“Facts don’t care about your feelings,” said Ben Shapiro famously in a staunch defense of his position on gender identity. Today, however, Shapiro is flipping the script to suit his own religious and cultural ideologies by demanding the heads of anyone who dares to disagree with him on the right of Israel to genocide the Palestinian people. This is a problem.
This unwise move to censure speech and freedom of expression is no different than the 2005 incident when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a series of derogatory cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that set off a global battle over the relationship between free speech and religion. In defiance, some newspapers across Europe and the Middle East reprinted the cartoons to reaffirm the right to publish offensive material, even as violent protests erupted across the globe.
Human rights lawyer and author, Jacob Mchangama said this about freedom of speech: “Elite panic is this recurring phenomenon throughout the history of free speech, where whenever the public sphere is expanded, either through new communications technology, or to segments of the population that were previously marginalized, the traditional gatekeepers, the elites who control access to information, tend to fret about the dangers of allowing the unwashed mob—who are too fickle, too unsophisticated, too unlearned—unmediated access to information. They need information to be filtered through the responsible gatekeepers and it may be even more dangerous to allow them to speak without adult supervision. That’s a phenomenon that we see again and again. And we’re seeing it play out now on social media. … [Elite panic is] one contributing factor to the free speech recession. Another is that democracies have shied away from protecting free speech and are much more likely now to view free speech as a danger rather than an unmitigated good. And so they don’t put in the same effort at protecting free speech, whether at home or away as they did, say, in the 80s, early 90s, when free speech was crucial to defeating communism.
When asked if he was an advocate for absolute speech, Mchangama answered, “No, I don’t think that any serious person is in favor of absolute free speech. Where I may be more absolutist is when it comes to viewpoints. I don’t believe there’s any viewpoint in and of itself that should be prohibited.”
The right to your thoughts and to speak them freely is legally protected under the first amendment. So why is it under attack when it comes to condemning Israel and the callous genocide being committed in Gaza? Since the start of yet another conflict between Israel and Hamas on October 7, Israel has embarked on a vicious and collective punishment campaign in response to Hamas’ attack that fateful day. Dialogue on all major news sites can’t even begin without securing condemnation of Hamas and the October 7 attack. Also, any mention of context or the historical significance of the conflict between Israel and Palestine is condescendingly dismissed, derided as inconsequential or irrelevant, to uphold the propaganda machine’s marching orders in favor of Israel.
Must the whole world be wrong to make Israel right? Apparently so, and it’s evident with the retribution being exacted by large donors, congressional hearings to take to task university professors who dare to allow free speech on campuses, public shaming with forced apologies for risk of losing funding, and blatant threats launched by Wall Street CEOs with a stake in camp Israel. This is unprecedented and a dangerous slippery slope that is leading to loss of liberty. If there actually is a separation of church and state, why are Zionist Jews using our government to carry out their holy war against the people of Palestine? Are Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists next in line to use Congress against their enemies? The end game of this blind obsession to support Israel regardless of its crimes against humanity, regardless of the millions of Jews around the world denouncing the genocide in Gaza, regardless of the United Nations’ own call for an immediate ceasefire—in a nuclear weapon powered world—spells the writing clear on the wall. And tragically, the entire world will pay the heavy price to come. Because when elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.