Like fighting fire with gasoline

Ted Hamilton

The members of the College Libertarian group are familiar with most of the members of the International Socialist Organization because our meetings are at the same time, not because we come from the same political side. In fact, we are polar opposites and on Thursday nights in the Ratt, if you listen over the din of the karaoke, you can probably hear our groups arguing how best to rule society.

So I was not surprised the other week when one of the socialists approached me to ask what libertarians thought about abortion. That conversation led to a talk about freedom of speech and how far people can let free speech go before it becomes a problem. Again we ended up on opposite sides of an argument.

To me, Voltaire put it best – “I do not agree with a word you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” This applies to everyone, whether they are Marxists, Nazis, socialists or are against abortion but support killing babies. It is only when the group goes beyond using words and begins to physically harm others by doing what they are advocating. Sure, the person who supports killing babies should be allowed to say they support that issue, but that does not mean they should be allowed to act upon it. A white supremacy group such as The Ku Klux Klan, a black supremacy group such as The Nation of Gods and Earths, and Nazis should be as welcome to hold marches as the protesters who would line the streets against either group.

This is where we began to differ. The socialist informed me that socialists were about free speech, but said hate speech should not be allowed. I think he said it had something to do with the capitalist machine or something – I don’t remember. When socialists begin to point to capitalism as the problem for the world’s ills, I always find myself drifting away.

I pointed out that stopping a group from saying what they believe is fascist and one more reason not to support socialism. According to him – and I’m guessing most socialists – you sometimes have to use fascism to stop other fascists such as black or white separatists.

After a few bewildered (and bitter) words were exchanged, he went on his way, leaving me to – again – think about (shudder) socialists’ apparent hatred of liberty. While it is a cute idea that everyone can live together in perfect bliss, sharing goods, beers and laughs while supporting one another, it is also completely anti-individual.

Do not get me wrong, a sense of community is always wonderful, but someone should not be forced to be part of one if they do not want to participate. People should give to the less fortunate – this does not mean they should be forced to do so.

Fighting hate speech by saying a certain kind of speech should only be thought and not said out loud is irrational. Regardless, isn’t constantly talking about the “capitalist machine” and yelling how it needs to be destroyed hateful? Pro-lifers’ speech might be taken as hate against women who want a choice and pro-choice speech might be construed as speech against fetuses.

In the end it is just another ploy by the red shirts to suppress ideology that does not support theirs – which is almost all, particularly that with any empirical evidence to back it. You cannot fight fascism with socialism because they go hand in hand like bourbon and coke.

Ted Hamilton is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].