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NYT editorial board to identify ‘wide range of threats’ to free speech, offer solutions

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The New York Times editorial board in an op-ed Friday announced a project in the upcoming months where they will identify threats to free speech and offer solutions.

In an article titled “America Has a Free Speech Problem,” the Times editorial board takes aim at conservatives and liberals who they say have contributed to a decline in Americans feeling as though they can freely express their views “without fear of being shamed or shunned.”

“In large part, it’s because the political left and the right are caught in a destructive loop of condemnation and recrimination around ‘cancel culture,’” the board wrote. 

“Many on the left refuse to acknowledge that cancel culture exists at all, believing that those who complain about it are offering cover for bigots to peddle hate speech. Many on the right, for all their braying about cancel culture, have embraced an even more extreme version of censoriousness as a bulwark against a rapidly changing society, with laws that would ban books, stifle teachers and discourage open discussion in classrooms.”

The board looked at a poll that showed many Americans did not feel comfortable sharing their opinion and said it will continue a series that will focus on the threats to freedom of speech and how to mitigate them. 

“This editorial board plans to identify a wide range of threats to freedom of speech in the coming months, and to offer possible solutions,” they wrote. 

The editorial by the Times drew swift criticism from some on the left and right sides of the political spectrum. 

Some of the backlash from the right focuses on what they see as hypocrisy by the outlet, as they believe the Times has engaged in the same behavior they denounce in the article. 

“​​This is rather rich coming from an outlet which has effectively promoted censorship of very legitimate views regarding the reaction to the pandemic,” John Ziegler, former senior columnist for Mediaite, tweeted.

The Times also received an ample amount of backlash after it pulled an op-ed published in 2020 by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that called for the president to send in military troops to deal with the protests that broke out in response to George Floyd’s death. 

Some also took aim at the characterizing of anti-critical race theory (CRT) laws being a form of censorship. CRT, an academic and legal theory that puts institutional racism at the center of teaching U.S. history, has become a flashpoint among people on the right over the past year.

Hey @nytimes, whatever you think about bills/laws regulating classroom topic, they’re not a form of ‘cancel culture’ which is aimed at destroying individuals or business because people like YOU don’t like them. Don’t you dare pretend to support free speech now. Nobody’s buyin’ it,” Ross Kaminsky, a radio host, tweeted

Some of the criticism from the left denounced the article for saying the perceived attacks on free speech are on the same moral level between the two sides. 

This is appalling. The both-sidesism of The New York Times comes out in full force from its editorial board as it equates the left criticizing hate and the right burning books. Pure moral panic,” Jeff Jarvis, a professor at The City University of New York, said.

Let me know when the @nytimes and the @NYTimesOpinion are ready to hear from the professors who have been targeted by right wing operations like Turning Point and Campus Reform who have endured attacks and in some cases losing jobs over silencing,” Anthea Butler, a columnist for MSNBC Daily, tweeted.  

Others on the left have justified the actions the Times denounced, saying freedom of speech doesn’t mean people are not allowed to seek consequences for what a person says. 

Tags Cancel culture First Amendment to the United States Constitution Freedom of speech Freedom of speech in the United States The New York Times Tom Cotton

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