24 Aug 2017

“Everyone I disagree with is a Na–“

Politics No Comments

What used to be a punchline (get it?) is now becoming reality. This is an actual story in Salon:

Tom Woods interviewed a guy who was fired because he was scheduled to speak at the Boston “Free Speech” rally. The guy wasn’t speaking on anything controversial. He was actually interested in the event because he supports this Indian American running for Senate:

(Incidentally, I am pretty sure that photo is from the Boston event. It doesn’t exactly look like a KKK gathering.)

But people on social media saw he was an attendee, they believed the “free speech” rally was actually a dog whistle for white supremacy / neo-Nazism, and so they demanded his employer fire the guy. (Incidentally, the Boston rally was planned before the horrible events in Charlottesville occurred. Apparently a major source incorrectly linked the two events, and this is what put the Boston event in the crosshairs of protesters, and then I think the Boston mayor made a big show about “the courts said we can’t keep white supremacists out” and that may have genuinely confused people. It’s also possible that there were genuinely awful people who were originally supposed to speak, but then were disinvited; I am happy to add details if you email me. But I know the guy whom Tom interviewed was going because of concern for free speech, and I know the organizer(s) made clear that they didn’t want any hate groups and no one advocating violence was welcome.) Some of the speakers at the Boston event ultimately had to be escorted away by police for their own safety.

On Twitter, I have recently had to put out fires because someone makes blanket accusations against a group (including me), and then people just assume it’s true. So I can pick off a few people here and there and they realize what happened. (I had one guy call me an anti-Semitic racist nut [actual phrase he used] and then when I asked him what I had said to make him say that, he apologized and said he had written the tweet the night before when he hadn’t had much sleep, and took it down.) But there’s a tradeoff in doing that sort of thing on social media, because it draws attention to it when you jump in and do the equivalent of, “No, on the contrary, I never beat my wife to begin with, I’ll have you know!”

We are now having a debate on free speech per se, e.g. with this college professor claiming free speech has become “weaponized” in the hands of people like Ann Coulter and Milo.

Look, I get that tensions are high, and some people in the libertarian community are resurrecting decades-old battles right now, but can I ask a simple favor? If you find yourself attacking somebody online, and in order to make it “punchier” you actually type out a statement that is false–in the sense of “literally speaking, this is not a true statement”–then start over. If the recipient of your attack is indeed the monster you think, then you don’t have to bend the facts to really make sure people get how bad he is. Constrain yourself to just using literally true statements.

Apropos of all that, here is a moving compilation of Jordan Peterson clips talking about the horrors of Auschwitz and the death of truth in Soviet Russia.

P.S. Again, I don’t want to police the comments on this post, so I’m closing it.

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