The term “assassin’s veto” or alternatively “heckler’s veto” has been used to describe situations like the one we have in thr West today. People are allowed to disrupt and prevent free speech, simply by interrupting, protesting or otherwise hindering the expression of undesirable opinions. Additionally we have suppression of free expression by threats of deadly violence.
It is disheartening to see how few people in the West are willing to stand on principle and defend free speech for all. Even organisations that has stood on principle (on this issue at least) in the past, have buckled under the tremendous tension in the political climate following Charlottesville. The liberal sentiment “I will die protecting your right to speak” is now seemingly dead and buried. Combine this worrying trend with made-up narratives in the mainstream fake news media, plus the whole punch-a-Nazi meme going around and we have a recipe for violent disaster. When everyone to the right of Karl Marx is accused of being a Nazi, the moral sanctioning of attack basically entails a licence to attack anyone you disagree with. There no longer is the expectation of political debate happening within the confines of civilized rules, meaning that you exchange words, not fists.
Allowing violent mobs of people to shut down rallies and events they don’t like is preventing a vast majority of the population from utilizing their free speech rights. Only those most capable and/or willing to physically defend themselves are now able to use the public arena for the free exchange of ideas that it is supposed to be all about. Doxxing is another troublesome component of this charged climate. Taking into consideration that a frightening percentage of people are either willing to physically harm you or tacitly support it, having your real name and address revealed is a physical threat to your safety. People on the left often lament the words used online on message boards, comments sections and so on. They especially decry the sometimes harsh language used about women. They claim that that kind of language is preventing women from having their voices heard. Well, the physical violence infliced by left wing mobs such as Antifa is silencing the vast majority of the population.
It shouldn’t be necessary to remind people that if you don’t go to bat for other people’s free speech, you can’t expect them to defend your own rights. Especially in regards to Charlottesville, thinking principally is essential. The Unite the Right rally did have a permit issued by a federal judge. The political decision to refrain from policing the violence of the protest mobs led to several deaths and multiple injuries. It also showed for all the world to see that violence works as a tool for shutting down your political opponents. That is a disastrous signal to send, especially when the temperature is already so high in the political arena.
We also must being up the lackluster response by many Western politicians, intellectuals and other public figures when confronted by Islamic threats to free speech. The West failed miserably in defending itself during the Danish Cartoon Crisis, the Salman Rushdie affair and many other cases. Having learned nothing from history, appeasement was the only item on the menu. Politicians were much more interested in attacking Western publishers, authors, cartoonists and so on than they were in defending the principles our civilization is founded upon. It is crystal clear for all to see now, that we are rapidly heading in the wrong direction. The new front in the free speech wars, de-platforming is a slippery slope I hope we can avoid.
If the current trend online continues, only the most bland, conformist, non-controversial and centrist opinions will be allowed. I doubt that our civilization can survive the death of the means that are necessary for a robust political discussion. Above all else, I’m interested in preserving the free speech platform that allows differing political opinions to be voiced publicly. Other political issues are subordinated to this. If the prevalent short sighted thinking of using intimidation and raw numbers of violence prone thuggery to silence dissent continues to be prevalent, what else could truly be said to be more important than this loss? Free speech is after all necessary for pushing for all other political goals.