Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Violent Leftist groups tend to re-energize the alt-Right; more on implicit content

German Lopez argues on Vox that violent groups on the Left (like “Antifa”) play into the right-wing’s hands. 
The more extreme factions on the Left argue that some factions on the right must be stopped cold, with violence if necessary, or else their ideas could gradually gain mainstream legitimacy, as well as justify systematic attacks on various minorities (especially of color).   Trump was probably thinking about Antifa when he “messed up” (Paul Ryan) with his “both sides” remark about Charlottesville.
This has led to cancellation of some events (as with Milo Yiannopoulos, who is much less extreme than the Left thinks, if you actually read what he writes, as well as with Charles Murray, who is also much closer to the mainstream right).  It also leads to suppression of certain ideas, such as studying genetics and race (or even sexuality), for fear that it could bring back right wing movements again (like eugenics).  It’s easy to imagine how this speech prohibitionism could lead into other areas, such as discussion of  the history of conscription, for fear that could encourage its return.

Giving in to “heckling” could lead to future targeting of much more moderate (but conservative) speakers, as well as an attempt to bring into the law the obscure idea of “implicit content” (an idea that got mentioned at the COPA trial in 2007)  This idea means that the identity of the speaker is part of the message, and that if a speaker knows that some particular consumers (of his speech) are likely to act in a harmful way because of the speaker’s own identity as the messenger, the speaker could incur legal liability.  This is a very dangerous idea indeed.  But that’s what happened to me as a substitute teacher in 2005 (see 2007/7/27 post). 

Note the clipping from the Berkeley event Aug. 27.  

Update: Aug. 30

Note the Washington Post editorial "'Antifa' groups only help the groups they claim to oppose".  The editorial says that the extremist leftist groups don't pose the same threat to democracy as the extreme alt-right, but the muzzling of speech by heckling would seem to create new legal problems (see tomorrow's post). 

Update: Aug. 31  Victor David Hanson: "When the mob attacks innocent words; Purging references to the past is a sign of totalitarianism".  ESPN and Robert Lee;  ESPN and "guerilla" v. "gorilla".

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