The internet has created a new grounds for cowards to incite political violence in this republic, and we should respond accordingly.
During the “intergalactic freak show” that was the Kavanaugh confirmation “process,” we got some insight into exactly what kind of tactics the Left is willing to employ, and it should concern anyone who believes in self-government guided by debate. Namely, I’m talking about the fact that someone posted the private, identifying information of United States senators, resulting in targeted harassment.
Perhaps the suspect’s motive was nothing more than annoying harassment, but seeing as we live in a world where a radicalized leftist shot up a congressional softball practice last year, it’s hard to see how a thinking person would see this as anything short of a true, direct threat.
And this isn’t an isolated incident. More and more, internet trolls are turning to “doxxing” as a means of targeting political opponents. They’re not just hurting and endangering other people; they’re endangering the very bedrock of this experiment in self-government.
People who do this sort of thing are cowards. They’re cowards who don’t have the courage to debate the people with whom they disagree and don’t even have the fortitude to confront their political opponents face to face. They task it out to even more faceless thugs on the internet.
But even worse than their cowardice is what they’re trying to do to this experiment in self-government. In a civilized republic, we debate with each other, then we vote about it, and then we debate again. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
True threats and words that directly incite violence against others and breaches of the peace aren’t protected speech under the First Amendment. Nor should they be. But when the political Left decided that it’s done trying to change people’s minds, shouting down differing viewpoints became commonplace.
Silencing opponents through targeted harassment appears to be the next step. If those appalled by continued degradation of free speech and open discourse in this country don’t take firm, unapologetic measures to show that it won’t be tolerated, it will be.
Every convicted doxxer should receive a stiff sentence. States, localities, and yes, Congress should take a hard look at what penalties are available for this crime and whether stricter measures are needed. If we wish to keep this republic, as Ben Franklin warned us at its outset, we’d better be willing to recognize the threats and treat them accordingly.