By Daniel Payne • The Federalist
For quite some time the American Left has been busy turning American law into a partisan political weapon. Various progressive factions have undertaken a disparate and uncoordinated but still ideologically homogeneous effort to criminalize dissent using the courts and statutory law.
By most traditional metrics, these efforts have been failures: the liberals have often lost, and the conservative targets have avoided jail time or crippling criminal or civil convictions or penalties. But the weaponization of our legal system should not be judged by traditional metrics. The point is not for liberals to “win” any particular lawsuit or legal enforcement so much as it is to use lawsuits and the law as the weapons in and of themselves. The process is the punishment. And in most of these cases the punishment is very severe. That’s the idea.
In large part this reflects growing liberal opposition to a pluralistic society: not merely opposition to ideas but rather opposition to ideas about ideas, a strong and deliberate enmity towards intellectual diversity and dissenting thought. Gay marriage, the “settled science” of climate change, the morality of abortion, the wisdom of allowing grown men into little girls’ restrooms—all of these things (and many other liberal ballyhoos) are assumed to be unassailable. “It’s 2016,” many on the Left will say, sneeringly. Meaning: “It is no longer appropriate or acceptable for you to say or think things with which I disagree.”
The Left’s Hatred for Dissent
It should thus come as no surprise that the victims of this “lawfare” are almost universally conservative. The liberal order is in the midst of a great ideological hardening in which its adherents view progressivism’s domestic ambitions not merely as better or even superlative but as morally sui generis: progressive ideology is seen as the singular salvific political option, and conservatism is viewed as an evil mix between Nazism and antebellum pro-slavery racism. (A few years ago some researchers at my alma mater wrote a study linking conservative beliefs to “psychotism;” that paper turned out to be fatally flawed, but the belief that conservatives are all dictators at heart persists throughout much of our political landscape.)