November 6, 2021

TO ASK THE QUESTION IS TO ANSWER IT: Why Are the Media Treating ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Like Criminal Hate Speech?

Progressive political strategist and commentator Chris Hahn accused the pilot of “sympathizing with terrorist[s].” CNN’s Joe Lockhart attacked Southwest for not immediately firing the pilot. The airline is investigating the incident.

Keep in mind that what touched off this public freakout was an Associated Press story asserting that a pilot had uttered the statement. We don’t have audio footage of it, though I did listen to audio from another incident involving a pilot allegedly saying “let’s go Brandon,” and guess what? It really sounded like he was saying “let’s go Braves,” as in the sports team. I don’t know if that’s what happened here, but I would bet it was a simple misunderstanding. Even if it wasn’t, it would be wrong to treat the utterance of “let’s go Brandon” as a crime, or terrorist behavior.

Make no mistake: The chant is clearly First Amendment–protected speech, even if some would consider it hate speech. Contrary to what many progressive activists naively assume, hate speech is free speech. There is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment, because there is no mutually agreed-upon definition of hate speech, and there are no Supreme Court decisions supporting such an exception. The Supreme Court has carved out some categories of speech that don’t qualify for protection—threats of imminent violence, for instance—but hate speech isn’t one of them. On the contrary, the right to insult political leaders and government officials is perhaps the most important and obvious component of the First Amendment.

Ken Dilanian of NBC News said he called to ask the Secret Service whether “let’s go Brandon” emblazoned on an assault rifle represented a security threat to the president, which he thinks “is a reasonable question.”

That isn’t a reasonable question at all. Here’s a reasonable question: Why do mainstream media figures think their main job is to police speech that offends Democrats?

Just think of the media as Democratic Party operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.

Related: NASCAR president denounces ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ chant that originated at NASCAR race.

Why? As a member of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice, NASCAR president Steve Phelps surely understands that politicizing sports is all the rage these days.

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