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Free speech is at the core of the left-right divide. But what are we fighting over? | Jason Wilson | Opinion | The Guardian

by Jason Wilson

“… Free speech in the Bill of Rights is not freedom from criticism or disagreement. But this was not what Christian appears to have had in mind.

Rather, the kind of “free speech” that Christian is alleged to have brutally asserted is of a kind that would allow a white American man, such as himself, to yell racial and religious epithets at two young women without any interference or constraint.

It is the kind of “freedom of speech” that would allow him to monopolise public spaces and render them utterly hostile to women, people of colour, Muslims, or whoever he might choose to make a target of.

It is the freedom for him to convert any challenge to this definition of freedom of speech into a boiling resentment, and to in turn, at a time of your choosing, convert that resentment into violence.”

Source: Free speech is at the core of the left-right divide. But what are we fighting over? | Jason Wilson | Opinion | The Guardian

Excellent article. For me it comes down to a quote from one of the great legal minds of the 20th century 🙂 :

 

Image result for don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining

Trump has laid out for many of his followers a bait and switch method of deception that would be laughable were it not so effective. I’m just waiting for the day when members of the KKK tell us the white sheets and hoods are to protect them from the wind, and the burning crosses are actually to keep them warm during their meetings.

There’s an interesting and different angle to the discussion here (by Jeffrey Tayler) – he focuses more on what he sees as the limiting of debate (regarding Islam) allegedly enforced by left-wing figures. As anti-Muslim (and anti-Arab) sentiment is exceedingly well represented all over the media, in politics and in society at large, the idea people are being silenced doesn’t seem entirely credible. Not being given the platform one would like doesn’t qualify as being silenced.

The other mistake I think he makes is giving free speech higher priority in modern democratic societies than the equality between citizens. Is not proposing a system of aristocracy where classes of people are deemed inferior to others (Blacks, Muslims, Women, LGBT people) not much more of an attack on our liberties than moderating some forms of speech?

The people whose presence students are protesting at universities all seem to have one thing in common, and it’s that they propose some variation of dehumanisation of their fellow citizens. Dehumanisation being the ultimate attack on civil liberties/rights.

 

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74 comments on “Free speech is at the core of the left-right divide. But what are we fighting over? | Jason Wilson | Opinion | The Guardian

  1. tildeb
    June 5, 2017

    “The people whose presence students are protesting at universities all seem to have one thing in common, and it’s that they propose some variation of dehumanisation of their fellow citizens. Dehumanisation being the ultimate attack on civil liberties/rights.”

    And there’s the absolute belief in bullshit in action. This is the assumption taken on board by the Regressive Left, smeared against whomever has the intellectual integrity and courage to stand up to it with contrary facts and compelling evidence, and then used to justify the multitudinous undermining of all sorts of liberal principles. This is the cancer rotting liberal institutions today.

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    • You mean there are cases where that’s not the issue?
      I’d say that whether it was Anita Hill in the 70’s, Jerry Falwell in the 80’s or Michele Bachmann now, I’d protest any of them being invited to spout anti-gay views at a university. Are you implying protesting is wrong?

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      • tildeb
        June 5, 2017

        “You mean there are cases where that’s not the issue?”

        Wouldn’t it be something if we could find out? But – oh right – we have to pretend the New Red Guard know better and can protect freedom of speech by banning it. Perfect sense.

        “Are you implying protesting is wrong?”

        Not at all.

        But do you think protesting (and using violence) that stops people from speaking is how one defends freedom of speech, Pink?

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      • No, not violence. I’m perfectly comfortable debating an imbecile like Yiannopoulos, a person who is to political discussion what street shawarma is to, well, food. That being said, if I were a paying student I would go out of my way to stop my university inviting that class of speaker.

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      • tildeb
        June 5, 2017

        ‘Class’ of speaker? Are you a cultural guardian now to disinvite, deplatform, block access, cause a complete disruption, bully and threaten speakers with very real violence? And all this to stop words being spoken out loud? Are you really that delicate on the one hand but brutish on the other? And you think this is defensible with reason?

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      • I absolutely think we can defend the notion of standards with reason. Especially in an academic environment.
        First and foremost, is the speaker qualified to speak on his/her topic? And secondly can they restrain from identity based attacks designed to incite hatred against groups or classes of people. That’s a fairly low bar.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Have you considered the possibility that some people have gotten so wrapped up in the “regressive left” trope, that their judgement might be clouded?
      Protesting speakers is nothing new or odd, especially at universities.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Arkenaten
    June 5, 2017

    The most often overlooked ”Freedom” is the freedom to take the consequences of one’s actions.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Steve Ruis
    June 5, 2017

    SNAFU (Situation Normal, All Fowled Up) This is the polite version.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Scottie
    June 5, 2017

    The problem is not the protesting of the speakers, but the stopping the event with force. If you disagree with the speaker’s viewpoint, your group should put on an event with a speaker of the opposing view. I have been reading Jerry Coyne’s site https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/ and he posts a lot on this subject. The things I have been reading support protests as long as they are not violent and not preventing the event. As for the whole repressive left idea I think it is a case where people have taken a good idea to the extreme. They don’t just push to the edge of the cliff, they run full tilt over it. A good subject to explore. Thanks. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • No doubt there are always people who push things too far. And I completely agree that debate is usually the best course of action. But are there no lines?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scottie
        June 5, 2017

        For just speech? I do think the place and time are factors that have to be considered. However I wouldn’t limit content for the authorised place and time. Actions are different. There are limits on what actions can be done. For example the Milo speech should have been protested and let happen. People would have forgotten all about him in a few days. But the protest was wrong to turn violent and wrong to stop him from speaking. It gave him what he wanted, attention. Now his ideas won’t go away. Now some say he had doxied someone at another talk. That should be ruled out of line from the university because it could cause harm to the student outed. It could easily been a condition of his talk and getting paid. Trust me he wouldn’t do it if it would cost him good money. What do you think? Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think the government should restrict speech that incites hatred, as is done in most of Europe, Canada and other parts of the world.
        In the case of universities it’s less straightforward. But Yiannopoulos, for example, isn’t really qualified to speak on anything. He doesn’t even have political positions. He’s no more than a professional troll.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scottie
        June 5, 2017

        I Think that the only time speech should have limits is if someone is in imminent danger. Such as a speaker inciting the crowd to harm someone right then. Other than that we need the free exchange of ideas. The best way to combat bad ideas is with good ideas. So we need debate, competing speakers. It may not work that way in real life, but that is how I think it should be done. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s not however exactly what free speech means, as defined by the law.
        The law is about the government not enforcing laws that limit speech. A university giving or not giving someone a platform is a whole other matter. But still a very important decision because being given a platform at a respectable school will reinforce the reputation of the speaker. The same way being given space in certain newspapers can increase or decrease the standing of a writer.
        If Harvard decides inviting Holocaust deniers is an acceptable practice, that has an effect on the social standing of holocaust denial itself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scottie
        June 5, 2017

        I understand however just as an aside some state universities and colleges are in a bind with free speech issues. But my point was not the legal free speech , but that ideas should be discussed and bandied about until the best ones are confirmed and the worst shown for what they are. As for your example on Holocaust deniers, the best way to show them wrong is to bring historians to give talks and speeches to show the truth. Hugs

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      • True, but should holocaust deniers be given a podium or a spot on the 8 o’clock news? What purpose does that serve?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scottie
        June 5, 2017

        Education for those that do not get a good education in history. My school was horrible. I also had other issues that prevented me from learning as much as I should have and in truth wanted to. I have had to learn and teach my self things I should have learned as a student. That is why sometimes it is necessary in the USA at least to go back over and debate some issues. Sadly the people in the US seem to be slow learners. 🙂 Hugs

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      • Scottie
        June 5, 2017

        BTW how was your supper? You didn’t you say you were off to do some cooking? Hugs

        Like

      • Ruth
        June 6, 2017

        I think it might be important to distinguish who is inviting the speaker. In the case of Yiannopoulos, as it is in most cases where the speaker is controversial, it was a Student Union who did the inviting – not the University.

        While I don’t care for his views and disagree with pretty much everything he stands for, I also think that those students who invited him had every right to hear him speak. I also believe those who disagree with his views had every right to protest, but not to resort to violence and not to shut down his ability to deliver his talk (because I don’t believe what he does can qualify as a speech).

        I think that shutting down that type of speech is doing more harm than good. Firstly, before the hoopla I didn’t even know who he was. So then I became curious and listened to some youtube videos. He said nothing that I could agree with but my point is that calling attention to him by shutting him down is giving him airtime he wouldn’t otherwise get.

        Secondly, I think part of the pushback is that people who hold these deep seeded and hateful ideals feel they have been silenced. While it is frightening to think that these people actually believe this nonsense, I think it’s better it’s out in the open, that we know who they are, and how many they are.

        If we keep trying to make them hide it they do this in private and we have no idea that our cubicle mate is really a radical racist, misogynist asshole in disguise. I may not like it but I’d rather know it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you where ideas are concerned. Some people believe there should be a Palestinian state, others don’t, it’s a (valid) topic of debate and controversy.
        I have the impression that when someone says “fat people should be deported”, that doesn’t really qualify as debate material. They’re not being “controversial”, it’s just a jack-ass trying to draw attention to himself.

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      • Ruth
        June 6, 2017

        “They’re not being “controversial”, it’s just a jack-ass trying to draw attention to himself.”

        Which violent reactions in order to shut them down give them. It’s gives them far more attention than they could ever draw to themselves. It gives them a far wider audience than they would have otherwise had.

        Yiannopoulos wasn’t invited to debate. He was invited to speak to an echo chamber.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That covers one side, but how about other forms of hate speech? The hostile kind which labels people criminals or paedophiles?

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      • Ruth
        June 6, 2017

        It depends. Are the labels true? If not, in America, that is handled through the civil court as defamation of character.

        http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/defamation-law-made-simple-29718.html

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      • That never protected gays from being labelled paedophiles by the religious right.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tildeb
        June 6, 2017

        It’s a matter of some group at a university sponsoring a speaker and then having another group of students using Red Guard tactics demand that an invertebrate administration go along with their decision to either censor that choice or disrupt the event without consequence. As I’ve said, careers of faculty are ruined if they don’t kowtow to these fascist students who are beholden to no one.

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      • Yes, that’s one problem that needs to be addressed, but how about the others at the same intersection?
        What do you think the effect has been on classes of people that were (and still are in some cases) labelled thieves, rapists or paedophiles? What consequences are suffered in their careers?

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    • tildeb
      June 5, 2017

      No, running full tilt over a cliff by criticizing the those who go along with the Regressive Left does not fairly describe us. I’ve been warning about this rise of liberal fascism for nearly two decades. It’s gaining ground. It’s hurting real people in real life, ruining careers, and teaching the New Red Guard that their whining and triggering and feeling unsafe is the New Normal and one to which we must all be willing to sacrifice ourselves on their behalf is only right and proper. It’s not. It’s a danger to us all. Describing this danger as some kind of extremism helps only the Regressive Left think they have a principled liberal position when that is the one that is totalitarian.

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      • The over-sensitives have always existed… I’m about to make dinner, but I’ll answer you in more detail later.

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      • Scottie
        June 5, 2017

        I am not sure I understand Tildeb. I either do not understand what you are saying , or you did not quite get what I said. I think we are on the same sheet of music either way. Hugs

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      • tildeb
        June 5, 2017

        Scottie, it sounded to me as if you were describing those of us who decry the Regressive Left:

        “As for the whole repressive left idea I think it is a case where people have taken a good idea to the extreme. They don’t just push to the edge of the cliff, they run full tilt over it.”

        So I took issue with that description of those who I think are very legitimately criticizing this appeasement of the New Red Guard and the danger to liberal values and principles it presents… criticizing the young people (and their older facilitators who should know better) who expect others to live by respecting and coddling their ‘sensitivities’ but who will then go to violent ends to impose it on the rest of us. They are fascists, plain and simple, and they’re neither Republicans nor representatives from the Right. They are illiberal liberals.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scottie
        June 5, 2017

        I can see I did not express myself clearly and you did not get what I was trying to say. The fact is I was saying the opposite of what you got out of my comment. I was saying those who ARE the repressive left ( not sure I like the name as it confuses me but it is the one that seems most used ) take what should be good goals to achieve such as the strong protecting the weak in combatting bigotry, they pervert those ideas by taking them to extremes that go beyond the bounds of incredulity. In other words, they run headlong off the cliff.
        I thought by reading your comment we agreed on the issue. we just use different phrasing. Hugs

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      • We’re discussing what is unfortunately a very odd intersection of competing movements and interests.
        The triggered crowd you mention certainly exists, and they’re troublesome. Then we have the *get over it crowd* of which you’re a part- fair enough. But then we also have to factor into this equation political operatives, opportunists and bomb throwers and socio-cultural vandals.
        In that context we should/must make a determination that free speech doesn’t encompass deception or fraud. Should the anti-vaccine people be invited to speak at universities? No. Nor should the homeopaths.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tildeb
        June 5, 2017

        When faced with what appears to be a difficult ethical issue, I look to the basic principles involved. Bad ideas need to be expressed in order for better ideas to be explained and chosen. That’s the principle of free speech: freedom to voice one’s opinions. If they are poorly supported, then this the opportunity to show them as such.

        The problem with ‘hate’ laws is that anything can be considered ‘hateful’. And that’s usually the first defensive salvo launched at anyone who criticizes Really Bad Ideas. Using the State this way is deplorable. But that’s all such law is: a legal means to try to shut people up. All this does in effect is to force Really Bad Idea to then go underground and fester, to continue to live as part of some conspiracy thinking, to gain appeal to the stupid as a ‘dangerous’ idea worth considering because it’s anti-state whatever. Just expose it and open it up to reason and what’s true. That’s how you defeat real hate.

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      • What evidence is there to support that position?
        Are there more hate groups or hate crimes in countries where hate-crime laws exist? Much of Europe, Canada and Australia have managed very well worded statutes that are effective and spare gays, for example, from being wrongly labelled as paedophiles. Something that still happens in America today. The American version of free speech allows for legal slander and fraud. You can’t possibly be making the case for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Arkenaten
    June 5, 2017

    All this does in effect is to force Really Bad Idea to then go underground and fester, to continue to live as part of some conspiracy thinking, to gain appeal to the stupid as a ‘dangerous’ idea worth considering because it’s anti-state whatever. Just expose it and open it up to reason and what’s true. That’s how you defeat real hate.

    In principle this seems like sound logic, however, there are some glaring and very real examples that can be put forward which demonstrate how allowing completely laissez faire unchecked ‘free speech’ can have some dangerous and quite chilling results.
    Fanaticism will always have a certain appeal to some who feel they are being victimized and persecuted.
    Sometimes simply saying ”no thanks” and moving along might be the better option.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Precisely. That’s how we get a creationist being given equal air time to a scientist. Or an anti-vaccine person with *zero* evidence being treated with the same respect and deference as doctors who have shed-loads of evidence.

      Liked by 2 people

    • tildeb
      June 6, 2017

      Pink has successfully negotiated the issue away from the very real and destructive actions by members who support the Regressive Left to an issue of trying to defend screaming ‘Fire!” in a crowded theater under the banner of Free Speech and then using reasonable restraint for the latter to cover the deplorable actions of the former. Let’s use a real world example of the fascist actions of real world students aided and abetted by a spineless administration and faculty destroying the career of a real world anti-racist accused of ‘racism’. This is the issue… assigning some deplorable label to someone by fiat, by the decision of regressive leftists, and then expecting everyone to go along with this label or risk being similarly labeled. That’s what the regressive left supporters do: believe their own beliefs and then expect everyone else to go along with them or be similarly threatened. That’s what the dis-inviting, de-platforming bully tactics are: a cover for what I call the New Red Guard, these self-appointed cultural warriors who think they deserve the only voice.

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  6. acflory
    June 5, 2017

    In reading through these comments, it hit me that there’s a cultural divide between those from the US and the rest of the world. For those brought up in the US, freedom of speech is enshrined in the culture as this ‘great good’ from which all other ‘great goods’ naturally flow. It’s an absolute that is never questioned, but like the concept of ‘freedom’ itself, freedom of speech is not an absolute. The only time you can have absolute freedom of action and speech is if you live on a deserted island and never come into contact with another living thing.

    In a society, no matter how advanced, we always have to balance the good of the whole against the good of the individual. Thus, the social contract specifies that we are free to live our lives as we see fit…so long as what /we/ do doesn’t stop anyone else from living their life as /they/ see fit. Thus no one living in a society is ever completely ‘free’, yet in the US, people believe most sincerely that they should be free to /say/ whatever they want.

    Is that because of the old children’s rhyme – ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me’? Or is it a mistaken belief that free speech will always lead to the white hats winning?

    The truth is that both concepts are just plain wrong. Words can and do hurt. Words pushed a 14 year old gay boy to commit suicide a few years ago. And words from the worst black hat in living memory, Adolf Hitler, rekindled the national pride of the German people, paving the way for both the Holocaust and World War II.

    The idea of free speech being good no matter what begins to break down the moment it’s applied to the real world.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head, and then the other nail on the other head 😀

      It’s certainly a case of heuristic bias. First amendment, so first importance, so sine qua non factor in the legal outline. Those of us who have observed other legal systems and social structures can easily see not just the invalidity of the absolutism, but also how the concept is misrepresented to suit political purposes.

      Have you ever heard of American food libel laws? The Breitbart brigade seems to have no interest in protesting those: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_libel_laws

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      • acflory
        June 5, 2017

        Yes, so if I write a blog article about how McDonald’s food is so plastic it never rots…that can get me sued? Perhaps the LGBTQI community, blacks, latinos and women should all stop fighting hate speech and just sue the pants off everyone…money does talk.

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      • But we’d have to become chicken nuggets first!!!!!!!

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      • acflory
        June 6, 2017

        Hey! So long as it’s organic, I can live with that. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • tildeb
      June 6, 2017

      Let’s grant your argument legitimacy and re-enter the real world: who decides what speech is allowable and what speech isn’t? You? Me? Pink?

      It’s fine to suggest there be reasonable laws to curtail certain kinds of directed speech to incite violence and hatred but note HOW this notion is being abused by the Regressive Left: by assigning to individuals certain deplorable ‘hate’ labels without any reasonable connection to justifying the label in the real world with compelling evidence… and then doing two things: stopping that individual the same means used against them by these cultural warriors to reasonably respond to these debatable false charges (for that is what they are in the real world), and then demonstrating and disrupting by any means possible – including violence – a reasonable platform provided by any institution or group that attempts to seek a fair hearing from both sides.

      This is how the Regressive Left operates, from vilifying anyone or anything who disagrees or stands contrary to what these Po-Mo guardians decide is acceptable. This is Po-Mo bullshit in action, an action far too many people support, that in the real world reduces the target’s rights and freedoms in the name of rights and freedoms! That’s how you know it’s Po-Mo bullshit. And no one earns more wrath from the armchair supporters of Regressive Leftists than those who dare to publicly criticize Really Bad Ideas because they have the temerity to not go along with the Po-Mo bullshit, the up is down kind of bullshit, the de-platforming under the banner of defending free speech crap… targeting everyone from scientists to politicians to administrators to even the victims of Really Bad Ideas who then dare to criticize the Ideas for their pernicious effects. These are the targets of the Po-Mo bullshiters and they then get to be vilified for daring to think and hold opinions the New Red Guard deems socially unacceptable. Inevitably the term ‘hate’ comes up.

      So let’s revisit Pink’s use of this tactic in his final paragraph:

      “The people whose presence students are protesting at universities all seem to have one thing in common, and it’s that they propose some variation of dehumanisation of their fellow citizens. Dehumanisation being the ultimate attack on civil liberties/rights.”

      See?

      The assumption being used is that dehumanization is the essential component being championed by certain speakers. Is it? No. Does the truth matter? No! Not to the champions of the Regressive Left.

      Under this label of ‘dehumanization’ he is willing to stick all kinds of speakers he chooses to insert by fiat. Whether these speakers do, in fact, champion dehumanization is the debatable issue… but we can’t talk about the real world specifics for this charge and have differences of opinion. Nope. Pink has already decided on your behalf. And you’re not allowed to find out for yourself by listening to these people in these settings; these people cannot speak publicly because, hey, they dehumanize, donchaknow! And if you want to hear them, then you must think it’s okay to dehumanize real people too… and aren’t you a terrible person for going along with dehumanizing others? People like you who ‘support’ dehumanizing others should have their careers destroyed and their businesses boycotted. Any organization willing to give a platform to people like you who dehumanize others should suffer something than being paid at these events, don’t you think because, well, dehumanizing people is Bad.

      You see how this works?

      You see how the assumption applied as a label suddenly becomes equivalent to fact by fiat?

      This is the perniciousness of the New Red Guard, busy little beavers believing they are rooting out ‘cultural inequity’ and defending the rights and freedoms of the dispossessed. They’re not; they are a growing problem because by these actions these are the people who are in effect attacking fundamental liberal principles and undermining them using such groupthink terms as ‘tolerance’ and ‘respect’ by denying to others what they use to defend their actions. It’s Po-Mo bullshit gaining momentum with every defeat of liberal values in action, in the real world. Oh, but don’t we want to battle ‘hate’?

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      • You jump to all sorts of conclusions there and extrapolate what I say by a mile.

        When I said ““The people whose presence students are protesting at universities all seem to have one thing in common, and it’s that they propose some variation of dehumanisation of their fellow citizens. Dehumanisation being the ultimate attack on civil liberties/rights.” I was referring to the famous recent cases that I knew of, and my follow up was to ask you of cases that didn’t fit that scenario.
        I thought my point was clear, but I’ll re-phrase: I believe dehumanisation of fellow citizens should disqualify people from being given a platform at public institutions. I don’t believe violence should ever be used. And yes we can successfully limit speech without tumbling into dictatorship as proven by much of the developed world.

        Where I think the anti “regressive left” argument fails is in the false equivalency that being accused of homophobia, for example, is as bad as being a victim of homophobia. That’s the loophole the religious right is crawling through, and I can see them doing it from a mile away. Racism isn’t a problem, the problem is political correctness… right?

        Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        June 6, 2017

        No, Tildeb, I don’t see how this argument negates mine when the very reason you have the Regressive Left as you call them is as a reaction to the Regressive Right. And then BOTH camps are made possible by this illogical insistence on an impossible principle!

        If the US had reasonable laws against speech that incites to violence and hatred – like the rest of us – then both sides, both /extremes/ would be curtailed leaving the moderate middle to actually get a hearing. Because you know, at the moment, it’s the majority of kind, generous, good-hearted, clear-thinking Americans who are not being heard, at all, on any issue.
        As for who would decide what constitutes hate speech, perhaps Middle America could decide. Most people know hate speech when they hear it. If Middle America were given the opportunity to have its say, they might report hate speech to the police who would then investigate the issue and, if necessary, push it along to the courts, and then the justice system would decide if something constitutes hate speech or not.
        And before you talk to me about abuse and McCarthy era witch hunts, yes, there will be abuse, just as there is abuse in the present system. The pendulum will continue to swing from one extreme to the other, until it finally settles somewhere in the middle, where it was always meant to be – i.n. a. d.e.m.o.c.r.a.c.y.
        As a US citizen, you have the right to uphold your own principles and moral values, but believing that those principles and moral values are the only ones that /should/ exist goes beyond your normal human rights.
        – The rest of the Western world is proof that other ways of thinking are possible.
        – We have gun laws and much less death by violence.
        – We have universal health care and much less death by curable diseases.
        – We have laws about hate speech, and despite the terrorist attacks in Britain, our societies experience much less civil unrest.
        And finally, most of us do not have freedom of speech enshrined in our constitutions, yet our individuals are not muzzled and living in fear of the government. We are free to live as individuals, so long as we respect the rights of other individuals, because that is the only way a true democracy can work.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. clubschadenfreude
    June 6, 2017

    great post. I do love this: “Not being given the platform one would like doesn’t qualify as being silenced.” So many forget that this is the case.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny because they’ve translated Free Speech to mean endorsement. As if they’re entitled to the stage of their choice. The NYT won’t publish me, so they’re silencing me! LOL 😀

      Like

  8. Linn
    June 6, 2017

    Maybe it’s just because I’m European but I still don’t understand the whole uproar about college students doing this or college students doing that.
    The only place I hear about this whole thing is through American blogs and this place. I read my national newspapers daily and it’s never mentioned. I even checked out a few webpages of universities nearby and I see a multitude of different speeches are being held about all manner of things. So my only source of information about this “oh so horrible” threat are blogs.
    And according to American right wingers, it’s the greatest threat to human existence since the dinosaurs. Oh wait…

    Well, sorry, but I just don’t get it. It’s the fascists on the right wing that are denying free speech and human rights over here. My neighbour Russia has denied free speech to homosexuals and anyone criticising religion. The right wing is on the rise in Europe, including the country of Poland that I lived in for several years where they’ve attempted to restrict abortion rights even further.

    To add to the damage, we have to sit here and watch Americans elect the most ridiculous right wing president of all time (all American politicans are right wingers from the Scandinavian perspective, but Trump is seen as even more extreme).
    A president that wants to withdraw from vital agreements, that doesn’t give a damn about the rights of women and minorities in his own country and regularly spits in the face of the rest of the world.
    Not to mention how he constantly undermines free speech, doesn’t care about facts and has threatened to take action against any who criticises him.

    Yet through all this, right wingers and the self proclaimed “rational left” will tell us that it’s the college students to blame.
    Never mind right wing fascism on the rise in Europe, never mind our rights being taken away by actual authorities, never mind the American’s own insane president, the real problem in this world are American college students protesting.
    Well fuck you and good riddance when you’re faced with the real threats (Not meant against our gracious host of course, but against aforementioned groups that spend every waking moment criticising college students)

    Come to think of it, I was at an infectious medicine convention last week and they didn’t invite any homeopaths or any of those “wonderful” people that think microbes don’t exist (there are many such people). I don’t know if some of them wanted to come but I’m pretty sure they would have been denied. I guess medical doctors are just as bad as college students. 😦
    *Cue violin music*

    Liked by 1 person

    • They have penchant for drama in America. In a way you don’t see in Europe. I think it goes together with their consumer culture (now also becoming part of the UK mindset).

      The marketers rely on constant reductionism and hype to sell formulas. If you have sweetener you’ll develop cancer. Buy this car and you’ll have more sex. There’s a war on Christmas. The regressive left is taking over universities. The Russians are coming! This creates a rather hysterical environment which people get seriously wound up in.

      Like

      • Linn
        June 6, 2017

        We do like some drama over here as well, but it doesn’t seem to be to the extent of what happens over on the other side of the pond.

        What concerns me the most (and the reason for my little “fuck you” outburst), is that while so many otherwise intelligent Americans are focusing on superficial and meaningless university “conflicts, the real fascists are sneaking in from behind. People with actual power are making a mess out of things and getting away with it and they don’t even have to purposefully misdirect us. We take care of the misdirection all on our own. There’s nothing they love more than seeing liberals fighting each other over something as inconsequential and stupid as whether someone like Milo should get an invitation or not.

        Liked by 1 person

    • tildeb
      June 6, 2017

      You don’t see the danger? You’re living in the middle of it.

      It’s not about college students. It’s not about the people being dis-invited and de-platformed in the US and Canada. It’s about an abject failure for the majority of us to respect speaking truth to power.

      The point is that there is a rising movement in the Left to regress liberal values upon which Western liberal secular democracies are constitutionally based in the name of these liberal values. What this means is that there is a creeping delusion entering the public domain that what one believes to be the case is in fact the case no matter what reality has to say in the matter. We see this when its proponents attacking the means we have available to determine the case.

      Upon this delusion – where tolerance for differences becomes intolerance for evaluating them honestly and openly – comes public policies to address important issues. And this influence is not only growing but is quickly becoming ubiquitous… to the detriment not just of us here today on these issues or those but to future generations on multi-generational issues.

      And as if this were not bad enough, the delusion seems to be subject to accurate public criticism only from the far Right (which I’ve been complaining about for two decades), and this has to change because it is empowering only the wingnuts on that fringe to rise in popularity and begin to make significant gains in political power into the moderate ranks who would prefer to take a chance on a distasteful politician who wants you to be safe over a delusional one who insists it’s all our fault because of colonialism, because of history, because of foreign policy, because of the West’s corruption, and so on….

      But what has this to do with liberal Europeans?

      Well, for example, one needs to look no further than Trump to understand how this trend can happen and what the actual effects can be on European liberals. Trump was the only candidate in the US presidential race to reference Islamic terrorism to Islam. The same is the case in many European countries where only a few days ago the mayor of London went out of his way to tell us that the recent events of Islamic terrorism – the killing of real people in real life and done in the name of martyrdom and jihad and endorsed by ISIS – had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam.

      That’s delusional thinking.

      That’s imposing one’s beliefs on reality and expecting it to comport. And then we have the problem of implementing policies based on the delusion that tries to address all other kinds of vague causes while avoiding the actual cause… because to do so will immediately and vociferously earn not just rebuke from leaders in the Left but condemnation of bigotry and the ever-so-popular Islamophobia. The only ones who can politically survive this popularity onslaught by these ‘leaders’ are those found on the fringes whose base has already been socially marginalized.

      We need to fix this problem by upholding rather than undermining liberal values. We need liberals to stand up for these values when they are undermined and not appease those who intentionally undermine them. We have to stop being fooled into acting against liberal principles in the name of liberal principles. When we are presented with terms that are used to mean their antonyms, we know we have met this delusion up close and personal and each of needs to stand firmly behind respecting reality over and above the demand to respect the contrary beliefs about it. Our survival depends on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Except you’re not really talking about speaking truth to power.
        Your reference to the mayor of London and Islam, for example, is fatally flawed.
        It’s mathematically incorrect because you don’t make a distinction between correlation and causation (incidence, co-incidence, cause). By making that error, you place undue weight on the *wrong* variable. And so you misidentify the cause of the “disease”. That’s not my opinion, that’s mathematics.
        There is a correlation between Islam and various terrorist attacks in Europe in the past 30 years. From a statistical perspective we can expand that to include Christianity; with Christianity being responsible for more total deaths. That is verifiable reality. So a responsible argument has to lay out the problem isn’t unique to a religion. It may however be linked to literal interpretation of the religions in question.
        In any event the cases I know you’re basing this argument on, Nawaz and Hirsi Ali, are cases in which those speakers themselves made these rather basic statistical errors of stating correlation meant causation. Hirsi Ali does it knowingly because she presents her case with tremendous subterfuge. Along the lines of “I’m only against political Islam”, and in the next breath she says all Islam must be political so all Muslims are dangerous- but when accused of discrimination she reverts back to the misleading first line.
        I read everything both she and Nawaz write because they’re both on the Daily Beast. His method is no less political. All his articles are available here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/author/maajid-nawaz And just as a mental exercise, I highly recommend people read them. The patterns are easily identifiable. He always starts with a political position and then hammers “evidence” into place to suit his view no matter how dubious the argument may be. His recent The Manchester Attack and the Myth of the ‘Lone Wolf’ is a great example. He goes so far as to change the definition of a Lone Wolf attacker implying that if people know the person has extremist views that means the attack can’t be deemed a lone wolf incident.
        Speaking truth to power? Hardly.

        And let’s be serious about delusions and Trump’s election. He had the support of the Christian right, and the far right, and the neo-nazis, and that whole crowd who’s always existed in America and who supported the Iraq war and the Vietnam war before that. Trump wasn’t elected because of protests at 5 universities, he was elected because his base is always willing to embrace the variety of divisive politics he peddles.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linn
        June 8, 2017

        Sorry, I still don’t get it. In my eyes, the right wingers are the ones in charge of debate anyway. They completely take over every discussion. I read newspapers daily and the vast majority of people in the comment sections are right wingers. They are also allowed to write their own articles, and people that dislike and want to deport Muslims are interviewed regularly.

        People are so obsessed with Muslims and Islam that everything becomes about islam. I can’t read an article about fishing or the newest hollywood movie without the right wingers filling the comment sections with complaints about Muslims, gays or women (the unholy trinity in their eyes).

        At the same time, they’re always complaining about being oppressed or silenced even as they’re freely expessing themselves. It’s utterly ridiculous.
        Every time they’re criticised, they cry out about free speech. The right wingers want their own safe spaces without criticism, and sadly they actually have enough power to do more than ban someone from speaking at a university.

        The religious right wingers in USA and several countries in Europe now have the power to ban abortion, ban gay marriage, withdraw from climate agreements, impose travel bans etc.
        Conservatives and extremists have existed for milennia, you know.
        The good old Christians were stringing up blacks and burning witches long before the regressive left or Muslim immigrants came around.
        Bans on abortion, travel bans or gay marriage won’t be caused by 19 year old Ronny covering himself in paint and participating in a ridiculous demonstration against Halloween costumes.
        Those bans will come about because that’s what the right wing extremists want. Simple as that.
        By blaming leftists and sjws for the rise of Trump, and of right wingers in Europe, you’re doing the exact same thing as regressives do when they blame terror attacks on everything except for Islam. The irony is palpable.

        And if the Trump supporters and Trump himself are speaking the truth to power (I have no clue what that even means though), and trying to oppose Islam, why don’t they want to cut contact with Saudi-Arabia?
        We’re talking about probably The most horrific Islamic state in the world and yet the delusional president and his supporters don’t even seem to criticise them. His travel ban didn’t even affect Saudi-Arabia . Which shows to me that Trump and his supporters dont really give a damn about going against Islam.

        It’s also weird to talk about leftists being delusional when the actual right wing president in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the world, is the one that can’t open his mouth without lying and accuses anyone that criticises him for posting fake news.
        That’s what I call delusional.

        Liked by 2 people

      • tildeb
        June 8, 2017

        Linn, I think this article does a really good explaining why what I see going on is such an important and deeply divisive issue desperately in need of more critical review. I have encountered this ideological difference more and more as what I have always called ‘Po-Mo thinking’ advances and infects more and more of the political center from the Left.

        From the article:

        “(I)t is between the modernists and postmodernists where the future of society is being fought. Modernists are those who believe in human progress within a classical Western tradition. They believe that the world can continuously be improved through science, technology, and rationality. Unlike traditionalists, they seek progress rather than reversal, but what they share in common is an interest in preserving the basic structures of Western society. Most modernists could be classified as centrists (either left or right-leaning), classical liberals and libertarians.

        Postmodernists, on the other hand, eschew any notion of objectivity, perceiving knowledge as a construct of power differentials rather than anything that could possibly be mutually agreed upon. Informed by such thinkers as Foucault and Derrida, science therefore becomes an instrument of Western oppression; indeed, all discourse is a power struggle between oppressors and oppressed. In this scheme, there is no Western civilization to preserve—as the more powerful force in the world, it automatically takes on the role of oppressor and therefore any form of equity must consequently then involve the overthrow of Western “hegemony.” These folks form the current Far Left, including those who would be described as communists, socialists, anarchists, Antifa, as well as social justice warriors (SJWs). These are all very different groups, but they all share a postmodernist ethos.”

        To be clear, I fall into the category of ‘modernist’ – relying on evidence-adduced information – and the ongoing battle I think is about which principles are being advanced. I think Po-Mo values in comparison are equivalent in all ways to faith-based values, reached the same way – by assumption – and are just as immune from reality’s arbitration of them as any successful religion.

        Like

      • The fascinating thing in your answer is the categorisation. Those are the *two* opposing groups? That’s it?

        Like

  9. Arkenaten
    June 6, 2017

    @Tildeb
    Exactly how we deal with religious fundamentalism/extremism of the kind we are now experiencing?

    Like

    • tildeb
      June 6, 2017

      That is the question, isn’t it?

      In my opinion, incrementally.

      The very first step is to convince religious people to get religion as a whole out of the public domain and back into the private domain (where it can be protected). That’s doable and we are having some success when we look at the next generation of voters. Codifying and consistently enforcing this separation is the next step. Once religion is seen to be a private and individual affair, then we can look at any public demonstration as ‘extreme’ and treat it as the social aberration it is. Islamic terrorism is populated by people who believe public expressions of martyrdom and jihad are highly pious. That’s the problem: such acts ARE pious!
      So there needs to be a generation of Muslims raised to think this public display is an aberration harmful to their faith and such expressions doomed to effect any meaningful social change.

      So the issue today we must face is the social embracing of Islam and the tolerating of its intolerable tenets in the public domain including but not restricted to martyrdom and jihad. These religious principles of Islam are particularly troublesome and so they be taught to be immoral and deplorable principles antithetical to Western liberal enlightenment values that includes freedom of religion.

      I don’t think we don’t have to criticize Islam for this directly – all religions seem to have their batshit crazy built into it; what we need to change is this illiberal social tolerance for any religion’s public expression. And it begins by correctly attributing terrorist acts done (and justified) in the name of some piety to that piety. Until we can do even that much – be willing to admit even that much, be willing to accept this motivation as the one stated by so many jihadists as truthful and earnest, without earning the public ire of misguided dupes who think this is bigoted and phobic, we still have all our work in front of us.

      Like

      • Where do you think the “tolerance” comes from? Why does it exist?
        The first people to defend the use of headscarves in Europe were Catholic bishops, and they do so because of the attire of nuns. The sheltering of religion in America, likewise, has been a pursuit of the religious right for a very long time. Long before anyone knew what political correctness was.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Arkenaten
        June 6, 2017

        The very first step is to convince religious people to get religion as a whole out of the public domain and back into the private domain

        I would beg to differ.
        This is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
        Or trying to reason with psychopath.

        Evangelical Christians and Fundamental (extreme) Muslims are all about confrontation and usurping a secular state.
        In fact it is the stated goal of ISIS.

        So the issue today we must face is the social embracing of Islam and the tolerating of its intolerable tenets in the public domain including but not restricted to martyrdom and jihad.

        Well sorry, Tlldeb, but fuck that for game of soldiers.

        I don’t think we don’t have to criticize Islam ( and every religion for that matter) for this directly

        Yes, I am afraid we do have to, and vehemently. The time for pussy-footing is over.

        Liked by 2 people

      • “Evangelical Christians and Fundamental (extreme) Muslims are all about confrontation and usurping a secular state.”

        And that’s why proper categorisation is so important. The Christian Right is trying to get everyone to focus exclusively on Islam and pretending they’re benign and have no political aspirations- which is a total crock. We don’t need to control (or reject) a single religion, we need to enforce a separation of all religions from the state.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Arkenaten
        June 7, 2017

        And that includes not allowing garbage like Sharia Law, or any flaunting of religious symbolism or any form of doctrine in public buildings, institutions.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I have the impression Sharia law in the West works as voluntary mediation. Like Jewish law for the Orthodox, or how the Catholic church doesn’t recognise divorce.
        In other words it’s “pretend” law, the only exception being NY where some odd agreement means Jewish law can be recognised and *enforced* through civil courts. That includes the refusal of the right to divorce…

        Like

      • Arkenaten
        June 7, 2017

        So it seems …
        I note these are Sharia councils set up to mediate religious matters as you’ve aid, Pink. However, there is a movement in the UK that is vehemently protesting Sharia law/mediation in any form.
        This was interesting …

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/14/sharia-courts-family-law-women.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Scottie
    June 6, 2017

    OT. I am confused about a point and hope someone will advise me please. Islam is a religion. Muslim(s) is a person(s) who follow Islam. Islamist are people who are muslims who want the whole world controlled by Islam. Islamic is a government by the religion Islam. OK so my question is does everyone in a islamic state or controlled area have to be called by religion? In the US we don’t say person X is a non Christian. It seems to me we always make sure to include the religion of a person who is muslim even if the story is positive but not related to religion. We do not do that for others. Like the white supremacist who stabbed and killed those grand guys who tried to protect the two teen girls from him, he was a follower of the christian religion. Yet in the story they just used his name and what he did. I think I read one that said he was of the Christian faith. So I why we always name the religion of a country, people , or whatever if Islam is involved. Or an I miss reading it? Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent question.
      If you want to get to the very root of it, the idea is what is similar to us is safe and what we don’t know is potentially dangerous. So humans developed a system of categorising differences to identify potential dangers.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Scottie
        June 6, 2017

        Thank you. There are some people that say referring to the religion of Muslims who commit these acts of terror is bigotry if we don’t do it for everyone. But that is what the word Muslim means so it is rather self evident. Plus anyone who is acting based on a religious command or doctrine when committing terrorism always has the religion mentioned as it is the motivator of the act in the story. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

      • The problem isn’t mentioning the religion- it’s confusing or mis-attributing the motivation. An interesting discussion just began on causation vs. correlation in my most recent post: https://justmerveilleux.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/perspective-priorities-women-in-society/

        Liked by 1 person

      • tildeb
        June 6, 2017

        So you feel you are able to tell these jihadists that the reasons why they do what they do are not what they think or say or believe!

        Wow.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂 LOL
        I don’t need to tell them what they believe to sift through the relevant factors that lead up to an attack.
        That’s why I always bring up literalism and orthodoxy in these discussions. We can establish a direct mathematical link between literal interpretation of any of the Abrahamic religions and extremism, and to a slightly lesser degree violence.

        Liked by 2 people

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