If you haven’t noticed by now, I take freedom of speech pretty seriously.
From defending Roosh V’s right to speak in Canada to Lauren Southern’s right to commit random acts of journalism on unsuspecting slutwalkers to my own right to assemble and speak without people threatening to blow me up, I’m pretty unequivocal in my support of speech in the public square that annoys or shocks people. But am I willing to change where the line is, or go quiet on the subject, if it conveniently smites an enemy for me?
In a word: No. Right now the Guardian is reporting that Bahar Mustafa, a 28-year-old “student diversity officer” (otherwise known as “white guilt enforcer”) at Goldsmiths, University of London, is being charged with “sending a threatening communication” for using the #killallwhitemen hashtag.
I know, I’m supposed to be celebrating. She’s on the other side, she’s an idiot, and frankly being one of the types to hype “the patriarchy” and every-tweet-is-oppressive it almost feels good to see her hoist by her own petard. The irony in the room is “palpable” and “electric” as the modern media likes to say. So the question was put to me: do #IStandWithBarharMustafa?
— Alison Phipps (@alisonphipps) October 6, 2015
Of course I do. Maybe not right next to her, because she’d probably hit me and she seems a complete fucking lunatic, but absolutely. Look, I’m not going to lie. My first reaction to seeing that she’d been arrested was to smirk at the cosmic justice of it all. Feminists are happy to enjoy the fruits of heteropatriarchy and its inconvenient insistence on free speech when one of their own is in trouble, and it’s glorious to see them frothing and thrashing around because their idiotic censoriousness came back to bite them. I mean they called the police on me for holding a sign; honestly, why shouldn’t I laugh?
But my second reaction and every reaction since has been revulsion at the state stepping in to punish people for outrageous language. I mean, it’s only a matter of time before such a state would come for me, isn’t it? In a way they did in Los Angeles this weekend. And none of you wants that.
Saying #KillAllWhiteMen is nasty, and hateful, and incredibly stupid. But it’s absurdity at the level of the UN’s “Cyber Violence” report to consider that an actual “incitement to violence.” Show me on the doll where the dumb over-lipsticked idiot tweeted at you…
I think pretty much everyone secretly wants to see Mustafa humiliated for her stupidity and many people want to see her out of her job. Personally, yes, I think she should be fired. She shouldn’t be in a publicly-funded position with a hateful attitude like that. But should she be arrested? No. She’s not a dangerous criminal, just a useful idiot whose head has been filled with progressive claptrap and who doesn’t realise how out of date her cultish ideology is.
We do ourselves no favours when we lower ourselves to the level of screeching authoritarian leftist outrage-mongers by pretending that “kill all white men” is a literal incitement to violence or a “violent speech act.” No, it’s a dumb thing that deserves to be mocked, and which might make you unemployable… but please save prison for actual criminals.
I’ve seen Mustafa supporters on Twitter confused and furious that “right-wingers” and “misogynists” and so on are supporting her right to free speech, but we do. What remains to be seen is whether the authoritarian Left will extend the same courtesy to others. I’m not holding my breath.
Both sides of the political spectrum have had a few… let’s call them Dapper Laughs lately. But only one side seems to be consistent in their support of that speech, and I’ll let you, dear reader, judge which that is.
Just because no man could get away with saying what she did isn’t a reason to start a witch-hunt. It’s the shaming and crusading and language-policing that are the problem, not any particular political position. Mustafa didn’t start the fire: she’s just another ten-penny arsonist in a sea of pre-programmed feminist automatons.
She has every right to say the crazy wingnut feminist things she says, to laugh at men crying, to post whatever tosh she wants to on Twitter… even though it’s completely insane. Of course, I also vigorously support the right of other people to make fun of her, not hire her, ignore her, or judge her based on those public statements.
But when the police get involved… well, things are getting a bit silly, and I certainly don’t want to worry about the cops showing up every time I beat someone up on Twitter. I’d never stop answering the front door! Rules we accept must be applied equally, and free speech means nothing unless it’s granted to those we disagree with.
I don’t think anybody wants to live under the sort of society where obvious jokes are taken out of context as real threats, and then the police and courts spend real time and money to deal with them, instead of hunting terrorists, murderers or the people who send me syringes filled with mysterious liquid through the mail. (I’ve had to give my maid two raises since that stuff started to arrive.)
Platforming doesn’t empower bad ideas: it kills them stone dead. Because the best way to fight hatefulness and stupidity is not with censorship; it’s with a spotlight.