Eric Rowell’s column this week in the Herald Weekly (serving Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson), opens this way:

Have you ever heard someone say something along the lines of “I’m all for free speech, but …”

Unfortunately, yes, I have — too frequently, and usually from those who don’t believe in free speech at all. I call that particular formulation “but-face” after this scene from “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer”:

buffy butface1

buffy butface2

Here are some examples:

Barack Obama:

Here in America, we know the free market is the greatest force for economic progress the world has ever known. But —

Hillary Clinton:

There is no greater force for economic growth than free markets. But —

John Kerry:

I respect the Second Amendment, and I will not tamper with the Second Amendment. But —

In practice, but-face is appearing to champion the principles of freedom before saying “but,” then

proceed[ing] as if the phrase preceding the “but” was a lie they just invalidated, a verbal crossing of fingers behind their backs.

Which suggests to me they know people believe in freedom, so they have to attack it indirectly. And what better way to do so than in the guise of defending freedom?