Christiane Amanpour thinks “lock her up” is “kind of hate speech.” Her desire for such a sweeping designation comes as part of a larger pattern.
Amanpour’s assertion about the anti-Clinton language came in the form of a question to James Comey during a live sit-down interview with the former FBI director on CNN Tuesday afternoon. Here’s the exact wording:
Of course, ‘lock her up’ was a feature of the 2016 Trump campaign. Do you, in retrospect, wish that people like yourself, the FBI, I mean, the people in charge of law and order, had shut down that language—that it was dangerous potentially, that it could’ve created violence, that it’s kind of hate speech. Should that have been allowed?
Notice how the notion that “lock her up” constitutes “hate speech” is baked into her line of inquiry. Clearly Amanpour wasn’t playing devil’s advocate, but seeking Comey’s response to a sincerely held belief, and contending there’s a legitimate question as to whether the government should have disallowed the language in 2016.
It’s also well-worth noting Amanpour’s desired outcome in this case goes even further than most leftist efforts to narrow the boundaries of acceptable speech in that she actually suggested government intervention. That sentiment reaches so far beyond our (rightfully narrow) boundaries of reasonable speech restrictions it’s almost baffling.
But it’s not random. From college campuses to newsrooms to Silicon Valley, the left’s censorious impulse is increasingly strong, increasingly sweeping, and increasingly powerful. That’s partially because it’s no longer isolated to campuses, but has apparently crept into places like Google and CNN.
“Lock her up,” isn’t something I would chant, but it’s hardly hate speech. Given the opportunity to ban speech they dislike, more and more powerful people actually would.
Conservative complaints about incidents of social media censorship, to take just one issue, are almost always deeper than any single controversy, trivial as those dust-ups can sometimes seem. They’re rooted in a sense that the gatekeepers of our culture—people in classrooms and boardrooms and newsrooms—are closing their doors on non-leftist expression. Amanpour makes that difficult to deny.
Indeed, her assertion serves as clear-cut evidence this anxiety is much more than self-pity and paranoia. It wasn’t the work of a crazed Twitter pundit or hyper-partisan blogger. It was the “chief international anchor” of a major cable network, a powerful woman who’s widely respected in her industry, using airtime to argue federal law enforcement should have stopped people from saying “lock her up.”
Amanpour’s question to Comey—who, to his credit, gave the right response—reminds us the desire to ban political expression is rising among the very people who have the power to do it. It’s much too early to declare defeat or descend into panic, but the problem is entirely real.