Ted Nugent Doubles Down, Because Free Speech!

[Content Note: Violence; eliminationism; racism; anti-Semitism; misogyny; dehumanization; disablism.]

Are you so surprised that Ted Nugent refuses to apologize for his violent assassination fantasies and instead chose to double down on them? It's so surprising, right? (It's not surprising.)
"I'm a black Jew at a Nazi-Klan rally," the rock star complained to [conservative radio host Dana Loesch]. "And there are some power-abusing, corrupt monsters in our federal government that despise me because I have the audacity to speak the truth."

Nugent continued: "I spoke at the NRA and will stand by my speech. It's 100 percent positive. It's about we the people taking back our American dream from the corrupt monsters in the federal government under this administration, the communist czars he has appointed."

...Later in the radio interview, Nugent went after Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who condemned Nugent's remarks on Tuesday as she called on Romney to answer for the rocker's rhetoric with a DNC petition and web video.

"Wasserman Schultz is such a brain-dead, soulless idiot," Nugent told Loesch. "I could not be more proud that this soulless, heartless idiot feebly attempts to find fault with Ted Nugent, because I am on the right track and she just encourages me to stand stronger."

Nugent also compared Wasserman Schultz and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to "varmints."

"Varmints are sometimes clever, but they're really easy to outmaneuver," Nugent said, before calling Pelosi a "sub-human scoundrel."
This is straight-up eliminationist rhetoric, directed specifically at members of the Democratic party from marginalized populations—our African-American president, the Jewish female DNC chair, the female House Minority Leader and former Speaker of the House. And while talking about them as vermin, he frames himself, a privileged straight white cis man, as a "black Jew at a Nazi-Klan rally."

I would say that's unbelievable, except for how all of this is coming out of Ted Nugent's face, which makes it par for the course.

In a decent country, in which marginalized people's safety was prioritized over privileged people's "free speech," and in which incitement weren't a concern generally until after someone is already fucking dead, Ted Nugent would be in a cell.

But in this country, with our reflexive reverence for a policy of "free speech," as if speech exists in a void, we're more worried about "censorship," because a minor restriction on a privileged person's unfettered right to engage in hate speech is considered a more burdensome encroachment on freedom than the right of people at whom hate speech is directed to live a life free of rhetorical terror.

And actual terror, given the preponderance of evidence across cultures that violent hate speech in the public square begets actual violence within the square.

Much like demeaning narratives used against Hillary Clinton, my concern isn't so much with the well-protected President Obama, DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz, or Minority Leader Pelosi—although it is certainly with them, too, for obvious reasons—but with the average citizens whose lives are made less safe by racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, and otherwise incendiary narratives of oppression and hatred in the cultural ether.

Anyone who understands my oft-cited turns of phrase "This Shit Doesn't Happen in a Void" and "My Rights End Where Yours Begin" ought to be able to understand why protecting hate speech is in practice a wildly irresponsible policy, particularly in a culture with deep institutional biases that confer more weight upon privileged voices and the messages they carry.

The US's "absolutist" free speech laws are routinely defended on the basis that if some speech is limited, it's a slippery slope until your speech is limited—but that's demonstrably manifest horseshit. There are other countries which don't have absolutist free speech laws—they have mature free speech policies in which mature people acknowledge the fundamental difference between "unpopular speech with a purpose" and "wanton hate speech with no purpose except hate," e.g. some fuckwad talking about how Democratic leaders need to be exterminated like varmints. And there's no slippery slope, because the difference is easily discernible.

The irony, of course, is that the US already doesn't have abolutist free speech laws, anyway—which is why we're not allowed to yell "Fire!" in the proverbial crowded movie theater. (Or at a crowded book-burning, lulz.) The damnable lie that makes restrictions on hate speech so difficult to find support for even among US progressives is that we have absolutist free speech. We don't.

We're just eminently more willing, in continuation of our grand history of giving the finger to marginalized people, to turn an indifferent eye to the patently fucking obvious relationship between uncensored hate speech and hate crimes. And we're dishonest enough to slap a "free speech" sticker on it.

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