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I’m not shy about being partisan; most of my cartoons are unambiguously from the left. But I don’t agree with all lefties about everything. This is one of the relatively rare cartoons in which I’m criticizing the left.
As I said in my previous cartoon on campus free speech issues, the panic about this issue is overstated. There are much more crucial free speech issues that get far less coverage. And the majority of student protests are completely non-violent.
But there have been a few incidents this year of protestors on campus (not all of whom were students) not just protesting right-wing speakers, but physically preventing them from speaking, by blocking the building, by breaking windows and setting fires, and by drowning out the speakers with ceaseless noise so they can’t speak at all, and even with direct violence attacks. These are tactics I disagree with entirely.
It’s wrong morally – who can speak shouldn’t be literally decided by mobs – and it’s also terrible tactically. When people like Milo Yiannopoulos (I have seldom felt schadenfreude as strongly as when Yiannopoulos’ career crashed and burned) or Charles Murray are prevented from speaking by a violent leftist mob, that makes them appear sympathetic and mainstream. It only increases the number of people hearing their views.
(I should clarify, when I say it’s wrong morally, I’m referring to preventing a speech through physical means – such as violence, physically blocking access, or unceasingly drowning them out. Stopping a speech through free speech means – such as a successful petition which persuades the college to disinvite the speaker – may or may not be good tactics, but I don’t see any moral problem with it.)
Research has shown that violent protests tend to reduce popular support for movements and issues, both in polls and in how people vote. I understand that the protestors are angry, and frustrated, and have real and important grievances. But the tactic is a form of censorship, and it’s self-defeating.
Two students, both dressed in black hoodies, are in front of a wall of flames, speaking to each other cheerfully. Both of them are holding protest signs, showing a guy with a mustache, with a circle and cross “not allowed” symbol superimposed over his face.
MALE STUDENT: We stopped that bigot from speaking in our college auditorium!
FEMALE STUDENT: And we stopped his hateful message from spreading!
The mustache dude, wearing a jacket and tie and looking happy, stands behind a podium speaking. Many, many cameras and microphones are pointed at him, and various off-panel reporters yell questions at him.
REPORTER 1: Sir? Over here!
REPORTER 2: Were you frightened?
REPORTER 3: Tell us more about the mob of violent leftists! We’ll print every word!
REPORTER 4: What would your speech have said?
MUSTACHE DUDE: Please! One question at a time!
Panel 3 (A tiny “kicker” panel at the bottom)
The two students are being spoken to by the mustache dude. The students look grumpy, the mustache dude cheery.
MUSTACHE DUDE: Please don’t stop my next speech! … Do you need the address?