Free Speech – Those words might not mean what you think they mean.
George Reed, for Cleanup on Aisle Four
We hear about it all the time. The Amendment to the Constitution granting freedom of speech. The term, in the latter 18th century meant liberty to speak your mind. It did not—and does not—mean “liberty to speak your mind without repercussions.”
Let’s peek at the actual language, shall we?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
It says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. It does not say that the spokes-model for the Fourth Reich, Milo Yiannopoulos, has the right to make hate speeches without let, hindrance or repercussions. If he commits, proposes, inspires, conspires–assists with speeches and direct actions–hate crimes against groups he wishes to see marginalized, well, sad faces for Milo, he might see some push back. Imagine, if you will, my shock and surprise that marginalized groups and people who do not want them marginalized are a little put out by the fact that another mouthpiece from Breitbart is acting to inflict harm on others.
The first amendment does not preclude people from assembling to protest the man being given a podium. It does not preclude people from expressing their own opinions right back at him. When he speaks in a manner urging crimes of hate, the charges for inciting a riot belong on him. Civil actions can and should be brought to bear.
Do I think people should be setting cars on fire, breaking windows, and attacking the police who are there to minimize the likelihood of a riot? I do not. Do I think that Federally funded Universities ought to be giving a podium to a man who spouts hateful messages? I do not. Am I against the freedom to express opinion? I am not. But there are lines where words become harm. Let’s look at some of Milo Y’s handiwork:
- “I believe in and love the populist, nationalist, antiglobalist rebellion happening all over the West” At face value, he is saying how he feels. Fair. But, does anyone else see this as the words of a hateful divisive force? Populist translates to White privilege, nationalist and antiglobalist line up nicely with isolation and exclusion.
- “Western culture is what is at risk from immigration from the Middle East.” Excuse me what? We are all immigrants. Unless you are a native american, you are all invaders and they’d like their lawn back. Can they have it now, please? And when I look at Milo’s last name I do not exactly see more than a Mediterranean heritage wrapped in a Notting Hill suit sneaking into the US through Heathrow airport.
- “Black Lives Matter is the ultimate divisive movement.” BLM is about the cessation of rascism and commencement of a national culture of inclusion. It is a natural reaction to discrimination, racial profiling, and exclusion.
- “Hillary Clinton is funded by people who murder homosexuals.” Did he get this one from the guys that created Pizzagate? I’d love to see his body of research on this one because it would not even make the Weekly World News. Okay, maybe it would, but still…
- “Women don’t work as hard.” This one really takes the cake. If I had to pick the hardest working 50 people out of the thousands that have worked for me over the years, 40 of them are women and minorities. This quote shows us all that Milo Yiannopoulos is blissfully free of the ravages of intelligence. I think pay should be set by the job and the level of performance and anything else is criminal.
We need to stop giving pulpits free of peril to the clergy of the Church of hate and ignorance. It did not go well when it happened in Germany and it will not go well here. And the “Rioters” that seem to turn up all around the country and break things never seem to be related to the actual protest. This sort of thing happened in the early 1930’s when the Nazi’s wanted an excuse to remove rights and restrict assembly. Feels a bit too familiar for my tastes.
Speech that invites or causes harm should not be without peril. In December Milo Y railed against a trans student (who had sued a university for discrimination) in one of his speeches in Wisconsin. He moved on to his next tour stop free of issue while his supporters began targeting that student for harassment. If you egg on the mob and they commit hate crimes you are conspiring with the mob and therefore an accessory to whatever they do. Lock him up, boys!
Freedom of speech means you may express your opinion and I wore a uniform for many years to protect that right. It does not mean you get to go out and use it to harm others. A growing movement in this Country is heading towards taking tangible steps to bring the Cheerleaders of Hate to account for the impact of their words.
Put me in, Coach!