Doug Reich probably had the same deja vu I had when he read the following quote from a recent Obama speech:
"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.Doug calls it right when he identifies Sunstein as the source of this attack on free speech for being too free. Head on over there and read what else he has to say.
He bemoaned the fact that "some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction," in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.
"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
I left the following comment:
Thanks for writing this. As soon as I read Obama's quote, I thought it was perfectly Sunstein-esque. Hell, Sunstein wrote the literal book(s) on it throughout the last ten years of his prodigious output.
In particular, a 2008 work done under the auspices of the American Enterprise Institute encapsulates all of this very well: "Why Groups Go to Extremes." (download a free PDF here)
In this book, Sunstein sums up all the different threads of topics he's been rehashing for a decade, and two of his main points have come out of Obama's mouth in just the past month or so--you name them both. He demonizes the Tea Parties as racist fearmongering--sorry, hatemongering--because they are "extremist." The theory underlying this view is discussed at length in pages 10-15 of Sunstein's short book.
As a "threat to democracy" such polarizing views supposedly isolate the "extremists" and they build up in an echo chamber. They way to "fix" it is to attack "too much speech" as Obama just did, and is described in pp. 15-25 of Sunstein.
Christ, this is like the Alinsky playbook, but specifically for attacking free speech in service of tyranny.