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.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

Use code BECK to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.