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 ‘One More Take on Free Speech’

Submitted by Luke D.

Dear Editor, 

A few weeks ago, Nazi stickers made their way onto one of our campuses. It was a reminder from the far right that while their physical presence is dwindling, their courage under the dark of night has yet to be abandoned. Later, after being asked not to organize at the Swiss, the Proud Boys in all their rage and fury ordered a protest of their restaurant. They subsequently called it off, as there was no doubt immigrants that needed to be protested. All the same, it is neither of these events in their isolation that interest me. The alt right being snowflakes is far from new to me; what is interesting is the general response I have heard from members of my campus. The commentary goes along the lines of: ‘We may not agree, but we must respect their right to free speech.’ This strikes me as peculiar, as apparently it is they who guarantee them their right to free speech, and not the US government. The Bill of Rights was a provision regarding what the U.S. Government was strictly barred from infringing upon, a restraining order on acts of the state. But this has nothing to with how I carry myself. Neo-Fascism, The Alt-Right, Western Chauvinism or any other of the far right ultra conservative positions which have emerged, emboldened by euphemistic rhetoric, are dangerous due to their aggressive and violent nature, encourage countless ‘isms’ and ultimately are antithetical to any form of self determination. This is why I do not respect any of the far right ideologies. What would it even mean to ‘respect’ their beliefs? Roll to our backs? Yield them any demanded platform? Offer no criticism? What about respecting our community? We should stand against hate wherever we encounter it, and stand with those in our community affected by it. The marginalized members of our society who have suffered from violence and harassment under groups such as these which have had historically had the co-signature of the U.S. Government. How do we respect the speech of individuals when another member seeks to silence them. For tolerance to exist, we cannot be tolerant of those who espouse intolerance as a virtue, and those ideologies by very nature hold non-whites, non-western culture, non-straights and many other identities as inferior. This seems paradoxical, no doubt, but these ideologies are inherently rooted in oppression, marginalization and violence, and if given space, seek ultimately to silence minority groups. So I ask, on what grounds ought we extend respect to these views?

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