"Hate Speech IS Free Speech"
They're not shy about what they believe, or what they want
There are a few reasons the above-pictured tweet by PJ Media’s Megan Fox is a rich object for contemplation as the Republicans slither into the last weekend of the campaign. One is the classically, childishly racist implication that when black people use the n-word in casual speech, it’s the same thing as a bunch of white people exultantly screaming it on Twitter because they have reason to believe their hero and new Twitter CEO Elon Musk approves.
(This “how come they can say it and we can’t” thing is a logical fallacy shared by most of the dumber wingnuts, such as Erick Erickson and a bunch of people you went to grade school with — many of whom, I would guess, either haven’t grown out of it or did but were coaxed back in by people like Fox.)
“Hate speech IS free speech” is pretty wild in and of itself, though. You could parse it to mean that hate speech would and should be permissible in a “free speech” zone, which is what Musk claims to have made of Twitter — the sort of thing old-time free speech advocates, visions of the Skokie Nazi controversy marching through their heads, like to portray as a regrettable necessity in the marketplace of ideas.
But from the aforementioned mass slurgasm, and based on conservatives’ traditional misapprehensions of free speech — which they’re more likely to invoke in defense of, for example, the outrageous slanders of Alex Jones than in defense of, for example, the sale of books to minors — it’s clear that today’s conservatives don’t find hate speech a regrettable necessity at all. For them “Hate speech IS free speech” means what it looks like: Hate speech IS the speech they want to defend; any other kind, they either couldn’t give a shit or (as in the case of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law) want it actively suppressed.
Speaking of Florida, maybe you saw this:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Following the antisemitic comments and tweets Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, shared that have caused a lot of controversy in America, Jacksonville has seen multiple appearances of antisemitic rhetoric across the area.
In the midst of Georgia-Florida game day celebrations, an antisemitic message that read “Kanye was right about the Jews” was projected across the TIAA Bank Field Saturday evening.
Another antisemitic message displayed on banners that read “End Jewish Supremacy in America” and “Honk if you know it’s the Jews” hung from an overpass on the Westside, just off Chaffee Road and Interstate 10.
The credentialed conservatives are either mildly outraged or absent, but their base knows that Kanye West is talking their language. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen on social media praising West’s comments — like commenters on a YouTube video about his ravings (here’s a representative sample):
Ppl trying to control ppl for their TRUTHS!
Now im an even bigger kanye fan
I hated this guy for a long time. Now my respect for Kanye has skyrocketed. You're the best.
If you want to know who rules over you just see who you arent allowed to criticize.
That last guy has a classic anti-Semitic image for his avatar. I think we can assume these people aren’t voting for Democrats.
You may not see those comments when you visit because my investigations show YouTube has been cleaning them up pretty quickly for reasons you can guess. Like I said, for now anti-Semitism is merely a big underground hit in conservatism. (But they love Israel!)
As for homophobic comments, that’s way more out in the open — “groomer” is now up there with “socialist” and “libtard” in the rightwing glossary. If you tell children in the class you’re teaching that your partner is same-sex, you may get fired and/or criminally charged; if you take your own kids to a brunch where they have drag performers, or even just go there yourself, you may be stalked by rightwing goon squads. And this is not even to speak of the persecution brewing for trans kids.
“Hate speech IS free speech” means conservatives are free to slur and slander LGBTQ people — but those people aren’t necessarily free to defend themselves.
This is where conservatives are at now, when they’re somewhat at bay in terms of government power. If they get more of such power next week and in subsequent elections, they’re not likely to pull back. The lesson they would take from that success would be, if Hate Speech IS Free Speech, it stands to reason that putting that hate into action — freed from the legal and law enforcement restraints that are all that’s stopping them now — would be sweet freedom itself.