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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Fahrenheit 451, updated

The riots in Berkeley last night succeeded. They stopped gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus.

As many have pointed out, it's ironic that these riots would take place in Berkeley, which back in the 60's was home to the original Free Speech movement.

It's hard not to be reminded of Ray Bradbury's 1953 book, Fahrenheit 451, about a society where reading books was outlawed and books were burned. The title refers to the temperature at which paper catches fire:


Bradbury later claimed that he'd written Fahrenheit 451 because of a concern that the McCarthy era might lead to book burning.

The book is often described as "dystopian." But it's really not that far from what's happening today, in Berkeley and wherever else people gather to repress freedom of speech. College campuses are now, intellectually, the opposite of utopias.

The scene in Berkeley last night as protesters used logic and reason to counter Yiannopoulos' positions.


The Left is now the know-nothing, narrow-minded, fascist mob which won't allow the opposition a voice.

15 comments:

Mark Caplan said...

I lived during the Free Speech Movement, but never noticed that speech then was somehow restricted. By whom? By the mid '60s, all the books and films that had been censored in prior decades were freely available.

John Craig said...

Mark --
I was unaware of speech being repressed as well; and it wasn't, really. So I just looked up what it was about and this is what I found on Wiki:

The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a student protest which took place during the 1964–65 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley under the informal leadership of students Mario Savio,[1] Jack Weinberg, Michael Rossman, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others. In protests unprecedented in scope, students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students' right to free speech and academic freedom.

I guess there must have been a ban on political fundraising on campus or something like that. Sounds like it was mostly just kids being kids. Or rather, leftists being leftists, inventing a problem or at the least mislabeling it.

You're right, it wasn't as if "Tropic of Cancer" was still being banned.

Mark Caplan said...

Even at the height of the Free Speech Movement, anti-war leftists used violence to prevent anyone who supported the war from speaking on college campuses.

John Craig said...

Mark --
You're right, they've always used ugly, repressive tactics, that seems to be their nature. But somehow the insanity didn't seem to be as pervasive back then. They were mostly anti-Viet Nam War, which was arguably a good cause, meaning, we shouldn't have intervened, even though the Communist takeover was a disaster for the Vietnamese.

But now, with the rise of identity politics, it's all about escalating victimization sweepstakes, with all sorts of groups clamoring to be considered "oppressed." And the meaning of "civil rights" has been turned don its head since the 60's as well. I suppose the same personality types were attracted to the left back then as are now, and human nature doesn't really change; but I can't recall a time when there were more fictions being peddled as truth, than now.

gringott12 said...

The Clash, Know Your Rights - there are three, the third,

"The right to free speech (as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it)"

Anonymous said...

Even if you hate him, it makes sense to let people like Milo have free speech because of the Streisand effect*. You must realise, though, that the protests against Milo aren't just about free speech - they're about preventing harassment. Courts have ruled that incitement, fighting words, threats & defamation not protected under free speech, and Milo repeatedly does these things. He's used his platform to reveal sensitive information about innocent individuals for the purpose of inciting violence against them. If 'gay concervatives' like him want a platform, they should at least adhere to the law when delivering their speeches. Of course the right to criticise concepts should be defended on principle alone, but the 'right' to harass should not be. There are certain standards everyone must follow, whatever their politics.

- Gethin

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

John Craig said...

Gethin --
Yes, the mobs are illustrating the Streisand effect wherever they shut down speakers. I hadn't been aware that Yiannopoulos had revealed sensitive information about innocent individuals though; can you give an example?

Also, I've heard Yiannopoulos speak (on Youtube) and while he is unquestionably a provocateur like gavin McInnes, I've never heard him seriously incite violence. And in any case, the Right, at least in the US, is not the side perpetrating the violence, that's the Left. Just take a look at some of those clips from Berkeley; the Antifa crowd was going around beating up Trump supporters, pepper spraying them, and vandalizing all sorts of businesses.

Some of the things that speakers like Madonna said at the Women's March were far more easily construed as inciting violence (though I don't think Madonna meant to be taken seriously, the outrage against her was a little overblown). But compared to Yiannopoulos, they are still worse.

(Speaking of standards everyone must follow.)

Mark Caplan said...

In a now famous video, a rioter did spray a woman in the face who was wearing a red MAGA hat, but since she had no reaction, no tearing or coughing, it couldn't have been pepper spray. She apparently was physically unharmed. I don't know of other allegations of the use of pepper spray.

John Craig said...

Mark --
I saw that video, assumed it was pepper spray. It looked to me as if she did have a reaction, but I wasn't paying that close attention. If the wielder of that spray was caught on tape spraying her, the odds are he tried to spray others in incidents that weren't caught on tape. I also read people were beaten up.

High Arka said...

This was a great move--the more attention they direct to Milo, the more they can make it appear that new forms of nationalism are about "right" versus "left," rather than about anything genetic. Western nations can be led into accepting Jews as open leaders of "western" movements, based upon the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" approach they're using with Jewish/Jewish-created media personalities and the rioters who oppose them.

As with the massive amount of "negative" media attention given Trump, the rioters are not astute scholars of Milo's "work," nor interested in debating him, but simply showing up to make havoc where the television tells them to, and by behaving badly in public, causing other people to think that there's something genuine and redeeming in Milo and his co-anchors.

Anonymous said...

He outed a transgender student at a speech he did in a university, potentially putting her in danger. As I implied above, it's not rhetoric against trans people *in general* that is bothersome (trans people put up with hate from the Right and Left^ continuously). Whatever someone's views on trans issues, making it personal is unecessary and irresponsible. For all the paranoid talk of "trans people in bathrooms" (peacefully peeing, like everyone else), trans people are 20x more likely end up murdered and even more likely to face non-lethal violence, job discrimination, etc. Even for trans people who don't face these things, there's a whole load of people who want to make life difficult and uneasy for them (hateful comments, rude questions and general disrespect are why I went 'stealth' by never telling anyone IRL, except my doctor & partner). I can't remember for certain what happened to the trans student Milo outed, but I think she was so humiliated that she had to drop out of university.

- Gethin

^ https://theestablishment.co/the-lefts-long-history-of-transphobia-288ec857c09c#.bno6ze95o

John Craig said...

Gethin --
Aha, okay, thank you.

I have to say, I like what Milo has to say in general (though I haven't listened to him all that much). But I have an instinctive feeling of kinship in an enemy-of-my-enemy sort of way. And, I suppose I do something similar by "outing" sociopaths, even though no one listens to me.

europeasant said...

I think a large part of the organized protests were planned and carried out by the ANTIFA people. The antifa are a nationally loosely organized group that attacks anyone that they deem to be NAZI.You can do a Google search and find their various chapters.
I recall one of their most famous attacks. That was in Tinley Park Illinois where about 15 of them wearing black masks and carrying batons beat up some old white people
Google "tinley park restaurant attack"
A tough crowd. You can check their mode of operations.

John Craig said...

Europeasant --
I think there's no question, AntiFa is a group of vandals whose greatest desire is to cause mayhem and destruction and beat up defenseless people, and who do so under the guise of having a political cause. If AntiFa were a person, it would be characterized as a sociopath. And if they didn't realize what they were doing was so wrong, they wouldn't cover their faces.

Anonymous said...

Definition of terrorism:
"the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims".

The leftists who are committing violence and intimidation in the name of protesting Trump and his policies, are by definition: terrorists.

(credit to Paul Joseph Watson for this observation)

And, ironically, isn't the violent Left response to Trump just the extreme end of the virtue signalling spectrum? The violent Leftists are SUCH GOOD PEOPLE and Trump and his supporters SUCH BAD PEOPLE that violence and intimidation are RIGHTEOUS.

- Ed