Anyone that knows this site will probably understand that we like to keep things interesting with entertainment, but last night’s riots at the University of California in Berkeley call for a wider observation of the culture. For those of you that aren’t aware, Breitbart editor and all-around gay madman, Milo Yiannopoulos, attempted to give a speech at the college to poke, prod, and make fun of the ridiculous concept of cultural appropriation. However, his talk was eventually shut down by rioters and a group known as “Antifa,” a loose coalition of violent thugs that seem to paint everyone as a fascist regardless of their political opinion.
This is just a symptom of a bigger problem that has been festering in college campuses and the media for at least the past ten years. For starters…
Do Americans Value Free Speech Anymore?
The sheer lunacy of what happened last night can be tied to the rise in ideologies and concepts that are, for lack of a better word, anti-freedom and pro-social justice. People sometimes use these two ideas as a weapon against others, but we should consider the profound hypocrisy of these rioters and others that think in a manner that is straight out of 1984. It starts by asking a series of very logical questions:
- How can people express a desire for love and freedom by de-platforming speakers and burning down businesses that have nothing to do with the event in question?
- How can you shield and comfort people by cutting them off from the marketplace of ideas?
- Do we actually know where the line is when it comes to a free society?
Those of us that live normal lives can come up with easy answers to all of these questions. Namely, love does not trump hate when we try to shut down the inalienable rights that evolved within each and every one of us. Positive engagement and open discussion matter in a society that is supposed to be free.
Secondly, the thought that you can save people by cutting them off from others doesn’t do anything but dehumanize others. I’d like to think of myself as a classical liberal, but that does not come with a license to shut myself off from conservatives. When I first began to understand politics, I’ll admit that I didn’t quite get what most of their philosophy was about, but that’s where reading and engagement comes into play. After a while, most people will discover that your Republican or conservative neighbor isn’t this creepy boogeyman that lives under your bed.
No, he or she typically likes capitalism, democratic republics, hunting, and all sorts of other stuff. The only difference is that they may have a different point of view on that issue there and may not like the way that this thing is tweaked. In other words, they’re human beings.
As for our third point, that calls for a section on its’ own…
“…But The First Amendment Only Protects You From The Government!”
In our splintered climate, you’ll typically hear this particular refrain because it provides a convenient excuse for certain types of behavior, but people fail to realize that there is a far more sinister implication. This particular saying posits that the constitutional rights of those with controversial opinions only exists on paper. And if we follow this train of thought to its’ logical conclusion, we have to ask ourselves another question:
If it becomes acceptable to suppress free speech in the culture, what exactly is stopping it from being suppressed at the ballot box?
I would argue that there would be no barrier because the ballot box is downstream from what you read, watch, or play. In a healthy society that values open dialogue, this wouldn’t be much of a problem. If we become trapped in bubbles and begin to see free expression as “violence,” that can only lead us into a nightmare that would make George Orwell breakdance in his grave.
No, the freedom to say and think as you damn well please must be a living and breathing practice that we push forward each and every day. It may not be convenient. It may not even be nice, but it is non-negotiable if we are to endure.
America may have its’ problems in the current year, but the concept of free speech must be protected and preserved at all costs. We should want the free exchange of ideas and thoughts out in the open for all to see, whether it is Milo’s brand of shitposting or Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s thoughtful talk on Islam and the West. These two extremes and everything in between are what pushes America and the West into the future.
So have your arguments, shitpost like you mean it, and think about all of the different ideas that might be out there!
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