Response to Disillusioned Leftists

Today I read this article and felt I needed to address a few things.

I do agree with the author that some folks do become pretentious about their activism. These “allies” seem to only be in it for brownie points.
But I disagree with their assessment of marginalized people they’ve worked with. The author claims:

one of the first things you learn is that they usually do not frame their worldviews in terms of academic theories you learned in gender studies classes in University. For the most part, they tend to not analyze their experiences in terms of systemic power and privilege, concepts such as “the patriarchy”, “white privilege”, or “heteronormativity”.

I’m aware that not all people are cognizant of how these forces affect their lives. However, I’ve been homeless, I’m a victim of abuse and I’m mentally ill. I absolutely think of my oppression in those terms. My social circle, which compromises of people dealing with several forms of oppression, also know their situations are due to patriarchy, power imbalances and such other concepts. We absolutely DO bother with policing our language. Marginalized people are capable of perpetuating bigotry. We absolutely do educate ourselves “on the intricacies of capitalism.” We do “sit around pondering the effects of “problematic behaviours” in radical communities.” We are concerned with checking our privilege. For one example, I have light skin privilege. While I do experience racism, my light skin is seen as non-threatening. I can easily find make up for my skin tone.
Yes, I am extremely busy trying to survive and get my family’s needs met. But I know the reason I have such a battle ahead of me with these things is because of systemic inequality.

Speaking of Fascism, there is also a disturbing trend on the left nowadays that involves rejecting free speech/freedom of expression as a core value, because that speech could possibly be hurtful to someone, somewhere.

Because we’d like oppressors not to have a platform to speak their bigotry is NOT an example of rejecting free speech. One recent example is Richard Dawkins being disinvited to speak at the Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism. His right to have bigoted beliefs isn’t being taken away. The government isn’t taking away his Twitter account. So, his free speech isn’t being violated. He has a right to his opinions. I have a right not to listen to them.

Freedom of expression and the like does not mean we have to agree with what another person says…in fact, it means that when we do not, we certainly have the right to challenge it. But what myself and many others are seeing is the shutting off of dialogue entirely, for the purpose of “safety”. What could possibly be safe about censorship? What could possibly be safe about a group of people who claim to be freedom fighters dictating who can speak and what can be said, based on whether or not we agree with them? Study any kind of world history and you will find that censorship has never been on the right side of it.

I agree we don’t have to agree with what another person says. However, I do not want to engage with a bigot. And yes, that is entirely for the purpose of safety. My not wanting to speak to a bigot is not censorship. Again, see above for my explanation on free speech.

Now, the ending paragraphs of this article deal with trigger warnings and safe spaces. The author asks that we “stop with the trigger warnings and get serious about changing the world”. I am completely serious about changing the world, and one way to do that is to make it safe and accessible. Asking, for example, that a class syllabus have trigger warnings makes it possible for someone with PTSD to plan around their study time. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. If a college class is then made inaccessible to someone with a mental illness, how is that not violating that person’s right to an education?

We are fully aware the world isn’t always going to be “fun and pleasant”. I mean, we have PTSD so, yeah we are more than aware. I am always scared but I continue with my activism because, pardon the cliché, I need to be the change I want to see in the world.

Author, you seem to think marginalized folks aren’t activists. Your article comes off as ableist because you’re asking for people not to ask for and use an accessibility tool I.e, trigger warnings.
Your tone comes off as condescending because you’re assuming marginalized folks don’t think about their situations as part of systemic oppression. Which is also classist because you talk about “university educated activists” as if marginalized people don’t also attend university. Or that university is the only way to become enlightened of these issues.

Response to Disillusioned Leftists

12 thoughts on “Response to Disillusioned Leftists

  1. 1

    It is so hilarious when people like you believe that your “right not to listen” translates to “we can stop him from speaking at and event” don’t want to listen to his speech? Don’t go. Simple. But how entitled are you to stop others who may want to hear him from doing so.
    What’s even funnier is when people like him DO get to speak. People like you will show up and disrupt his speech instead of staying in your “demonstration areas”. And then have the audacity to complain about your free speech rights being infringed. Hey. You have a place to speak. But he has a right not to listen to you. So stay your ass in your demonstration area and have all the free speech your want.

    1. 1.1

      I wouldn’t complain my free speech rights are being infringed on. If the government isn’t stopping me from talking then my free speech is intact.

      He can have his website and twitter and books to speak. He is a bigot and bigots shouldn’t get platforms like that. He can be Islamophobic and sexist on his own time.

      1. I like how “free speech” grants Dick Dawk not just the right to speak, but the right to a specific platform he doesn’t own, but somehow does not cover other people’s right to ask that platform’s owners not to host bigotry, nor does it apparently cover their decision not to host said bigotry.

        But then, in Freeze Peach Land, all’s well as long as free speech somehow only protects bigot speech, right?

      2. Is your liberal platform so fragile that it can’t handle being challenged by differing opinions? Are you so convinced of your own righteousness that even the thought of another way is anathema?

  2. 2

    see now, “demonstration areas” often ARE ACTUAL infringements to free speech (especially at political and publicly funded events, like university speeches), since they are literal legally enforced infringements on where you can say what.

    unlike criticism, which is speech rather than an infringement.

    unlike not giving someone a paid platform, which would be violation of a non-existent right to employment.

    1. 2.1

      You man like “no platforming” which is literally legally enforced infringment on where you can say what. Wow the fact that you proved my point for me exactly is entertaining. You complain about your speech being restricted by location while arguing to do the same to someone else.

  3. 3

    except for three things: 1)paid platforms are not covered by free speech. no one has a right to those. 2)student groups are not government organizations and as such cannot violate free speech rights; 3)virtually everything people call “no platforming” is actually no such thing. it’s just protesting, and it’s not giving a person a specific platform, and it’s lobbying a particular place to not give people paid platforms.

    NONE of the people whose speeches have been boycotted and protested and criticized actually had any of their rights violated. they were even allowed to show up to the events they no longer had a platform at, same as everyone else. THAT is what they have a right to.

    nice try tho.

  4. 4

    to say that not being given a platform is a violation of free speech means that every conference and convention that doesn’t let me on stage is violating my rights. it’s bullshit.

    to say that the exercise of free speech in protest is violating other people’s free speech is equally ridiculous bullshit.

    to conflate location and platform is just plain lying; to conflate criticism and censorship is also lying

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