A comparative literature professor is urging a drastic rewrite of the First Amendment – the part of our Constitution that guarantees free speech. The Columbian University’s Professor is referring to the video cameras, and other tools, which she wants to suppress.
Judith Butler took to her blog to muse about a recent panel discussion at the University of California-Berkley that she took part in. She explained “in a world of changing technology where incitement and harassment take on new forms,” the so-called “free speech absolutists” must have a deeper understanding of the First Amendment and its ability to “clash with other basic values.”
The feminist gender theorist and anti-Israel activist, said that potentially offensive characters Milo Yiannopolous, should have their electronic communications suppressed, because they may hurt feelings.
“Maybe we shrug our shoulders and say that this is expressive activity, but surely it crosses the line between expressive activity and threat; and that line was crossed in a new way—and is crossed all the time now in new ways—because of the way technology is now used to incite people to engage in cyber-bullying that did not exist before,” wrote Butler in her blogpost.
“So the legal vocabulary we have for distinguishing expressive activity from actual threats, or an incitement to engage in illegal activity—those latter two are not protected as expressive freedoms under the First Amendment—changes when new technologies, or new uses of technology, produce new possibilities for incitement, harassment, and the commission of illegal activities,” continued Butler.
She also warned that if the First Amendment takes more importance over the protection of certain privileged classes, like Blacks, gender-confused, minorities, perverts, and sexual deviants, “we should perhaps frankly admit that we have agreed in advance to have our community sundered, racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied, that we are, in effect, willing to be wrecked by this principle of free speech, considered more important than any other value.”
However, she was quickly answered by John K. Wilson the Co-editor for the Academe blog where Butler had posted her comments answered by saying that, “it seems absurd to claim that new ‘technology’ somehow turns mockery into a threat,” and cautioned of the “enormous danger in announcing that the new technology of social media has moved the line of free speech.”
“Incitement, harassment, and the commission of illegal activities have not changed their meaning because of the invention of the internet,” he had added. “It is possible for people to use new technology to more effectively inspire others to commit these crimes. But controversial figures have gotten threats by phone and by mail long before the invention of email, yet no one argued that the telephone should cause us to limit free speech.”
“If we accept this new line, universities might ban a few Milos to make Butler happy, but they will also this as an excuse to ban leftist speakers and to fire professor after professor who offends someone by berating or offending political enemies on their personal social media accounts,” concluded Wilson. “The message I have here is this: Don’t bring a bazooka to kill a fly, and definitely worry about the collateral damage you might cause.”