The pro-Palestinian college professor (now bus driver) who lost his academic career because he took the idea of “free speech” a little too seriously is probably better qualified to write about the issue than I am.
In short, free speech isn’t merely an ideal that allows everyone to have a say, commie and Nazi alike. It is a politic, a sensibility, a custom, a rhetorical device outfitted to the reproduction of bourgeois common sense. It elides the relationship of access with subservience. It pretends to be a universal liberty while maintaining a slick ability to rationalize fine-tuned mechanisms of blacklisting and persecution. It unconsciously facilitates the status quo. The Nazi always comes out ahead in this arrangement.
p.s. Unlike Salaita, I like Ulysses Grant, Max Blumenthal and Matt Taibbi but the central argument of his essay is pretty sound. The idea of “free speech” is pretty meaningless outside of a political and economic context. So I guess we’ll just have to disagree on the 18th President of the United States.