The epic, two-part Comment of the Day by Steve-O-In-NJ spawned a another Comment of the Day of perception and edge, this one by Humble Talent. His topic is the slogan “Silence is violence,” another example of a deft Comment of the Day saving me time, for I was going to have to post on it if someone else didn’t. That bumper-sticker line irritates me almost as much as “No justice, no peace,” “Black lives matter,” “Believe all women,” Give peace a chance,” “Better Red than dead,” and “Go Yankees!”
Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment Of The Day, Part 2: ‘Ethics Warm-Up, 7/19/2020: And The Hits Just Keep On Coming!’”:
One of the tropes coming from the left in this latest bout of medical withdrawal guised as activism is that “Silence is Violence”. This in the latest variation on the theme of the left’s stretching to unrecognizability the definition of violence. No, silence is merely inconvenient for people looking to uproot the status quo.
Similar to that is speech. “Free speech” is one of the most commonly misused terms on the internet. The first amendment doesn’t protect you prom private individuals. A principled free speech position doesn’t require the right to an audience. There is no duty to listen. I actually think that “Free Speech” would be better understood if it were also approached from the inverse: Free speech includes the right to hear what someone wants to tell you.
Alizia made a comment recently, predicting that I would eventually speak in favor of the suppression of free speech because I wouldn’t speak out against Viacom firing a fellow after said fellow spouted anti-Semitic rhetoric on the air. I don’t think I’ll ever get there. But I do think we all need to take a step back and re-evaluate what things mean.
For instance, a “counter protest” is speech, but if the counter protest is designed not to respond to speech, but to drown it out and to prevent people from hearing the speaker they want to hear, not only does that violate free speech principles, but hiding behind free speech to conduct a counter-protest is hypocritical. A principled position is not a suicide pact. I don’t think we have a duty to humor the calls for free speech from the people actively violating yours. Sure, a protest is speech, but what’s going on here isn’t simply a protest, and it’s not just speech.
Similarly, but on a slightly different topic, are the protests in cities like Portland. Protesting is pure American. It’s what you do. When you don’t like something, you protest. Even if someone is protesting something you don’t like, until very recently, it was generally understood that they at least had the right to do that (There was some conversation around groups like the Westboro Baptists, and how far the right to protest went, but they faded into obscurity like they were always doomed to, despite the media doing all they could to prop up problematic examples of the faithful.). There are protests going on, and Americans have a right to protest, but these aren’t merely protests. It’s not just speech.
Speech is Speech. Speech is not Violence. Violence is Violence. Violence is not Speech.
Theft is not Speech. Property Damage is not speech. Arson is not Speech. Assault is not Speech. Forcible Confinement is not Speech. Rape is not Speech. Murder is not Speech.
This is made worse by media outlets additionally muddying words like “protest” or even “peaceful”. The myth of the peaceful protester is one of the most obvious bullshit memes they’ve come up with yet; Sure, *most* protests are peaceful. But it doesn’t take a whole lot of violence before it doesn’t matter how peaceful the rest of the protest is. Is a marriage where you only hit your spouse every other week a “peaceful” marriage? It it a “mostly peaceful” marriage? Or does the violence change the nature of the marriage so fundamentally it’s not the same thing anymore? Violence is not Love.
I’d argue that a hard line should be drawn between protests and riots, and that one is as American and acceptable as a cheeseburger, the other is unacceptable and needs to be stopped. And it really is that easy. There’s some room for soul searching on marginal cases, but when rioters cordon off a six block area of a city, the response shouldn’t be to cede part of your city to the rioters. While there is a right to express yourself, there is no right to steal people’s stuff. Protests are not Riots.
Which brings me to the left’s current gripe: Federal, Jackbooted Thugs without Badges Arresting People off the Street.
To be clear: I hate this. I think that there were people in offices waiting for a situation like this so they could lay the groundwork for a federal police force. I think that this flies in the face of Federalism, I think it’s a generally unacceptable use of government force. I think this has ramifications for years. But what the hell did you think was going to happen? As much as I hate this, I also accept that it was necessary.
It’s hard to go about your Life pursuing Liberty and Happiness when an angry mob is outside your house lighting businesses on fire and stealing TVs. People are being beaten in the street for having the wrong amount of melanin in their skin. And the response out of communities controlled by Democrats from the ground up? Silence (not the violent kind). When they aren’t carrying water for the Peaceful Protesters (the violent kind). Just because you think it’s politically expedient to make Trump look bad by fostering civil unrest, or you think that your constituents might abandon you if you actually uphold the laws you have sworn to uphold doesn’t make upholding those laws the wrong thing to do. Something had to be done, and I don’t know what else there was.