Lot’s of protests going on in my neck of the woods and I am all about protests, civil disobedience, and assorted other ways of getting your voice heard, but for the past decade or so it’s been extremely challenging to try to pin down exactly what is being protested. Occupy everything? May Day anarchy?
In upside down world people today actually gather in large groups, block the roads, and hold signs claiming they’re against fascism. I’m always somewhat reassured by the fact that if you’re standing on a street corner holding a sign that says “free speech is dead”….we aren’t living in a fascist country. It seems to elude people today but actual fascists tend to just shoot you, arrest you, or disappear you. They don’t let you block the roads, camp in the street, and shout at people. We seem to be confusing fascism with freedom here. Freedom is the messy one. Fascism is tidy, body bag tidy.
We tend to protest everything where I live, so naturally many people came out and formed a line in protest of the inauguration yesterday, and it was a peaceful affair, but it really made me ponder what exactly people are protesting against? Fair and free elections? Democracy in action? The people’s voice being heard? A peaceful transition of power?
Last night I watched the protests against Milo Yiannopoulos speaking at the University of Washington, with some trepidation because it’s such a powder keg out there. I would have really liked to go hear him, to attend this scheduled event, but I know better than to go anywhere near the city when tempers are running so hot. I survived the WTO protests and they didn’t even give me a tee-shirt, but they did give me a healthy fear of large crowds and total anarchy.
So you know, my freedom is being suppressed by the antics of those claiming… to support freedom. Just saying. People have a right to protest, but you never have a right to use force to shut down civic speech, not ever. Milo, love him or hate him, has a right to speak. Those who want to hear him, have a right to hear him.
In grown up world, in the market place of free thought, we hear him, we then debate the issues, ponder his ideas, reject what we find to be unsavory, incorporate what we find interesting…and move on, better or worse for the experience.
Someone was shot outside this event too, adding an extra dimension of fear for those of us who like civilized behavior. Sad. Sad too is the Seattle PI and their spin on things, specifically the way they say, “Yiannopoulos, a leading white nationalist figure who has been banned from Twitter for harassment.”
Now hold up here. He isn’t a “leading white nationalist figure” at all. Milo is actually loudly homosexual, British, I think from a Greek and Jewish background, who has actually spoken out many times and distanced himself from any such white nationalist or darker elements of the alt right. Then there’s his tendancy to date black guys. He is like, the complete opposite of a white nationalist. Regardless, he is certainly not a “leading figure.”
He’s actually just an outrageous and outspoken book author, who comments on culture, and has turned identity politics on their head.
It’s such an odd juxtaposition to be a residual peace loving child of the 60’s, living in an inverse reality where people actually protest against counter cultural free speech. In the olden days, Milo would be seen as a hero much like Lenny Bruce once was. Lenny Bruce, a train wreck of a man, deeply flawed, but his arrest and conviction for obscenity eventually lead to a landmark case for freedom of speech in the US.
The same freedom of speech we seem to be actively protesting against today.