We are by no means entitled to “free speech without criticism or consequences,” nor are we entitled to an audience.
True, but we may be entitled to an audience in other ways. Milo, for example, was entitled to an audience due to the standard policies and procedures of the University of California at Berkeley.
Free speech absolutists tend not to consider or fully appreciate this, probably because most of them have never felt silenced by pervasive or systemic hatred and intolerance before.
I’d say rather that we do appreciate this; it’s just that we view it as an unfortunate consequence. Speech doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it also exists in an ecosystem which includes social mores, which most often are attitudes which cannot be legislated away. Thus, the solution is even more free speech, which thankfully is far more democratized than it used to be.
How do we best strike a balance between these two competing forces?
You don’t try. You let speech fly.
if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.
That’s an opinion stated as fact, and a very pessimistic one at that. My view is that tolerance is like a dominant gene; it’s views are more attractive, comforting, and more sublime than the intolerant; and therefore more will be attracted to it than its component. (Of course, I am an optimist.)
Obviously the matter is nuanced and complex; you often have protestors who demonstrate intolerance towards a speaker whom they believe (correctly or incorrectly) is intolerant. Nobody wants the job of refereeing between this mess, and anyone who did would be accused of intolerance. :-)
So, you have no alternative between “stifle it all” and “let it fly”.
There is a reason why expressions of white nationalism are suddenly cropping up everywhere
Full stop. Looking at some of these articles, we need to make sure we are not slurring our speech:
- “Nationalism” is a political expression of patriotism. Nations don’t survive without a healthy helping of it. Too much of it, when it starts to rationalize legislation which violates freedom and international law, is a problem.
- “White Nationalism” is thus an inaccurate term; nationalism is at its core is not racial, although extreme expressions of it (see above) sometimes turn racial. The proper term is “White Supremacy”.
- The White Supremacists have been on life-support for decades now; Spencer’s meetings and talks have been drawing the same lackluster crowds for a very long time. He has having some marketing success right now, unwittingly brought to him by the people who dislike him the most, but it’s important to not overstate his importance and power, which is effectively zero.
The First Amendment may prohibit Congress from passing laws censoring white nationalist beliefs, but the rest of us are well within our rights to wholly refuse to accept, and to refuse to provide a platform for, anyone who espouses or enables such intolerant ideologies.
Well, because of the democratization of media, it’s now impossible to “refuse to provide a platform”; anyone with an IP address and a server has one. And there’s the real reason why noxious philosophies are growing; it’s because information of them is now accessible. Radical Islamic philosophies have been growing for decades, long before Trump, simply because the information is now there. You no longer have to show up at a Richard Spencer meeting to become radicalized by his ideas.
And we should not tolerate them!
Well, true, from a personal standpoint. The problem starts when you want the government (and other institutions) to enforce the matter.
But any system that entirely forgoes standards or regulations will ultimately result in atrocities, infringements on other people’s rights, and the consolidation of power in the hands of a few.
In context, that is a a shockingly illiberal statement with a fatalistic conclusion. Words are words. What Spencer says is ultimately irrelevant; he has no position of authority. All he can do is gather a mob, which is also irrelevant, unless they should break the law, in which case, there are laws to solve the problem.
Count me out. As much as I may dislike intolerant views, I’d rather live in a nation that tolerates them than otherwise.