Friday, August 18, 2017

On Fascist Movements and Free Speech

Some people are upset because Ryerson cancelled a panel discussion featuring Faith Goldy, of Rebel Media, who openly expresses the belief that Muslims are a problem in our country. A Ryerson spokesperson said,
"After a thorough security review, the University has concluded that Ryerson is not equipped to provide the necessary level of public safety for the event to go forward. In light of recent events, Ryerson University is prioritizing campus safety."
I don't blame them. I wouldn't give her the platform to speak in the first place. I think free speech is important, but it's particularly important because we need the right to criticize people in positions of power and to question legislation. It's not important that everyone can say everything they think to as many people as possible. Her right to free speech isn't eroded since she's still free to talk on the internet and in her own media venues. [ETA - Even Rebel Media doesn't want her anymore.] She just wasn't given the right to speak at that one location.

I'm a fan of our anti-hate speech here in Canada. I don't believe in free speech at any cost when we see how many people can be influenced by a charismatic speaker with a warped agenda. Intelligent debate is the ideal, of course, but the reality is that some of these speakers can make the worst atrocities sound necessary. Get enough people worried about the economy, and it's too easy to pick a group of people to blame and then run them out of town - or worse. (I say way more about free speech here.)

Even the New York Times is giving space to the view that we need to reign in free speech when it comes to hateful views:
"I volunteered with the A.C.L.U. as a law student in 2011, and I respect much of its work. But it should rethink how it understands free speech. By insisting on a narrow reading of the First Amendment, the organization provides free legal support to hate-based causes. More troubling, the legal gains on which the A.C.L.U. rests its colorblind logic have never secured real freedom or even safety for all....The question the organization should ask itself is: Could prioritizing First Amendment rights make the distribution of power in this country even more unequal and further silence the communities most burdened by histories of censorship? This is a vital question because a well-funded machinery ready to harass journalists and academics has arisen in the space beyond First Amendment litigation. If you challenge hateful speech, gird yourself for death threats and for your family to be harassed....Sometimes standing on the wrong side of history in defense of a cause you think is right is still just standing on the wrong side of history."
This is getting frightening, and the time to shut it all down is right now. From Democracy Now:
"The question of how to combat fascism always needs to come back to discussions of the 1930s and 1940s. Clearly we can see that rational discourse and debate was insufficient Clearly we can see that the mechanisms of parliamentary government were insufficient. We need to be able to come up with a way to say, 'How can we be sure never again?'....If you don’t think that it’s appropriate to physically confront and to stand in front of neo-Nazis who are trying to organize for another genocide now, do you do it after someone has died, as they just did? Do you do it after a dozen people have died? Do you do it once they’re at the footsteps of power? At what point? At what point do you say, 'Enough is enough?"
And of course there's a voice from the other side:
"Before you buy this sack of excrement, remember who had no permit thus no right to be there to start the violence as they did. Just sayin....oh yes. And remember that all they were doing was protesting taking down a statue and their numbers are dwindling because no one takes them seriously while Antifa are the true facists growing daily in numbers by moronic uneducated useful idiots."
FYI - You don't need a permit to personally protest a demonstration in Virginia.

So then check out these responses to Trump's reactions and the rising conflicts:

And let's finish with Tina Fey, who graduated from the University of Virginia:
"It broke my heart to see these evil forces descend upon Charlottesville....Donny John comes out and he says he condemns violence on many sides, on many sides, and I'm feeling sick because I've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I wasn't confused by it. Nazis are always bad....Then we hear that there's nine more alt-right rallies planned around the country this Saturday, including one in New York City at Washington Square Park, and part of me hopes these neo-Nazis do try it in New York City. I hope they try it and get the ham salad kicked out of them by a bunch of drag queens. Because you know what a drag queen still is? A 6'4" black man. But at the same time, I don't want any more good people to get hurt, and I know a lot of us are feeling anxious, and we're asking ourselves, "What can I do? I'm just one person, what can I do?" I would urge people this Saturday, instead of participating in the screaming and violence, to find a local run business to support, like maybe a Jewish bakery or an African American run bakery, order a cake with the American flag on it, and just eat it....And then the next time when you see a bunch of white boys in polo shirts scream about taking our country back, when you want to scream, 'It's not our country, we stole it from the Native Americans. And when they have a peaceful protest at Standing Rock, we shoot at them with rubber bullets. But we let you chinless turds march through the street with semi-automatic weapons!' And when you want to yell that, don't yell it at the clan; yell it into the cake....Some of those in Charlottesville weren't clansmen; they were independent militias. Did you know there's over 250 well-armed militias across the U.S. that are armed and ready to mobilize at any time?....Where's Paul Ryan in all this? He's supposed to be the cool, young congressman, but you don't know how to '@' somebody on Twitter? 'Racism is bad @realDonaldTrump', you pussy... I really want to say, to encourage all good sane Americans, to treat these rallies this weekend like the opening of a thoughtful movie with two female leads: Don't show up. Let these morons scream into the empty air."   
ETA - I don't believe Fey's implying we ignore the atrocities, but that we don't give them any audience for their rally, that we refuse to acknowledge them in the streets on their turf, but it doesn't stop us from working against them in every other way.  I heard it along the lines of, "Supposed they gave a war and nobody came."

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