Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Apparently, We Are All Dumb Bigoted Cartoonists Now

It shouldn't be that hard to condemn bigoted cartoonists as well as condemn and prosecute bigoted murderers of bigoted cartoonists. And it shouldn't be that hard to condemn those who seek opportunistically to bolster their own bigotry by condemning the violence of other bigots against still other bigots, as many commenters on the American right seem to be doing and many commenters on the American left seem incapable of responding to for fear of offending the offensive.

It is relevant to point out that the comparatively rare mass-murder of purveyors of hate speech is a matter of criminal violence, but that comparatively common hate speech itself, especially when backed by incumbent elites and institutional bigotry, is also violence and also unacceptable -- and can be an incitement to criminal violence besides.

As someone who offends plenty of people quite a lot on a regular basis both by my writing but also just by being a queer vegetarian socialist atheist aesthete I am alive both to the value of freedom of expression and to the real threat of organized hate. Even insulated by whiteness and education and kinda sorta security as I am, I live these sorts of contradictions on a daily basis and fully expect their address and redress to be demanding and paradoxical.

To support free speech does not in fact require the support of all of its expressions, to understand the incitement to an act of violence does not in fact require the endorsement of that act of violence, to grasp the reprehensible character of an act of violence or of hate never requires the assumption of collective responsibility on all of those who are taken to share the background of its perpetrator. I realize that negotiating these complexities may render judgments less enjoyably ferocious for the judge, but judgment isn't actually about providing the privileged with entertainment.

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