Ew my gaawd, yinz will never guess what just happened!!! Rightwing racist fruitbat David Horowitz said that, at least where Free Speech is concerned, MSNBC’s Unabashed Man of the Left™, Chris Hayes “nails it.” Specifically, Horowitz glowingly approved this from a recent Hayes segment about Pam Gellar’s Muhammed cartoon contest, ever so originally entitled, “The Right to Be Horrible.”
If we were going to do a segment that was about someone that was advertising on the network, and I was kind of on the fence about it or actually didn’t even like the segment, right? I thought it was a little unfair maybe. But then someone came to us and said ‘you can’t do that segment because of an advertiser’, I’d be like, well now we have to do the segment. Because it has to be the case that we can do that segment.
Oh har, har, Chris, nice troll, as if we don’t all know how you cringe-makingly groveled to the military establishment after they challenged your patriotism, as if you don’t receive talking points from the President himself, and as if you don’t instinctively come down on the side of conventional wisdom — which is the side of power — in every damn instance. But great hypothetical, though — likening journalism to racist provocation — entirely consistent with professional douchebag absolutists of every political stripe in its elision of power disparities and the harm principle.
Isn’t it just super, that at a time when a truly inspiring revolt by Black people against White Supremacy predictably elicits civil rights violations by the minute, our intelligentsia has the time to remind us once again that the most sacred right of all is the right to be a racist provocateur, in case there’s any doubt? For Hayes, under certain conditions, Islamophobic provocation is an obligation:
if the thing you’re worried about is doing an event that will provoke two people rolling up with automatic weapons and body armor trying to murder people, then it actually is really important that you do that.
Well said, Chris! If professional hate-mongers like Pam Gellar can’t calculatedly offend peace-loving Muslims while providing pretexts for terrorist attacks, who knows what’s next? State agents shooting people in the back as they flee an unjustified traffic stop? Strangling people to death for minor offenses against stupid laws? Assaulting and arresting people for catching police brutality on video?
Oh but wait. Hayes is not talking about the usual slippery slope of state repression, is he?After all, the Islamists that we are told are so bent on suppressing free speech are not, by official reckoning, state agents. So by making things like the shootings in Garland and Paris free speech matters, Hayes and his ilk are breaking from their usual fixation on state speech prohibitions — the ones theoretically barred by the First Amendment — and extolling Free Speech as a general principle. Of course, members of the free speech crowd rarely, if ever, say anything about speech suppression in the private sector — like the routine controls on workers — but apparently coercion by state-designated “terrorists” is a uniquely important exception.
Lest you think that Hayes’ concern is possible state attempts to limit the right to be horrible — so as to prevent incidents like the Garland and Charlie Hebdo shootings — this is what he said in the same segment:
What I don’t like is the notion that there are people who are going to be making calculations, particularly like a venue, like do we want to give our venue over to this thing and the calculation they’re making isn’t a calculation of, do I think the person is bigoted and odious but, is this going to create a security footprint that I’m not comfortable with. Because that to me seems to create a real threat to free speech.
Got that? The real threat to free speech is private entities weighing the benefit of anti-Muslim provocations against the security problems these provocations deliberately create. Since this isn’t the usual First Amendment slippery slope problem that free speech dipshits customarily belabor, and since free speech “maximalist” Hayes surely wouldn’t support a state mandate that venues accept all comers, what can possibly be the point of handwringing over this particular problem? What’s the implicit solution to this “real threat to free speech?” I mean, if it’s really important that murder-provoking events happen, surely measures must be taken to prevent those murders, right? So, what are they?
Since Hayes, like all his Celebrity Left colleagues, is equal parts calculating opportunist and deeply conformist worm, it’s quite likely he hasn’t given solutions much thought. It is enough to simply wring his hands in accordance with elite doctrine, in anticipation of the usual rewards. Seeing that Fox News’ stars such as Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera have excoriated Gellar, Hayes support from the scare quote Left is particularly useful, conflating right-wing reaction with rebellion, while juicing up a fight that’s running out of steam among the usual suspects.
Though Hayes hasn’t likely considered what he’s implicitly advocating, the people whose approval he seeks, along with his new fan David Horowitz, very much have a solution to this “real threat” in mind. If Islamists are attempting to control speech, of course the state response must be to better control Islamists, by way of Endless War abroad and increased disciplinary power on the home front. So, whether intentionally or not, Hayes is fear-mongering and high dudgeoning on behalf of ends he’ll no doubt show-boatingly lament during other broadcasts, when it serves his interests to do so.
UPDATE (link to this update)
In my darkest moments, I wonder if the kind of free speech purism that gives such a wide berth to white supremacism isn’t, in the end…well…rooted in white supremacism. After all, wouldn’t a system largely dependent on white supremacy tend to reward white supremacists, if only, or perhaps even especially, covert, largely passive ones? At the very least, the kind of free speech absolutism I keep critiquing on this blog, minimizes racism in a way I increasingly find disgusting.
With that in mind, take a look at this video — brought to my attention by reader keatsycamore — of Hayes chatting about basketball with Zach Lowe on a Grantland podcast. Hayes has put on his “one of the guys” hat and is clearly feeling a lot more relaxed than the eager-to-impress schoolboy he plays on MSNBC. Things get genuinely weird when Lowe introduces the topic of the NYPD’s assault of Black Atlanta Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha, in which the police broke a seemingly compliant Sefolosha’s leg.
I’m not going to transcribe the full discussion which begins around 24:30, but rather note the disquieting flippancy with which both men, particularly a giggly Hayes, address the topic. Hayes actually laughs as he says “They freakin’ broke his leg.” Equally discomfiting is the way in which both men, but particularly Hayes, suggest that there might be a detail not readily apparent from the video of the assault, that might have justified the NYPD’s characteristically excessive use of force against a Black man. Maybe Sefolosha was “drunkenly mouthing off,” Hayes almost says.
Hayes also marvels aloud at the apparent media blackout on the story, as if he doesn’t share any responsibility for it. While he mentions “the context of what’s been going on politically,” at no point does either man mention racism explicitly, and Lowe reminisces about how cops play fast and loose with the rules when they’re in a “bad mood.” I don’t think I’m being hypercritical or dramatic to say it’s really rather fucked up and, as with so much else, seems to vindicate my judgment in ways even I wouldn’t have expected. I encourage you to see for yourself, as well as read keatsycamore’s own assessment.