Letter to the Editor: False equivalencies and hate speech in political debate

William Pan/Staff

It is almost wholly dishonest for Berkeley College Republicans to call out anti-fascists for not protesting Louis Farrakhan in the same way they plan to protest Yiannopoulos. It assumes that the issues with both persons are the same for the anti-fascists, where that is something one would either ask the anti-fascists about, or cite some public (or even private) statement to that effect to show they think so, or make some reasoned argument that the position on Yiannopoulos implies a position on Farrakhan that also requires such a protest. They do not do any of this, rather the argument moves in the other direction — the anti-fascists are hypocrites, and that is why they do not protest the one as they protest the other. It allows them to posit a false equivalence (because it seems no one actually endorses it) and to immunize themselves against engagement with any actual position.

So, to try to orient myself in order to engage in the respectful dialogue they desire, I would like to know what exactly are the views which Mr. Yiannopoulos raises which the BCR believes are necessary for a complete political debate. Not those with which they agree or disagree as such — that can come later. Rather, what are the positions that are being unfairly excluded from political discussion? Free speech is important — got it. Feminism is cancer? Maybe it is a joke — how much like cancer, then? Mainstream Muslim culture is a rapist culture. Hilarious! But seriously. Transgenders are ridiculous and should be publicly ridiculed? Maybe just in private corners? Or maybe we need to supplement the project with philosophers from the movement as well, such as Richard Spencer, for a more robust treatment?

William Stafford Jr. is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley.

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  • Frankie Leung

    It is difficult to strike a balance between freedom of expression and intolerance. If there is a conflict, I would tender to favor the former.

  • Rick Carlson

    Bill Maher and Condoleeza Rice banned speakers on college campuses our Universities have some very serious closed minded issues. Sad!

  • Arafat

    I don’t think Cal Berkeley should allow anyone who has ever voted republican the right to speak on campus. William, don’t you think this is the easiest solution and also honors your definition of free speech?

  • ShadrachSmith

    The 1st amendment is America’s rule. Other opinions are welcome, but not controlling.

  • jim hoch

    The point behind free speech is that one does not need to meet a litmus test from a random idiot in order to express their opinions. The conceit that someone can self-appoint them selves as arbiter is breathtaking.

  • Ed Oswalt

    I read the transcript of Yiannopoulos’s talk at UC Irvine of June 2016. Three observations: He didn’t saying anything very inflammatory; he didn’t make any insightful arguments about anything; he liked making very stupid jokes to flaunt his being gay.

    • ShadrachSmith

      Good catch, it takes some brains to even see that.

      Milo isn’t political, and demonstrates little understanding of politics. Milo is a living Cultural Icon. Milo is about being Milo.

      • alwaysthink

        Milo is vile and cruel. Last summer he sent his Flying Monkeys after comedian Leslie Jones, one of the stars of Ghostbusters II. His speech was so vile he ended up being banned from Twitter. Milo wants to drive our society towards a mean, vulgar, spiteful culture. He is a bully. He’s just not welcome in most civilized places.

        As for Freedom of Speech, the 1st Amendment only applies towards government shutting down speech. The rest of us can limit anyone we want in the spaces we control.

        • ShadrachSmith

          Funny you should mention that. Getting banned from Twitter, Milo says, was the best thing that ever happened to him. I agree entirely with Milo that Jones is disgusting and Gostbusters III proved feminists aren’t funny. So I love Milo.

        • lspanker

          Milo is vile and cruel. Last summer he sent his Flying Monkeys after comedian Leslie Jones, one of the stars of Ghostbusters II.

          So freaking what? Did he or any of his supporters assault people, start fires, bust out shop windows, vandalize ATMs and turn into violent thugs because they were criticized by someone else?

          Here’s the difference between you and I. You consider mean words “vile and cruel”. I consider inflicting violence on people in order to silence them a lot more “vile and cruel” than any ridicule, taunting or slur.

          Milo wants to drive our society towards a mean, vulgar, spiteful culture.

          Nothing is more mean, spiteful, and vulgar than smashing windows and spray-painting death threats against a public speaker because you personally don’t agree with him. How come you find offending people to be far worse than threatening them with bodily harm?

          You’re one sick f**k. Seek professional help immediately.

        • Tall Texan

          Nice to know “the rest of you” control the taxpayer funded Berkeley campus. Please feel free to let the rest of know to whom you will be limiting the space to.

        • You really thought think Yiannopoulos is racist and sexist for arguing against the racist and sexist Jones?

        • Ed Oswalt

          In my searches for what Milo has said that should be considered horrible, the worst regarding Leslie Jones I could find was his caller her “barely literate” — a childish and insulting remark but calling him a fascist is just done to try to generate hate against him.

  • JP

    “the anti-fascists are hypocrites, and that is why they do not protest the one as they protest the other.”

    Well said.

  • lspanker

    So, to try to orient myself in order to engage in the respectful dialogue they desire, I would like to know what exactly are the views which Mr. Yiannopoulos raises which the BCR believes are necessary for a complete political debate.

    How you think his views need to be approved by YOU to determine if they earn the right to express them and have them discussed? Who’s the real “fascist” here again?

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    True. Yiannopoulos’ statements are usually provocations rather than serious ideas. For example, “Feminism is a cancer” is a totally meaningless statement.

    By inviting him, the College Republicans have shown that the Republican party in not the party of ideas. In the age of Trump, it has become the party of provocateurs and trolls.

    • lspanker

      True. Yiannopoulos’ statements are usually provocations rather than serious ideas. For example, “Feminism is a cancer” is a totally meaningless statement.

      Au contraire. Modern contemporary feminism,a form of cultural Marxism which portrays middle-class white American WOMEN, the most privileged creatures on the planet that have ever lived, into perennial victims, and demonizes the white males who have for the most part worked their butts off to put them there, is indeed a destructive force.

      True. Yiannopoulos’ statements are usually provocations rather than serious ideas. For example, “Feminism is a cancer” is a totally meaningless statement.

      You mean not the party of ideas that don’t hurt the feelings of liberals, correct? Must be rough to have to listen to opinions that you don’t agree with, eh snowflake?

      Get a grip. Bone-fide hate-mongers such as Louis Farrakhan and Mahmoud Ahmedinijad who genuinely encourage violence get invited to college campuses, and the self-proclaimed academic “intellectuals” furrow their brows and make solicitous comments to the effect that “free speech must be protected”, however offensive it may be. OTOH, the likes of an Ann Coulter or Milo – neither one of which peddles racism or hate, merely ridicule – show up to speak, and the so-called “anti-fascists” (in reality the biggest fascists on college campuses these days) have a collective tantrum. In fact, we’re told that the Anns and Milos of the world can’t speak because the lefties will get violent – but who gets blamed for it again?

      All I can say is you liberals need to wear your Depends to Milo’s speech, as it certainly sounds like you’re going to need them…

      • James Clemons

        These youngins think anyone who’s not liberal is a fascist which is very ironic. I honestly don’t think Berkeley students can think for themselves anymore. They have been convinced republicans are bullies and must be stopped. The MSM will always find anyway to spin any story into making conservatives the bullies and liberals the victims. Its so glaring yet hard for the blind at Berkeley to see, I mean they don’t even think the MSM is bias which is astounding to me.

    • roccolore

      The Democratic Party is the party of fascism and hatred.

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