No, You Don't Have to "Tolerate" Nazi "Free Speech"

[Content Note: Bigotry; harassment.]

What if, instead of being an anti-racist white person who nonetheless believes racists have a "right" to express racism whenever they want on any platform whatsoever, you're actually just a racist?

What if, instead of being a person opposed to misogyny who nonetheless thinks misogynists should be able to run rampant on social media calling women cunts and bitches and whores, you're actually just a misogynist?

What if, instead of being a chill person who's okay with Neo-Nazis abusing Jewish Twitter users because "everyone has a right to free speech," you're actually just anti-Semitic?

What if, instead of "playing devil's advocate" about the purported "danger" trans women pose to cis women, you're actually just a trans-bigot?

What if all of your abstract adherence to "anything goes" free speech for, and liberal "tolerance" of, bigots isn't principled at all; it's just a reflection of your own comfort with a bigoted status quo and your discomfort with taking a stand against abusers?

What if I told you that, in fact, many of the people I see arguing for "anything goes" free speech on social media seem to appreciate the concept much more in the abstract than when the principle is applied to speech directed at themselves?

What if I told you that, in my experience, many of the people I've met on the Internet who argue for "anything goes" free speech tend not to be those who experience pervasive, frequent harassment themselves and, rather, have extreme difficulty handling even calm rebuttals to their own arguments?

What if I further told you there's probably not many marginalized people of note on Twitter who need to be lectured by someone with 50 followers about "free speech on the Internet" and how the platform might "one day" become hostile to the marginalized person's point of view?

What if I asked you how much free speech advocacy, emotional labor, lecturing, and tolerance-preaching you do on behalf of bigots versus how much any-kind-of advocacy you do for marginalized people?

What if the real-world outcome of your casual, abstract "tolerance" of bigots is that it helps bigots feel more comfortable being bigoted?

What if, even if you don't mean to be a bigot, the real-world impact of your "tolerance" is actually a net increase in bigotry?

What if I told you that we could be opposed to "anything goes" use of corporate-owned social media platforms to amplify hatred and terrorize marginalized people without disingenuously and stupidly equating that with broad, governmental restrictions on free speech?

What if I told you it's good and necessary for individuals and corporations and platforms to set boundaries?

What if we started calling the people who deliberately terrorize other people on the Internet "e-terrorists" instead of the cutesy, minimizing "troll"?

What if I told you that when bigots or conservatives or liberals or leftists or libertarians or techbros or anyone suggests that "you have to tolerate hateful people's intolerance," it's a trap, and you don't actually have to? 

Because no. You don't. You don't have to tolerate nazis or homophobes or misogynists or racists or anti-Semites or TERFS or anyone who denies the full humanity and dignity of marginalized people just so you can "prove" to hateful people that you are a "tolerant" person who supports "free speech."

The sooner you realize you have nothing to prove to bigots, the better.

If you're an ally to marginalized people, bigots neither need nor deserve your voluntary "free speech advocacy." The entire US political system has been rigged for cishet white men since its founding. It has long been part of the conservative playbook to leverage liberal and progressive values against us, so that we are so busy proving that we are consistent with certain abstract principles that we don't stop to question whether those principles should or should not be applicable to the situation at hand.

The situation at hand is this: We don't have to tolerate abusive bigots on social media platforms and it is not a First Amendment violation to say so.

Block. Mute. Report. Push back. Demand that corporations begin to place a higher value on the safety and dignity of human beings than on the "right" for misogynists to call feminists ugly fat cunt-dykes a thousand times a day on Twitter.

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