Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Trump and Hume

David Hume by Allan Ramsay (1754)

Value-free questioning, which often throws doubt on what's visible to the eyes, is a peculiar duck. But what's a duck? The epitome of this phenomenon is the questioning of the results of the 2020 election. The argument is made by Retrumplicans like Jim Jordan and Josh Hawley that all they were asking for was the right to ask certain questions due to all the claims by people like them that the election had been fraudulent and rigged. The fact that governors (many Republican) and electoral commissions (also in many cases Republican) in all states certified the results and the fact that the very questions they wished to be answered had been adjudicated in 86 cases and brought unsuccessfully before the Supreme Court doesn't matter. There's a certain wide-eyed innocence accompanying such questioning. The questioners give off the affect of an ingenue or new kid on the block. They just want to know. The same thing relates to the questioning of Twitter and Facebook’s ban on Trump. In this later the posture shifts from mere inquiry to agitation about the loss of First Amendment rights. Context is totally lost along with the remembrance of famous free speech cases like Schenck where Oliver Wendall Holmes famously iterated the example of crying “fire!” in a crowded theater.  Comparing the losing candidate's right to totally discredit a lawful election to the repression of speech that goes on in a totalitarian society is to invoke a false equivalence. There is, in fact, no comparison. There's no doubt that a doubting Thomas has their own agenda. And here’s another question. What should a gun control adherent do the next time they're harassed by Marjorie Taylor Greene? Should he or she turn around and pull a gun on her to prove that words have consequences? Or is Trump merely an adherent to the skepticism of Hume?

Read "MAGA and Coronavirus" by Francis LevyThe East Hampton Star

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