In 2015, a well-respected urologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center- a Harvard affiliated hospital in Boston- named Dr. Paul Church was fired. Besides teaching at Harvard Medical School, he was also active in cancer research. In that year, he made a fatal mistake by telling colleagues about the unhealthy nature of homosexual activities. Dr. Church was relieved of his duties (fired) for expressing these beliefs. There is absolutely no evidence that he ever discriminated against nor refused to treat a homosexual patient. His thought crime was citing the government’s own statistics on the subject. This is how allegations of hate speech are dealt with today by the Left. It is a testament to the LGBT community of Massachusetts that no major newspaper in that state covered the incident. It was acceptable that a 30-year veteran of a hospital be fired because he dared express an opinion that did not mesh with that of the social justice warriors.
Jonathan Chait is a liberal voice at The New Yorker. He had an article about an anonymous paper written by someone in the Trump campaign called the “Flight 93 Election.” This paper basically laid out the Trump strategy of taking the fight to Clinton much like the passengers on Flight 93 did on 9/11. In short, it was a strategy paper since the author believed that the election of Hillary Clinton would be an affront to American civil liberties. The author cited the IRS investigation of conservative Tea Party groups as one example. It was later revealed that the author was Michael Anton who is currently employed by the White House. Somewhere along the line, a campaign strategy paper became “hate speech” and Chait accused Anton of racism which, one supposes, is guilt by association since Chait views Trump as a racist. Not to be outdone, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard slurred Anton as using Nazi tactics.
This is the state of hate speech accusations today. Everything that disagrees with the agenda of the Left is hate speech. And the gold standard go-to accusation is one of conjuring up the Nazis to make a point. If not Nazism, then racism. As Thomas Sowell once said, “Racism is like ketchup- it can be put on almost anything. And questioning it makes you a racist.” It is a “damned if you, damned if you don’t” cycle of ignorance on the part of the Left- one of intimidation to silence debate. Even when you have government statistics on your side, you are labeled a “homophobe” and denied your job.
The protests and violence at Berkeley was over the appearance of Milo Yiannopolous who is, admittedly, a rhetorical bomb-thrower. In effect, he was the victim of an obnoxious British import called “No-platforming” where protesters profess to be supportive of free speech, but then deny a platform for speakers to express themselves. Because he cites statistics that although the vast majority of American women believe in sexual equality but that a vast minority of American women consider themselves “feminist” is proof that modern feminism is not about equality, he is labeled a misogynist. Because he speaks of the potential dangers of a homosexual lifestyle, he is homophobic (truly odd since he is openly and proudly gay). Because he notes that heinous acts of terror are committed by Islamic radicals, he is Islamophobic. Because he questions the tactics and victimhood of Black Lives Matter, he is racist.
But his presentations are done to provoke the very responses he receives. He certainly gains from the notoriety on the personal level, but he also exposes the hypocrisy and true intentions of the Left. Equally important, he does so in the lion’s den- colleges and universities. Because he draws crowds to his appearances, the Left which runs our colleges would have you believe he is the second coming of Joseph Goebbels. Yiannopolous is not speaking to an echo chamber at The National Review.
And he hit it on the head at an appearance at UCLA. A feminist woman arose and began yelling that his comments were hate speech and that her feelings were offended. He promptly told her: “With all due respect, I don’t give a f#[email protected] about your feelings.” In a way, we need more Milo Yiannopolouses taking the fight into the lion’s den.
There is a very good reason he draws large crowds to his events. There are numerous articles in psychological publications which prove that the more something is verboten, the greater people want to see or hear it. In effect, the attempt to silence speech with which you disagree is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Furthermore, that which draws one to these appearances only strengthens the bonds and resolve of those denied an opportunity to hear his presentation. In none of his appearances does he ever not answer a question from someone who disagrees with him. In fact, he gives greater consideration to his detractors than they to him.
In effect, by silencing speakers the Left is reinforcing the beliefs of the would-be listener. Milo Yiannopolous, Gavin McEnnis and Richard Spencer may say some fairly horrible things at times, but banning their speech actually makes them more popular. Members of the alt-right proudly declare their rebelliousness , but it is only rebellious if the “powers that be” attempt or actually silence them.
Speech codes, hate speech legislation and rescinding speaking engagements may feel good in the short term, but what is made taboo one day usually comes back stronger than ever in the long term. Confronting the speaker with alternate views in a civil manner may be difficult at times, but it is probably the best weapon to combat perceived hate speech.
Further, some psychologists have noted that allowing speakers to make actual racist remarks may be a good cathartic way of blowing off steam. This is the so-called “pressure valve” theory, which makes sense but is dismissed out of hand by the Left. Personally, this writer would much prefer a bunch of jerks parading around a burning cross in the woods rather than burning an African-American church. I would much prefer a group cheering on Milo Yiannopolous rather than shooting up a gay nightclub in Orlando. I would prefer 200 miscreants cheering on Richard Spencer than 100 miscreants rioting in the streets.
One final thought before I end this entry and conclude the series tomorrow. The main reason the Left believes in hate speech laws is the belief that the words of these speakers has the potential to escalate into violence. There is not a single instance of anyone leaving a Spencer or Yiannopolous speech and going out and doing mischief or violence. There are, however, numerous examples of the Left perpetrating violence. Ironically (but maybe not really), their instances of violence are then justified as reactions to the allegedly hateful speaker. In other words, they became violent because of the speaker. This round about circular logic is anything but logical.
The rights that these speakers are trying to protect are the very rights that allow the protesters to gather outside the venue. If only the Left understood the concept of reciprocity, but it is not in their repertoire of coping mechanisms. Years of inculcation into political correctness at the hands of liberal academia have created the intolerance we see from the Left today. Then again, maybe there is truth to some things these people say and they are afraid of the truth.