As a conservative I have always held in high esteem the Founders fidelity to the tenets of free speech enshrined in the United States constitution. Along with limited government and fiscal responsibility, freedom of speech has always been the foundation upon which Liberty was built and maintained. The assault on free speech that is in opposition to the Leftist agenda has been the cornerstone of that destructive ideology's edifice of oppression. It is what has given birth to political correctness and speech codes on the campuses of the modern day university.
I have been less than sanguine to witness in recent years the same assault on free speech committed by the Left taking root in the garden of conservatism on the Right. Thoughtful disagreement among some on the Right has been replaced by invective aimed at anyone who strays from the absolutism of their political ideology. This behavior has recently reached a crescendo of acrimony in the struggle between the so-called establishment and those who refuse debate on the intellectual merits of positions held by those they deem unworthy of the conservative moniker.
My thesis is in no way an endorsement of the establishment in the Republican Party. But for anyone holding dear the ideals of free speech to meet distinctions on public policy held by fellow conservatives as differences of ideology is not only an affront to that ideology, but a violation of the very tenets of the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution. If as conservatives we allow our intra-party debates to occupy the intellectually low brow position of insult and invective, we are in a real sense no different than those on the Left who impose speech codes and the misguided guardrails of political correctness.
Political correctness is after all a desire to dismiss truths that its practioners find in contradiction to their political ideology. So while the political correctness practiced by the Left is rightly found to be antithetical to free speech, the political correctness practiced by some on the Right can not justly be held in higher esteem in the eyes of free speech than that engaged in by the Left. To characterize some on the Right with which one disagrees as traitors, treasonous, or worse, is as much an exercise in intellectual laziness as that which is perpetrated by the Left against all those on the Right.
Illustrative of my thesis is the illegal immigration debate on the Right. Those who are absolutist refuse to engage in the intellectual heavy lifting of debating their points of contention with those who support a comprehensive solution to the problem. They instead re-characterize the position held by those with whom they disagree as amnesty. This creating a straw man argument for what they find as an offensive position has a kinship with the method of those on the Left who impose political correctness in order to avoid an honest debate on a subject. As conservatives we should give preference to facts and data, or at least well thought out argument over simply demonizing those with whom we disagree. Otherwise we run the risk of being just as much an enemy of free speech as those on the Left.