So, let’s talk briefly about Lucian Wintrich - not for long because he’s such a dreary prick - He was invited to give a speech at the University of Connecticut. His speech was entitled “It’s Okay To Be White”. Great idea, I’m sure you’ll agree, to target students who are traditionally left-leaning with far-right ideas. As expected he was shouted down with “Go Home, Nazi” and the usual shtick.
As per usual, the oh-so tolerant left had to take it a step further. One student decided that these opinions were simply too much. They must not be allowed to be expressed because obviously they are too damaging to everyone. She approached him, stole his speech notes and walked away. Wintrich, clearly annoyed, went after her and snatched them back. Bang goes the outrage and Wintrich is arrested for a breach of peace, to jeering and applause from the students.
Now, I have no love loss with Wintrich. The guy founded the gay movement “Twinks for Trump” which is such a cringe-worthy name that I’m already done talking about him. So I’ll summarise - He’s a mini Milo Yiannopoulos. But for fuck’s sake, let the man speak. I can’t even begin to say how much it annoys me that people my age, my peer group, seem incapable of upholding the basic right of free speech. These are people who are supposed to stand for fairness and tolerance and they’re rapidly gaining a reputation as being just as vile as the alt right they hate so very much.
So here I’ve constructed a handy little guide to help those of you who might be unsure, just how to maintain the basic right of free speech: let’s start with a hypothetical situation. A friend of yours is going to listen to a presentation, you don’t know what it’s about but you tag along anyway. You take your seat and when the slideshow pops on the wall the title of the presentation is, “Why the white male is superior to all other races”. Right off the bat you know this is going to be some bigoted stupid shit, so how do you react without doing your little bit to destroy freedom of speech?
Step One – Don’t Be A Reactionary Prick
Second hypothetical, you’re playing football and you just scored a goal. Out of earshot of anyone else, someone on the opposite team calls you something, maybe racist, maybe homophobic, maybe just a wanker. Do you react instantly? Put on your best constipated rage face and tackle them to the ground? No, because everyone else just sees one player randomly attack another and you get in the shit for instigating it. Instead, if you’ve any brains, you play it cool and use the anger you feel to drive your side, you fight harder to win that game, to show that prick who’s boss. It’s the same here, you’re going to build to something and you need to be a little bit more patient than just screaming “GO HOME NAZI” especially if you’ve not heard any of the content whatsoever.
Step Two – Ask yourself these questions
First question: Do I have any sympathy whatsoever with this viewpoint? If yes, then you’ve somewhere to try and understand their view, a place to work from. If no, then fine, it just means you need to counter their argument to demonstrate WHY you believe they are wrong.
Second Question: Is anything in this person’s argument going to change my mind? If yes, then you have something to debate and explore which is a good thing, challenge your own beliefs once in a while. If no, then ask yourself why you’re so opposed to hearing these views. No amount of talking in the world will ever convince me that the world is flat or that James Cordon is funny, so I’m not opposed to hearing people who think otherwise because I am sure of where I stand. It doesn’t damage your views to hear another person’s.
Third Question: Why do you think that anyone else who hears this person’s argument is just going to drop their views and assimilate the information they are told? People don’t work that way. The best they could do with really radical views is to give people some food for thought, stuff to chew over and research and where they go after that is not any of your business unless they chose to make it so. It is not your job to ‘protect’ other people by trying to censor what they can hear based on what you think should be allowed.
Step Three: Counter the fucking argument
This really shouldn’t need saying, even our esteemed overlords in Government get this one right at least once a week. Someone makes an argument, you listen, you take notes and you counter it with your argument. This is how you win people over, not by stopping your opponents from having a voice, that’s how you run a dictatorship. You do it by deconstructing your opponent’s argument and showing reasons why your argument, your point of view is correct.
It’s becoming all too common to see calls for de-platforming. People not being allowed to give speeches at Universities, places which should be championing free speech are censoring opinions and I personally find it fucking terrifying. Nothing is more depressing than seeing the video footage of Wintrich having his notes stolen and seeing the comments praising the actions of the student. Praising the steady erosion of your right, not just their right but YOUR right to express whatever opinions you hold.
You have the absolute right to be offended listening to someone talk and when that happens you’ve two rights open to you. You’ve the right to walk away and say “What a dreadful nob he was” and you’ve the right to stand up like a boss and argue your point, tell the world why this person is wrong. You don’t have the right to scream and throw toys out of your pram until those above start legislating to protect you from the nasty people and you don’t have the right to go extreme and start using violence or threats to get your own way. Because you’re not going to fight fascism by acting like a fascist.
Do you want your kids to grow up in a world where we’re only allowed to stick to the popular opinion? Where anything other than that one opinion is considered dangerous, illegal, damaging and must be stamped out? What happens if the people who decide what’s allowed are people you disagree with? Maintain your right to free speech because you’re going to bloody need it. Ask yourself if it’s so damaging that some people think homosexuality is wrong? If they start discriminating fine, we already have laws to deal with that, but to try to beat them down and have them silenced serves only two purposes. Stoking aggression with the opposition and eroding your own right to free speech. It’s not just cutting your nose off to spite your face, it’s throwing in an arm, a leg and an ear or two. I personally like to think, or hope that we’re better than that, we can do better than this. Listen, Think and argue your truth. Silence the opposition and you’ve already lost both the argument and any shred of respect you think you might be owed.