If you’re a leftist who believes in free speech you aren’t homeless
Free speech is a fundamental value of the left.
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“How do you know someone is vegan?” “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!” We all know it. Animal Rights activists are annoying and pushy. They will ‘shove their beliefs down your throat’ when you are just trying to enjoy your lunch. Whether How I Met Your Mother or South Park is your show of choice, you will have seen this notorious creature represented on screen, and given the recent growth in the movement, you probably know someone in your own life who always ruins a dinner party. Maybe you, like me, are the annoying vegan.
Acts of civil disobedience often emerge out of a sense of desperation in which citizens feel they are not being heard by decision makers by other means, and so they are forced to seek alternative ways to be heard and to affect change. The very function of civil disobedience is to protest against injustice—a requirement for any democratic society, though it is often portrayed as a foolish, juvenile activity reserved for people on the lower rungs of society.
What does it mean, to ‘counter hate speech with more speech’?
Hint: it doesn’t mean 5 minutes for the Jews and 5 minutes for Hitler.
In 1971, over the course of several months, historian Gitta Sereny trudged regularly into a prison in Dusseldorf, Germany to sit across a small table from Franz Stangl, former commandant of the extermination camp Treblinka. Between April and June of that year, Sereny collected over 70 hours of interviews with Stangl who died on June 28–within hours of her last visit. For the following 18 months Sereny continued researching details of the stories Stangl had told her and to speak to people who had known him when he was in charge of killing operations at Treblinka.
Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth by Gitta Sereny is a psychological and historical profile of Albert Speer. Speer was Hitler’s architect and later, Minister of Armaments and War Production. At one point, he was groomed as Hitler’s successor. In the Nuremberg Trials he was one of the only Nazis to admit some responsibility for the war crimes of the Third Reich and to renounce Hitler. This admission saved his life and he was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close For Comfort by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons presents a thorough understanding of various manifestations of right wing populism in the United States. It traces the history of this socio-political movement from before the American Revolution until the year 2000. Berlet and Lyons go beyond caricatures to explore how right wing populism gains strength first by exploiting real economic, social, and political grievances, but then goes on to scapegoat perceived shadowy elitist puppet masters, typically Jewish bankers, ‘PC Police’, etc-- and perceived ‘parasites’ from below--welfare recipients of color, recent immigrants, etc. The authors show that right wing populism is often an alliance between disaffected members of the elite and the working and middle class. These movements tend to emphasize their shared “whiteness” and sense of victimhood in order to bond together.
Murat Kurnaz was nineteen years old when he was arrested by Pakistani authorities and sold to the United States for a bounty. It was 2001 and the United States had distributed fliers in Pakistan promising money in exchange for suspected terrorists. Murat was a civilian who had not committed any crime. He ended up at the United States prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where for five years he was denied the right to due process and subjected to torture. His attorney, Baher Azmy, fought the Bush Administration to help get Murat and others released from Guantanamo.
Harriet Fraad, a Mental Health Counselor and Hypnotherapist, joins us to discuss feminism and class. Dr. Fraad writes articles and has a podcast on the intersection of politics, economics, and personal life. Her podcast, Capitalism Hits Home, is produced by Democracy at Work.
In this episode of Crossroads Dr. Fraad speaks about the history of the feminist movement, capitalism, and how identity politics have hurt attempts at a unified social justice movement. We also discuss current events such as the prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein, and the historic Bernie Sanders campaign.
It's Women’s History Month. But flags flying the definition of the word woman (“noun / adult human female”) for International Women’s Day were removed with an apology from town council buildings in Sefton, England after accusations that the flags represent hatred against transgender people. In December, when a woman named Maya Forstater was fired for tweeting that sex is based on biology and not internal identity, an employment tribunal judge said that her speech is not “worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild is a must-read for anyone interested in going beyond conventional political analysis and exploring the “deep story” worldviews that shape thinking on both the left and right of the political spectrum. Hochschild describes “deep stories” as emotional images that shapes the essence of a person’s worldview, and this book was her attempt to understand the deep story that forms the ideology of the right wing. Hochschild is a UC Berkeley sociologist who spent five years in Louisiana in an attempt to break through the “empathy walls” that divide the political spectrum in the US. She worked to overcome her own biases as a member of the left-leaning political spectrum by forming human connections with conservatives in Louisiana, many of whom were Tea Party activists.
Vincent Mignerot is an independent researcher located in Lyon, France. He is founder of the organization Adrastia, dedicated to studying and spreading awareness about the collapse of the environment and human civilization. He is a frequent speaker in front of university audiences in France where his views on capitalism and human nature get him into hot water with some on the left. Whether you agree or disagree with some of Mignerot's arguments you will see that he is a careful, logical thinker who builds his arguments brick by brick. He compares what humans have done to the earth to a burned cake in the oven, which can never be reconstituted into its original ingredients. The damage is irreparable but there are ways we can prepare and adapt ourselves to what is coming.
Free Speech is a core value of the Left
Genuine support for free speech means it must apply to speech you don’t like
Pro Free Speech Doesn't Mean Absolutist support for all speech
Blasphemy–a notion that crystallizes so many of the issues around free speech
marginalized groups benefit the most from free speech protections
If leftist values have actual moral standing they can and should stand up to scrutiny and questioning
Speech is not physical violence, it’s an alternative to violence
Successful challenges to power build on a foundation of free speech
Free thought depends on free speech: censorship leads to a culture of fear where people learn to hide their real opinions
Free Speech protection for all is inherently anti-authoritarian
Let’s hear the Arguments against free speech