Quote: Jesse Williams on Critics of Black Lives Matter (plus the petition to get him fired)


From actor Jesse Williams’ award acceptance speech at the BET Awards, June 2016.

And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

Incidentally, in response to this speech, someone started a petition to have Jesse Williams fired from his job acting on Gray’s Anatomy. Over 27,000 people have signed it so far. Tell me again how anti-SJWs are soooooo in favor of free speech?

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5 Responses to Quote: Jesse Williams on Critics of Black Lives Matter (plus the petition to get him fired)

  1. 1
    Mandolin says:

    Jesse Williams apparently wasn’t “politically correct” enough.

  2. 2
    Duncan says:

    Well, as xkcd and John Scalzi put it, he’s an asshole and people are showing him the door, right?

    Every time my liberal friends call for the firing of some right-winger they object to, I point out that their chickens will come to roost. Now I’ve got another example for them; thanks.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Duncan, I agree with you that lefties shouldn’t call for right-wingers to be fired – as I’ve said on this blog over and over (for example: 1 2 3 4 5). (ETA: I realize that you know that already. :-p )

    But the “chickens coming home to roost” argument is a causality argument. It implies that right-wingers only do this sort of thing because left-wingers did it first, and wouldn’t be doing this if left-wingers hadn’t done so first. (Maybe that’s not what you meant, and I’m reading too much into the use of a cliche.)

    But to address those implications, without assuming you intended them: I don’t buy that this is a “chickens coming home to roost” situation. Even if liberals stop calling for people to be fired – and we should – I don’t see any reason to believe that right-wingers will change their behavior in response. Nor is there any reason to believe that right-wingers only call for people to be fired as a response to liberals doing it first – right-wingers have been calling for people to be fired for their opinions (for example, for being pro-lgbt rights) literally since before I was born.

    Regarding that XKCD strip, I agree with it for some purposes – for people being banned from internet forums, for example – and disagree with it for other purposes – like the boycotts on Orson Scott Card.

  4. 4
    Sebastian H says:

    People shouldn’t be fired for their outside-of-work legal behavior–especially not speech.

    The chickens coming home to roost argument isn’t a good one if framed as a direct casual argument, *but* that is as confused as talking about institutional racism as if it were just an extension of personal racism writ large. Institutional racism draws on personal racism to create systems and institutions which have bad effects based on race.

    Similarly, freedom of speech can be analyzed on a personal level (what can I personally say) and on an institutional level (how do norms and institutional structures shape what people in general can say).

    The United States has all sorts of nasty infighting about free speech and has hosted many nasty speech suppression incidents. The United States has some of the most robust institutional free speech norms in the world.

    Interestingly both statements are absolutely true.

    I wouldn’t frame the discussion about left wing agitators tearing down speech norms or sabotaging free speech concepts as leading to a “chickens coming home to roost” situation when they get used against those on the left. I would use them as illustrations for why free speech norms and robust free speech institutions are so crucial.

    The way I see it, free speech norms help society the more evenly they are enforced. The typical left wing critique is that free speech norms currently help the powerful more than the weak. That critique is certainly true. However, like education (which through all sorts of structures helps the powerful more than the weak) the answer isn’t to tear down schools and destroy free speech protections so that the strong can be hurt by lack of education and by speech restrictions. The answer is to provide stronger free speech protections and better educations to the weak and poor.

    You can’t get better free speech norms for poor people by being willing to gleefully tear them down against rich people you don’t like.

    (A similar argument operates with respect to right-wingers and political correctness/politeness norms but that discussion obviously isn’t needed here).

  5. 5
    Duncan says:

    Barry, I know you know and you know I know you know that people shouldn’t be fired for off-job speech. :P We’ve both written on this subject often.

    But I think it is a causal, chicken-coming-home-to-roost thing, because when someone loses their job for saying nasty things, it creates (or reinforces) a precedent and normalizes firing people for speech. That, at any rate, is what I meant by using the phrase. (I think that’s what Malcolm X meant by it too: not that the assassination of JFK was tit-for-tat, but that the US had made a practice of killing inconvenient people, so we shouldn’t be surprised when someone killed one of ours, especially a bloodsoaked butcher like JFK. And it also applies to the current hysteria over alleged Russian hacks of our political process. The US considers it an acceptable practice to interfere in other countries’ elections, so we can’t suddenly consider it unacceptable for another country to interfere in ours.)

    I don’t suppose that either liberals or right-wingers are necessarily thinking of payback when they call for the firing of someone for saying things they dislike — they’re generally too stupid to think that far ahead or behind.