Three ways Kathleen Hall Jamieson and John Villasenor can help the First Amendment

Kathleen Hall Jamieson and the Annenberg Public Policy Center (@APPCPenn) and John Villasenor of the Brookings Institution (@johndvillasenor) have disturbing reports on support for and knowledge of the First Amendment. See Annenberg: most unclear on Constitutional protections, three branches, First Amendment and Brookings: college students unclear on and don't fully support First Amendment.

Here are three specific things they can do right now to help promote the First Amendment and open debate in general:

1. See the comments on "Anti-Fascists Used Twitter To Find A Neo-Nazi Walking Around Seattle And Beat Him Up" by Ryan Broderick of Buzzfeed [1] and on "VIDEO: Man With Nazi Armband Takes Knockout Punch to the Face in Seattle" by Aidan McLaughlin of Mediaite [2], and the post "A Seattle Nazi Was Harassing Black People On The Bus And Immediately Got What He Deserved/The viral video of this confrontation is a clear warning to racists across America" by Natalie Dickinson of Occupy Democrats [3].

Whatever the facts of that incident, many comments at the first two and the post itself at the last show strong opposition to the First Amendment. Since those types of arguments will keep being used to support violence against political opponents, develop counterarguments that will show them wrong. Then, post those counterarguments there, on your sites, and in comments on future incidents.

2. Broderick, McLaughlin, and Dickinson all support what happened. Some might think that isn't the case with the first two, yet one can imagine that if the person who'd been hit had been, say, a Hillary Clinton supporter they'd be up in arms about it. Get comments from them on whether they support such actions, and discredit them to their readers if they do or won't oppose attempts to abridge First Amendment rights. Get their editors and executives of those companies involved and get them to support or oppose such actions. There are lists of contacts for Buzzfeed and Mediaite on those pages. In the case of Occupy Democrats that's harder since they have less of an interest in being "respectable". In their case, you undercut them to those who want to be respectable and who promote them.

3. Promote real, open debate. Not the fake kind found in candidate debates or political talk shows. Those involve politicians and pundits reciting talking points, making false or misleading statements that aren't challenged, moderators who are biased and ignorant of policy, a reliance on horserace and personal issues instead of policy, grandstanding, panelists all on the same basic side of issues like immigration. and so on.

Instead, promote Socratic debate using tough questions about real issues. See the proposal for policy debates, the Question Authority page, and the [site coming soon] site. Work to make those campaigns happen, or come up with alternatives that are just as tough. This is going to be even tougher than defending the rights of Nazis to speak since very powerful forces don't want real debate about vital issues like immigration, trade, and globalism.

Will you support those efforts?

[1] buzzfeed · com/ryanhatesthis/antifascists-used-twitter-to-find-a-neo-nazi-walking-around
[2] mediaite · com/online/video-man-with-nazi-armband-takes-knockout-punch-to-the-face-in-seattle/
[3] occupydemocrats · com/2017/09/18/seattle-nazi-harassing-black-people-bus-immediately-got-deserved/