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The dilemma of protesting white supremacists

 
 
Kolyo
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:33 pm
Whether people protest Spencer or ignore him won't matter. The real problem isn't him giving a speech on some campus. The real problem is that the consensus view that everyone once appeared to believe in seems to be disappearing. Once upon a time, everyone knew nazis and communists were bad because the talking heads on t.v. said so. But now we live in the age of the internet where everyone has an equal chance to make noise. The dominant view is whatever sounds best in 140 characters. A mob of people saying Galilean relativity is correct can out-vote Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Sympathetic online echo chambers are giving him his energy. Whatever his opponents do -- protest or ignore -- the echo chambers will pour out propaganda spinning things favorably for him.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:37 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Free speech is free speech. If you deny someone Free Speech because you find it offensive, then there is no free speech. Particularly on a college campus free speech should be respected no matter who is speaking. We should let it happen.


Nonsense, "free speech" is their right to speech without punishment from the government, not their right to any particular platform (even if it is a public University).

Quote:
I don't believe that you can deny anyone "access to platforms" and make any claim that there is Free Speech.


It's relatively straightforward if you understand what "free speech" acually means. I understand that free speech is distinct from whether or not we must grant it a particular platform. They can yell on the streets all they want but the concept does not mean we have to let them use our universities or that each and every idea must have equal time (you don't filter spam then right?) is to confuse a valuable law on their freedom to speak with silly notions about who has to listen. Just as they are free to speak platforms are free to choose what speech they wish to amplify.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:38 pm
@Kolyo,
It should also be noted that half the Country feels about Colin Kaepernick the way that liberals feel about Richard Spencer.

I know people who are deeply offended, and sincerely offended, about the protest started by Colin Kaepernick. Their point of view is that this disrespects the Troops, the Flags and is disrespectful to America. There are calls to boycott the NFL.

People on Able2know tend to be in the liberal camp. But it should be noted that this feeling is not exclusive to people in their side of the country.

I fall solidly on the side of Free Speech in both cases.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:39 pm
@ehBeth,
I agree, completely ignoring them can look like tacit agreement. I personally favor protesting in ways that do not directly feed into their media strategy. That might mean not protesting directly in their event (thus amplifying it) and may mean speaking out in separate events or in other ways. The dynamic is hard to get right but totally ignoring it altogether certainly isn't ideal unless everyone does, and that is never going to happen.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:42 pm
@Robert Gentel,
The University of Florida is government. But let me ask this question. Does the principle you are arguing work for both sides? Should government be able to silence gay rights advocates, or abortion advocates, or Black lives matters?

If a State School tried to deny any of these viewpoints a platform at State Schools (or magazines, or social media platforms) I expect that many people here would squawk.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:44 pm
@maxdancona,
Neither case has anything whatsoever to do with our right to free speech, and I support the hell out of Kaepernick too. He has free speech and can use it anytime (and has started a national conversation nearly single-handedly), the owners of the NFL have the right to deny their platform. I disagree with their decision strongly but not with their right to. Just because people can make bad decisions about what their platforms can be used for (see NFL) does not mean all platforms must give attention to any and all seekers.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:48 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
The University of Florida is government. But let me ask this question. Does the principle you are arguing work for both sides? Should government be able to silence gay rights advocates, or abortion advocates, or Black lives matters?


You are deliberately moving the goalposts and saying "silencing" when denying a platform is nothing of the sort. Yes the government is fully within their rights to deny all sorts of public platforms for all sorts of things.

Just try spray painting some gay rights advocacy on an overpass. I'll be the first to report that stupid attempt of the use of that platform even for a cause I completely support.

The notion that we must tolerate all speech is idiotic if becomes conflated with a notion that we must do so on all platforms. The right has to do with freedom from punishment and nothing at all to do with a guarantee of an audience. That notion directly contradicts our right to ignore and shun stupid ****.

Quote:
If a State School tried to deny any of these viewpoints a platform at State Schools (or magazines, or social media platforms) I expect that many people here would squawk.


I have no problem with a state school having the right to decide that a particular activist I agree with doesn't need to use their platform. Maybe they want their platform to be about beekeeping, that is their right. I may disagree with their decision and speak out about it but I would never want them to be obligated to give every idiot who wants it their platform. Confusing free speech rights with the notion that we must listen is untenable and is the exact attack Richard Spencer is using: since so many people share this poor understanding of the concept of free speech it feeds on any refusal to grant it anything but maximum attention.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:49 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
It's relatively straightforward if you understand what "free speech" acually means. I understand that free speech is distinct from whether or not we must grant it a particular platform.


What do you mean by "we"? Do you mean general public opinion at the present time?

This is a long running historical theme. "We" tried to stop gay literature. "We" also tried to stamp out communism, and feminism. The idea that "subversive" opinions could be denied a platform has always failed.

I would rather have them out in the open. I agree with you that in the legal sense "Free Speech" only applies to the government. But as a principle it also applies to media in general. Stamp out an idea from popular media and it will just pop up otherwise.

There are also two different ways to "deny a platform". Convincing twitter to censor tweets and block users is one thing. Disrupting speeches, pulling fire alarms and punching professors is another.



Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:50 pm
@maxdancona,
Do you believe in denying spam the platform of your email inbox? Or is it morally wrong for you to deplatform spam? If you believe individuals have the right to choose what to pay attention to then you understand deplatforming as a general concept and should see that it is just as much a critical part of freedom of expression (rejection is a form of expression).
Cycloptichorn
 
  5  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:50 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Kaepernick's protest is incredibly effective. It hurts nobody, costs nothing, blocks no traffic, causes no violence, takes no energy to do. He didn't even announce he was doing anything. And yet, look at the response.

His actions are a model for the future of protesting: instead of causing a giant fuss, simply peacefully refuse to participate in societal norms. I also support the heck out of him.

Cycloptichorn
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:53 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
Confusing free speech rights with the notion that we must listen is untenable and is the exact attack Richard Spencer is using: since so many people share this poor understanding of the concept of free speech it feeds on any refusal to grant it anything but maximum attention.


I strongly disagree with this statement.

If Richard Spencer gives a speech on campus, no one is forced to listen. The goal of the protests against Richard Spencer is to prevent anyone from listening.

The protesters are welcome to stay at home. Or they are welcome to protest. They are not welcome to disrupt the speech or to prevent people who want to hear it from doing so.

maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:54 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
Do you believe in denying spam the platform of your email inbox?


The protesters are not denying spam in their own email inbox. They are under no compulsion to listen to him. They can stay at home.

What the protesters are doing is the equivalent of me deciding that certain email you are receiving is "spam" and denying it from your inbox.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:55 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
The man is a model citizen too, putting his money where his mouth is. And it is a travesty that he was colluded against (clearly good enough to have a spot in the NFL but blackballed). I hope he wins his legal fight with the NFL. Not because they don't have a right to deplatform his protest (they do), but because they broke their labor agreements in order to try to do so without explicitly taking the PR hit.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:55 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
+1 Cyclo. Well said.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 03:59 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

The man is a model citizen too, putting his money where his mouth is. And it is a travesty that he was colluded against (clearly good enough to have a spot in the NFL but blackballed). I hope he wins his legal fight with the NFL. Not because they don't have a right to deplatform his protest (they do), but because they broke their labor agreements in order to try to do so without explicitly taking the PR hit.


There's some thought that Trump's loud mouth may help Kaep's case here.

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2017/10/colin_kaepernick_might_win_his_nfl_collusion_grievance_because_of_trump.html

Cycloptichorn
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 04:03 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
If Richard Spencer gives a speech on campus, no one is forced to listen.


That's only part of the equation. It is meant to illustrate that if there is scarcity of attention we clearly can't guarantee it, and as such have no reason to guarantee platforms either because fundamentally speech and platforms share the same supply and demand constraints that speech and attention do.

The other side is that their platform has finite value and giving it to him is to take it away from someone else. I mean you are the one shoehorning in a men's abuse discussion into any topic about abuse of women today saying that otherwise there is no chance to be heard, you of all people should be sympathetic to the notion that not all things can be heard, not all things can have a day on that platform that in the marketplace of ideas there is fundamental competition at place and not all of them are going to have their day in the sun. There are just too many damn things to say that each and every one has a right to it. That is just absurd refusal to recognize a simple mathematical truth: there are more idiots in the world than there are days for that campus facility to be used. No matter what they do they are going to have to refuse some of these idiots. By giving the platform to him they are taking it away from someone else.

Thus demanding that they allow any and all idiots their platform is absurd. Do you allow any and all idiots to use every platform you control (separate it from your own attention if that is what trips you up, think about whether you have to allow your email to be used to send to other people, you don't even have to read the spam, whether you have to allow your house to be a billboard even if you don't have to read it)? If not (because of course you don't), upon what basis do you make such distinctions?
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 04:06 pm
@maxdancona,
It's a community resource and thus a community inbox, you are being deliberately silly here. The key distinction isn't multi-lateral ownership of a platform vs singular ownership, it is that the core notion you forward: that free speech means platforms must allow any speech to use their platform has no moral basis.

If you have the moral right to control a platform a group does too. The very recognition that it is impossible for a platform to serve all speech should lead you to the recognition that your ideal is impossible, and there will always have to be decisions made for what the platform is used for.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 04:09 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
This is one of the pleasing recurring themes with Trump: that he can't help but say things that hurt his own goals. At least his big mouth does more than make our nation look stupid, every now and then it keeps him from being able to do something stupid. Not a fair tradeoff but I'll take what I can get.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 04:10 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Let's ask the practical question.

Assuming that some points of view should be "denied" the use of a platform, who decides?

Twitter right now is censoring based on some model of public opinion. They are to make everyone happy and yet no one is happy. I think Facebook just builds user models, shielding each person from things they know you don't want to see. I am not happy with either of these models... it just pushes us farther into corners. Of course, there will always be a platform for offensive views unless the government steps in... and right now we have a Republican Congress and Trump (be careful what you wish for).

There are a significant number of people who are offended by CAIR. There are others offended by La Raza. There are others who are offended by Planned Parenthood.

Do we vote on which of these viewpoints gets to use a platform? Is it different by the region of the country? Do Public Universities really get to blacklist speakers; I bet the blacklist of the University of Texas would be quite different than that of the University of Massachusetts.

These decisions are necessarily subjective and our country is deeply divided. Sure, Richard Spencer is an easy case (for most Americans). But how do we draw the line?
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Oct, 2017 04:17 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I don't buy your "scarcity of attention" argument at all. Attention is not a community resource. You can pay attention to whatever you want to pay attention to... reality TV is what most people pay attention to.

If we treat "attention" as a scarce resource in the economic sense, then who controls it? The Federal Government? The majority? Popular opinion? The media? None of these sound very good to me.

If we treat attention as a personal resource; you can go to a speech, or you can protest it, or you can stay at home... it makes a lot more sense.



 

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