Shut Up, They Explained

Review: Kimberly Strassel, ‘The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech’

Ohio Tea Party IRS
AP

When conservative speaker Ben Shapiro came to Penn State on April 6 of this year, he was met with protesters from the left who were trying to silence him.

Standing outside of the crowded room in which Shapiro was speaking, I witnessed a mob banging on doors, screaming as loudly as they could, and devising a plan to pull the fire alarm in the building to disrupt the event.

Trying to silence speech has become commonplace for left-wing protesters in recent years. In her book, The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free SpeechKimberley Strassel outlines the extent to which the left is willing to go in this effort.

Far from stopping at spontaneous protests, Strassel goes into the details of the McCain-Feingold Act, Citizens United v. FEC, the DISCLOSE Act, and the IRS scandal showing how liberals, with the help of some Republicans, have been pursuing anti-speech policies under the guise of government transparency.

She tells stories about everyday Americans whose privacy has been invaded by unreasonable investigations and whose free speech has been assaulted by the strong arm of the federal government under President Obama’s administration.

Strassel explains how Nixon-era corruption led individuals to demand more transparency in government. Although corruption is a very legitimate concern, she says the left has used transparency to justify going after individuals who donate to political causes. Investigating nonprofits to make sure that they are following campaign finance law has turned into the federal government, in the form of the IRS, harassing conservative nonprofits—who are complying with the law—and stalling the completion of granting their tax-exempt statuses.

Strassel writes about a number of groups that were unable to get tax-exempt status for years, and as a result, lost time, money, and support. Because of the targeting of conservative groups, she believes that this is an attempt to prevent the nonprofits from giving their input in political discourse and thus halting free speech.

But, it doesn’t end there. Strassel goes through the history of several individuals in the Obama administration and how they had been playing the intimidation game for some time prior to getting their jobs in the White House.

Most of the book is written as a series of accounts about the misuse of government power to crack down on conservative speech and harass individuals who engage in it. Although some of the cases can seem repetitive, Strassel gives many examples to defend her argument that the left is after free speech.

This book contains information that anyone active in the political process should know about, as well as anyone concerned about the future of free speech.