I wasn’t bored by the redundancy, though, because the panel members were unusually informed and witty. I did not take notes, but I will try to dredge up from the dim recesses of my memory some of the things that particularly struck me.
The first panel, which is the subject for this post, was on the First Amendment. James Lileks moderated a panel composed of David French, Charles Cooke, Jonah Goldberg, and Ramesh Ponnuru. They spent a quick hour looking at freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
The point that most struck me was one that Jonah Goldberg made about Citizens United. He explained that the Left is being disingenuous at best when it waffles on that corporations are not people, and therefore shouldn’t have speech rights. In fact, the Left loves corporations that have speech rights: the news media and Hollywood. When Saturday Night Live or Jon Stewart or the New York Times are speaking, that’s sacrosanct, because the speech is already inherent in the corporation — and it’s Leftist speech. What the Left actually opposes is competition. It’s that simple.
Jonah made another excellent point about the fragile flowers on college campuses (a point, I believe, that he attributes originally to Jonathan Haidt). The craziness we see now started after I finished my education in the mid-1980s. What the late 1980s and early 1990s saw were some horrible, high profile cases of child abductions and murders. Polly Klaas springs to my mind because, although I was not a parent then, it happened within 50 miles of my home.