A reader’s comment on free speech: not for white supremacists!

It’s comments like the one below, which I simply threw into the bin, that make me want to keep defending free speech. As long as we have misguided folks like this one, who think that free speech is only for themselves and their friends, then someone needs to keep emphasizing what free speech is about.

This came from reader “Steve Brule,” commenting on “I’m an answerer on Askers“:

Hey i don’t know if you heard, but Richard Spencer got punched again and i was wondering when we can expect another post telling us we have to respect white supremacists and show them courtesy


  1. GBJames
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink


  2. Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I’m just happy to hear that Richard Spencer was punched.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I’m not. Spencer is a loathsome creature. Violence towards him allows him to claim martyr status and enables him to justifiably criticize his opponents.

      Hitting Spencer enables him. Better to counter his fu*kwittery with all the reasons his arguments are weak, foolish, and pathetic – just like him.

      • Chris G
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        Isn’t it obvious that as soon as we try to justify the punching of one type of person/speech, then we’re all vulnerable to being added to the list?
        We open the flood-gates, give everyone an excuse to see any and everyone as punch-worthy.
        Ultimately, we all lose,
        Chris G.

        • Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          Yes. The social contract goes both ways.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink


        • Chris G
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          One aspect of this that surprised me, wonder if others experienced the same: when I first heard about the punching incident, I immediately went looking for more info on this Richard Spencer i.e. I’d heard of him, but I live in the UK so wasn’t sure of the detail of his politics.
          Then I realised: why am I researching? his views make no difference whatsoever – free-speech really should apply to everyone.
          So, I nearly sucker-punched myself, but spotted it and dodged the swinging fist just in time. I really don’t care what this Richard Spencer believes/promotes/wishes-for – he should be free to express any idea, short of advocating immediate violence, and it’s up to the rest of us to win the argument,
          Chris G.

        • somer
          Posted January 28, 2017 at 4:06 am | Permalink

          Ex Muslim Sarah Haider has an eloquent piece on this aspect of the issue on Facebook beginning “I am not sure what those who think “it’s okay to punch Nazis” think is going to happen once violence is widely considered an acceptable form of political expression.”

      • Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        “Violence towards him allows him to claim martyr status and enables him to justifiably criticize his opponents.”

        I can endorse that position. It’s the “he’s a fellow human being who doesn’t deserve to be punched” argument that I’m not so supportive of.

        • Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          To me, he didn’t deserve to be punched, because he punched nobody.

        • Helen Hollis
          Posted January 29, 2017 at 3:11 am | Permalink

          If he deserves to be punched, it is to be punched up with education. he could start out with meeting John Lewis maybe. I think he knows what it is like to be punched.

    • wendell read
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Free speech comes with a high cost: We have to listen to ideas and views which disgust us. We have to allow these ideas and views to possibly influence others. But this cost, in comparison to the benefits of free speech, is negligible indeed. Free speech is one of the most valuable things we have in this country

      • zoolady
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink


      • Kevin
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        Negligible is correct. High cost? Spencer is a benefit to me, in the sense that he helps remind me to promote race and LGBT rights.

        It is excellent that conservative-Christian-alt-Crazies get a voice. 1) You get to know who they are and 2) they start (unintentionally) a dialogue among people so that we get better as a species and, over time, make fewer people who promote such ideas.

      • frednotfaith2
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        The only caveat I’d add is that laws or some other means are required to ensure that the free speech of the bigoted, irrational and ignorant does not drown out the free speech of the informed and rational. After all, up until very early 1933, there were newspapers in Germany dedicated to informing the German public about Hitler’s lies and the violence committed by the Nazis, but those sources of reason were drowned out by the Nazis’ propaganda machine even before they came to power and were literally exterminated afterwards. Anti-Nazi reporters who were still in Germany after the Nazis came to power tended to disappear into the “night and fog” and were never seen again, although they did send the blood-splattered glasses of one reporter to his wife.
        I don’t fear Trump will go that far, but on the other it is in large part due to the lies and distortions of Fox “News” that the Republicans dominate both houses of Congress and that Trump is President (yeah, there were many other factors, but still Fox News looms large).
        Too many people prefer fantasy and easy answers to hard truths and genuine complexity in resolving issues. Right wing dominance of the government at local, state and federal levels throughout the nation is making it ever more difficult to counter their lies and distortions.

        • Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          ” laws or some other means are required to ensure that the free speech of the bigoted, irrational and ignorant does not drown out the free speech of the informed and rational.”

          Who gets to decide how much Speech We Don’t Like ™ is too much of it?

          Who gets to decide whom is informed and rational?

          The Central Scrutinizer? (R.I.P. Frank Zappa)

          We need to have anti-trust laws to prevent the media from getting into too few hands (we’re perilously close to this now, I think; we need to maintain net neutrality — I don’t give a damn about individual corporations’ profits).

          We desperately need a free press.

          We need to put down that “smart” phone and do some work to prevent the Drumpfification of our society. Remember Selma, Montgomery, the Freedom Marches. That’s how it happens, hard work by individual citizens.

          As Sam Harris so aptly put it: “We have been playing with our smartphones while hurtling toward the abyss.”

          And now we’ve arrived there. First rule of holes.


          • somer
            Posted January 28, 2017 at 4:59 am | Permalink

            Also good to get subscriptions to media that hold Trump to account – New York Times, Washington Post etc.

    • Rob Aron
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      FYI – People who get punched a lot and who actually don’t like to be punched tend to shoot back.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Then don’t be surprised if someone is happy to see you punched.
      Maybe harder, maybe you’ll fall down and crack your skull. and someone may be happy.

      You know they are in the wrong, but they might not.
      Unless you explain it to them using words, not fists.

  3. Chris G
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Mr Brule is touting the strawman-argument we see so often on this issue: that defending free-speech means you must respect what’s being freely spoken.
    Nothing of the sort is intended nor implied.
    Free-speech is a principle that is content independent,
    Chris G.

    • somer
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Free speech enables full examination and debate/rebuttal – unless of course its directly calling for violence.
      Steve Brules response is rude and ignorant “Hey I don’t know if you heard” and a depressing phrasing of question on a site that deals with expert information.

      • Chris G
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        As that other abhorrent atheist nazi Sam Harris keeps saying: conversation is all we’ve got, otherwise it’s just violence all the way down (until you bump into the turtles!)
        Hmm, I may be misquoting him – but close enough,
        Chris G.

        • FiveGreenLeafs
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Very well said 😉

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          Yep, close enough.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Indeed ‘free speech’ only has any meaning at all when we understand that it means freedom to say/write stuff that we disagree with not just things we agree with – whoever the “we” in question happens to be.
      Proscribing incitement to violence and placing constraints on slander/libel may be necessary limits on free-speech but otherwise people should be able to express any view they wish to regardless of who it offends.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      What’s that famous Voltaire-ism? “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ”
      (Not actually a Voltaire-ism, but a summation of some of Voltaire’s opinions by a 1906 writer on Voltaire.)

  4. eric
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Why today, Steve. Today. 🙂

    Though personally I think there’s plenty of space between “respect and courteous” and “not assault” to work in. There’s ignore, laugh at, give the finger to, insult, etc… All legal options, all exercises of your own free speech that don’t impinge on his rights.

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Very true.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      “Ridicule,” to mangle another infamous aphorism, “is a dish best served cold.”

  5. Cindy
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Don’t you love how these defenders of violence are purposely missing the point? That we are arguing against any and all violence, not defending bad people.

    And someone showed up in PCCs article on the Spencer punching, showing Claire Lehman’s Twitter feed, in which Dan Arel is now accusing PCC of being a “white nationalist”. And since illiberal leftists conflate “white nationalist” with “literal Nazi” I guess…

    Well I guess that makes PCC a “Nazi” along with readers of WEIT who all agree with him re free speech. So, we here are all Nazis and we all *deserve* to be victims of violence, right SJWs?

    This is the beauty of definition creep. You reach a point where everyone in the world is a Nazi because they are not as ideologically pure as you.

    • dabertini
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Could not agree more!!

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      This is a frightening trend. Progressives have a history of devouring their own. Here we go again. And these “left” guys that advocate violence just radicalize the right wing even more. Things are not looking good for the US in the next years…

    • Jeremy Tarone
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      In a conversation with people who have stated it’s OK to punch a Nazi, (Richard Spencer), I’ve been asking them to provide a handy checklist so I can determine who is enough of a Nazi (and who isn’t) to punch.

      No takers. It’s as if they want to keep the definition nebulous so they can easily move a person they don’t like into the category of Nazi. I also believe if they used Spencer as a model they would wind up including many they don’t want too. If they used a more rigorous definition Spencer probably wouldn’t make the cut.
      And they can’t have that.

      There are many religions who have similar and overlapping ideas. Ideas of superiority, purity, anti-Semitism, hatred of homosexuals, willingness to use violence to attain their means.

      We have seen the results of some of that hatred recently, the Orlando gay nightclub shooting, 50 dead, 53 wounded.
      Or internationally, Boko Haram, who have murdered tens of thousands of people, many hundreds of school children and taken young girls as sex slaves. Bad ideas can induce people to do horrific things, Nazis or Islam, or Christianity.

      Many of the people saying it’s OK to punch a Nazi blanch at the idea of punching Muslims or Christians who have similar and overlapping ideas. None of them seem able to provide a rational reason why one set of very bad ideas is worthy of a violent response and the others are not.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      The irony of equating proponents of free speech with Nazi’s is sure to incinerate even the most heavily built irony meters. It is truly freaking idiotic.

      • Cindy
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        I spent a couple of years reading far-right message boards, arguing with actual RWNJs who stated that any and all leftists/liberals were totaltarian commie marxist baby-killing psychos. I laughed at their strawman arguments. Sadly, people like Arel are, in some ways, proving them right.

        Do we really want right-wingers to be the voice of reason? Do we really want people to associate free speech with the right-wing and authoritarianism with the left-wing? The vast majority of people actually do care about free speech, and they will go with the option that is not totalitarian.

        So yes, advocating for violence only serves to give RWNJs the moral high ground, while the the right can point to the left and say, not entirely incorrectly, that all of the strawmen they created are true.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

          I’d say Arel is not just giving the RWNJs validation of their strawmen, he is sounding very much like them.

    • FiveGreenLeafs
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      One of the (to my mind) most dark aspects about these arguments, must surely be, that this popular recourse to violence,

      …is basically (in essence) the very same put forth by the true and original Nazis (of the 1930s).

      Their answers seems to be the same, i.e. hit em on the head. Just exchange communist/jew/Roma/disabled with fascist/nazi/trump/white male.

      The very same people who do this today, often also state (at the same time) that we must learn from history, and, never let it happen again…

      They fail to grasp (in my eyes), that what color your shirt has, or what type of boots you wear have little relevance, in relation to what you actually do.

      They risk fast becoming the reincarnation of the very demons (and evil) they claim to fight against.

      You could weep for less.

      • Cindy
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        They fail to grasp (in my eyes), that what color your shirt has, or what type of boots you wear have little relevance, in relation to what you actually do.

        Which is why I have come to oppose collectivism. I prefer to judge people as individuals, not as members of a group. What the Nazis did was wrong, not because they are Nazis, but because their *ideas* are bad. ISIS should not get a free pass just because they are not white cishet western males.

        The problem with collectivism is it only breeds collectivist retaliation. I have spoken with feminists who have decided that all men are evil, because they are male! I then go to the MRAs who say that all women are evil, full stop!

        I have been accused of being an MRA by feminists and a radfem by MRAs. My failure to demonstrate absolute ideological purity gets me labelled as ‘the enemy’. A couple of weeks ago I found myself arguing with a man who, critical of feminism, stated that all women are pure evil and that they should be wiped off the earth. I replied that I would rather befriend a woman who is a classical liberal than a *male* feminist. A male feminist is not ‘correct’ simply because he is male, and a woman is not ‘wrong’ on all things simply because she is female.
        I have also come to the conclusion that evangelicals are collectivist in nature (this includes Muslims). After debating abortion for a few years, I noticed a trend – fetuses are an oppressed group, unfairly oppressed by evil wimmenz. And the poor, helpless fetuses only have the brave, righteous pro-lifers to speak up on their behalf! (Yes, that reminds me of coddled SJWs who bravely defend the right of Islamists to engage in violence). So, you have women as an oppressed group vs fetuses as an oppressed group! Instead, I choose to look at it from the rights of the *individual*. Forcing an individual to act as life support on behalf of another is wrong, regardless of membership in any race/sex/class or what have you.

        The same goes for discrimination. I prefer to say ‘it is wrong to discriminate against this individual because of things he cannot control, such as his race’ than ‘this man is a member of a racial group and because this group is oppressed special treatment applies’ (the infantilization of Muslims that M. Nawaz talks about)

        • FiveGreenLeafs
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          I ran past a tweet some days ago that really put your experiences and what you summarize, into perspective. And, having slept on it, it only seems more and more true and accurate.

          What we are witnessing is not (I think) something new or radical (whatever its promoters might think), but rather something very very old in our human history, namely, a resurgence of tribalism.

          And it is, in no terms whatsoever, a step forward in the evolution of our societies and cultures, but a dramatic slide backwards…

          As you say, individuality is the key.

          To meet all and every person as he or she is as an individual, and not prejudge him or her depending on what groups they belong to. And, even further, not to prejudge any individual statement. Few is right in all convictions and in what they say, and few are always wrong. Ideologies, like people are (in my experience) often a mélange.

          It might be beyond our human faculties and frailties to do so completely, or at all times, but (I think) it is what we have to strive for, and try to do the best we can.

          The current alternatives are (as I see them), like tribalism, too horrifying…

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          I am with you all the way with abortion rights, but when I say that women shouldn’t be forced to use their bodies that way (ignoring all the other issues in bringing a child into the world) the main response is that women who have sex have made a ‘decision’ that may result in a pregnancy so it is a responsibility, despite the burden.
          Sorry for the long sentence.

          I would like to hear some answers to that.
          I have my own, but I am not a woman.

          I can hear a puritanical anti women’s sexuality tone in a lot of their arguments, as though women should just keep their legs shut, or pay the price.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

            That ‘responsibility’ canard is a bit like saying we should never help anyone who gets cancer or suffers a broken leg because, hey, they chose to smoke cigarettes or get out of bed in the morning.

            Medical science can do a lot to help all sorts of ailments (including, obviously, unwanted pregnancy) and therefore, because it *can*, it most certainly should, to the best of its ability. Otherwise it’s worthless.

            I think those who use that argument really mean ‘punishment’ but think ‘responsibility’ sounds less vindictive.

            (Anecdote: Decades ago, when the (NZ) Contraception & Abortion Bill was under hot public discussion, I was out helping one of our surveyors on a country road when a car stopped for a chat, it was one of our fellow guests at the hotel the previous night, who had regaled us with stories of all the barmaids he had known. And it turned out he was strongly anti-abortion because it was ‘a woman dodging her responsibility’. I had to go for a little walk because I didn’t trust myself to say one word to this appalling hypocrite.)


            • Michael Waterhouse
              Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

              Hypocrisy can be strong with them.

              I have used just the argument and scenario you proposed but the supposed fact that it is a human life at stake changes the argument qualitatively, to them, not me.

              I agree there is a touch of punishement too.

              There is a terrible lack of empathy and compasion for women in this, and a stupid refusal to see how absurd, inefectual and unfare a demand for abstinance is. Especially only for one side.

              They never push a situation where men should stop asking for sex. For men to suppress urges and drives and pleasures, oh no.

              And yet that alleged compassion and empathy can be applied to an insensate blob of cells, that needs defending apparently.

              I have got a bit of topic here but I remember that there was time in Australia, before legalised abortion, that there was massive corruption and danger around back yard abortions, until Bertram Wainer came along and exposed it. Recieving death threats from police.

              Such masive suffering and trauma for something that does not and can not have the slightest inkling of human suffering.

              • Cindy
                Posted January 28, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

                It’s because they don’t actually care about fetuses. Not really. Fetuses are just a symbol around which they can rally to 1) enforce in/group cohesion 2) virtue signal their moral superiority

                Now just replace ‘fetus’ with ‘black person’ ‘Muslim’ ‘LGBT’ and you will notice similar rhetoric coming from illiberal leftists. The oppressed – the truly oppressed – are reduced to objects to be exploited. This is why a coddled SJW at a 60k a year uni can accuse Eiynah of being a ‘white supremacist’. Eiynah, Maryam Namazie, Maajid Nawaz all get in the way of the narrative so they must be silenced, accused of having ‘white brains’ and so on.

                So when some SJW cries about how Muslims are victimized in the West, then ‘bravely’ stands up and no-platforms Maryam Namazie, they are doing so out of self-interest, not out of any empathy for people who have suffered under Islam. Namazie is inconvenient because she gets in the way of their virtue signalling. “People of colour” *must* be infantilized in order that illiberal leftists can signal their virtue. Once ‘POC’ are permitted to speak for themselves, to speak as individuals, the entire narrative comes tumbling down. Fetuses, on the other hand, are fantastic because they literally cannot speak for themselves.

              • Michael Waterhouse
                Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

                Cindy, yes, I think you ave nailed major component of the situation.

                I saw a clip of Lil Wayne speaking on race issues and he refused to buy into nonsensical hype and the interviewers didn’t know what to make of him.
                They need to here the echo and flabbergasted that a black person could feel just like a real person, a real, lucky, ‘person’.
                Who has his own individuality, that he didn’t want smeared thin by group think.

      • somer
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink


  6. Somite
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it is inevitable that we have to suffer hate speech because we promote and enjoy free speech. This is abdicating the responsibility of evaluating and arriving at a conclusion which is what humans should do to solve moral problems.

    There might be some gray areas that can be debated and argued, but Nazis don’t fall in this area.

    • Somite
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Also, you might feel different if someone standing right in front of you was promoting killing you, and your family because your race is inferior.

      • Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        True. I would feel different. So I’d better practice now, so I’ll have some measure of discipline when that happens. The principle that we don’t escalate violent words to violent actions remains the same even in that case.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        In most jurisdictions the right to free speech does not include the right to incitement of violence either against individuals or against other demographic groups. So faced with someone advocating killing me and my family because they considered my race to be inferior then yes I would want them to be silenced. I would advocate using the law to do so, however; throwing punches at people in the street simply gives them the chance to occupy an undeserved and spurious moral high ground.

      • Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        If someone is threatening the lives of your family, they can and will be arrested. Use the violence of the state where appropriate, threatening speech is not free speech. However, Spencer’s brand of ignorance actually promotes non-violence (as a shield, make no mistake) and it’s strange to see leftists actually change the content of his message to make it more justifiable to become physically violent. That and arguing AGAINST the “moral high ground” is an admission that they know it is wrong but they are angry and want to feel righteous in their defence of punching someone they find objectionable. Then, he gets to say “but we’re the non violent ones” and “see, this is why I’m right”. The biggest assholes are the ones who can take the punches and grin triumphantly through bloody teeth at having brought out your worst side. It only shows that you have no argument other than the fist. In that, you concede the high ground to fascists and make their ideas more acceptable. They learned these tactics from the left when they won the day in the Civil Rights movement and in India and everywhere that justice has won out over injustice, and now they are using them to score pity for their own side. If white nationalism becomes the norm, it will because leftists gave up their principles to “punch Nazis”, adopting the Argumentum ad Baculum when it suited their anger. All this new administration needs is more violence from the left to make protests into bigger warzones and justify draconian measures to control Nazi punching leftists while Spencer gets to ride the high horse.

    • Cindy
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      You have essentially advocated and condoned violence to be used against not only PCC, but commenters on this blog, and yes, even yourself, ultimately.

      Lest you forget, PCC has just been smeared as a neo-Nazi, and by extension, the commentators here.

      You are guilty by association.

      • Somite
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        The crucial difference is that we know PCC is no neo-nazi. You are just arguing facts are relative.

        • Cindy
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          The term “kafkatrapping” describes a logical fallacy that is popular within gender feminism, racial politics and other ideologies of victimhood. It occurs when you are accused of a thought crime such as sexism, racism or homophobia. You respond with an honest denial, which is then used as further confirmation of your guilt. You are now trapped in a circular and unfalsifiable argument; no one who is accused can be innocent because the structure of kafkatrapping precludes that possibility.


        • Alpha Neil
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

          Punching people you disagree with is a very Nazi thing to do, is it not?

          • somer
            Posted January 27, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink


          • Helen Hollis
            Posted January 29, 2017 at 3:24 am | Permalink

            Pugilism is a very boxing thing to do.

            • Helen Hollis
              Posted January 29, 2017 at 3:30 am | Permalink

              You may not realize that you make it sound as if the only bad things Nazi forces did was punch people. I realize you may not have intended that, do help me understand what you meant.

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      This is abdicating the responsibility of evaluating and arriving at a conclusion which is what humans should do to solve moral problems.

      I find it easy enough to do that while not hitting people.

      In fact, I find arriving at a moral conclusion a lot easier when I’m not behaving like a thug.

  7. BobTerrace
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    When did thinking and reason go out of fashion? Justifying assault to counter speech? lunacy.

    • Somite
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Nazism is not speech

      • jaxkayaker
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        So Spencer is actively rounding up Jews and other minorities and trundling them off to camps?

      • BobTerrace
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        I am sorry, you can not comprehend what speech is.

      • GBJames
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Do you have any idea how silly that sounds?

        “Democracy is not speech”
        “Physics is not speech”
        “Religion is not speech”

        These statements all are equivalent to “Nazism is not speech”.

      • Dominic
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        Technically Nazism is not speech, but expressing Nazism verbally is, & we usually consider ‘free speech’ encompasses writing as well as the spoken word. If you think you are the arbiter of what can or cannot be said, that suggests you think you know better than other people. You may think that, you may be full of righteous indignation, but that does not mean you should stop your ears.

        • Somite
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

          I don’t claim to always know what can or can not be said.

          But I know Nazism is the epitome of hate.

          • Dominic
            Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

            I don’t think anyone here is disputing that… well, AN epitome of hate!

          • Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

            And speaking hateful words is not illegal.

            Which is a good thing; because the Twit-storm that erupts around anyone whom the Guardians of Social Justice Warriors decide are hate-speakers is vastly and literally more hateful than the speech it is directed against.

            I’ve always found this myopic lack of self-awareness stunning.

          • Alpha Neil
            Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

            Do you get to decide who is a nazi and who is not? That is a power I certainly would not grant to you.

            • Cindy
              Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

              The person who claimed that PCC and other Jewish men are all neo-Nazis would also say that he is the one to decide who is a Nazi and who is not.

              Somite says that xie knows with certainty that PCC and the commenters here are not Nazis, but why should we believe xir when Arel is so certain that PCC and everyone associated is a ‘real Nazi for sure’?

              Who to trust…it’s so difficult, we must exercise caution when deciding who is worthy of a good beating yes?

              • Alpha Neil
                Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

                “Who to trust” That is exactly my point. Declaring that anyone with this label is punchable is granting tremendous power to whomever gets to do the labeling.

              • Cindy
                Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

                What we need is a Ministry of Truth…


      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        It is speech.
        And it is quite popular speech in Turkey where ‘Mein Kampf’ is a best seller.
        Are we going to punch everyone reading that book?

        • Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

          No it isn’t speech any more than Democracy or Communism. It’s an ideology. Things said or written in support of ideology are speech.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      When did thinking and reason go out of fashion?

      Se time in the mid-80s, I think. But it has been going downhill pretty steadily since then.

  8. tubby
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Contrary to popular Internet belief, only comic book heroes and movies stars punch Nazis. The better way to deal with Spencer and his ilk is to not allow them to hide or memory hole their musings on killing black people or wondering if Jews are even people to begin with. Make sure people know exactly what they’re written, said, and done. Get it listed as the first link on any search for their names. Inform people about why this is unacceptable. Certainly never allow them to claim victimhood or act the martyr. Let their own words be their noose.

    • Cindy
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Here is what is so messed up..

      Actual Jewish people are being accused of Nazism for defending free speech, meanwhile if a Muslim was to give a speech defending the Holocaust and wishing for more these violence loving idiots would be cheering him on because Muslims do oppressed! In fact, if a Jewish person was to punch out an anti-Semitic Muslim I bet that the regressive leftist would support the Muslim ! Punching up against the evil white man!

      Illiberal leftists are incoherent at best. They have no ethics. Their ethics change based on context. All they care about is being “right” and signalling their virtue.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink


        The fact that they have squandered their ethics may lead to a doubling down on the flotsam they have left.

  9. Greg Geisler
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Erroneous conflation by Brule.

    1. You do NOT have to respect the individual or his toxic words.
    2. You DO have to defend his RIGHT to say toxic things.

    I don’t understand why that concept is so difficult to grasp.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I can’t believe that it is. It seems more probable that people like Brule argue disingenuously on this point because it suits their purposes better than dealing with it honestly. That purpose being to make free speech advocates they don’t like appear to be ethically despicable.

  10. Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    For a long time this class of people insisted it was their right to not be offended in public.

    Hypocrisy is their single overriding feature.

    While people have the right not to be physically assaulted in public, if you deliberately offend people, you should not be surprised when you get assaulted. As atheists we knew this all along, but this is something non-atheists are just learning.

    But this class of people still treat offense hypocritically by seeking out people who offend them, seeking out offense itself like a drug, to justify violence.

    They whine about assault while outlining their plans to commit it in the future. They’ve whined about victimhood and entitlement while playing those cards themselves. The whole nature of white supremacy is ironically that the white race is weak and needs protection.

  11. docbill1351
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    One is free to walk into a “biker bar” and mouth off about “fat, hairy sissies” but I wouldn’t recommend it.

    The speech would be free; hospital bills expensive.

    • GBJames
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Some people don’t respect free speech?

      I believe we already knew that.

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      It would be those who commit violence that would be sanctioned, not the person making the statement.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 28, 2017 at 1:08 am | Permalink

        Yes in theory. I’m no great fan of the police, but I wouldn’t blame them at all if they said to themselves ‘bloody idiot, what did he expect to happen?’ and didn’t exactly throw all their resources into tracking down the perpetrator of the offence. Specially if all the witnesses swore he walked into a door…

        Not sure what point I’m making here – maybe that it’s okay to be ‘morally’ in the right but it becomes less so if you push it to stupid extremes. A certain degree of common sense is also required.


        • GBJames
          Posted January 28, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          That’s a very confused position that I’m compelled to dispute. The job of the police is to keep the peace. It is not okay to justify violence as the consequence of someone speaking “unwisely”. “Mouthing off” in a biker bar might be predictably hazardous but that is just because the denizens of the bar are predictably violence-prone. From a moral point of view, this is entirely one-sided, in my view and the police would be completely irresponsible and unprofessional to not follow up just as much as if it was some other violent act on a similar scale.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 28, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

            You can dispute it all you like but if I was an overworked policeman I know what I’d give priority to.


            • GBJames
              Posted January 28, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

              Overwork is not a moral justification for unprofessional behavior. It may account for it, humans being human, but it doesn’t excuse it.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 28, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

            And note, I don’t see it as much of a free speech issue either. Bear in mind this is a biker bar, not a public forum – I assume the barman would be quite within his rights to throw the loudmouth out?


            • GBJames
              Posted January 28, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

              It is irrelevant, I think, whether the bar tender can throw people out of his establishment. You seem to be making the case that violence is to be expected, and therefor it is OK. Because a barkeep can eject disruptive customers it is reasonable for police to fail in their duty to respond to violent attacks. Sorry, but your position seems bizarre and morally untenable to me.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 28, 2017 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

                I think it’s highly relevant to the free speech issue. If the guy’s ‘free speech’ could be perfectly legally terminated by the barman chucking him out, then IMO it ceases to be a case of protecting anyone’s ‘right’ to free speech, since (in that venue) he didn’t have any. (Any more than you have a right to walk into a synagogue in the middle of a prayer meeting and announce ‘Yahweh is the Antichrist’).

                It then becomes just a case of common assault (and whether it was provoked).

                I think my position is entirely pragmatic and, for me, a bit of common sense overrules ‘morals’ any day.

                (And before you ask me to define ‘common sense’, you should first define ‘morals’. Better still, don’t, this could go on for ever).

              • GBJames
                Posted January 29, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

                Perhaps we’re talking a cross purposes. From you comments I am getting a justification for violence against people for saying offensive things. It seems to matter to you that it happens in a bar and that the people offended are prone to violence. How is that any kind of justification for the violence itself, much less a reason for professional police to not do their duty?

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:00 am | Permalink

                Partly at cross purposes. I don’t think it’s a free speech issue, since (presumably) a biker bar is not a public forum.

                On the issue of violence, if I was to walk into a biker bar and start calling them ‘sissies’, I should not be surprised if something bad happens to me. Just like leaving my car with the keys in – it is still illegal for someone to steal it but what would I expect to happen?

                On the subject of the police – they are not required to enforce every law all of the time. Life would be unbearable if they did. It might depend on what happened to me – ending up on life support = a police matter. Getting a jug of beer poured over me = still technically assault, but I could understand if they did not give it top priority.


              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 30, 2017 at 2:05 am | Permalink

                P.S. I wouldn’t say the violence was *justified*, but I’d say it was, if not predictable, at least not surprising.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 31, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

            The job of the police is to keep the peace.

            Is it?
            I’m not sure that is the case in Engand (except for some pretty iffy sense of “keeping the Queen’s Peace”), and I’m even less sure about the situation in any other nation. Hell, I’m not even sure if the thing about the “Queen’s Peace” extends across the whole of Britain.

  12. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Just so you know – because I think this audience might not be up on this :

    Actor John C. Riley – star of such films as Talladega Nights – created the character Dr. Steve Brule for a show called The Tim And Eric Show. Dr. Brule runs the segment “For Your Health” on a fictional 30-min news program. Personally, I find it hilarious, but that’s me.

    I suppose that would be an ad hominem of a fictional character.

    Happy Friday everyone.

    • Chadwick Jones
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I was hoping someone else would bring this up… The show is hilarious.

  13. gg
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I cant’t remember whether this was posted….but The Nation published an essay that defended violence against people like Spencer.

    It then published this:

    It has really amazed me how my facebook and other social media has been filled with liberals proclaiming that people with despicable opinions have no civil rights.

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      As someone somewhere said, you must support free speech and let people talk or otherwise how would you know who the assholes are?

  14. Dominic
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    As Evelyn Beatrice Hall famously summarised Voltaire’s views, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  15. Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    What I find especially distressing, at this juncture in history, is how quick everybody is to “other” the Nazis — to dismiss them as subhuman vermin not even deserving of the pretense of respect.

    No, I’m not even remotely sympathetic to their ideology, and, yes, the crimes Hitler and his thugs committed rank amongst the most horrific in history.

    Rather, what upsets me is that we forget that a great many regular, ordinary Germans of the time — butchers and bakers and candlestick-makers — were Nazis. “All too human.”

    Remember Stanley Milgram? No, of course — everybody seems to want to forget him. He taught us how easy it is to hijack pretty much anybody, including you and me, with nothing more than a lab coat and an air of unwillingness to accept defiance.

    Right now, today, it is more important than ever that we learn and remember this lesson…for it is now clear that our own history rhymes with that of the Nazis. Der Drumpfenfuhrer’s supporters aren’t at all substantially different from Hitler’s. They, too, are farmers and store clerks and factory workers. And, just as Hitler taught their — our — forebears to fear and hate the Jews and the bankers, Señor Tinyhands is teaching us to fear and hate the Mexicans and the press.

    In the end, it took guns and bombs to stop Hitler and the Nazis — and how horrific it was for the butcher-and-baker Nazis, too, especially those in Dresden.

    If we are to have any hope of avoiding such a fate for ourselves, we must eschew violence and hatred and embrace compassion and speech for all.

    Mr. Smallinpants is a pathetic and pathological liar. You don’t need bombs and bullets to force his supporters to denounce him; you just need words to convince them to step away from the madman.

    And, no, it won’t be a total victory; there’ll always be vocal holdouts who’re as intransigent as the Resident. How could it be otherwise? Even Hitler, with the full force and might of the until-then greatest military on Earth failed to follow through with his own Final Solution. Perfection is the enemy; improvement is the goal.

    Nor is this a call to be gentle with words. Indeed, there’re plenty of times to be brutal with them. Sticks and stones, remember? Nor should we forget Richard’s frequent observation that the intended audience is rarely the person to whom the words are addressed.

    Consider the difference in messages to those watching between a Nazi being sucker-punched and a Nazi being ridiculed for holding views that’re an atavistic throwback to an idiotic and brutishly heartless failed experiment best left in the ashtray of history. Sucker-punch him and, not only will his sympathizers violently rise to his defense in righteous indignation, but many of his opponents will at least sympathize with his pain. Show him to be the unmitigated asshole he’s making himself, and fewer people will want to be seen associating with him.

    Enough words from me for the day. Here’s hoping they’ll at least diminish the number of punches flown, the bullets shot, the bombs thrown.



    • Dominic
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      Dredsen – “the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive…should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Arthur_Harris,_1st_Baronet#cite_note-47

      • Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        Of course, I think that’s an uncontroversial statement.

        The Allies strove to destroy Germany’s and Japan’s ability to carry on the war. They both engaged in total-war and reaped the whirlwind.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 28, 2017 at 1:34 am | Permalink


          The bombing force of those days was an extremely blunt instrument, whichever side was using it. Any talk of ‘precision bombing’ was a hopeful fantasy.

          Given that, all that either side could hope to do was cause so much destruction that the enemy’s ability to wage war or resist invasion was severely impaired. Nobody on the British side *at the time* would have disagreed with Harris, just as (I’m sure) nobody on the German side would have disagreed with Goering’s aims to use the Blitz to force the British to surrender.

          The destruction at Dresden and Hamburg was appalling, much worse than the London blitz, which reflected the development in capability of bombers. But I can’t help feeling that people after the war who tried to distance themselves from Harris’s wartime sentiments were being a bit disingenuous.

          (In the First World War, not having bombers, they built trenches and shipped millions of young males off to be killed there instead. One could say WW2 was more egalitarian in that respect).


          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 31, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

            In the First World War, not having bombers

            Not quite true : there were bombing raids on London/ SE England in WW1 – Wiki says some 500 casualties. It was a major shock to government and people to not feel safe in their own homes – with consequent propaganda to cover up events from common knowledge.
            “Total war” is a concept that many people in the West are forgetting the meaning of, as the generations that fought WW1 and WW2 have died off. But don’t worry – Der Kleinehandeführer will teach a new generation what it means.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

              OK, let’s say ‘not having bombers that were capable of doing more than token damage’.

              Yes I know the Germans had the Gotha and Zeppelins and the British had – what was it, the DH9? (this is from memory) – but in terms of range and payload they were not capable of having much effect.

              (The Zeppelins had the range but fatally vulnerable)


    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Well said.

    • Pete T
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the insightful comment. I remember a happy time when there were a few more of your comments hereabouts. Your reduction in comments has been associated with a noticeable and undeniable deterioration in world affairs. Cause? Correlation? Coincidence?

      • Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink


        I think Ben must be very busy these days. But maybe that’s a really good thing for him!

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      I have wondered, from time to time,what the world must have been like for the ‘average’ German person in and after the war.

      Seeing those pictures of endless total destruction of cities and buildings and towns.

      Pulverised, for what?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 1:47 am | Permalink

      I do agree with Ben re Nazis. I believe that in the hopeless days of the 30’s there were many well-intentioned Germans who saw Hitler as offering a ray of hope, a way to regain some national pride, maybe even to ‘Make Germany Great Again’ (oops…)
      And many more would have joined the Nazi Party because it was a requirement of their jobs. And doubtless most of them did NOT want to start another World War with ruinous consequences or exterminate millions of people.

      I guess the question is when patriotism and nationalism morphs into something toxic, and how to stop it. (My cynical side says that all patriots should be shot on sight, just to make sure. I’m not sure I should let it out to roam too often).


      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 31, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        I guess the question is when patriotism and nationalism morphs into something toxic, and how to stop it.

        There was a time when “patriotism” and “nationalism” weren’t something(s) toxic? When was that?

        all patriots should be shot on sight,

        Oh no – not on sight. Immediately after the diagnosis is confirmed. Or nuked from orbit – to be sure.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

          Patriotism/nationalism is sometimes useful for smaller countries that don’t want to get used as a doormat by large ones.

          But it does all too easily turn septic.


  16. Alpha Neil
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Punching someone for talking is now a liberal thing to do? Even worse, not punching someone for talking apparently now makes one a white supremacist and therefore punchable. For people who pride themselves on empathy, this is an astonishingly self-centered view.

  17. Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Even if you hate the ideas a person is promulgating, you still must [be the adult in the room]:

    1. Refrain from violence towards them. If you fail here, you are literally no better in your behavior that these Nazi-types that you hate.

    2. Allow them to express their ideas in the various forms of free speech, as allowed by law.

    You do not shout them down in public forums, de-platform them, or attack them physically. Instead, you use your own speech and ideas to prevail against their bad ideas.

    Violence, shouting down, de-platforming are cowardly abdications of your duty to formulate and advocate for your own (good, presumably) ideas.

    This is a good place to apply the universal imperative. Or at least turn it around: If they did this to you, because of their deeply-held beliefs, would it be moral for them to do so? If all people consistently behaved this way, is that good, is that what you want in society? Please think hard about these questions.

    Of course you think that you’re right and they are wrong. But remember that they think the same thing.

    Civil society (refraining from violence) and free speech are the only environment in which humans can determine improvements to our societies.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 4:33 am | Permalink


  18. Alpha Neil
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    It seems that the people applauding “the punch” think that it is naziism itself that is being struck when a nazi is punched. This is a scary aspect of identity politics that I hadn’t considered before.

    I also want to add that I hate the fact that I have to defend a fucking nazi.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      You aren’t defending him. You are defending yourself, everyone else in your society, and helping to maintain progress towards that better society all reasonably decent people want.

      • Alpha Neil
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, you make me feel almost noble. I’m so full of righteous indignation I could punch a nazi….oh, wait.

        • darrelle
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          I’m motivated by self interest. 🙂

  19. Curtis
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Let’s be clear, freedom of speech is not necessary for nice speech. It is needed only for disturbing, hateful, vile speech. Nobody wants to censor “I think Obama/Trump is great” or “Mary had a little lamb.” They want to censor “Obama/Trump is a !#*$#@!#” and the disgusting things that turn our stomach. As long as the speech is not part of crime (child pornography) and does not create an imminent threat, it is legal and the right to say it should be supported by everyone with modern values.

    We should condemn vile people but fight for their right to be (non-violently) vile. We should condemn everyone who advocates censorship but celebrate their right to say the idiotic.

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Freedom of speech only exists to the extent to which speech you don’t like is allowed to be free (unencumbered).

  20. skiptic
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Trolls like Steve Brule perturb me more than the likes of Richard Spencer.

  21. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Almost everyone claims to be a free-speech proponent, and most of those who do merely support free speech for themselves and those of kindred outlook.

    But the only meaningful measure of one’s commitment to free speech is one’s willingness to tolerate it from those with whom one diametrically disagrees. In the long run, the quantum of free speech we can expect for ourselves is that which we are prepared to grant our ideological opposites.

  22. Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”

  23. Historian
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    We know that in certain democratic countries, such as Germany, the government defines certain speech as hateful and is banned. I imagine this is the case in Germany out of the government’s fear that pro-Nazi speech could accelerate a revival of Nazism and its assumption that the masses will fall prey to its doctrines. I think the memory of the democratic Weimar Republic is still strong when enough people (although not a majority) supported Hitler to allow him (through his appointment as chancellor by President von Hindenburg) to gain power.

    In the United States, the tradition of free speech is viewed as a value worth honoring, even though one must admit that it is a risk that could allow a tyrant gain control of the government through demagogic appeals to the masses. Advocates of unfettered free speech need to realize that it is an act of faith and not necessarily true that free speech and democracy can necessarily indefinitely co-exist together in this country without the former leading to the end of the latter. Such an act of faith is now being sorely tested.

  24. Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I was not troubled much to hear that some right-wing nutjob has been punched during a rally. In my younger years, I have protested a lot of things, including elected governments, like in the USA now; I have seen passions running high, women shouting like crazy, and some guys even becoming physical. I do not approve it, but I take it as the way the world is, like soccer hooliganism.

    What troubles me is that a great many people are approving the punch. They are often intelligent and educated, people from whom I’d expect better, in their mature years, sitting comfortably behind their computers and not under any influence, even adrenaline. I find this scary.

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Right on the mark!

      And the Regressive Leftists are the avant garde, those who seem most eager and most happy to trample the most important, the keystone, liberal values, most especially free speech.

  25. Taz
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    When I explain to right-wingers why I’m categorically opposed to capital punishment, they always assure me that it’s really bad people they want to kill, as if I thought they wanted to execute old ladies and kittens.

    It’s not the person, it’s the principle.

    • Posted January 27, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Indeed; but there’s also this to consider. When good DNA testing came in, 30% of the people (almost all men) on death row in Illinois were found to be innocent using DNA evidence. The governor at the time commuted all death sentences to life in prison as a precaution.

      I too am categorically opposed to capital punishment, I’m sure for the same reasons you are.

      My main reason is neatly captured in what my boss in the Federal government office told me on my first day on the job: “We’re here because people are basically fuck-ups.”

      And it’s true.

      Death is permanent. At least if someone is in prison, you can let them out if you find out that they are innocent.

      • Posted January 27, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Yeah. I agree that some people deserve to be killed. No doubt. But is this individual convicted actually the individual who deserves it? Often, but it’s hard enough to be sure that I think the death penalty should be abolished.

        I suppose it would be better if I opposed the death penalty in principle, which I don’t, but I do oppose it in practice. After killing someone, you can’t meaningfully say, “Oops. I was wrong. Sorry!”

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 28, 2017 at 1:59 am | Permalink

          Precisely the main reason I oppose the death penalty too.

          If it was only ever inflicted on people whose identity was beyond all possible doubt (e.g. school shooters who were captured at the time in possession of guns and expended ammunition etc), then my practical objection would be overruled. I would still want it to apply only in cases where premeditation and intent were beyond doubt and there were no extenuating circumstances, though.


  26. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    The idea isn’t to show nazis “courtesy”. The point is to refrain from giving them a photo op supporting their false claim that all “libtards” are thugs. There is nothing wrong with punching someone in self-defense, but when you throw the first punch, you’ve lost the argument even if you win the physical fight.

  27. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” – Isaac Asimov… America and the World’s Voice of Reason… a voice which seems to be sadly muted in Trump’s USA.

  28. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    At one time in history it was considered okay to punch black people and women who were standing up for their rights. I’m not saying White Supremacists have good ideas but I am saying that who we are allowed to punch may change with the times. It’s better not to punch because one person’s idea of “offensive enough to punch” may differ greatly from another’s and I’d hate to be considered the “too offensive” one (which, let’s face it, as an evolution loving atheist woman, I’m sure I could be considered “too offensive” in many places.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      Sadly, there are places in the world where you would be hit, just for being you as you are.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 28, 2017 at 2:01 am | Permalink

        Any time my toilet roll is the wrong way round, I get this overpowering urge to punch Diana…


        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted January 29, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, ‘the horror’, ‘the horror’.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

          That’s a micro aggression.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted January 30, 2017 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

            Which is the micro aggression – my toilet roll being the wrong way around, my urge to punch Diana, proclaiming my urge on WEIT, or Diana implying my punch is so feeble it would only be a *micro* aggression?

            Never mind, I’m due for my therapy


            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted January 31, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

              [Tries to guess what the therapy is, before following the link.]
              My guess : the eyeball machine in Clockwork Orange. No.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

                I have just realised – too late – that the kitteh in the video is doing Diana’s work. Oh the horror.


              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted February 1, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

                Kitties always do my work. I don’t even go to work anymore — I just send a kitty. 😀

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 31, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

              Saying you want to punch me for my toilet paper beliefs is a micro aggression because it’s death by a thousand perforations.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:12 pm | Permalink


                You win.


  29. Posted January 27, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    All people in this country have the right to speak freely about anything and everything. If
    a person says something offensive to you, you have choices as to your response, among which are: 1. Tell the person you will not talk with them if they continue speaking offensively. 2. Leave. 3. Ask questions and attempt to get what they’re calling their sources and facts. 4. Discuss the topic with them rationally 5. Present them with your point of view, sources and facts.

    Hitting people for any reason unless they are trying to injure you or others you care about is a pre-human and/or childish response. We must make the effort to inform them and modify their behavior.

  30. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted January 27, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Maybe some are happy with this punch because it was pretty weak and didn’t do much damage.

    However, someone good at punching can do an great deal of damage with one punch.
    Anyone see ‘million Dollar Baby’?

    What if he had a broken jaw, smashed eye socket, or cracked skull.

    There is a reality to physical violence that armchair punchers overlook.

    At least I hope they are overlooking, and not advocating real damage.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      There was someone got 8 years for a “one-punch kill” just a few weeks ago. A bit steep for a culpable homicide – I think broadly equivalent to USian “second degree murder”.

  31. Bruce Gorton
    Posted January 28, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    You don’t have to show them courtesy and respect, you have to be non-violent.

    If someone calls you an asshole, they aren’t actually being violent. They’re aren’t being respectful or courteous, but they aren’t punching you in the face either.

    Because actions communicate ideas, when you engage in violence you are communicating the idea that violence is an acceptable form of political expression.

    Now fascists, they already believe that, it is part of why they are not generally considered acceptable in society as a whole.

    By engaging in violence you communicate that violence is okay if you believe an ideology to be a threat to yourself.

    So lets talk about another group that the left would agree should not be acted violently against.

    What about fundamentalist Muslims? Muslims who ultimately do not engage in violence yet still hold very conservative religious and political views on issues such as women’s rights and atheism.

    Do we condone violent acts against those Muslims in our communities who hold that atheism should be a criminal offense? Do we believe that the fundamentalist Muslims, simply by virtue of the ideology they follow, should be subject to violence?

    No. Not even when the ideology they follow demands death for us. So long as they remain on the field of ideas, so do we. And they in this case are the specific individuals, not the group.

    We do not condone collective justice, whereby one individual is punished for the acts of the group, we recognise that each individual is just that, an individual.

    When we lose sight of that is when we start making excuses for torturing prisoners on the grounds that their “side” does not hesitate to do so. When we do that we become numbed to bombing hospitals because we no longer see patients, we see potential enemy combatants.

    When we lose sight of that, we lose sight of what we are fighting for, and what we are fighting against. We become the very American right wing that voted for Donald Trump.

    Because it is not the person that we struggle with in these issues, but the ideas that person holds, the ideology and concepts that drive them, and a fist rarely addresses an argument.

    It is not a matter of courtesy and respect that we do not engage in violence. The only respect involved is that which we hold for ourselves and our argument. Strength is the ability to be the person you want to be, and we do not wish to be cowards who hide behind fists when faced with an argument we do not like.

    We will not do our enemies the courtesy of becoming them.

    • Cindy
      Posted January 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink


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