Boycotting to silence is a reaction worthy of consideration

As I think this through and think about the comment that have been made, I am asking myself how it could be that I might be somewhat supportive of the idea that Breitbart should not be put out of business.  My concern is certainly with issues of freedom of speech and I do worry about how boycotting with the hope of shuttering one outlet, detestable as it is, is meant to, ultimately, silence particular voices.  I have, I come to realize, appreciated Breitbart being there because it allows me to know about a way of thinking about which I should know and, if Breitbart ceases to exist, so will my opportunity to gain insight into a movement that affecting the politics of the society.  Without Breitbart, what would I have known about Bannon, for example, and wasn’t it a good thing that I knew early on what he and those like him were up to?  I can say I vehemently disagree with pretty much every idea expressed through Breitbart but I wouldn’t have known that some, too many, of course, subscribed to ideologies such as those that are of the alt-right.

I think too of how when communism was thought by some old-time alt-righters to be an ideology that needed to be outlawed, a good many good people suffered terrible consequences.  McCarthyism was about banning ideas a certain contingent of the American population found to be obnoxious and, yes, hurtful to their values.

Careful what we decide to silence and how we go about silencing them.  Boycotts are an acceptable tool for expressing displeasure but it should be used with real care in cases where the goal is to silence whose ideas cause displeasure.

By lafered

Retired professor of education concerned with thoughtfulness

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