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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.
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This last week in free speech

This article is cross posted at Pagan Vigil andTechnopagan Yearnings. Feel free to repost as long as you credit me and one of those two sites.

Let’s talk about the mess that took over my life this last week. I had a hunch I could be in deep on Friday night when I got some phone calls asking me what libertarians had to do with Charlottesville, Virginia.

Some know I don’t like email and a few have my number. If I had company over or if I had been watching a decent movie, I probably wouldn’t have answered the calls. This was the first I had heard of Charlottesville. I thought at first they were talking about Charlotte, North Carolina. I poked around on the internet and found out about a torchlit protest. Hey, I told folks, they have a right to free speech too. As long as they don’t burn anything down or do any other property damage, it was no skin off my nose.

I didn’t agree with what white nationalists and neo-Nazis stood for, but that is what free speech is all about. They could protest all they wanted as long as they followed the law.

But, all my callers said, it’s hate speech.

So? I replied. I threw out the quote (from me) I had been using for a few months.


I am certainly against Nazism, supremacist groups, and misogyny. I just think they SHOULD be heard, if for no other reason than they can be laughed off the stage.

As loudly and as enthusiastically as we can.”

I said that no libertarian would support bigotry. I could see the issues about protecting the statues and I thought that deserved a very public discussion. But the racist chants shouldn’t have anything to do with that. It was two different issues and they shouldn’t be mixed.

After the sixth or so call, the landline and the cell were both quiet. “Nice job,” I thought to myself. Another crisis averted. The folks I talked to would know that libertarians and Libertarians weren’t neo-Nazis or white nationalists. I patted myself on the back.

Then came Saturday. And I got flooded with emails. By Saturday night the phones were ringing.

I should explain. About twelve years back someone at Stormfront discovered Pagan Vigil and decided that I was something I am not. Some of my writings were passed around the internet. Worse, I was quoted out of context. Then some of my stuff was rewritten to make it seem that I supported certain causes and certain ideas. That took forever to mostly fix. But there are pockets left.

Then there was the mess from Florida. Long story short, white nationalists tried to co-opt part of the state Libertarian party. They were kicked out.

But here I was, a libertarian with supposed white nationalist ties. And a (scary? sexy? spooky?) pagan to boot. What did I have to say about vehicular homicide at a neo-Nazi rally?

Free speech is acceptable.

Unprovoked violence is not.

And you’d better be damn careful about “provoked” violence. Especially at a public protest.

People have the right to talk about their beliefs. People don’t have the right to impose those beliefs on others.

If you use force so others will listen, you’re doing it wrong.

All of the above went over pretty well. Here’s what didn’t.

I said that if the neo-Nazis were wrong to use violence first and not in self defense, so were the BLM members, the antifa, and the black bloc who had been doing exactly that for years. If you were a member of the right group, the authorities were mostly looking the other way. Mob violence had become part of American political culture again, and it wasn’t the neo-Nazis or the white nationalists who had made that happen.

Or for that matter, the Christian right, the Republicans, or the libertarians.

Violence was being used to shut down political discussion. What’s more, some groups were claiming moral authority because they had been victimized by American society. No one would be allowed to criticize if the proper groups were involved.

This. Was. Wrong.

This lay the groundwork for tyranny.

As you can imagine, those last five paragraphs did not go over well.

BLM, antifa, and the black bloc weren’t allowed to be guilty no matter what they have done or what they will do.

Anyone who says different is a racist. A fascist.

A Nazi.

And they must not be allowed to speak. At all. Under any circumstances. They must be silenced.

That’s when the pagan stuff started hitting the fan. If a pagan did not IMMEDIATELY drop everything and denounce the neo-Nazis and link them AND ONLY THEM to unprovoked violence, why, they were no better than the Nazis.

And therefore they must not be allowed to speak. At all. Under any circumstances. They must be silenced.

Suddenly free speech was only for the Morally Favored.

This made me angry. Not only was paganism getting dragged into a political situation (AGAIN) that favored progressives, but people were literally talking about Those Who Should Have Free Speech and Those Who MUST NOT BE ALLOWED Free Speech. Violence was ACCEPTABLE against Those Who MUST NOT BE ALLOWED Free Speech. The whole mess was pushing my buttons. I’m afraid I wasn’t always polite about it.

So that was my week. It cropped up again and again. Phone calls, face to face talks, internet discussion boards, and gods, the emails. People couldn’t or wouldn’t accept one simple idea. Take away someone else’s free speech today and you will lose yours tomorrow. Not might, will. The only sure way to protect your free speech is to protect other’s free speech. Even if you don’t like what they are saying.

Especially if you don’t like what they are saying.

Noam Chomsky (of all people) said something very similar. “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”

That’s who I am. That’s where I stand. A right isn’t a right unless the other guy has it too.

     — NeoWayland, pagan philosopher, libertarian, and part time troublemaker


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