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I've heard one friend say:

I'm sick of all this political correctness. People should be able to say what they think. Words never physically hurt anybody. Freedom of speech is part of the US Constitution's First Amendment.

I've heard another friend say:

Freedom of speech was always abused to pay out on minorities. Mostly racism but lots of other groups as well. We're starting to get on top of that now.

To me these two put as opposite poles smells of something too simplistic. Could you have elements of both together?

Now we know that identity politics finds its roots in both German critical theory and French postmodernism after WWII.

The question behind my question is "Why can't people just listen to each other?" but I'll stick to one clear question.

My question is: Is 'identity politics' vs 'freedom of speech' a valid dichotomy?

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    Consider highlighting to your first friend that one's freedom of speech in no way implies rights to be broadcast or listened to. Also, words do hurt. – Denis de Bernardy Jul 21 '17 at 14:25
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    I think it's worth pointing out that, while they are related, "identity politics" and "political correctness" aren't the same thing. Your friend mentioned one, but you're asking about the other. – Izkata Jul 21 '17 at 14:57
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    Freedom of speech is part of the US Constitution's First Amendment. That applies to the government not abridging your rights. It says nothing about the individual. Yes you can say what you like, but it doesn't mean you won't get sued for libel, attacked or in jailed if you yell fire in a theather. – DCook Jul 21 '17 at 17:48
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    Those who think they can use tools of oppression, such as censorship, to help the oppressed … will be disappointed. – Anton Sherwood Jul 24 '17 at 7:38
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    @AntonSherwood conversely, those who use hyperbolic definitions of 'oppression' will be frustrated that no one is really listening to them in the first place. – user1530 Jul 24 '17 at 17:48

16 Answers 16

17

They are not mutually exclusive, but there are contentious points.

Both positions are a bit ill-defined (I really needed to look up what "identity politics" and "New Left" means), so I will define them before the argument so you can pinpoint your arguments.

For me the intention of "freedom of speech" is that I am able to speak out even a repulsive opinion and that I may do that on the locations which should permit speaking out (public, government, locations which claim they are supporting free speech). I may not incite direct violence ("Kill those people!"), cause harm (Cause panic by "fire") or (in some countries where human dignity is seen as a higher priority) insult or slander someone. People may answer with passive resistance by boycotting the speech, do not listen, avoid contact or refuse to deal with me, but they may not (!) threaten me, harm me or prevent me from speaking by breaking the rules of the location.

"Identity politics" seems to mean that humanity is divided in groups where someone is the oppressor and the group itself is oppressed. This seem to imply that the oppressed group needs not only protection from the oppressor, but must stop the oppressor from doing actions which the oppressed group sees as harmful for their cause. Identity politics seems to assume that the right is automatically on the side of the oppressed because they are victims. I hope I got that right?

The first thing is that freedom of speech is not problematic if the topic is not social. Hotly debated topics like climate change, world politics, gun rights (whatever) are not contested because they do not touch the area of identity politics.

Identity politics also has many areas which have nothing to do with freedom of speech: The normal problems which the group is facing, education, housing, work conditions etc. So both are not mutually exclusive.

The contentious points seems to be once the group who sees themselves as oppressed believes that uttering specific opinions will cause further oppression or inhibit progress. So the idea is that they have the "right" to not only protest the attendance, they may disturb the event and cause trouble for the speaker (complaints, writing to the employer, insisting that the speaker may not speak because the group is now present and may not be insulted).

In this case it conflicts directly with the concept of "freedom of speech". If the group prevents a rightful speaking, then they do not accept "freedom of speech" and cannot claim the same right for them.

Example: If a speaker speaks in public, the audience may continously disturb him (even if it does not make a confident impression).

But if a speaker is invited at a location and the rules of the location are that the speaker may present his speak undisturbed(!) and the group still disturb him or block him from reaching the location, then they are violating the "freedom of speech".

  • Great answer! (one minor point worth noting is that you rightfully noted "locations which should permit speaking out" must include "public" ones - and most colleges accept government funding and in many legal instances are thus considered to be "public" location due to that). – user4012 Jul 24 '17 at 6:59
  • it also depends on the country. For example, in some countries i've been to, freedom of speech ends where freedom of existance begins, so you can't make publicly (or using public money, or in a public location) ultra right, ultra left or racist statements or adverts. – CptEric Jul 24 '17 at 9:29
  • @user4012 Most colleges in America. Worth pointing out, as the scope of the question is not limited to the US. – owjburnham Jul 24 '17 at 13:07
  • Interesting. I read the question and all of the comments under the apparent misapprehension that "identity politics" denoted right wing thought. That is, that it referred to nationalists who seek to promote their ethnic or national identity. – phoog Aug 9 '17 at 8:50
0

Yes. At this point in USA, you're literally unemployable in some industries if you say anything contradicting progressive identity politics. Note: SAY, not do.

Most high profile examples:

Before someone disingenuinely brings up "but it's not government law so not 'free speech'":

  • free speech scholarship recognizes the concept of "chilling effect"
  • more importantly, progressive ideology very explicitly posits that all other rights can be infringed by private actors, NOT only the government. So, if we are being ethically/philosophically consistent, then a progressive must acknowledge that private actors matter when it comes to freedom of speech just as much as to freedom of (buying wedding cakes/paying for things/insert your progressive rights cause celebre...).
3

I think there is a misconception that is pretty common here. "Freedom of Expression" means you are free to say what you feel, without fear of incarceration from the government merely for holding a position contrary to what they want.

This can also mean that someone is free to be a jerk, or a racist, if that's how they want to express themselves. What jerks and racists often seem to believe is that the "freedom" part of "freedom of expression" also means "freedom from criticism." Are they complaining that they are oppressed by the government, or just they don't like that fact that people judge their character by their words?

Also, isn't it just a much "freedom of expression" for me to exercise my free speech by offering an opinion of your speech (not "you", OP, but hypothetical, general "you.")? Of course it is. It seems like the first person in your example is very concerned about their own free speech, but is perfectly fine with suppressing others' exercise of that right, when it comes in the form of criticism of theirs.

Freedom of expression is, indeed, a hallowed right in American society. It is not, however, some form of carte blanche that excuses the thoughts expressed, guarantees docile acceptance, nor does it shield against backlash from others in the form of their own free speech.

The First Amendment does not, however, protect all speech. It does not, for example, protect speech that leads to illegal activity and/or imminent violence, obscenity, defamation, and libel. The First Amendment also does not protect speakers from liability for the foreseeable consequences of their speech.

MALDEF: Does the First Amendment Protect all Speech?

  • It's also important to separate the right not to have their racist speech criticized (that nobody has, and anyone who thinks they have that right is an idiot) from the right to have their racist speech hosted on Facebook or Twitter (which is more of a grey area). – immibis Jan 10 at 23:33
2

in general given both terms are widely misunderstood, specific examples are more useful - no platforming is not an attack on free speech, whilst the personal attacks generated by people who are considered contentious could be argued as being an attack on free speech (however given that they are occurring means there is still exercise of free speech).

It is also worth noting that this is a fairly specific American problem. There is a lot of time spent on the First Amendment - which is not applicable in other countries (Australia has no such protection at all, and nazi imagery is specifically banned in Germany).

Perhaps it is worth considers as well that people who are expressing views relating to identity politics are exercising their free speech. People complaining about these people are also exercising theirs.

From your link to Identity politics:

Examples include social organizations based on age, religion, social class or caste, culture, dialect, disability, education, ethnicity, language, nationality, sex, gender identity, generation, occupation, profession, race, political party affiliation, sexual orientation, settlement, urban and rural habitation, and veteran status. Not all members of any given group are involved in identity politics

In America, the obvious contentious examples of this are Black and Blue lives matter - both shared concepts based on ethnicity and profession. If you consider Black Lives Matter identity politics, Blue Lives Matter also fits.

Also consider that there is a lot of overlap between groups here - there is a lot of overlap between class identity and ethnic identity in a lot of these arguments.

From your friend:

People should be able to say what they think. Words never physically hurt anybody.

I'd ask them to look at the second definition of pogrom. There are (non Jewish) problems related to this worldwide, not just in the American context. The Tamils in Sri Lanka and Rohinga peoples in Bangladesh/Myanmar are examples of this.

People who claim that words never hurt anyone also must argue that words and encouragements from people exercising their free speech do not harm people consequentially, which would be difficult with the shootings of Indian Sikhs specifically because they were brown and wore turbans - the shooter assuming they were "Muslim"

Personal Opinion

Free Speech should also come with a proviso - the person exercising it should be doing it in good faith, not to stir up political partisanship or hatred. The whole concept of Free Speech should enable people with and without actual power to put forward concepts and argue their point of view, as well as conceding when their ideas are shown to be incorrect. An example of this would be noting that in America, violent crime does exist in places with high proportions of African American populations, but also noting that poverty is disproportionate to the rest of the population in these regions as well.

0

Hawkeye,

The problem I see with our modern political discourse is that we've defined free speech to be free speech until we disagree with it.

Look at what happened when Milo Yiannopolous tried to speak at Berkeley for example. I don't agree with him on many things that he says, but I don't see why so many people have an issue with him speaking. UC Berkeley is trying to do the same thing to Ben Shapiro (He spoke there in 2016 with no problem, but now according to The Daily Wire the admins at Berkeley claim they have no venue for him to speak two months prior to his scheduled appearance).

With any freedom though comes great responsibility and I think we need to realize the difference between people being "mean" and people who are actually threatening to do harm. There is a difference. I don't identify with a particular political agenda, but in my opinion, we've moved to this dialougue in which every issue can only be tackled by a "left" approach or a "right" approach and doing this does not make for a healthy political environment.

So when you say "Why can't people just listen to each other?", it is because in many cases that I have observed it seems as we've lost the ability to debate effectively. Persuading people to accept your position as the right approach hinges much on your ability to provide sufficient evidence of why you are right and the other side is wrong.

Nowadays it seems like all we know how to do is yell at each other and whoever yells the loudest wins.

  • 2
    Welcome to the site! Answers here are expected to be factual, referencing expert sources as necessary. You seem to be providing your own opinion, which makes for a bad answer. Can you back up your opinions with facts or expert analysis? – indigochild Jul 21 '17 at 18:44
  • Oh wow. Really? I thought it was a mix of both. Haha thanks for the heads up I'll be sure to keep this in mind the next time. – avenger12 Jul 21 '17 at 18:47
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If Person A tells Person B they would rather Person B not use a certain word, are any fundamental rights to freedom of speech being infringed? Is anyone actually being censored? After all, this is the typical conflict between the two "factions." No coercion, no force, no official statute involved. Just two different people saying two different things.

When "anti-PC activists" speak of censorship in the name of social justice, they are generally referring to backlash received by those who say things that aren't "politically correct." This is not censorship or an attempt to curtail freedom of speech. In fact, it is a perfect example of freedom of speech at work, since two disagreeing parties are able to speak their mind.

So, it is a false dichotomy based on the premise that proponents of identity politics wish to silence those who disagree. This "silencing" is, overwhelmingly more often than not, a simple request to reconsider one's position.

-1

This issue is significantly more nuanced than "a valid dichotomy" or not.

The problem lies in the fact that there's two different definitions of "identity politics" (and many previous answers posted earlier make a mistake of picking a conviniently less-issue-prone definition).

  1. There's a general "identity politics" idea which is merely people who share any particular identity banding together for political purposes.

    As prior answers pointed out, this in and out of itself does NOT pose any contradictions with freedom of speech.

  2. Then, there's a very specific brand of identity politics that is being practiced by New Left - as your question correctly stated, it was strongly influenced by Critical Theory and Postmodernism (and digging deeper down the rabbit hole, Frankfurt School and Gramsci and Marxism under it).

    That brand of identity politics is both theoretically AND practically at odds with varied freedoms as typically understood by classical liberalism, including the freedom of speech.

    In theory, this is a fundamental incompatibility, in that the modern identity politics holds that speech is tantamount to action (see for example the concept of "microagression"). As such, any speech which is deemed "hurtful" by anyone with a enough political weight to enforce their dislike, should be prohibited based on that worldview. Note that this is wildly divergent from norms of free speech in US that only - following Holmes - restrict speech that meaningfully leads to direct harm as a direct consequence.

    In practice, this has already happened in an absolutely ubiquitous way.

    Some examples:

    • Speech codes on American college campuses

    • SPLC's declaration of anyone disagreeing with their political dogma as "hate speech" (Example 1: Maajid Nawaz. Example 2: Ben Carson).

    • Deplatforming movements.

  • 3
    Your other two examples would need at least some sources or further explanations. My guess would be that 1. consists primarily of code of conducts (which are not directly related to your conspiracy theory version of identity politics) or the invitation or non-invitation of specific speakers (which isn't directly related to free speech), and 3. is also likely about non-invitation of speakers (which again, is not an issue of free speech; you are free to say whatever you want, but people do not have to let you say it in their private homes, organizations, etc). – tim Jul 21 '17 at 18:20
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    If you are using a different definition of free speech than everyone else, you should add it to your answer, ideally with sources. As you are also using a different definition of identity politics than everyone else, sources for that wouldn't hurt either. – tim Jul 21 '17 at 18:21
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    @tim - there's a vast different from being criticized for speech and being stopped from speaking. Or from being criticized for speech and being punished for speaking. I'm afrait it's YOU who doesn't understand the concept of why free speech is there, and it is only partially about government despite the legal definition (the only reason it's historically been government concentrated is because historically only government had the power to censor speech. That's no longer the case). – user4012 Jul 21 '17 at 18:45
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    I haven't even really mentioned the issue that freedom of speech is only related to restrictions by the government. My points are that your examples are poorly laid out, and that they seem to make no distinction between restricting speech, criticizing speech, not promoting speech, or not giving special opportunity for speech. Questions that should be covered are eg: How is your second example related to stopping someone from speaking? How do you define "punished"? How is not being invited to speak restricting free speech? Must everyone always be invited to speak everywhere? – tim Jul 21 '17 at 19:03
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    @user4012, please explain who has been stopped from speaking. Being uninvited to speak (or not invited at all) is not prohibiting someone from speaking their opinion at all. – CramerTV Jul 21 '17 at 19:14
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Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of a democratic society. Limitations to it should be carefully considered - in the end, a society has to stand or fall on the strengths of its people, not on what they are allowed or forbidden to say. Plus, there is the problem of who decides what is hate speech. Why is ridiculing some minorities considered hate speech, yet ridiculing rednecks and hillbillies considered acceptable... even funny?

Hate speech should not be forbidden. It should be broadcast in public, for all to judge and see as originating from stupidity and spite. Forbidding a thought from being spoken will not stop the thought. Only exposing hate thoughts in public and discrediting them with fact, will we eliminate them.

That is what happened with a racial epithet from years past: 'chinaman'. Once used to convey the same inferior, subhuman connotations of racial epithets we fear as hate speech, that term has expired not out of fear, but because Asians have proven it utterly wrong. You'd have to be a complete moron to consider Asians inferior to anyone else today.

What a pity all racial epithets can't simply expire and disappear, like 'chinaman'. Their negative meaning is equally as stupid.

Identity politics is a different matter. It may well be an offshoot of our information age, an attempt to distill down information overload into a simple, easy to understand label.

Identity politics do fit in nicely with the current habit of seeking reinforcement rather than perspective. In the US, the two most popular 'news agencies' both have a distinct political slant. Reinforcement, not perspective, on the part of a lot of people.

We as a society are surrounding ourselves with 'yes-men' (or yes-women) by doing this... only what we want to hear. Identity politics may be a natural extension of this seeking reinforcement instead of perspective, wrapped up in a word or phrase. Makes it easy to disregard contradictory indicators. Just use the identity, don't look at how it came to be.

How does identity politics conflict with freedom of speech? It doesn't. One is free to slap a convenient label on anyone to categorize them. It is up to the individual to decide if the label is accurate, or to simply accept a convenient label rather than look into the situation themselves. Again, that depends upon whether one is seeking reinforcement or truth.

One can easily demonize a group for being 'racist' or 'evil' today with cherry picked identity labels designed to convey that image, and ignore the fact that these labels have been constructed with the same narrow, bigoted mindset that was once used to label minority ethnic groups. In both cases, the bigotry arises from a group of people seeing only what they want to see, and wrapping that up in a catchy phrase.

Thus, the righteous who embrace those identity politics labels to demonize all who disagree with them, are not measurably different from the racists of decades past. For sure, their methods and closed mindset are the same. Only the target of their ire has changed.

Now, there's a dichotomy.

It all comes back to the individual. If you just seek reinforcement for a preconceived idea, you can find it - served up to you in convenient labels, with lots of profitable click-ads surrounding it. Whatever your inclination, there's a 'news source' for it, and a host of convenient labels to slap on whomever disagrees with it.

If you are seeking what really is, even if it contradicts what you currently believe (as it often will), you have your work cut out for you.

3

These are both fairly widely expressed American political thoughts, but are generally held by people in opposing parties.

In so far as American politics is one dimensional they do represent present something of a dichotomy, most politics being between people who would accept the one view point into their coalition and people who would accept the other into theirs with little overlap.

This is a simplification to the point of meaninglessness but seems to be fairly popular.

0

This may not be entirely on track with what you are asking - I apologize if I’m trailing off a bit. But, at the core of free speech vs. the concept of political correctness, there is a fundamental misunderstanding. Words can hurt, and words will certainly shape a nation, yet freedom of speech must remain, unhindered in any way. However, that does not eliminate natural consequences of speech. It should not be illegal to say hateful or bigoted things, but there will be consequences. I believe that speech carries its own punishment.

Much like what Machavity said, once speech is regulated in any way, it opens up the door to further control over speech. So, we must not let this freedom slip in any way. Certainly, if you say something hateful, you’ll be treated accordingly, but that is the result of personal, private intervention, not government regulation. As it is your right to say what you wish, it is another’s right to disagree, or to say something hateful back at you.

There is a hard line between that which is immoral and that which is illegal, as there should be. There must be. If everything that is seen as “unbecoming” were illegal, all it takes is a single change in opinion to turn the table and destroy all freedom as we know it. This is why we must never sacrifice freedom for comfort. Today, we may have our emotions catered to, but they only cater to our emotions while we’re awake so they can steal our lives while we sleep. It’s all a game of power, slowly removing our freedoms one by one - and it is empowered and driven by our own desire to make other people see things our way.

One day, we’ll wake up and realize that we are slaves to a ruthless and corrupt system. In many ways, we already are… But it can be avoided… All it takes is a little foresight, and a little depth of character - being willing to put the greater good above our own momentary comfort… Unfortunately, a healthy accumulation of such qualities are scarce in this emotional, sporadic, and obsessive society…

We’re selling our grandchildren into slavery for the pathetic price of petty pandering…

  • All of that condensed is... – Tim Jul 21 '17 at 15:55
  • It is impossible to protect your right to be an angel without also protecting another’s right to be a devil. – Tim Jul 21 '17 at 15:55
  • All of that condensed is "it's a slippery slope". – immibis Jan 10 at 23:35
0

One goal of the First Amendment is to promote a marketplace of ideas. You can say whatever you think, but if your ideas are bad, few people will listen to you. Conversely, if your ideas are good, they will spread.

"Identity politics" is a code word for xenophobia. Fear of the Other is an instinctive response, and hate speech is the result. In a civilized society, however, it's important to encourage tolerance and rational behavior. Without it, the various identities will withdraw (or be forced into) their own communities, and the stronger groups will oppress the weaker groups. Civilization will decay. Identity politics, then, is a bad idea from the standpoint of a healthy society.

Unfortunately, it's easy to exploit xenophobia for political purposes. Even more unfortunately, this advantage makes it easier for divisive leaders to gain power, and at that point that they can better implement their agenda, leading to a downward spiral.

The answer to identity politics is to keep it devalued in the marketplace of ideas and thus relegate it to the fringes of society. That was the case in the US until the arrival of the Internet. There is no longer a single marketplace but many, all considering themselves equally valid. There is also a political party that exploits xenophobia and has gained power. The result is that this party is attempting to legitimize xenophobia, even though it's ultimately harmful to society. In the meantime, real harm is being done to minorities, but it's portrayed as justified or inconsequential.

The only "dichotomy" is between the two sides of this struggle. One side wants to promote xenophobia for the short-term benefits, while the other wants to preserve society for the long-term benefits.

  • "There is also a political party that exploits xenophobia and has gained power. The result is that this party is attempting to legitimize xenophobia, even though it's ultimately harmful to society." - Heh. I don't know which party you were talking about at the time, but it seems equally valid for both (American) parties, as people believe this about whichever one they don't like! – immibis Jan 10 at 23:40
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I would say it isn't an entirely false dichotomy. collectivism (which is what identity politics is) will always promote restrictions on speech that will threaten the collective or the political theory which underpins it.

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    Downvoted. Identity politics is not about collectivism. Additionally, this answer lacks any external references to back up its claims. – indigochild Jul 21 '17 at 18:41
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    @indigochild, yeah, because you're not allowed to have individual, independent thought. – GreatAndPowerfulOz Jul 21 '17 at 21:17
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    @indigochild the fact that groups are composed of individuals doesn't negate the fact that groups are also distinct entities themselves that often act in ways that are detrimental to the individuals that make up the group. "Group dynamics", in other words. I'm reminded of an incident where a US-based association for the deaf found some pretense to officially oppose ocular implant research - the real reason being the fear that a universal "cure" for deafness would render the organization obsolete. – HopelessN00b Jul 21 '17 at 21:35
  • @indigochild maybe there's identity politics out there that does follow the Marxist class based paradigm. But I've not seen or heard about it yet. – user1450877 Jul 23 '17 at 0:31
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    Irrespective of whether this answer or @indigochild is correct about the connection between collectivism and identity politics, this answer certainly doesn't make a good case for itself. A downvote on that basis alone is not unwarranted. – jpmc26 Jul 23 '17 at 9:50
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There's nothing mutually exclusive about these two. Let's consider the second statement by itself

Freedom of speech was always abused to pay out on minorities. Mostly racism but lots of other groups as well. We're starting to get on top of that now.

The argument being made here is that freedom of speech was abusive. The modern term here is "hate speech". What's being advocated here is that free speech is OK, but hate speech should be banned or limited (a view held more by millennials at present).

What is generally viewed as mutually exclusive is free speech and government limitations on speech (even if such limitations are restricted to speech viewed dimly, such as "hate speech"). If the government can limit your speech in one area, inevitably it can limit speech in any area. France for instance, has banned hate speech, but their laws ban more than hate speech

In the wake of Charlie Hebdo, however, France experienced an increased wave of arrests of and legal proceedings against individuals who had allegedly defended, threatened, or supported terrorist attacks. New sensitivity to the threat of terrorism spurred an even harsher application of “apology for terrorism” speech restrictions that were applied to a broad array of individuals—some cited arrests have included publicly intoxicated individuals, individuals with learning difficulties, and even children, all of whom had made remarks that police saw as in some way supportive of the attack on Charlie Hebdo. In many cases, these individuals were detained for singular public comments. Language falling within the French definition of “condoning terrorism” has included comments like, “they killed Charlie, I laughed,” and suggestions that the police killed in the attacked “deserved what they got.”

  • 1
    If the government can limit your speech in one area, inevitably it can limit speech in any area. ...relatedly, Germany Raids Homes of 36 People Accused of Hateful Postings Over Social Media. Government limits on speech also seem to result in police raids over the content of social media postings. – HopelessN00b Jul 21 '17 at 15:16
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    The problem is, who gets to define what "hate" speech is? Which at this point is anything from using "wrong" pronouns to not supporting reparations. – user4012 Jul 21 '17 at 15:17
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    @Maxim "identifiable group" isn't really an objective thing, though (LGBT are all self-identification). And "advocating harm" will inevitably descend into "saying things that group doesn't like is harmful". The top search result for "misgendering" defines it as an act of violence. – Machavity Jul 21 '17 at 15:48
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    @Maxim - the problem is that who decides if "harm" was advocated are... same identity politics warriors. Arbitrarily, based on their hierarchy of "priviledge" and other such logic. – user4012 Jul 21 '17 at 15:52
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    @Maxim I think you've missed the broader point. The argument for free speech is that the government doesn't get to pick what is and isn't acceptable. In your view, the current courts can, and should, do this. But what happens when new people are on the court? And what if these new people are empathetic as those defining words as violence? At the end of the day, the government is still allowed to decide if some speech violates the rights of others and they are the ones who determine that definition. In other words, you're left arguing semantics by the time it's gone too far. – Machavity Jul 21 '17 at 19:13
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Short answer: No identity politics and freedom of speech aren't opposing ideals, though there is some conflict between the two as identity politics devolves.

Identity politics itself derives from the freedom of association that is wrapped up in the first amendment in the U.S. with free speech. People tend to naturally associate with those they broadly agree with and identity politics essentially doubles down on this and encourages groups to become tighter and more insulated. This is useful to politicians as they can craft messages for various identities and be reasonably certain that only the intended audience will see the message, which allows them to get support from various groups that conflict with each other to some degree.

As the internet has enabled communication between vastly more people over much larger distances it has enabled identity politics to create much more focused groups. This has also made it much easier for groups to become echo chambers that tend to be taken over by the most extreme members of a group, which suppresses speech within their group and eventually these groups will attempt to suppress rival groups. The current state of identity politics is antithetical to free speech, but we can't be certain yet if it's simply a transitional phase or not.

  • 8
    Well thought out, although I'm thinking that too many groups are trying to use the 'Hate Speech" label as a means to shut down free speech. I'm thinking this will lead to a more caustic arguement down the line – Paul TIKI Jul 21 '17 at 14:10
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    "messages... only the intended audience will see the message..." it's called a 'dog whistle', although I'm not sure how widespread that slang is. There was a HNP about it a ~month ago. – Jeutnarg Jul 21 '17 at 15:23
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    @PaulTIKI Arguably, that's already happened. The Southern Poverty Law Center's recent insanities, for example. One of which involves this guy, but it's hardly the only example. They seem to be applying the "hate group" label pretty liberally to any person or group with a differing political position. – HopelessN00b Jul 21 '17 at 15:26
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    @HopelessN00b , It's a very old technique, call it hate speech, that allows you can call someone an xphobic and therby assign them as "other. Now you can de-humanize at will and dismiss anything that doesn't support your own point of view. It's a disgusting practice. It has been throughout the whole of human history. – Paul TIKI Jul 21 '17 at 17:29
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    @Jeutnarg Dog whistle statements are a bit different than what i'm referring to. Dog whistle statements are usually made targeting a wide audience with specific language that a "select few" interpret differently. Identity politics creates entirely different messages and targets them specifically at certain groups. for example student loan forgiveness for millennials and better medicare for retirees, a dog whistle would be extreme vetting of all immigrants. – Ryathal Jul 24 '17 at 11:55
6

I can think of two examples that lead to the answer being no.

  • A valid dichotomy would mean in this case that there can't be a group that identifies themselves primarily as advocates of freedom of speech. Surely this kind of group exists.

  • Also dichotomy would require that there isn't a possibility that neither of these are of someones interest. Undoubtedly someone can think that freedom of speech should be restricted without feeling or voting based on belonging to a group.

28

This is not a valid dichotomy, because "identity politics" simply means an election campaign strategy of saying "Vote for us if you belong to [demographic] because we are the party of [demographic]". But people who justify discrimination of minorities with freedom of speech rights are also a demographic which politicians can and do cater to. And I would suspect that they are not just an ideological demographic but also one which is pretty homogeneous regarding their race, sex, religion and sexual orientation.

"Vote for us if you hate political correctness because we are the anti political correctness party" is also a form of identity politics which is practiced in real-life.

Further, there are also minorities who argue from the point of freedom of speech rights. Among them are, for example, religious organizations with strong opinions about certain demographics ("god hates fags"). Another example are minority rights movements which claim that their freedom of speech rights get restricted (some people associated with the Black Lives Matter movement made such claims).

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    Sorry, this is NOT what modern identity politics means at all. It's one small facet of it, and the least worrysome. Your answer completely ignores New Left - and the OP's wording makes it crysal clear they specifically refer to that (see last paragraph) and not the mellow all-encompassing general definition. – user4012 Jul 21 '17 at 15:22
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    @user4012 As much as I agree with your point about what modern identity politics means, if the OP meant to ask that, he should have asked that. It's a tricky enough question without trying to read between the lines of what the OP actually wrote. – HopelessN00b Jul 21 '17 at 15:32
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    @HopelessN00b - see OP's last paragraph. He meant precisely that – user4012 Jul 21 '17 at 15:50
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    @user4012 The OP's last paragraph is: My question is: Is 'identity politics' vs 'freedom of speech' a valid dichotomy? There's nothing in there about "modern identity politics, or the new left, or any of that. Frankly, I didn't see anything in the OP that I took to be about the unfortunate modern evolution of identity politics, which seems to buttress my point that the OP needs to clarify what he's actually asking, if he is asking anything other than the literal question of whether identity politics vs freedom of speech is a valid dichotomy. – HopelessN00b Jul 21 '17 at 15:55
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    @mike3 - yes. In several ways (one of which is that people are so tired of "crying wolf" yelling about fake "racists" and other "deplorables" that when real racism happens, they built up too much cynicism to care/pay attention. Another one is backlash effect - many pundits blamed identity politics for Trump's win, and while they may not be absolutely correct or at least didn't offer good proof, they did have a point). – user4012 Jul 24 '17 at 6:51

protected by Philipp Jul 21 '17 at 23:26

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