Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Guardian: Punching People Like Richard Spencer is Permissible

Nesrine Malik, Leah Green, Bruno Rinvolucri are apparently responsible for this.
   If the speaker is to be taken seriously, she seems to be saying that punching someone for their political views is permissible--neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy--so long as their views are of the wrong kind. She does say that "in principle it's never ok to hit anyone, Nazi or otherwise." That's not true, of course...but it's never permissible to hit anyone simply for their beliefs. At any rate, that's just a sop to Cerberus. She clearly approves of punching those with whom she disagrees--and characterizes such punches as "calling out."
   These people are way wrong about a whole lot of extremely important things.

[Also: the top comments are mostly depressing as hell.]

8 Comments:

Blogger Pete Mack said...

I dunno. If someone actually thinks killing 6 million Jews and another 5 million assorted misfits, they probably deserve a punch in the face. Sure they have a 'right' to their beliefs. But their beliefs are abhorrent and possibly murderous. Hitting them in the face isn't prima facie wrong, though it might be poor strategy, depending on the situation.

5:26 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Here's a suggestion, Pete: try formally (or at least clearly and thoroughly) stating an argument in support of the idea that mere belief in a proposition justifies violence against the believer.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Whatever happened to "I may disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it?"

Actually I might not actually defend to the death someone's right to espouse Nazism...but I'd defend it at least *some*...

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

Society needs bright lines regarding the use of violence e.g. when it's OK to use it and who gets to use it.

A good starting point IMO, is that non-state actors only have that right in physical self-defense or the defense of innocent people. And state actors only when necessary to defend the state or to secure individuals' rights.

Note also that, even in regard to speech that has been deemed *illegal* (such as incitement to riot), the permissible remedy is not the immediate private application of violence, but legal enforcement.

So beliefs and speech we don't like, even 'abhorrent' speech, is still protected. Unless it crosses certain lines that we as a society have decided pose a threat to civil / peaceful order.

That is a pretty broad outline of first principles, and I would be willing to suggestions as to how to reasonably fill in the details.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that the general question "is it okay to punch a nazi?" will remain even after I say this, but for some reason it irks me that the left won't take even a second to realize that Richard Spencer isn't a nazi. Also, using 'nazi' so indiscriminately cheapens the word. 'Fascist' is another word that gets thrown around these days.

I'm certainly not defending Spencer's beliefs, but he's also not a nazi.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

The question involved Nazis, not Richard Spenser. Nazis did more than hold despicable opinions. They acted on them in a terrible way.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

Update.
See also:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighting_words
At some point, free speech does cross over into fighting words as a legal matter. "You belong in a gas chamber" certainly counts.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Lewis Carroll said...

Fair point Pete.

Filling in on my above, I suppose that can be described as a *threat*. And since people have rights to life and liberty, and to be secure in their persons, there is an argument to be made that that should be proscribed.

We have to be vigilant though that these things don't devolve into PC cuckoo-land demands that "he made me feel uncomfortable, therefore coercion under the law should follow" arguments hold sway.

I'm not a big fan of slippery slope arguments in general, but with cases where it can theoretically be difficult to draw a hard line, we should be cognizent of them.

11:22 AM  

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