A Conundrum Curtailed: Freedom of Speech and the Rise of Fascism

I don’t need to set this up too much, since I’m sure most of my readers have been following current events. We’re roughly halfway through the primary cycle, and it looks like, barring some kind of intervention, Drumpf is going to be the Republican nominee. It remains to be seen if the vein of hate, anger, waning privilege, and white supremacy is rich enough to fuel his campaign all the way to the White House, but prudence demands we assume that it is. His opponent also remains to be seen — it might yet be the juggernaut of righteousness, or it might be the fascist in a populist pantsuit. It might even be a “third-party” candidate floated by the GOP establishment. Not really the point. The point is that a literal, actual fascist, using the same techniques and talking points as St Godwin himself, is within striking distance of the most important political office in the world.

I’m not here to talk about how this could have happened. That one’s easy. The message of the “Dark Side” is very seductive to the powerless and disenfranchised. It offers both validation of one’s fears and one’s anger, and the power to strike back at one’s transgressors. Never mind that it’s a lie; this is what Drumpf promises, and to those wallowing in delusion, greed, and cruelty, it must seem a sweet tonic indeed.

What I want to talk about are the voices of tolerance I hear, even amongst left-leaners. There are those who say that Drumpf’s freedom of speech allows him to say these things, that it isn’t right of us to shout him down, to chase him away, to block him from spreading his seductive, corruptive message. If a human being’s personal freedoms are paramount, how can it be righteous to drown him out? Even within the structure of a democracy, even within the structure of our own “democracy,” if the majority wishes to be ruled by this man, who are we to fight him?

The answer lies in base principles. Let us begin with the base principles of the United States: all men are created equal, and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These phrases and concepts are enshrined in our founding documents. It doesn’t take much to see how fascism runs counter to these ideals. Drumpf should be disqualified from the Presidency on this basis alone — his entire platform is un-American in the most original sense of the word. If patriotism is a virtue, then the virtuous patriot must speak out against this kind of hate.

But let’s leave aside America, and patriotism, and work within our own milieu. Let us recall that there are two kinds of “human” — pensoviroj and gantoviroj. Of the two, only pensoviroj can be considered fully human. To be pensoviroj, a being must embody, or at least pursue, the Five Pillars, being agency, compassion, creativity, hospitality, and growth. One must also strive to reject the Four Toxins, which are greed, cruelty, apathy, and delusion. One who does not do these things is gantoviroj, not fully human — and the implication of this is that a gantoviroj’s actions and choices need not necessarily be respected.

It occurs to me, however, that there is a third category — the fiulo, the one who embraces the four toxins. It is in this category that we find our tiny-fingered animate hair clog and his most ardent followers. Fascism is a message of greed, a message of cruelty, and a message of delusion. To embrace the ideology is to embrace the toxins. To embrace the toxins is to open oneself up to sin — to willingly commit actions motivated by the toxins.

There are three aspects to each paladin. There is the healer, who seeks to mend the souls of the gantoviroj through words and actions; there is the defender, who stands between the defenseless and those who would do them harm; and there is the avenger, who actively fights against sin. And fight against it we must, for when sin is unanswered, it festers and rots and ultimately spreads.

Drumpf’s ascension calls for the avengers to assemble (sorry). His campaign is a tumor on America’s soul. As one does not allow a tumor to fester, so we must not allow fascism to gain a foothold in our country. The First Amendment might protect Drumpf’s right to spew his venom, but it says nothing about the rest of us having to listen, or granting him a forum, or not talking over him. It says nothing about peacefully protesting at his rallies. It says nothing about the people blocking access to his venues. And it says nothing about opposing him and his ilk through more forceful means, should push come to shove.

Drumpf is the rise of Hitler in the United States. One need only open a history book to see where that leads us. This is the moral crisis of our generation, and never have the stakes been so high nor the choice so clear. If ever you have wondered what you would have done had you been alive in Germany in 1929, or 1933, or 1939, now is your chance to find out, because history is repeating itself in our streets and stadiums. Now is our chance to cut the head off the serpent before it has a chance to poison us all, now, when it is only a war of words.

Drumpf has exercised his agency, and has drunk deeply of the poisoned chalice. His evil must not be allowed to spread. For now, all peaceful measures available to stop him must be on the table. We must deny him a voice, we must deny him a venue. We must shine the Light so brightly that it burns away this darkness while it is still small and tractable. We owe Drumpf and his message no consideration and no respect, and from us he shall receive none.

He made his choice, and chose to become fiulo. For the paladin, there can be only one response to this.

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