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The "Daily Stormer" Was Removed From the Web: GOOD!

By       Message John Spritzler     Permalink    (# of views)   7 comments

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From pixabay.com: Free vector graphic: Fascism, Nazi, Swastika, Symbol - Free Image
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There's a lesson here about the notion of "the right to free speech" that I discuss further in my longer article here.

The "Daily Stormer" prominently displayed swastikas and was over the top racist:

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It argued that black people were animals and not human beings. It advised anyone who had a problem with a black person's behavior to call the zoo to come and deal with "it."

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It argued that Jews (whom it portrayed with classic anti-Semitic big-nosed evil caricatures) were BIOLOGICALLY driven to be the enemy of white people and therefore Jews need to be excluded from white society.

About Charlottesville, it said that the real tragedy wasn't that Heather Heyer was killed (they liked that fact), but rather that the wonderful car that struck her was so terribly damaged.

Every issue of the "Daily Stormer," however, carried a little "boilerplate" paragraph stating that it did not support violence. Cute, uh?

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The effect of the paper's online speech was, clearly, to give ideological confidence and emotional encouragement and organizational unity and implicit prompting to people to commit violence against blacks and Jews simply because they were black or Jewish.

The "Daily Stormer" was written carefully enough so that a top notch lawyer probably would have been able to make a case in a court of law that the paper never actually _explicitly_ said that anybody should commit an act of violence.

Nevertheless, the web hosting companies that removed the "Daily Stormer" from the web did so on the grounds that it promoted violence.

Let us, purely for the sake of argument, assume that the "Daily Stormer" never explicitly advocated violence, ok? It STILL should have been shut down. Here's why.

The "Daily Stormer" was using speech to help people commit--or get ready to commit--racist violence. Speech is an extremely important part of doing. There is no sharp line between speech and doing.

Virtually everything that human beings do that requires two or more people acting in concert requires the previous use of speech to come up with and articulate the idea and to decide that it is a good idea and to plan how to execute it.

This is why the "freedom of speech" principle, "I oppose what you are saying but will defend to the death your right to say it" sometimes means--in practice--"I oppose what you are doing but I will defend to the death your right to do it." It's a stupid principle!

This "freedom of speech" principle means, in the case of the "Daily Stormer,": "I oppose your using online speech to promote and facilitate and help encourage racist violence by giving racists greater confidence that they are right and that they are not alone so they will violently attack blacks and Jews, but I will defend to the death your right to use online speech to promote and facilitate and help encourage racist violence by giving racists greater confidence that they are right and that they are not alone so they will violently attack blacks and Jews."

Some mistakenly think that the only way to protect free speech for good purposes is to defend free speech for bad purposes. This false view is based on the fairy tale that there is a neutral power in society above us all that enforces speech rules without any regard for the content, and that the only choices available are a) speech rules that give everybody free speech so good speech will be possible or b) speech rules that restrict everybody's speech and thus make good speech more restricted or even impossible.

But there is no such "neutral power" making speech rules without regard to content. The real power is the dictatorship of the rich, and it makes speech rules that ensure that the rich remain in power.

The way to ensure that good speech is possible is to fight TO MAKE GOOD SPEECH POSSIBLE; not to fight to make racist speech possible (as if the rich don't already guarantee all the racist speech they need to keep us divided racially.)

Does this mean we should stop anybody from speaking if we disagree with them? NO. I discuss this my longer article. What it means is that when it comes to any particular use of speech, our response to it has to be determined by THINKING, not by reflexively and unthinkingly invoking a one-size-fits-all "freedom of speech" principle that is stupid.

 

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I am the editor of www.PDRBoston.org and www.NewDemocracyWorld.org, the author of No Rich and No Poor: The Populist Goal We CAN and Must Win, Divide and Rule: The "Left vs. Right" Trap, The People as Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda in World (more...)
 

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