Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Punch a NAZI, the new Whack-a-mole

So an alt-Right, white supremacist NAZI, Richard Spencer, was elbowed in the face whilst being interviewed for television. I'm surprised at the number of people who are okay with this.

Let me explain...
In some parts of the world, views I hold are punishable by death. Atheist bloggers have been hacked to death with machetes in Bangladesh as recently as 2015.

I am an atheist blogger and am very thankful to live in a country where such a heinous crime is unlikely to happen to me.

But the idea that someone might be killed for simply being an atheist is horrifying. Most people I know and follow me through twitter are atheists, and I'm sure they think it's completely unreasonable for violence to be committed against them just because of their views.

But others disagree. They think that atheist views are so wrong, and so offensive that atheists should be killed for them.

So how can I say that I should be allowed to express my views without threat of violence, but that protection shouldn't be granted to others just because *I* find their views odious?
If violence against the holders of *some* views is okay...how do we decide? Where do we draw the line?

I know not of this Richard Spencer bloke but it's clear he is some form of abhorrent racist, and whilst being interviewed on the street some anonymous stranger ran up and elbowed him in the face.

I'm not okay with that. Not because I'm tolerant of neo-nazis, but because I'm against being physically assaulted because I hold a view that disgusts others.

I understand the views of Richard Spencer are extreme. A friend of mine feels very strongly the opposite way to me. She said that his views are the same as those that lead to millions of people being killed just for being who they were. And that he has the free will to change his views. So 'fuck that guy, punch his lights out'. 

I got accused of being tolerant of Nazism because I said I wouldn't punch a nazi for being a nazi. Then I got asked if I would punch an Islamist. Again I said no. So I got accused of being tolerant of Islamists spreading Islamism. I pointed out that I've literally been confronted by Islamists shouting stuff at me, such as going to hell and whatnot. I didn't tolerate it. I stood there and yelled right back at them. I challenged their views and told them I wouldn't be following what they said. Hardly 'tolerating' them. But when you get a situation like this....the facts don't really matter. 

So be clear, this is not about tolerating or sympathising with a Nazi. This is purely self-interest! Basically, I don't want to live in a world where it's okay to punch people just because you don't like their views. Because literally millions of people don't like my views! 

And you know what, in my opinion, if anyone deserves having their lights punched out for simply having a view, it's a NAZI. 

There's the key though. 'In my opinion'. Deciding who we can and can't punch based on our opinion of their views is a dangerous president to set. 

Because I guarantee there's something about you that someone somewhere thinks you deserve a punching for. 


  1. Oz I gotta say I am glad to finally see someone say 'elbowed' instead of 'punched'. I have some suspicious about this event. I mean why not punch if you are intent on doing it? I can't help thinking that it was for show. A forearm isn't going to hit as hard as a fist, but it is going to result in a good hard shove that is going to look like it hurt much more than it actually did. I just can't shake the feeling that it was a set up.

    1. Thanks mate. But not sure if it was a set up. Seems like a pretty solid hit to me :)

  2. Good on you Mr Oz. I'm in complete support of your pov. I'm sick of my fellow liberals who have forgotten what being a liberal means. Maybe it's just because they're not old enough to remember what it was like even as recently as the 70s and 80s. As far as I'm concerned the most important element of liberalism is freedom of speech. That's all speech, not just the stuff we agree with. If you don't like what someone says, you give a better argument - you don't resort to violence.

    It's true that Robert Spencer has some revolting opinions. Hitting him just makes him a martyr, which is a status he doesn't deserve. Better to mock his stupid ideas and prove how idiotic they are.

    1. Thank you. One thing I've thought is that he's probably thinking 'if I'm getting hit, I'm doing something right'. :/

  3. I'm with Heather here, it's a free speech issue. One that many died for in the fight against fascism. Free speech means all speech - especially that which we find offensive. Without the ability to give offense, free speech is utterly meaningless. Offence is the very basis of free speech. Unfortunately, as Mencken so rightly point out, it means we often have to come to the aid of scoundrels:

    "The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."

    H. L. Mencken.

    I fear their will be more scoundrels to defend over the next four years. I have no doubt it will all be worthwhile.

    Kind regards,


  4. Oz, you are dead right. But I would go further.

    It offends the rule of law. This is why we have laws that protect us all - commonly known as the rule of law. We cannot suspend a law just because someone disagrees with an opinion held by another. If this guy gets to spout bullshit then so do I - this tradeoff is a fundamental pillar of a modern legal system.

    Secondly, it is of course a blatant attack on the freedom of speech. The hypocrasy in such an attack is to be acknowledged and reviled.

    Thirdly, it is counterproductive. It feeds a sense of victimhood. It breeds extremism. It forces people to hide their views from public when exposing those views to the world often tempers those views.

    When people hide their views from the world their opinions become more extreme. Their ideas fester and lose their basis in reality. As an aside, of the 60 million people who voted for Trump how many could have been persuaded not to if they hadnt felt the need to hide their political view from the world.

    Fourth, it really is a matter of bigotry. Richard Spencer claims he is not a nazi or a neo nazi. But even if he were, to justify an unprovoked assualt against an unsuspecting victim by 'labelling' them is abhorrent. To be clear, this is saying you can treat someone on the basis of what group they belong to rather than who they are as an individual. Sound familiar?

    Fifth, the assault was the act of a coward. In fact, as we know in Australia that punch could have been fatal. People who are attacked from behind or from a blind spot do not have the chance to flinch, or duck or move. Thus they take the full force of the blow and fall causing further - and yes lethal injuries; typically when their head hits the ground.
    We have laws for this. They are called the coward's punch laws. They are aptly named.

    Sixth and to really throw oil onto the fire; would the public opinion have been the same if this was a women who was assaulted? If not then i suggest that the use of bigotry is enabling the justification of socially and legally unacceptable behaviour.

    Finally, it is a lost opportunity. I had not heard of this guy previously but unlike most people i took the time to look at the interview and read up about him.

    In response to questions from a person off camera he says he is not a neo-nazi. He also said he likes black people or at least says 'sure' when asked if he likes them. In fact he says 'neo nazis dont love me... they kind of hate me'
    This guy is articulate and educated. Just how many of the people who share his views could you say that of? He needs to be debated and critiqued and engaged with. It seems to me he that he is one of the few people with those extreme views that could be reached.