White Power, Political Correctness, and “Free Speech”
A “radical leftist,” Bailey Lamon, has drawn pixel applause from Left and Right in declaring that the Left have become too politically correct and that they police speech too much. The Left, it’s said, take free speech away by telling the Right to stop saying racist, sexist, homophobic, and classist drivel to the very people who are targets of these hate speech diatribes. The problem it seems is that activists who are not targets of the hate speech are focusing too much on the speech and not enough on the social problems that make society unequal.
One of the ways the Left has been shutting down hate speech is by creating safe spaces for targets of the speech in academic settings. These Leftist imprisoners of the Right wing have committed their sin by warning targets that they are about to be, well, targeted. These safe spaces are fascist, so stop limiting the freedom of the Right to make academic settings “like the real world.”
The reason Left wing activists need to stop doing this is that the targets of this speech are too busy living desperate lives to worry about being targeted with this kind of speech. For example, when I was about to go to foster care in 5th grade, because I was asking other children for food in school, I was presumably not concerned with other children’s derogatory comments about our family’s poverty. I wanted to be heard regarding how to fix our poverty, not how the other children were treating me.
As another example, a Medium writer had an essay about how white people should be able to keep bullying black people with white power. Oh, to be fair, she said black people should still be able to use their black power. Presumably, this means to protest their second class status. Watch it on that protesting though, she said. Don’t get too angry. Keep the white folks comfortable, especially those white people that espouse belief systems that maintain the systemic injustices that bully you. Keep those people comfortable at all costs.
It is true that this country has long held that the free speech rights of the KKK and the Council of Conservative Citizens are to be honored. Their hate is protected by the First Amendment. The question is…protected from what? What does the Constitution say?
The Founders never said society couldn’t paint a scarlet letter “H” on the hater and label them for what they are. This is what conservatives, and apparently now radical leftists, have become distressed about. They want to be able to attacks gays, blacks, immigrants, poor people without consequences like negative assessments of their character or public shaming. “We don’t want to be silenced.”
The fact is no one is silencing you. They are telling you that your ideas are not accepted by educated society. They are the ideas of ignorance. Obviously, that stings. It is “politically correct” or “perfectly civilized” to ask that hate speech be socially sanctioned by ostracization, condemnation, and minor consequences like requiring trigger warnings. The gist of Ms. Lamon’s essay applies to those on the Left, not the right. The world is a dangerous place for those on the Left, not the Right.
“More to the point, the world is not a safe place. It is extremely dangerous, flawed, full of bloodshed and corruption. By sheltering ourselves from its harshness we are doing nothing meaningful to change it.”
Yet and still, there have been no imprisonments over hate speech, only hate-driven behavior. The American Family Association is free to smear gays. Conservatives are free to taunt people on welfare and call them worthless. Neo-Nazis are free to spread their ideology of disparagement to Jews and blacks on their Stormfront website. In other words, bullying of a powerful group toward a less powerful group has never led to what the Founders disapproved of…governmental imprisonment.
When the University of Michigan rescinded its invitation to Alice Walker, leading black scholar and writer, because of her supportive comments about Palestine, there were no conservative “free speech” advocates concerned about this decision. Many of them were the conservatives calling the school to threaten to withdraw their alumni donations if she were allowed to speak. Conversely, when alumni and tuition-paying students protest that college speakers who spread hate and misogyny are treated as legitimate sources of knowledge, these “free speech” advocates scream loudly. Notably, Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter still speak at universities while Alice Walker did not.
When the victims of the bullying get angry and fight back with uncontained rage-tainted speech because those on the Right chose to associate with the bullies, people on the Right, like other Medium writers, believe activists’ cause for equality is negated. For example, now, Black Lives Matter has “silenced” the right. Subsequently, the injustices they face are now their fault. The police aren’t the problem. The fact that activists, like Anna Mae Weems, were marching on city halls in small Midwestern towns in Iowa to protest the death of black men at the hands of police as far back as 1966 means nothing. Black-on-black crime is the problem.
Never mind that white-on- white crime follows the same pattern. Never mind that the police have been killing black people since the civil war ended (see Slavery By Another Name by Douglas Blackmon or The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander). Never mind that lead white-owned companies poisoned poor black communities with environmental racism (for most recent example, see Flint), and lead is known to be linked to violent crime.
Black activists have angrily told off people on the Right, told them to shut the hell up, and now, they are considered to practice censorship. The focus shifts to their treatment of the Right, not the centuries of oppression that spur the demands for different language. Noam Chomsky is a linguist and a worldwide expert on oppression. It is no accident that his expertise intertwines language and power structures. He does advise that everyone should be given the right to speak freely. But what is freedom?
To me, freedom would have meant having the ability to meet my basic needs, perhaps as defined by Abraham Maslow. Growing up, I would have liked to have depended on shelter, food, a sense of belonging, and safety. It would have meant not being bullied by the language of people who fundamentally took a Right wing view of the world.
So, let us Left wing radicals put on our big kid pants and take the abuse of the Right, because that will allow us to challenge oppression. The key to overcoming societal injustice is to stop being social justice warriors and let freedom ring. So, stop it. Just stop it with the organizing as groups to limit the speech of the Right.