As ever, the debate about ‘free speech’ continues to rage. But recently, I’ve seen it suggested that the only reason someone would defend freedom of speech for racists is if they were, themselves, racist. This just helps to demonstrate the point, however, that restricting freedom of speech for some people threatens everyone else.
Many of those in the modern day who condemn freedom of speech are on the political left. We can sensibly infer that they would not inherently trust western governments to enforce the silencing of racists. So the question becomes, who gets to decide whose freedom is restricted? The lack of any strong, unified left-wing organisations which might be able to put forth coherent policies means that the task of restricting freedom of speech falls to local activist groups, often under the name ‘antifa’ for ‘anti-fascist’. Since no central antifa leadership exists, any group of people can reasonably put on black masks, call themselves antifa and attempt to disrupt political activity.
What if more of these groups begin to adopt the mentality described in the first paragraph? That anyone who supports freedom of speech for racists are themselves racists? Well, then, logically, since they are racists, they should be denied freedom of speech too. And anyone who is in favour of allowing those people to speak? Why would they support allowing known racists to spread their views? Those people should be prevented from speaking too.
In fact, one could argue that many of the real sources of hardship for people who may be victims of racism are actually economic policies which fail to tackle poverty, disproportionately affecting people of minority racial and ethnic statuses. Since these policies pose a clear danger to the health and well-being of vulnerable people, it goes without saying that they should also not be allowed to spread. Which economic policies specifically are these? I suppose it’s up to your local gang of angry teenagers to decide.
But why stop there? If the only way to end racism in our countries is for the radical left to rise up and seize power, then anyone who stands in the way of that goal should be prevented from spreading false and misleading strategies. Every left wing organisation, every left wing individual who thinks for themselves, is in danger of having their freedoms threatened by anyone who supports restricting freedom for others, even if it is ostensibly aimed purely at racists and fascists.