The Raider Review

Why Not to Punch a Nazi, or Anyone Else

Chiemeka Okeoma, Staff Writer

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On January 21, white nationalist and figurehead of the alt-right,Richard Spencer was punched in the face by a masked man while giving an interview. Many people on social media celebrated this, arguing Spencer deserves what he happened to him because of his beliefs. Unbeknownst to them, this sets quite a disturbing precedent.

We can all agree that Richard Spencer is a proponent of a very hateful set of beliefs. However, if we as a society truly value freedom of speech, we must be dedicated to preserving people’s rights to promote ideas that we strongly disagree with. If people are to challenge those they consider their ideological opponents, it must be in the sphere of public debate, where there is no violence involved.

The most worrying idea I saw spread on social media after the Spencer incident was the idea that it is permissible to use violence to silence those we consider to have “dangerous” opinions. This idea was put into action when conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos was forced to cancel his UC Berkeley talk on February 1st. Self-proclaimed “anti-fascist” agitators sparked riots on the university’s campus. Now, if I am not mistaken, when someone uses violence to hinder someone else’s freedom of speech because they consider their ideas to be dangerous, they are the fascist.

What these agitators at UC Berkeley fail to understand is that in a society that values freedom of speech, no one has the privilege of determining which ideas are so dangerous that they cannot be heard by other people. Whether or not you consider Yiannopoulus’s ideas to be hateful, he was given a platform by the university and you do not have the right to take that platform away.

We must all understand that one day it may be our own ideas that are considered dangerous or harmful. If that day comes, it is essential that our right to freedom of speech is maintained and we are able to live without the fear of violence. It’s a worrying trend that this sentiment seems to be increasingly less popular.

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Why Not to Punch a Nazi, or Anyone Else