One of the biggest hot-button topics on the internet and social media today is the concept of “Freedom of Speech.” It’s the First Amendment to the Bill Of Rights of the US Constitution, but it’s also the first defense of online bigots and trolls to say hurtful and hateful things. Rapper Talib Kweli has long been an outspoken advocate of human rights, and has penned a lengthy opinion editorial regarding the responsible definition and abuse of freedom of speech, and how its irresponsible use has helped lead to the rise of white nationalism, Naziism, and bigotry online.
“What today’s right-wing free speech advocates are truly advocating,” he points out, “Is for Nazis, the KKK, and other white supremacist organizations and sympathizers to have additional, special rights the rest of us do not have: the right to say whatever they want without dissent, argument, pushback, or consequence.” Kweli is no stranger to this effect himself; he is well-known for battling trolls on his social media when they attempt to silence him from using his platform to speak on social issues he cares about.
He goes on to say, “The right wing has decided that this aggressive pushback against racism and fascism is a bigger threat to society than actual racism or fascism. The right wing often values property and the illusion of law and order over actual justice and actual lives.” He references attacks made on US Citizens by extremists like Jeremy Christian, who used a knife to kill two men who came to the aid of a Muslim woman he was harassing on a Portland train. This is juxtaposed with the treatment of protesters of police violence, who have at times destroyed property when peaceful protest clashes with law enforcement.
There are insights and facts peppered throughout the lengthy essay, but the main idea could probably be best summed up by one excerpt:
“It doesn’t matter if the speaker who supports ethno-states and hates diversity is polite. It doesn’t matter how nicely someone dresses when they claim that diversity is the cause of some imagined white genocide. These are Nazi ideals, and we have already seen what happens when Nazi ideals are normalized and given a platform. Hating a person for how they were born is illogical and hateful, and hate does not always deserve a debate.”