Ken at Popehat, writing about attacks on critics of Speedway Bomber Brett Kimberlin:
This is about everybody’s rights, not just the rights and interests of “conservatives” or any other political group. We need to transcend partisanship over this — conservatives need to transcend it because making this partisan will marginalize the situation, and liberals and others need to transcend it because this could happen to them.
I disagree with Ken. Conservatives don’t need to transcend partisanship to avoid marginalizing the situation. If they really see this as a conservatives-vs.-progressives issue rather than a censorious-thugs-vs.-free-expression issue should continue expressing that view. It says a great deal about them.
When Kimberlin’s goons try to shut down bloggers for expressing opinions, it’s no different than Joseph Rakofsky trying to do the same. There’s nothing partisan about it. Whether I agree with a blogger or not, I don’t want to see him shut down by supporters of Kimberlin. Oftimes the enemy of my enemy is my enemy as well.
When a conservative casts the Kimberlin affair as us-conservatives-vs.-them-liberals, it doesn’t change my view, but it tells me certain things about him. It tells me that he doesn’t see the big picture. It tells me that he has a fixed “us vs. them” mentality. Most importantly, it tells me that, were the tables turned, he wouldn’t be on my side. And that’s information I want to have.
While conservatives whinge and bluster and say that someone should do something, it’s “left-leaning” blogger Ken at Popehat who is actually organizing action in meatspace, which is where Kimberlin’s thugs are doing their harm. When the bad guys are getting your house raided and having you tossed in jail, a “blog burst” is an effete response. Since retaliation in kind is not an option, you need to get law enforcement working on it; failing that you need to lawyer up, get investigators hired, and get subpoenas issued.
Nobody should be surprised that bloggers who seem left-leaning speak out against attacks on free speech. A wise conservative, realizing that he won’t always be in the in-group that decides who gets to speak freely, will support free speech for all, but free expression is by definition a progressive value: it makes progress possible. People like Ken (and Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice, also tagged “left-leaning” by Michelle Malkin) love freedom and are willing to fight for the freedom even of people whom they find loathsome.
Conservative bloggers have to project Ken’s and Greenfield’s principled non-partisan actions onto their own coordinate systems—coordinate systems that include a left-right dimension but not necessarily a dimension for “civil liberties as non-partisan good.” It’s this mapping, I think, that makes Ken and Scott seem left-leaning to the conservatives.