Way back in the 1990’s, I covered a protest at the Sample Gates for Hoosier Review. Someone at the protest suggested I was there to “intimidate” the protesters, which I immediately shut down by using some self-deprecating humor about my physical stature. No one is going to be intimidated by me. The suggestion itself was a joke, not a serious argument – just some politicos ribbing each other. But I was reminded of that with the claims that Matt Walsh is a threat to the “physical safety” students at Baylor University.
We need to be brutally, shockingly honest about the real motivation behind calling Walsh a threat to the “physical safety” of these students. This is a preemptive justification for violence. If someone is a “threat” to your “physical safety,” then you have the right to self defense, which includes physical force. The natural human right to defend the life or bodily integrity of yourself or loved ones has been universally understood throughout human history. This is why our criminal code follows a long tradition of not holding people criminally liable for killing someone in self-defense.
The shift from more emotion-based arguments (making people feel unwelcome, or hurting their feelings, and so forth) to “physical safety” is a move designed to destroy free speech. It is bad enough that it justifies mob action to shut down opposing ideas, but the logic behind this argument actually makes the state (or state agencies, like public universities) responsible for shutting down “offensive” ideas that allegedly threaten the “safety” of students. This is why we are seeing so much rhetoric about “violent” social media posts, when words have never physically harmed a single person and never will.
We need to resist this authoritarian rhetoric. We need to call out those screeching about “safety” and expose the fact that they only want to silence opposing ideas. We must, as always, be 100% uncompromising in our defense of free speech and expose the enemies of free speech.