The uncanny power of words has featured prominently in recent news. Politico describes how Berkeley became "a hotbed of violence in the Trump era" in response to witches like Ann Coulter.
In canceling a planned speech by conservative author Ann Coulter at the University of California, Berkeley, school officials made a startling admission Wednesday: They could not guarantee the safety of the controversial speaker or her crowd. ... The entire episode, which follows a February riot and a melee in the city Saturday, served as a jarring acknowledgment that Berkeley, a one-time cradle of anti-war protests and the Free Speech Movement, has emerged as the leading theater of protest violence in the Trump era.
Apparently there are ideas, like the incantations that Coulter is likely to utter that are dangers in themselves, which summon devils from the vasty deep and provoke an involuntarily reaction in whoever is unfortunate to hear them. When Howard Dean tweeted "hate speech is not protected by the first amendment" he was warding a danger which does things to people from which they must be defended against. The need to block these spells has convinced the socialist leadership of Venezuela, until recently averse to civilian firearm ownership, to arm their supporters the better to gun down those who would invoke them. "The socialist leader of Venezuela announced in a speech to regime loyalists his plan to arm hundreds of thousands of supporters after a years-long campaign to confiscate civilian-owned guns."
"A gun for every militiaman!" Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said to uniformed militia members outside the presidential palace, Fox News reported on Tuesday. The Bolivarian militias, created by Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez, already number in the hundreds of thousands and are being used to supplement the regime's armed forces. Maduro is boosting the number of armed supporters in hopes of keeping control over the country from what he labels "imperialist aggression."
The arming of Maduro's supporters comes five years after Venezuela's socialist regime outlawed the commercial sale and civilian ownership of firearms. Only the military, police, and groups like security companies can buy guns and only directly from one state-run arms company under the law passed in 2012, according to the BBC. The country recently doubled down on its gun ban through a combination of gun buybacks and confiscations in the summer of 2016.
"We are going to bring disarmament and peace," Interior Minister Nestor Reverol told Reuters during one confiscation event.
Shoot down the warlocks and witches wherever you may find them. Yet how can mere words have such power? How can ideas be so feared? To understand why it is instructive to regard speech which turns people into human IEDs. Clearly that is a spell. Manifestly that is dangerous speech. But why does it have such power?