fore at war with all attempts to live truthfulrnlives in some context other than liberalism.rnSpeech is necessarily a good only inrnthe context of a particular, exclusionaryrncommunity of value. “Free speech” isrnthe expression of such an exclusionaryrncommunity, one that denies the validityrnof hard contextual truth-claims. Indeed,rn”free speech” itself is a contextual truthclaimrn(which denies that it is so) thatrnnecessarily excludes competing truthclaims.rnOn college campuses, freernspeech is the ideological weapon used tornundermine the contextual practice ofrnsome other vision of truth. For conservativesrnto defend free speech as a good inrnitself is to defend a notion that underminesrnconservative commitments, practices,rnand truths. Conservatives oughtrnnot to appeal to a principle of freernspeech when liberals try to curb somernspeech, as this is an appeal to the idearnthat permits the sanction of speech inrnthe first place.rnConservatives, by objecting to campusrnspeech codes, use the same rhetoric andrnideological commitments that justifyrnthem—commitments to some abstractrnnotion of free speech, which in reality isrna very concrete, contextual liberal politicalrnand moral good. The university canrnonly be a place where truth is told andrnpracticed. That truth may be “freedomrnof speech” or something else; it cannotrnbe both. Conservatives ought to attackrnsome speech codes, not in the name ofrnsome abstract idea of free speech, butrnrather in the name of some truth thatrnsuch codes suppress. Obversely, conservativesrnought to be at the forefront in advocatingrnspeech codes when the speechrnunder sanction would undermine therntruthful practices of the university community.rnA conservative understanding ofrnfreedom of speech realizes that freedomrnis at the service of, and thus delimitedrnand defined by, some good that transcendsrnit—namely some truth or compatiblernset of truths about God, man,rnthe world, and politics. To be sure, freerninquiry properly understood is a necessaryrnelement of finding truth. But listenrnto radical, leftist, deconstructionist StanleyrnFish on this matter:rnThe fact… that settled truthsrncan always be upset, at least theoretically,rndoes not mean that werncannot affirm and rely on truthsrnthat according to our presentrnlights seem indisputable; rather, itrnmeans exactly the opposite: in thernabsence of absolute certainty ofrnthe kind that can only be providedrnby revelation (something I do notrnrule out but have not yet experienced),rnwe must act on the basisrnof the certainty we have so farrnachieved…. When it happensrnthat the present shape of truth isrncompelling beyond a reasonablerndoubt, it is our moral obligation tornact on it and not defer action inrnthe name of an interpretive futurernthat may never arrive.rnWe do not abjure such truthful commitmentsrnin the name of free speech, asrnthat would be to embrace another, contradictoryrnclaim of truth.rnConservatives should defend not freernspeech but a vision of true speech. Inrndoing the former, they are mirroringrnprecisely what liberalism does when itrnuses its notion of “free speech” as arntrump to undermine competing truthclaimsrnthat it cannot otherwise refute.rnAs Fish succinctly states the matter, “freernspeech principles don’t exist except as arncomponent in a bad argument in whichrnsuch principles are invoked to mask motivesrnthat would not withstand closernscrutiny.”rnTo state the matter even more finely:rnthere is no such thing as free speech, becausernliberalism doesn’t exist. Fish takesrnon Stephen Carter, who has complainedrnthat he wants liberalism to “cherish” andrnto take seriously the religious beliefs thatrnprovide the “fundamental woridview” ofrnmost Americans. Carter thinks liberalismrnis a tolerant procedural system inrnwhich all worldviews are offered equalrnprotection and respect. But Fish explainsrnthat liberalism can never take religionrnseriously, since liberalism is itselfrn”informed by a faith” that rightly seesrnother faiths as hostile to itself. Liberalismrnmay protect some kinds of religionrnwithin carefully constituted and definedrnboundaries; but to allow religion to escapernthose boundaries would be a threatrnto liberalism’s own exclusionary agenda.rnSo long as religion remains compatiblernwith liberal canons of reason, religionrnmay enjoy relative tolerance. “Thernone thing liberalism cannot do,” however,rnsays Fish, “is put reason inside thernbattle where it would have to contendrnwith other adjudicative principles andrnwhere it could not succeed merely byrninvoking itself,” since its own legitimacyrnis what would be at issue. Liberal reason.rnno less than religious reason, ultimatelyrnrests on belief. And to allow religiousrnreason to start asserting itself in the publicrnarena is to allow the very beliefs thatrnsustain liberalism to be threatened.rnCarter’s mistake is the common onernof believing liberalism’s most importantrnassertion: that it is the woridview of tolerancernand neutrality. “What liberalismrndoes in the guise of devising structuresrnthat are neutral between contendingrnagendas,” Fish explains, “is to produce arnstructure that is far from neutral butrnthen, by virtue of a political success, hasrnclaimed the right to think of itself asrnneutral.” But “liberalism is tolerantrnonly within the space demarcated by thernoperations of [liberal] reason; any onernwho steps outside that space will not berntolerated…. In this liberalism does notrndiffer from fundamentalism.” Liberalismrnmust insist upon its view of reason asrnthe only legitimate source of moral andrnpolitical knowledge, else it would not bernliberalism. Thus, Fish charges, against itsrnmost adamant assertions, “liberalismrndoes not have at its center an adjudicativernmechanism that stands apart fromrnany particular moral and political agenda.”rnLiberalism “is a very particularrnmoral agenda,” and its reasons and truthclaimsrnare as embedded and exclusive asrnanyone else’s. Liberalism cannot toleraternother moral agendas that contradict orrnexclude its own. By its own (impossible)rncriteria of what would constitute it, “onerncan only conclude, and conclude nonparadoxically,rnthat liberalism doesn’trnexist.”rnTo be sure, there is much with whichrnto disagree in this wide-ranging and assertivernbook. Moreover, Fish can atrntimes be as guilty of caricaturing his opponentsrnas they are of caricaturing him.rnAnd I have barely scratched the surfacernof the breadth of topics this collectionrncovers. The longest section is a brilliantrnanalysis of various current legal theories,rnespecially those having to do with originalismrnand other schools of constitutionalrninterpretation. But for his critiquernof liberalism, including the liberalismrnthat thrives under the title “conservatism,”rnStanley Fish offers a brilliantrnand unique book that must be taken seriously.rnIn the current culture wars, thernenemies of our enemies are our friends,rnno matter where we find them. There’srnNo Such Thing as Free Speech is a devastatingrnsalvo against liberal intolerance,rnregardless of its guise.rn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn