I've talked a lot about the importance of free speech and arguing against ideas with which we disagree through logic, reasoned arguments and facts. The fact is, when you do that you can expose bad ideas for what they are and strengthen your own point of view. However, when you react through violence and try to silence people all you do is look like the bad guy.
Take the Berkeley riots for example. Milo Yiannopoulos is a very controversial provocateur who was scheduled to lecture at UC Berkeley. Antifa (anti-fascists) decided to protest his speech and ended up becoming very violent, causing the event to be cancelled. Can we take a moment to appreciate the irony of a group calling themselves anti-fascists shutting down free speech with violence?
Now, as I've said before, when you try to silence people, their ideas are more likely to be spread as a result. Milo's book sales soared after the riots because people want to know why Antifa wanted to shut him down. If they had argued against his points with reasoned debate that would have been the end of it, but by turning violent and committing multiple felonies that damaged businesses and put people in the hospital, they have made Milo even more well known and helped his ideas spread even farther. Seems a little counter-productive don't you think?
I'm all for peaceful protests and polite debates. Disagreement is fine, and healthy. It helps us grow. When protesters turn violent and start hurting people and property then the protest becomes a riot, and those protesters become criminals.
At the end of the day, if you can't argue against ideas with facts, logic and reason, then how strong are your ideas? Learn the reasons you have your beliefs, and learn the ideas of the other side. That way you can have productive discussions rather than destructive actions. If your ideas can't be challenged, how good are they really? You have to be willing to listen, and be willing to change your mind if it turns out your ideas are wrong. Learning is part of growth, and if your identity is tied to you beliefs so strongly that you turn violent at the slightest disagreement, then you need to evaluate who you are.
Worse still, by shutting down speech Antifa deems "hateful" they are setting a dangerous precedent. If this behavior become an accepted norm, what is to stop the other side from becoming violent as well? Do we really want the violence to escalate?
Aristotle once said "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." What does that say about a mind that can't entertain a thought?
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