Words are not violence. Violence is violence.
This is such a powerful piece about where we were with free speech and language just a few decades ago. Thank you Bari for putting this in perspective. As you have said - we are living in cowardly times - courage is the remedy. Thank you for being brave.
The left-wing movement to label speech as violence is a perfect example of nominal fallacy - labeling things to avoid having to think about them, absolving yourself from listening. This is why so many progressives are bewildered by encounters with disagreement, which they find inexplicable.
After an event like this, I am convinced that the only people who are afraid of “words” and “ideas” and “free speech” are those who are ultimately afraid of what the truth will do to the world they built for themselves.
This was a powerful and important piece. Brava, Bari!
Great piece. The horror of Salman's stabbing brought home how far our western civilization has fallen from the ideals that made it great.
How is anyone supposed to take the NYT seriously when they rush out a notification that the attacker’s motives weren’t clear? I swear, at some point, we’re all going to be told that smoke has nothing to do with fire.
I am grateful for this article because *this* is why I subscribed to Common Sense.
But at some point, we need to ask how this happened, not simply identify it as a phenomenon. Because until the people who caused this (and one very specific group has) are drug out into the light and made to own the situation and explain to those they have coddled and radicalized that they started this "words are violence" schtick because they wanted a way to shut up the other side and it's all gotten out of hand, we're not going to get anywhere.
The greatest damage we’ve done to speech is “everyone” agreeing that “we must, of course, ban hate speech.” Hate speech has no definition, and no one but those seeking to control you, gain anything from limiting hate speech. Everyone should want ALL speech protected. If someone wants to cause you harm, shouldn’t you prefer that be made public so it can be monitored and investigated? This idea that some speech is okay and some is “wrong” is exactly the slippery slope those who wish to remove your liberties desire it to be.
I believe the equally frightening counterpoint to Rushdie’s struggles, and those who have supported his right to freedom of expression, is the predilection by leading publishers and platforms, operating behind the protective wall of technology, to suppress books and stories not of the political stripe of a new hypersensitive and intolerant minority.
My daughter arrived home before returning to college for senior year. I said that either we speak openly and honestly with curious minds or I speak about nothing but the weather.
Who among the High and Haughty will denounce the assailant? Who among the Glitterati will speak against the assassin? Who among the Literati will lead protest on the violence?
None. They are accomplices, complicit in their silence.
here here!! Bravo!!! I'm a mental health clinician and I've been beating this drum for a while now. Words are NOT violence. They are words. The emotional reaction that they may provoke is the responsibility of the person reacting. I mean duh!! If we speak to a crowd of 100 people are we now responsible for 100 different reactions?? It's so UNBELIEVABLY illogical and emotionally unhealthy, I can barely stand it. It makes me want to scream lol
And yet. here we are. In a society that seems hyper-reactive, hyper-emotional, and unable to center itself around any organizing principle.
I want to applaud you Bari, for your courage in speaking out on this.
Free speech will be the one thing, more than any other factor that I see, that can save us from ourselves.
And the good news? Most people - on some sort of intuitive level - get the idea of free speech. Even if they can't articulate it clearly. It's something deep down in their gut.
Bari (if you are reading this) when you first started your news letter you had a piece that used the phrase (and i'm paraphrasing) "your soul is too valuable to be silenced." I echo that sentiment here.
Our lives, spirits, and souls are valuable to be squelched. Wishes for a good day to all:)
Muslims play the long game. Always have. The West will never understand this, to our detriment.
I would argue that it has gotten even worse than "words are violence", because a common BLM chant was "silence is violence". Depending on the particular ideology or cult, non-conformity to the mob is considered violence now too. This is sophistry of course, cheap sophistry. But it leads to actual violence. I wonder if perhaps the current "culture war" may someday morph into an actual civil war for the right to free speech.
Bari , I am a 70 year old man , a product of apartheid South Africa who kept quiet because it was easier than standing up and objecting to what was going on around me. A regret I live with everyday.
It never ceases to amaze me how you state your position with such clarity but more importantly with such bravery .As you quote Rushdie “We are living in the darkest time I have ever known “.
I have been inspired by you and your actions and no longer allow the people around me to try and explain away the rationale that has brought us to this dangerous time ,when amongst other aberrations , words are violence - No , violence is violence.
It's interesting that left-wing lunatics and right-wing islamist fascists have come together in their beliefs and principles, isn't it? Thanks Bari.
"It is why we can count, on one hand—Dave Chappelle; J.K. Rowling—those who show spine."
And Bari Weiss.
It is unfortunate what happened to Rushdie. I pray he recovers.
They say you can kill a man, but you cannot kill what he stands for.
Free expression is not an ancient inheritance. It is a fairly recent Western tradition of the Enlightenment that is still not yet universal. It must be guarded jealously.