How “Silence is Violence” Can Became Compelled Speech, by Jonathan Turley

Silence is supposedly violence, but only approved speech is nonviolent. From Jonathan Turley at jonathanturley.org:

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the rising concern over compelled speech on our campuses and our streets.

Here is the column:

Silence is violence” has everything that you want in a slogan: Alliteration. Brevity. Simplicity. It also can be chilling for some in the academic and free-speech communities.

On one level, it conveys a powerful message that people of good faith should not remain silent about great injustices. However, it can have a more menacing meaning to “prove the negative” – demanding that people prove they are not racist.

In a prior column, I warned of the thin line between speech codes and speech commands, as people move from compelling silence to compelling speech: “Once all the offending statues are down, and all the offending professors are culled, the appetite for collective suppression will become a demand for collective expression.”

The line between punishing speech and compelling speech is easily crossed when free speech itself is viewed as a threat. It is not just the many cases of journalists, academics and others fired for expressing dissenting views. Even expressing support in the wrong way can be a terminal offense, like declaring “all lives matter” rather than “Black Lives Matter,” as in the firing of University of Massachusetts-Lowell Dean of Nursing Leslie Neal-Boylan or Vermont principal Tiffany Riley. While most of us support Black Lives Matter, it has become an official position of many schools — and variations are not tolerated. The concern is not only the establishment of orthodox values but the forced recitation of those values.

We are now seeing that fear realized.

This week, a mob surrounded diners outside several Washington restaurants, shouting “White silence is violence!” and demanding that diners raise a fist to support Black Lives Matter. Various diners dutifully complied as protesters screamed inches from their faces. One did not — Lauren Victor, who later said she has marched in protests for weeks but refused to be bullied. The mob surrounded her, and Washington Post reporter Fredrick Kunkle identified a freelance journalist as one of the people yelling at Victor and demanding: “What was in you, you couldn’t do this?”

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3 responses to “How “Silence is Violence” Can Became Compelled Speech, by Jonathan Turley

  1. “However, once both speech and silence are deemed as equally harmful, individuals are subject to public demonstrations of faith and fealty.”
    How long before identifying witches and stake burnings come back into fashion?

    Like

  2. These are cult and fascist and communist methods. Pure Orwell.

    Like

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