Letter to the Editor: Response to “Protesting harms free speech”

Dear Bellevue College Watchdog,

On Oct. 24, 2017, Patric Williamson wrote an article about how Protesting Harms Free Speech, and I would like to address some issues with this article written. To summarize the article, it addressed how people protesting events happening was silencing people from publicly expressing their opinions, even if these opinions are incredibly discriminatory. The article states, “the ability to express opinions, no matter how controversial, should not be limited in any way, shape, or form within reason.” This statement is actually incorrect. Often times, these “opinions” are anti-Semitic, homophobic, transphobic, racist, misogynistic, etc. When we allow people with these kinds of opinions to speak and influence large groups of people, it actually hurts our society, and stops us from progressing. These opinions are often archaic, traditional beliefs about how certain people are inferior to the white male. These beliefs set us back because these are just factually incorrect, and when other people hear these beliefs they might start to believe them. Not every opinion is worth expressing, and often times silenced opinions can be much more hurtful than they can beneficial. We have a right to freedom of speech in the U.S. but when this speech talks down on other individuals because of something they are often born with, then this speech is nothing but hate.
These protests that “harm” free speech are often actually peaceful protests. Many people who attend only respond defensively to violence, usually perpetrated by whatever they are protesting against. Some examples of this are during the Charlottesville Nazi rally. The protesters managed to stay peaceful the entire time, even through the experience of a Dodge Challenger driving through a large group of them, killing one and injuring many. one, There have been more Nazi rallies since then, including Nazis marching with guns in their hands, one even fired their gun at someone during a protest. two, these protests are actually a perfect example of properly exercising freedom of speech, and these protests at most inconvenience people, and don’t result in people being hurt, or killed in some cases. These are peaceful protests. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right to peacefully assemble.” This itself proves that protesting does not harm free speech but only helps practice it.
There is quite a bit of misinformation being spread by this article, many of these aren’t backed up with any examples. There is a claim that anti-fa spread misinformation and slander in order to silence opposition, and while anti-fa tries to silence fascists they don’t tend to spread misinformation. Patric mentions Milo Yiannopolous and how he is a “gay immigrant who just got married to an African American partner,” and says that anti-fa have labeled him as a white supremacist for his “edgy choice in humor and inflammatory criticism of Black Lives Matter.” Milo Yiannopolus also participated in the writing of a 3500 word piece for “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” The alt-right is a loosely defined group of far right individuals who value nationalism and populism. These groups tend to favor anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, anti-feminist, and homophobic beliefs, and are often paralleled to Neo-Nazi ideas. It would not take much longer than a quick google search to find that alt-right groups are incredibly horrible people, Milo Yiannopolous being one of those alt-right individuals. As stated earlier, freedom of speech is important to the U.S. but these Nazi paralleled beliefs are something that we fought in the 1940s because the U.S. and other countries took action to stop them.
This article has a lot of people I personally know incredibly concerned. If you have any questions about my response, or would like to discuss about what I have said, please email me at lgbtq.coordinator@bellevuecollege.edu and we can either talk over that platform or meet and discuss somewhere else.

The LGBTQ+ Leadership team and LGBTQ+ Coordinator, Fawkes.