Bret Stephens Loses His Own Argument

The NYTimes published, then repudiated, an Op-Ed piece by a Republican senator urging deployment of active-duty troops to quell looting and rioting that intruded upon mostly peaceful protests. Bret Stephens disagrees with the politician’s incitement, but says it was proper for the NYTimes to publish it.

Stephens does not stick his landing, I’m afraid.

The value of Cotton’s Op-Ed … lies in the fact that Cotton is a leading spokesman for a major current of public opinion… To claim that his argument is too repugnant for publication is to write off half of America…

We… have an obligation to keep undeniably hateful ideas, like Holocaust denial or racism, out of the editorial pages [my bolding]… But serious journalism… cannot survive in an atmosphere in which modest intellectual risk-taking or minor offenses against new ideological orthodoxies risk professional ruin.

(Bret Stephens, “What the Times Got Wrong,” NYTimes, 6-12-20)

Stephens says there are “undeniably hateful ideas, like Holocaust denial or racism” that should be banned from the editorial pages. But what if, say, half of America denied the Holocaust? Would a leading spokesman for this “major current of public opinion” then be entitled to a serious editorial platform? That seems like a slippery slope. Half of America, after all, defended slavery.

(c) 2020 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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