearly debunked, if you just read the Confederate constitution. I mean, it's -- you don't have to have any conversation on it at all.

But populism has swept the South up into this glory days of, this was about something different than slavery. And it is -- it continues through today.

So I'm reading a few people, David, that say that Judge Moore is actually a great constitutionalist and a great conservative.

DAVID: He's not a great constitutionalist. I mean, this is a guy who -- you know, he's a populist folk hero is what he is, because of the stand he took because of the Ten Commandments. He is a person who capitulated to fame by defying court orders, that were lawful court orders that he disagreed with. And so he decided to defy them. Now, look, that's all well and go when you love his cause and you hate the order that he's defying -- you know, I'm somebody that's been arguing on behalf of the constitutional rights of students and faculty members and college campuses, and we pretty much bank on colleges not defying those court orders. I mean, if we have a world where you just defy the court orders you don't like, it's a lawless world.

But it made him a folk hero, for a lot of folks, especially for the folks who dominate a primary electorate in the state of Alabama.

And so it's nothing about this, is surprising. This is exactly what you would expect.

And I think the populist sort of wave has not abated at all down here. And I live in Tennessee. I live just about 40 miles north of Alabama. And you can feel it. The populist wave has not abated at all. They still support Donald Trump, but to the extent that they're disappointed with Donald Trump, it's mainly, we need departs from the populism of the campaign.

GLENN: Why is this dangerous? To the average person, David, they don't understand why the wrapping yourself in the flag and populism is a bad thing.

DAVID: Well, you know, often it's not based so much on ideas. It's based on an attitude. It's based on an anger, and it's based on a rage. And it's based frankly on a misunderstanding that this is the only way to win. This is the only way to defeat the left.

And so what you have are politicians who are capitalizing on emotion, they're capitalizing on feeling. And they're not advocating particular ideas. And what begins to happen when that happens is you start to define yourself by your opposition to the other side, as opposed to what you're for. And, I mean, you see this all the time. You see people who define whether or not something is good by the number -- you know, the gallons of liberal tears being shed. And it becomes inherently divisive. It becomes devoid of ideas. And the odd thing is, as populism increases, you'll actually have greater rage, even with less ideological separation.

GLENN: Yes. Yes.

DAVID: I mean, think of the 2016 election. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were two of the least ideological candidates in modern times. Hillary sat on every side of every issue, except abortion. Trump had been on every side of every issue, including abortion. And yet, it was the most vicious race of our adult lifetimes. That's what happens.

GLENN: So I was talking to Brad Meltzer who is a great historian and writer, and we had a conversation yesterday. And I said, "We have abandoned the Judeo-Christian heroes. We have abandoned Moses, who was not a warrior. And we've abandoned Jesus, who was not a warrior. And what -- I can't say this is true for the entire West because, you know, Europe still has enough of the fascist/communist love in them, that they like a strong man. But it's not the same as it is in the Middle East. And then when you went to Europe, it lessened. And we had Jesus and Moses. And when he came over here to America, we really believed for a long time, blessed is the peacemaker. Look for the humble person. Look for the quiet person. And, you know, walk softly."

We've abandoned all of that now. Haven't we lost the essence of who we are, if we can't get back to a point to say, "You know, the reasonable person, the quiet person, the peacemaker is the hero, not the one that punches people in the face?"

DAVID: Look, I think we're really on the knife's edge here, in the sense that if we don't turn back from this notion that character no longer matters in a president, for example, or turn back from the notion that the ends justify the means. Or to use a popular phrase from the left, by any means necessary.

GLENN: Uh-huh.

DAVID: You know, the polarization we experience now is only the beginning. And one of the more discouraging things that I've seen -- again, you know, I live in rural Tennessee in the South -- it's a very evangelical area. And the number of my fellow evangelicals who profess to believe that character matters in a politician has plummeted, plummeted. They don't even seek it anymore. They don't seek character. And character is destiny, in so many ways, as my colleague Jonah Goldberg is fond of saying.

And when you have low character, you're going to -- the results that are achieved, the long-term cultural damage, all of those things are going -- it's going to come back to bite you, to the extent to which you wrap yourself around people of low character. And that is a problem we're confronting in this country. And, look, it's on both sides. As the 2016 election demonstrates.

So I think you're right. I mean, we need to embrace people of high character.

GLENN: So you wrote an article for National Review. I understand why they knelt. And I can't believe your day was pleasant after posting this.

But you -- you brought out something really, really good. You said, "Look, you know, everybody on the NFL, that is cheering for free speech, they're all too happy to stick the government on a tiny few bakers or florists who don't want to use their artistic talents to celebrate events they find offensive. How many progressives who celebrated First Amendment on Sunday sympathize with the college students who chant, "Speech is violence," and try to seek to block conservatives from college campuses. But then you went on to say: But as a conservative, I see many conservatives decry Google's termination of a young dissenting software engineer working overtime yesterday to argue that Trump is somehow in the right.

Yet Google is a private corporation, and Trump is the most powerful government official in the land. The First Amendment applies to Trump -- the First Amendment applies to Trump, not Google. And his demands for reprisals are ultimately far more ominous.

DAVID: Right.

GLENN: Would you care to explain yourself Mr. French?

DAVID: Well, let's back up a minute.

I mean, what we're talking about is a protest that was petering out. I mean, Colin Kapernick was out of the league. There are a few people here or there that are kneeling. Then Donald Trump went and he didn't say, "I disagree with it." He said, "They should be fired." He called them names. He said they should be fired. Then in tweets, he didn't just go after, for example, these football players. He went after Steph Curry because of Steph Curry's reluctance to go to the White House. And then he even said, if people don't do what I say, there should be economic boycotts and reprisals against the NFL.

Now, this is the most powerful man in the world. And I want you to put on your thinking cap for the audience and say, "What happened if Barack Obama said, if Tim Tebow injects religion into the football field anymore and he kneels after a touch down anymore, he should be fired, that expletive. He should be fired, and then we should boycott the NFL." You can't tell me that the entire conservative world would absolutely melt down on that. And so what happened, you had the most powerful man in the world trying to dictate to these individuals how they should express themselves.

And, look, what happened last Sunday wasn't them -- it wasn't the Colin Kaepernick/Black Lives Matter protest. That wasn't what happened on Saturday. What happened on Saturday was people saying to the president, you don't dictate how we speak.

So I absolutely understand that impulse, just as I would understand it if a whole bunch of players knelt with Tim Tebow to protest if Barack Obama did something like this.

And it's always very helpful to put on our thinking caps and say, what if the other side had done something similar towards somebody we perhaps like? Then it begins to clarify these issues.

My position though is, we need to stop being so outraged about speech we disagree with.

Our position should be rebut to bad speech with better speech. I didn't like Colin Kaepernick's protests. And I wrote that. And I tried to persuade people that his protest was not right.

STU: They will say though that you can't persuade these people, and somebody's got to strike back. That's what I hear all the time.

DAVID: Well, I know. I hear that all the time too, Glenn. The fight fire with fire. Got to punch them back. Let's see how well that works, okay? So we had, what? Ten, 12 NFL players the Sunday before kneeling.

So he punched back really hard. And what did we have? 200-plus kneeling. You know, this fight fire with fire, often what it ends up doing is it makes you feel good because you're really, really mad, but it doesn't accomplish what you want.

What it actually accomplishes is more division. What it actually accomplishes is more rage. And what it actually accomplished was mainstreaming kneeling for the national anthem and for the flag. That's what he actually accomplished.

And I'm saying, let's turn down the temperature. And let's respect free speech. And let's not freak out when somebody disagrees with us. Let's have a consistent view that says the United States of America is a place where people have the right to be wrong, and I'm going to try to persuade them when they're wrong.

But even if they stay wrong, I'm going to tolerate that. And I'm going to be okay with the fact that there are going to be people who are wrong in this society. We'll never create a utopia because we've got to learn how to live with each other when we don't agree with each other. And it's not by saying, I want to fire people who disagree with me, and I want to fire people who offend me. That's the wrong way to do it.

GLENN: David, thank you for making members of the audience uncomfortable today with your speech. Thank you very much.

STU: So one of the things I really like about David French and his writing is, there are times I will go into an article, not know what to expect, and it will challenge what I'm thinking. And I don't know, I like that. I think that's what we're supposed to --

GLENN: It's healthy. It's really healthy.

STU: Yeah. He's the senior writer at National Review. He wrote the book Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore. He's an Iraq veteran. And the article is, I understand why they knelt. We'll tweet it from @GlennBeck and @worldofStu.

Soros is trying to elect MORE TEXAS RINOs. Here's how YOU can stop him.

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Texas is under threat of a George Soros-backed takeover.

Soros-funded RINO judges have been elected in some of the highest courts in Texas. These judges implemented restrictions that have blocked nearly a thousand cases of voter fraud from being investigated or prosecuted from across the state. These new restrictions are similar to ones in place in states like George, Arizona, and Wisconsin, leaving Texas more susceptible to election corruption than ever. If Texas falls to corruption, America will lose its largest bastion of conservative electoral power in the nation. Without Texas, Republicans WILL NOT be able to win national elections and liberal corruption will go unchecked across the country.

Fortunately, there is a way to stop this: YOU.

If you live in Texas you have a chance to stand up against corruption and to fight back! Starting Tuesday, February 20th, early voting for the primaries begins, where three of these judges are up for election. Go out and vote. If the right people are voted in, there's a good chance the restrictions will be lifted and election fraud can once again be prosecuted.

But remember, you can't just go in and vote for anyone who has an "R" next to their name. Sorors knows that a registered Democrat would never stand a chance in Texas, so his lackeys register as Republicans and ride the little "R" right into office. So who do you vote for?

Fortunately, Glenn had Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on his show today and Ken gave us his list of judges that he vouches for. His list is as follows:

  • Gina Parker
  • Lee Finley
  • David Schenck
The Primary Election runs from February 20th to March 5th. This is your chance to get out there and make a difference. It might be the most important election you ever participate in. If you need to know where your nearest polling location is, or any other information regarding the election, you can go to votetexas.gov to find out more.
It's time to stand up.

Hypocrisy EXPOSED: The 'Amazon Files' and what WE are doing about it

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Who is really banning books?

For years now, Conservatives have been taking flak from the left for supposed "book bans." The left likes to compare these "bans" to Nazi book burnings, accusing the right of sweeping authoritarian decrees designed to suppress information. In reality, this is a movement largely motivated by parents, who want to remove inappropriate books from children's libraries.

But if you want to discuss authoritarian book bans, look no further than the White House. As Glenn recently covered, the Biden administration has been pressuring the world's largest bookseller, Amazon, into suppressing books they disagree with.

On February 5th, 2024, Ohio Representative Jim Jordan released a slew of subpoenaed documents that exposed pressure placed on Amazon by the Biden Administration. The documents, which Jordan dubbed "The Amazon Files" after Elon Musk's "The Twitter Files," revealed an email conversation between Andrew Slavitt, a former White House senior adviser, and Amazon employees. In these emails, Slavitt complained that the top search results for books on "vaccines" were "concerning" and then requested that Amazon intervene. Amazon initially refused, not out of some altruistic concern for the free exchange of information. They thought any action taken would be "too visible" and would further exasperate the “Harry/Sally narrative,” referring to the outrage that followed Amazon's removal of Ryan T. Anderson’s book When Harry Became Sally.

Despite this initial refusal, Amazon agreed to meet with the White House a few days later. The number one item on their agenda was removing books from the website. An Amazon employee even admitted that the reason they even took this meeting was due to the pressure being placed on them by the Biden Administration.

What was the result of this meeting? Amazon caved. They began to implement ways of limiting the outreach of books that challenged the mainstream vaccine narrative and other books the White House might not like.

The White House was caught red-handed pressuring the world's largest bookseller to restrict the sale of books they consider in opposition to their narrative, and they have the gall to accuse conservatives of information suppression. This is just ONE of many actions committed by the Biden Administration that are more characteristic of a dictator than a president.

What can you do about it? Fortunately, you are not dependent on Amazon and its corrupted algorithm to help you find books. Every week right here on GlennBeck.com, we highlight books that Glenn is reading or talking about in our "Glenn's Bookshelf" series. Here you can find a wide selection of books free from Amazon's filters. Be sure to sign up for Glenn's newsletter to find out about new additions to "Glenn's Bookshelf" every week.

10 times Biden has acted like a DICTATOR

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The left-wing media's most recent tirade is accusing Trump of being a dictator. But, as Glenn said, "Everything they're accusing us of, they're doing."

Since day one, the Biden administration has overstepped the bounds placed on the executive branch set by the Constitution. In Glenn's most recent TV Special, he examined ten times Biden acted like a dictator, NOT a president. Here are 10 of Biden's Dictator Moves, and click HERE to get ALL of the research that went into this week's Glenn TV special:

5 ways to protect your First Amendment rights. Number 4 will surprise you.

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Every day it seems Glenn covers another story revealing how people across the world at all levels of power DESPISE the fact that YOU have rights, and they are actively trying to curtail them. Recently, there has been a string of attacks against the rights outlined in the First Amendment: the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom to petition.

As a refresher, the First Amendment reads as follows:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

This is powerful stuff, there is a good reason the Founding Fathers made it the FIRST Amendment. It's also the reason why power-hungry elites are attacking it. These attacks are designed to control the way you think, speak, and believe, vote, what you read, and who holds your representatives responsible. The First Amendment is our strongest weapon against tyrants, and they know it.

So what can you do about it? Hope that some wig in Washinton will eventually do something? We know how well that works. The best thing to do is to stay active, engage in the issues you care about, and exercise your rights.

So where to start? Here are a few things YOU can do to protect your First Amendment rights:

Religion

The best way to flex your Freedom of Religion is to—you guessed it—practice your faith. Become an active member in your place of worship, go to scripture studies, invite your friends to that late afternoon event, and walk the life. This can impact the way you spend money as well. Shop the businesses and brands that share your values, and don't shop at the ones that scorn them. Keeping the community alive and healthy is the best way to ensure that generations to come will be able to experience the freedom you enjoy.

Speech

Much like religion, the best way to protect your freedom of speech is... to speak. Engage your friends and family in polite, civil conversation. Stand up for what you believe in, and make your case to your peers. Just remember to keep it friendly. No one ever won an argument by shouting down their opponent. The civil exchange of ideas is the cornerstone of our republic, and a dialogue where the participants are well-informed, considerate, compassionate, and open-minded can have permanent impacts on all involved.

Press

Freedom of the Press seems a little tricky at first. Unless you work for the media, what are you supposed to do? Quit your job and go work for the local newspaper? The good news is that exercising this right is not nearly that difficult. In fact, you are currently doing it. The best thing you can do is to read from outlets that produce informative content. Want to know what Glenn consumes to stay informed every day? Sign up for Glenn's Morning Brief newsletter to get all the stories Glenn gets sent to his desk every day sent straight to your inbox.

Assembly

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Freedom of assembly is one of the more impactful yet underutilized freedoms in the First Amendment. Peaceably assembling and protesting with like-minded individuals can hugely influence politicians and policies while simultaneously creating community and fellowship between attendees. It's understandable why more people don't turn out. We're all busy people with busy schedules, and flying out to D.C. for the weekend seems like a daunting task to many. Thankfully, you don't have to go out all the way to D.C. to make a difference. Gather some like-minded people in your town and bring awareness to issues that impact your community. Big change starts locally, and exercising your freedom to assemble can be the catalyst to lasting impact.

Petition

If you've been a long-time listener of Glenn, then you will have heard a few of his calls to action where he asks his audience to contact their representatives about a particular piece of policy. There is a good reason Glenn keeps on doing those: they work. Whether it's your local mayor or your senator, a call and an email go a long way. If you really want to make a change, convince your friends and family to reach out as well.