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Sunday, November 12, 2023

Sorkin on free speech

I have written about my change of heart regarding Aaron Sorkin--loved The American President, Sports Night, and West Wing at the time, now find everything about his work (including the earlier work on rewatch) insufferable and repetitive.

But in thinking about stuff happening on campus and the positions of many in the Jewish community on and off campus, this speech from American President sprung to mind: (this is from the president's press conference near the end, responding to GOP criticisms (in-story and real-at-the moment) of the President being a member of the ACLU and opposing flag-burning bans:

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.

Admittedly, still kind of insufferably over-the-top. But it contains the kernel of the right idea for Jewish students encountering discomforting, oppressive, offensive speech. Video after the jump.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 12, 2023 at 05:00 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


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