Fighting Monsters: How Democrats are Adopting Rationales Once Used Against the Left to Silence orJail Critics

Below is my column in USA Today on adoption of some Democrats of arguments and rationales once used against the left to silence or jail them. Pundits and politicians are becoming the very thing that they have long condemned in this age of rage. It is realization of Nietzsche’s monster theory.

Here is the column:

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Those words from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche capture the fear that the struggle against the ideas and people we oppose will twist us into the very thing we hate.

For Democrats, that moment has come in an age of rage against former President Donald Trump in particular and conservatives in general. It’s an age when reason and restraint are strangers.

In various areas, Democrats have embraced repellent concepts in the effort to silence or even jail their opponents. What is most striking is that legal arguments now used by the left were once used against the left.

Power of the state used to suppress information

As someone who was raised in a liberal, politically active Democratic family in Chicago, one of the greatest disappointments of my lifetime has been to watch the Democratic Party fight against free speech, pushing both censorship and blacklisting.

Here are a few examples:

∎ Democratic leaders for years called on social media companies to ban or suppress those with opposing views. As shown in the Twitter Files, there was a secret effort by the FBI and other agencies to engage in what I called “censorship by surrogate.”

∎ President Joe Biden declared that social media companies were “killing people” by refusing to censor more citizens. Biden administration officials followed suit. Robert Califf, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, even declared that “misinformation” was a medical risk.

∎ Jen Easterly, who heads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, extended her agency’s mandate over critical infrastructure to include “our cognitive infrastructure.” The resulting censorship efforts included combating “malinformation” – described as information “based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.”

∎ New York Democrats proposed limiting speech as a way of protecting democracy, and former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich suggested free speech could be a form of “tyranny.”

∎ A federal judge recently found that the Biden administration had orchestrated “the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.” Yet, 70% of Democrats still support speech limits.

Why ‘fire in crowded theater’ quote is misguided

One of the most telling moments came in a congressional hearing in February when I warned of the dangers of repeating the abuses of prior periods like the Red Scare, when censorship and blacklisting were the norm. In response, Rep. Dan Goldman, D-New York, invoked Oliver Wendell Holmes’ view that free speech does not give a person the right to yell fire in a crowded theater. In other words, citizens had to be silenced because their views are dangerous to others.

When I attempted to point out that the line came from a case justifying the imprisonment of socialists for their political viewpoints, Goldman cut me off and “reclaimed his time.”

Other Democrats have used the line as a mantra, despite its origins in one of our most abusive anti-free speech periods during which the government targeted political dissidents on the left.

Many today dismiss free speech concerns over the prosecution of Trump and his aides for their actions in challenging the 2020 election.

Like others, I opposed those actions and rejected Trump’s claims of systemic voting fraud. However, some of us have great reservations about the criminalization of such challenges, particularly under the type of sweeping conspiracy theory put forward by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

While the Georgia indictment contains serious charges related to some individuals, the effort to bag Trump through a sweeping racketeering claim could lead in the future to the criminalization of election challenges by both parties. At one time, such a prosecution would have raised a modicum of concern on the left.

Democrats previously opposed certification of Republican victories without supporting evidence and Democratic lawyers even challenged Republican victories on the basis of voting machines flipping the election outcome. Yet, Democrats are blind to the implications of such prosecutions for our democratic system.

Democrats’ dangerous effort to bar Trump from ballot with 14th Amendment

Perhaps the most dangerous movement is an effort to extend the 14th Amendment to bar Trump from the 2024 ballot. Democrats, and some Republicans, have insisted that the 14th Amendment prevents Trump from running, given his support for “insurrection or rebellion.” Yet, Trump has not been charged with incitement, let alone insurrection or rebellion.

In support of barring Trump from the ballot, it’s been falsely claimed that the New Mexico Supreme Court relied on the 14th Amendment as the basis for upholding the removal of a local official from office for participation in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

It is telling that New Mexico District Judge Francis Mathew began his decision in the case with a long quotation from Judge Peter Stenger Grosscup, who in 1894 cracked down on union organizers as rebels and insurrectionists.

Grosscup not only declared union organizers to be insurgents but also added (as Mathew approvingly quoted) that “every person who knowingly incites, aids, or abets them, no matter what his motives may be, is likewise an insurgent.” Grosscup called for federal troops to put down union organizers and later resigned under allegations of improper conduct.

None of this seems to penetrate Democrats’ rage. In pursuing Trump, progressives are citing the same legal authority once used to justify imprisoning socialists and union organizers. And like their anti-free speech predecessors, they’re blind to the implications of these arguments.

They are transfixed on the enemy at hand rather than what they risk becoming themselves.

In warning about the danger of fighting monsters, Nietzsche added that, “If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

Jonathan Turley, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, is the Shapiro professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley

232 thoughts on “Fighting Monsters: How Democrats are Adopting Rationales Once Used Against the Left to Silence orJail Critics”

  1. It’s time to figure out another way for time’s sake to recall any democrat who’s violating their oaths.

  2. At the end of the day, this will be settled the modern way: By the graduates of the Zuckerberg School of Election rigging, ballot harvesting, and Big Election Tallying industry.
    We get the government they decide we deserve. Trump learned the hard way were the power is.
    As a country we are a 250 year old experiment that is failing. We are not quite ready to be stuck with the proverbial fork, be I can see it circling from here.

  3. Seems like the “red scare” was pretty much right on target. Some ideologies can not be tolerated in a free society. Namely islam and marxism because they both have a goal of enslaving the non believers, and imposing this fascist tyranny world wide. Anyone who is opposed to slavery should oppose islam and marxism because they are both slave systems.

  4. The democrats don’t risk becoming monsters. They’ve BEEN monsters for decades. The only thing that’s changed is that now they believe their power is so ingrained that they’ve removed their rather ineffective masks. Even their own useful idiot voters can see them now.

    1. Everyone associated with the persecution of the J6 protesters/rioters with their ridiculously exaggerated charges and sentences is a monster… and ALL of the “civil libertarians” with loud voices who aren’t shouting about it from the rooftops. I’m looking at you Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and even you to a degree, Jonathan Turley.


    𝐊𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐚 𝐇𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐬 ‘𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐓𝐨 𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐎𝐯𝐞𝐫’ 𝐀𝐬 𝐏𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐈𝐟 𝐁𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧 𝐂𝐚𝐧’𝐭 𝐃𝐨 𝐉𝐨𝐛
    Vice President Kamala Harris is ready to serve word salad to the world as POTUS, should Joe Biden – the oldest president in US history at 80, croak or is otherwise unable to effectively govern (so, now?).
    “Joe Biden is going to be fine, so that is not going to come to fruition,” Harris told AP in an interview published Wednesday. “But let us also understand that every vice president — every vice president — understands that when they take the oath they must be very clear about the responsibility they may have to take over the job of being president.”
    “I’m not different,” Harris added.
    By: Tyler Durden ~ Wednesday, Sep 06, 2023

    {When will Hillary emerge from behind the Curtain ??? Only She & the DNC Knows)

    1. Hillary is at an event this week at the WH… so there’s your answer.

      Biden steps down. Harris sworn in… Hillary named VP… Harris steps down.
      Hillary new POTUS until she’s impeached before the election.

  6. When the Constitution and its protections are abandoned by the ruling class. When the policing branches of government abandon the rule of law and abuse their power no longer to punish law breakers but political opponents instead the government becomes as this article identifies a monster. As pointed out, this kind of abuse of power is not confined by party affiliation and historically has been used to silence the Left by the Right and now the Left is wielding its political power unconstrained against the Right.
    The driving force seems to be a hatred amped up the media that is no longer willing to tolerate any form of dissent from its political ideologies and has branded 74 plus million Americans as the enemies of the State. Neither side is willing to accept introspection, and agree that in as much we are willing to suppress the liberties of others we will ultimately destroy ourselves. Hatred if anything blinds us to the reality that there are real enemies, with real convictions and agendas to destroy us and our nation and they are more than willing to use our hatred to do their work for them.

    1. I see a major realignment in the coming years, the left will have to get over their hatred of the Right and the Right will need to forgive the left for their persecution of the Right. It is a big hurdle but one we will have to overcome if both sides want to continue in this republic and not fall into the globalist trap of throwing away our Constitution and become subjects of the NWO.

      1. The left (and RINOs) is all for throwing away our country in favor of globalism. That’s the real point here.

  7. Whistleblower concerns about Hunter Biden firms first surfaced in spring 2015, SEC memos show

    Morgan Stanley whistleblower raised concerns to bank, federal regulators about “fraudulent” schemes, “suspicious” transactions.

    By John Solomon

    Banking whistleblowers first began raising alarms about Hunter Biden’s business deals as long ago as Spring 2015 while his father was still serving as vice president, flagging what they feared were “suspicious” transactions and “fraudulent” schemes. One of the bankers became so concerned he eventually escalated his concerns to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) only a few days before Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, according to documents provided to Congress and obtained by Just the News.


  8. Hey Dennis, don’t look now, but Fani done lost 2 of the 19 to a separate trial. I hope she’s gonna be proud of forcing everyday citizens to put their lives on hold to be deposed and then to testify to the same things over and over again. Not to mention the multiple juries, the use of her own assets over multiple trials instead of making the people of Fulton County safer. How many homicides in Fulton County over the holiday weekend? SIX

    She’s looking brilliant, isn’t she???

    1. I guess her “A Few Good Men” approach didnt work.

      “But your honor, I STRENUOUSLY object!!”——Fani and Demi

  9. In agreement with what Professor Turley wrote, I repeat Sir Thomas More’s line from a Man For All Seasons: after you have torn down the last law in pursuit of the Devil, what is there to protect you when the Devil turns on you?

  10. Fighting Monsters….adoption of some Democrats of arguments and rationales once used against the left to silence or jail them. Pundits and politicians are becoming the very thing that they have long condemned in this age of rage

    Indeed. The Left is intent on charging Trump and associates, facts be damned. The same Left / Dems / MSM is apoplectic about the Georgia Attorney General indicting 61 Antifa members on RICO Charges. Fancy that! The charges were handed down in Fulton County court, with the case being prosecuted by Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr’s office.

    The indictment reads:

    …offense of VIOLATION OF THE GEORGIA RACKETEEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS ACT, O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4(c), for the said accused, individually and as persons concerned in the commission of a crime, and together with unindicted co-conspirators, in the State of Georgia and the County of Fulton, on or between May 25, 2020 and August 25, 2023, while associated with an enterprise, did unlawfully conspire and endeavor to conduct and participate in, directly and indirectly, such enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4(b) as more particularly described below and incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein; contrary to the laws of the State of Georgia, the good order, peace, and dignity thereof

    Not surprisingly the DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston refused to charge the ANTIFA anarchists because of differences in “prosecutorial philosophy” with the state attorney general’s office, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    Citing differences in “prosecutorial philosophy,” DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston announced Friday that she will withdraw her office from prosecuting cases relating to Atlanta’s controversial new public safety training center. The DA’s office is one of several law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of protesters who have been charged with domestic terrorism, weighty charges that can lead to decades in prison. Boston did not elaborate in a press release on what differences the agencies have had. But in recent weeks, politicians, civil rights groups and attorneys have questioned the use of domestic terrorism charges against activists protesting the facility’s construction.

    Of course! The Marxist Atlanta Journal-Constitution Urinal-Constipation, (as Georgians have called the AJC for decades) portrays their brown shirts as girl scouts selling cookies while sees Trump and colleagues as violent anarchists.

    By now it is all so predictable with any given political topic. Naturally the Feds and the DOJ are sympathetic with the ANTIFA Commies. To wit:

    The arrest warrants say the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated the groups as “domestic violent extremists.” But Homeland Security officials said this month the agency has no such classification. And the FBI, which tracks domestic terrorism threats nationwide, said in a statement to the AJC that it cautions against using group affiliations to condemn individual behavior. “It’s also important to note that membership in groups that espouse domestic extremist ideology is not illegal in and of itself,” the FBI statement said. “Membership in a group alone is not sufficient basis for a domestic terrorism investigation.”

    Meanwhile the AJC is reporting today the following blaring headline BREAKING: Prosecutor says Trump racketeering trial would take four months

    Americans are getting a view of what they created in America. The US Founding Fathers believed objective truth was to be found in natural law as articulated in religious thought. Democrats and Republicans abandoned decades ago a Judeo-Christocentric view of American culture, and inserted in its place the amorphous ideological purity tests of “liberal vs conservative” which means whatever anyone wants it to mean.

    Presidents George Washington to Abraham Lincoln firmly believed truth and evil existed. A dictatorship of relativism has been unleashed in this country, as I have stated on this forum for years. We have been seeing evil run amuck in our country since the SCOTUS Roe v Wade decision, and peaked in 2016 with Democrats embracing election denialism and violence against Republicans in general and Trump supporters in particular. The 2020 “summer of love” unleashed pandemonium and hell in our nation.

    There is no way to turn a nation of > 330 million residents on a dime, and have them return to the tried and true morals and sacred institutions that guided our once great country. Americans at best can order their personal lives, guide their loved ones to do the same, and proceed accordingly in this slipshod nation of laws we all know has collapsed. America as we once loved and knew no longer exists. The enemy is here and it was always us, as the US Founding Fathers penned in the Federalist Papers:

    The sincere friends of liberty, who give themselves up to the extravagancies of this passion, are not aware of the injury they do their own cause. As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be, that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.

    Federalist Paper #55

    “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
    1 Peter 5:8

    1. Copy of indictment:


      The indictment lists 225 incidents in which the defendants are alleged to have worked together to prevent the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.

      These alleged incidents include, but are not limited to, the following:

      On July 5, 2020, members of the group attacked DPS headquarters by throwing rocks and hurling a Molotov cocktail through the window, resulting in the injury of two employees and the building catching fire;
      On May 17, 2022, defendants threw Molotov cocktails and glass bottles at police officers;
      On Dec. 13, 2022, defendants threw fireworks at firefighters and EMTs, damaged an APD vehicle, and cut the safety rope of an arborist working in one of the trees on the site;
      On multiple occasions, members of the group torched and caused other damage to buildings and construction equipment, including excavators and bulldozers, owned by contractors associated with the project and then claimed responsibility for the destruction;
      Members of the group used the Scenes Blog to call for a “Night of Rage” to occur on Jan. 21, 2023, during which defendants committed arson and property damage and attempted to break into 191 Peachtree, where the offices of the Atlanta Police Foundation and other businesses are located;
      On March 5, 2023, a member of the group punched a police officer and an organized mob attacked other law enforcement who were guarding the site and the crowd proceeded to set construction vehicles on fire;
      On July 3, 2022, at least one member of the group vandalized historic Ebenezer Baptist Church;
      On multiple occasions, members of the group harassed and intimidated law enforcement, including traveling to the home of a State Trooper; and
      On multiple occasions, members of the group harassed and intimidated contractors and construction workers for their roles in the project, including trespassing on and destroying their property in Georgia, Florida, New York, Oregon, Michigan, and Minnesota.

  11. I don’t think Democrats would be doing these things if they didn’t have MSNBC and CNN and CBS cheerleading this efffort to put the leading GOP candidate in jail. If that’s true then MSNBC and CNN are driving Democratic policy initiatives, including criminilizing behavior that is not criminal, along with trying to jail the bumbling Bidens top rival. Boy is that frightening. These cable news stations – CNN and MSNBC in particualr – border on the ludicrous. I believe nothing reported on these stations – when it comes to politics. These talking heads they have on TV – they are paid to trash Trump, nobody can get on the station who has any thing favorable to say about Trump, even though 74 million people voted for him. These talking heads twist facts, they make things up, they spin ridiculous unbeleivable false narratives (like the ridiculous Russian collusion narrative).These Democratic cable stations, unbeblievably, are covering up possibily the biggest political scandal in US History, ie Biden’s family, and possibly Joe Biden himself, monetizing the VP office. I am 70, never saw a first family doing this, or a second family. How Obama could have allowed this to go on – I voted for him twice – is just unbelievable. I now beleive Obama was a big flake, Biden is just a bigger flake. The modern Democratic party has zero integrity now, I can’t vote for them anymore. New leadership is needed.

    1. . . . nobody can get on the station who has any thing favorable to say about Trump, even though 74 million people voted for him.

      And even though he gave us low inflation, low gas prices, historically low unemployment (especially for minorities), low crime, secure borders, a sane foreign policy with notable achievements such as the Abraham Accords and no new wars, criminal justice reform, better international trade deals, etc.

      1. I agree totally with what you are saying, the numbers on the economy – compared with Biden – show Trump did a good job as POTUS, better than Obama and George W. Bush. Biden, of course, has been terrible, even many Democrats believe that. Trump kept us out of war, he signed 4 middle east peace deals, he strengthened the military, and pursued polices that made US energy independant, and he sealed the border. As a former blue collar worker the thing I recall most about a Trump is this; wages went up for blue collar workers – for the first time in decades. He cut personal and corporate taxes (which led to all these workers in white collar jobs getting bonuses) He also did something about the chinese trade deficit, which had a stanglehold on US jobs.Yet, the liberal cable stations, and these dingbat lady “reporters”, like Joy Behar and Mika – and the elites in USA – continually trash Trump claiming falsely he was a “bad” President. The cable stations continually lie about Trumps record, they claim Trump was in cahoots with Russians ( a complete lie) they claim Trump made all this money as POTUS (a complete lie), they claim Trump tried to lead an insurrection after he lost to Biden (a complete lie). The Democrats, and these cable TV stations, continue to lie about Trump’s record – voters are catching on though because the lies are so bold faced, so ridiculous, so patently untrue that the Democrats are losing credibility. If the Democrats have good argements, arguments backed up by facts, I am willing to listen, but the Dem’s claom thigns that are not true, not even close to being true, such as the claim the “border” is secure, or the claim the economy is doing great (home sales down by 45%, record inflation, record energy prices and food prices, bloated credit card debt for many Americans). The Democrats beleive voters are stupid, tell them anything and they will swallow it.

    2. The ‘modern Democrat party’ is a fallacy, it is now the Communist party… i.e. still a turd by any other name.

    1. Why would you want to lump everyone in an entire ethnicity together? What do they all have in common beyond the ethnicity?

    2. Stereotypes do not apply to an entire ethnic group.
      Not all Mexicans are lazy, quite the opposite.
      Not all Poles are dumb, quite the opposite.
      Not all French are snooty, quite the opposite.

      Why are you pushing for division and hate?

  12. Saddam didn’t like expressions that were anti-Saddamic, and Putin doesn’t like expressions that are anti-Putinic.
    Labeling expressions a certain way is just a pretext to tyrannize. Why the desire to do so?

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