drwex (drwex) wrote,

On rights and values

There's a meme going around vis-a-vis punching Nazis. I am not a pacifist - I believe that violence is sometimes necessary and that non-violent alternatives are not always the best choice. But I try not to instigate violence, even against fuckin' Nazis. Talk about your conflicted feelings.


I was (h/t Popehat) then directed to this statement by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks of UC Berkeley on the planned appearance on that campus of noted troll and gay-bashing hatemonger Milo Yiannopoulos. I think this statement gets it exactly correct. There are rights each of us enjoys, including the f'ing Nazis, and we must respect and uphold those rights even in the face of extreme provocation. We do so not out of some abstract loyalty to a code of rights, but because upholding such rights is consistent with the values of the communities we wish to build.

I forget who said it first, but I've always held to the principle that free speech is not necessary for popular speech - free speech is necessary for the unpopular. Lots of things my side says and will say are not popular, such as calling Drumph and his cronies liars. And some of the things the other side says are also unpopular.

When it becomes hard to uphold the unpopular rights we have to take a wider view and see who is not just having a hard time but who is actively being threatened. Who is potentially harmed by this exercise of rights? Because rights exist in a culture of values, we therefore value extending extra care and protection to those who are at risk. Our values call us to balance rights such as free speech with rights of safety and the basic liberty associated with being free of threat.

This stuff is hard even in the best of times and I suspect it's going to get harder and harder in the next four years. I want to come out of this dark period not only with my rights intact, but with my values still solid.

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth, at http://drwex.dreamwidth.org/941758.html. You can comment here or there.
Tags: politics, thinky stuff
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