Debate, Dispute, Disagree—But Please Don’t Call for Arrest

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Media Outlet: Just Security

Joshua Geltzer wrote for Just Security on how the language of law enforcement has infected political discourse:

That language has become so widespread so quickly that there’s a danger of missing just how aberrant and worrisome it is. For centuries, a key feature of our democracy has been the distinction between the political space and the criminal space. Sure, political debates, disputes, and disagreements could become heated—rightly so, given the stakes for big-ticket issues from immigration to social security to the use of military force. Losing those debates had real costs: The losers had to watch unwanted policies executed, and often saw the public turn against them—even costing them elections. But that, after all, is democracy.


Joshua Geltzer is an ASU Future of War Fellow at New America. He is writing a book exploring challenges associated with modern communications technologies such as social media platforms, file-upload sites, and internet search engines.