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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