26 March, 2014

an addendum on social justice and free expression | Fredrik deBoer

an addendum on social justice and free expression | Fredrik deBoer:

Please believe me when I say: it is not at all unusual, for me, to
encounter liberals and leftists who speak out about issues of social
justice like feminism and racism and similar who do not believe that
controversial speech (what they call hate speech) should be legally
expressible. You are free to question how prevalent that view is. But I
encounter it all the time, and not just online. Being in a PhD program
in the humanities, I have regular exposure to people who feel that the
right to free expression does not or should not include racist, sexist,
or homophobic ideas. And their definition of racism, sexism, and
homophobia tends to be expansive. Indeed, I was motivated to write in
large part because I just came from a large, national conference. I met
lots of cool people, like I always do, and came away inspired, as I
always do. But I was also disturbed, because of the casual way in which
some people asserted their belief that people who express beliefs they
abhor– that I abhor, that I hope all good people abhor– should be
shouted down, should be coerced into silence, should be barred from
entry into public forums, should be legally or otherwise prevented from
expressing those beliefs. I cannot tell you how small their relative
number is. I can only tell you that they exist, in my communities, and
they are not alone.