This may shock you, but I support Richard Spencer’s right to free speech and free assembly the way…
Lou Lenehan
31

I want to point out what you’ve done here, because I find it incredibly disturbing. You initially said:

“We have hissy-fits whenever right wing commentators are invited to campuses to exercise their first amendment rights.”

And I asked you a very specific question:

“Why don’t you think the college students protesting Nazi speakers have First Amendment rights? I am baffled by this new emphasis on rights of celebrities to target students where they live, and the students are supposed to sit respectfully and be taught how to Nazi. Have you thought about what students are allowed to say?”

When you responded to that, you insulted me:

“Eve, if you can’t tell the difference between someone who is right-of-center and a Nazi you need to grow up. If you can’t tell the difference from obstructing someones ability to speak with fighting speech with speech then you need to grow up.”

You make two points here: 1, that I am not really talking about Nazis. 2, that I can’t tell the difference between speech and obstruction.

So I gave you an example of Richard Spencer. A genuine Nazi. Who was allowed to speak at a university, not barred, though people protested. And I asked you again:

“what speech rights will you defend for regular people, who are not celebrities who already have access to an audience of millions and a think tank?”

And when you replied it was clear that you didn’t actually know what happened. You replied as though he had been prevented from speaking:

“ The people who prevented him from speaking lost an opportunity to make him look like an idiot. Richard Spencer a vile, repulsive racist asshole, and the more he talks, the more people will find this out.”

So let me state again: he was not prevented from speaking.

And you doubled down on your statement belittling the rights of all the people who weren’t right wing ideologues:

“Here’s the thing though. People like Ben Shapiro and Dennis Prager (two people who I disagree with on nearly everything, but aren’t beyond the pale) were prevented from speaking at Public Universities by shrieking mobs of millennial fuckwits. People at home see this and are not impressed. Come election time they will have a choice to make; 1)Vote for an lying imbecile like Trump, or 2) Vote with the morons vandalizing their school because there was a person invited on campus who says things they don’t like. I don’t want to put those people in a position where they’re even contemplating doing the former.”

What you are doing is arguing against the individual rights of all the students at those universities, as if the only reason that they matter is in the way they are portrayed on television. Richard Spencer was met by hundreds of people who opposed everything he stood for, and you portray them thoughtlessly as a screaming horde who prevented him from speaking.

What else did you say?

“You don’t change people’s minds by preventing them from speaking. You change people’s minds by engaging them and by making persuasive and intelligent arguments. That’s what the Left needs to start doing again. More arguments, less tantrums.”

To recap: Spencer, who is a real Nazi, was allowed to speak at A&M. The protesters did not stop him, but you are online publishing comments that portray them as though they had.

More importantly, you demonstrate now, in these comments, that your hypothesis, “let people speak and engage with them to change their minds” is completely divorced from what actually happens when these assholes go to universities. Obviously a mass of people waving signs isn’t capable of addressing his views in a nuanced and educated argument, but they have that right anyway.

And you have failed to stand up for that right, because you help carry the narrative that the people protesting against speakers like Spencer or Shapiro are “throwing tantrums” or “hissy fits”. You encourage people to ignore them as if they are children. Even when I presented a specific example, of a university doing what you said you want, you talked about them as though they had oppressed Spencer. You didn’t even look.

I have asked you directly multiple times: what kind of speech do you think regular people should have? What would you support? I am not a rightwing ideologue. I am probably never going to be invited to speak at DePaul or Texas A&M. But I still have the right to free speech. The way you use “free speech” is becoming disturbingly common: and it is celebrity-centric, implying that invited speakers have more rights than everyone else at the place they are invited to speak at. And further, it encourages people to treat those who challenge the speakers as if they couldn’t possibly have anything to say.

Would you like to answer the question I asked? Can you give me an example of the kind of dialogue you would like to see?

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