The Need of Debate is In Deep Crisis
In this day and age, there seems to be no hot words more enticing than the debate. The natural environment of the Internet fully provides a space for people who share the same opinion to strengthen their own theories and thinking through communication between each other. In a society that seems to be inclusive but is in fact separated, every collision of thoughts seems to bring disastrous results. In recent years, the collective “far-right turn” of European polities and the gradual tolerance of white supremacism in the American right-wing society have ignited the lasting patience of many people. They chose to use violence and expulsion to refuse to provide any more discriminatory thinking and began rejecting their platforms. The most famous example is the recent de-platforming of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who notable called both the Sandy Hook shooting and 9/11 government-directed “false flags”. The New Yorker magazine, at the mean time, have announced the cancellation of the invitation to the alt-right political strategist Steve Bannon for participating in their symposium.
The left-wing intellectual community, especially those generations of anti-fascists who have noticed how the past years of time had diluted the painful memories of fascism, chose to use the most radical way of speech to express their extreme dissatisfaction with the rising alt-right and laden political views. Whenever a controversial figure comes to the schools to promote his or her theories, although that person may not be personally threatened, they will always face the massive protests.
The rise of Jones and Bannon has smashed the paradox that liberals have been unwilling to face for years: Should these people have their own platforms and should they have the right to express their voices?
In the end, this is actually much simpler than imagined: in this era where everyone wants to consume their own attention, how many of those claiming to be fascists are not eager to hope that through work and struggle, they can get a place in this society, even though common sense and morality will not let these losers who are rejected repeated to regain their attention by giving them a platform.
The reason behind Jones and conspiracy theorists alike’s success in brainwashing those who think that society is persecuting themselves with infinitely inflammatory and ignorant conspiracy theories every day is because those in power gave them Too Much space. In the end, they are still too confident that under the sanctity of the Western society’s “the end of history” after the Cold War, there is no tolerance towards racism and Nazism. It is a pity that they are horribly wrong. It is precisely because of this blind self-confidence of democracy that our tolerance for speech has left the original ideal track and went straight to destruction.
In the end, many times this is the infinite repetition of The Farmer and the Viper. The mainstream media, as a well-trained and well-educated platform, has repeatedly forgiven those words and actions that were supposed to be unacceptable because of the underestimation of these evil forces. There are always liberal-minded people from wealthy background that are full of innocent fantasies, who would not recognize the perils and threats of these evil. They claim that “Sunshine is the best disinfectant”, but that’s only because when those harassments and assaults did not attack them, these people understand that they will not be collateral damage.
The reality is bare naked. the New Yorker’s decision to disinvite Bannon made a wave of conservatives, and many people who convinced themselves as victims shouting “persecution.” Perhaps it is because this extremist who has repeatedly claimed that “the media is the enemy of people and country” is not considered unacceptable to those wealthy men and women.
The Economist magazine announced that they will not refuse him to attend the “#MeToo’s future” seminar. Even in the face of mountainous protests, the Economist still insist on their decisions. In their decision on this incident, their statement wrote: “The future of open societies will not be secured by like-minded people speaking to each other in an echo chamber, but by subjecting ideas and individuals from all sides to rigorous questioning and debate. This will expose bigotry and prejudice, just as it will reaffirm and refresh liberalism. That is the premise The Economist was founded on. When James Wilson launched this newspaper in 1843, he said its mission was to take part in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.”
I really would hope that everything is as simple as the understatement of The Economist’s statement.
This is not to say that these remarks should not be taken seriously, but isn’t it the most absurd behavior to defend the rights for advocating discrimination?A series of failures in Western social guardrails have been revealed under this statement; such a society that claims to be democratic is actually difficult to have a space in which the so-called freedom that can truly protect its hostile speech can be fully respected. After all, the rise of a series of strongmen in the political arena proves that more people choose or tend to use violence and irrationality to persuade, or to affirm their thoughts and behavior. The illusion of error with the notion that they can be accepted is what they wanted most.
I also understand that individual examples are to be identified from each specific behavior. However, this does not mean that those who express hatred and advocate discrimination against others should be given public forums. Those who are most willing to promote violence can indulge in the freedom of the society to arbitrarily attack others. When you think that an innocent person is simply because he or she has a certain identity in his possession that he can be unreasonably discriminated against, then do you really respect freedom or your own privilege?
Everyone who is full of enthusiasm for this world knows that we are experiencing a massive paradigm shift. We should have adopted a more rigorous attitude towards those who condone discrimination and tolerance for harassment. Every time when those big platforms choose to pick up their most basic conscience and ban extremists who advocate hatred and think that others should not have equal freedom, there are always people who think that this is an attack on freedom.
No one wants to say that echo chamber is a good thing, and we really should choose to accept different opinions. But should we really choose a society that where advocating violence and discrimination have no negative consequences? If there is such a society, how much harassment will you face, and how much tolerance and respect can you have for such a society? In fact, the best way to debate in the world is to first create morals and ethics that clearly distinguishes between good and evil, and a mentality that can often understand how to challenge the correctness of thinking, rather than an unwarranted attitude toward those who advocate discrimination. Indulgence and patience.
Under the focus of the media, the thoughts that were originally abandoned by common sense and conscience were again greeted by the well-known and journalists who were feeling good about themselves. They were treated as pampered by the “minority groups” that were not valued, like the one who did not. Far-right and alt-right people use the worst hatred and persecution to poison the people, so that the most vulnerable groups can never get rid of their stigma. This is not “respect for different speeches”, it is nothing but shameless connivance.