The logic of fascism is this: “Your X constitute[s] an act of violence, so I’m justified in using violence against you.” For X, you can fill in just about anything except actual violence. Some of the more popular choices are: “Words; Opinions; Positions; Race; Presence; Borders; Jewishness.” Once you equate any of these things — anything — with violence, once you feel justified in committing violence in response, your actual positions no longer matter. You’re a thug. You’re a fascist. You’re a tyrant, petty or otherwise. You no longer have a place at the discussion table.
Violence is not in the same category as any other human interchange. Our right to life and safety is our first right and the one on which all others depend. Free speech, religious freedom, freedom of the press — none of these means anything if people are allowed to hurt or kill you for them. That’s why every civilized system of law recognizes: Violence is justified only as a response to actual or threatened violence. You can say the most awful things to me, but if I can’t show that real physical violence was a reasonable threat, I can’t legally respond with force.
Even the logic of fascism understands this — and seeks to disguise it by labeling as violence what is not violence at all: your words, your opinions, your race, the fact that you’re a Jew.
On a recent episode of Headline News’s Dr. Drew on Call, transexual Inside Edition reporter Zoey Tur put his hand on commentator Ben Shapiro’s neck and threatened to send Ben home in an ambulance. This was in response to the fact that Ben called Tur “sir,” and thus refused to accept him as a woman. Rather than make his case in response, Tur bought into the logic of fascism. After that, as far as I’m concerned, his opinion doesn’t matter. His gender doesn’t matter. His feelings don’t matter. When you go to violence in response to words, by my lights, you become a fascist; you become a thug. Your moral legitimacy is gone, baby, gone.
What Tur did bothers me and I think he should be charged with assault and battery (the touch makes it both). It hardly needs saying that if the positions had been reversed, Ben would have been arrested. The media would have demanded it, and they’d have been right. But what bothers me much more than Tur are the apparently sane and civilized people who swallowed the fascist pill right with him. Dr. Drew Pinsky, who did nothing to stop the incident and hasn’t condemned it. Panelist Segun Oduolowu who, speaking like a true fascist, said, “What [Shapiro] did was deliberately disrespectful. You call a transgender woman sir on national television you know what you are doing.” Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times, who mischaracterized the incident in an article and then called Ben the bully. Scott Eric Kaufman, who tried to make Tur’s violence seem heroic at Salon. Because, you know, words are like violence so…
Congratulations, gang. You bought in. Whether your political positions are right or wrong, you’re now fully in the wrong. Come up on stage and pick up your swastika.
And to all those on Twitter and the like who call Ben “whiny” or a coward because he openly protests against being manhandled and threatened, let me explain something to you just so you know: You’re moral idiots. When, like Ben, you’ve looked a thug in the face and held to your position despite his threats, then come to me and explain what courage is. Because then maybe you’ll know.
For crying out loud, has the left really forgotten this? This is so basic. Yell at each other. Call each other names. Say whatever you want. But try to act like grown men and women — like free men and women. Try to act like Americans. Keep your damned hands to yourself.