By Brian Davis
Virtually anyone who spends time on social media or simply follows the news should recognize this trend: An outspoken, sometimes, controversial speaker, internet blogger, athlete, or professor will make a comment or share a tweet that rubs a group of people the wrong way. Outraged progressives or conservatives will flock to their personal Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube accounts in droves to share their displeasure with the particular comments, actions or social media posts that “offended” them. Some will go as far as to publish articles expressing their anger or will protest in the streets by acting like petulant children.
In a rush to self-righteous indignation, these critics will demonize a speaker scheduled to talk at a university or even demand punishment for an outspoken athlete or professor due to their disgust with the individual’s allegedly bigoted views.
Ironically, these shortsighted attacks only provide a bigger stage to the very people they’re criticizing, often leading to more media attention than they could have ever received on their own.
When controversial alt-right star Milo Yiannopoulous was scheduled to speak at UC-Berkeley in early 2017, masked anarchist punks channeled their inner fascist by shattering windows and setting fires on the school’s campus. Yiannopoulous used these actions to portray himself as a free speech martyr and his book sales skyrocketed to the top spot on amazon’s best-seller list.
While the perpetrators of these crimes were not actually progressives, they nonetheless enjoyed the support of five op-eds in the university’s newspaper and their actions were legitimized by scores of users on Twitter. What could possibly be gained from supporting such barbaric behavior?
Fellow right-winger Ben Shapiro enjoyed ample free press as well after school administrators at Cal State LA canceled the journalist’s planned speech at the university. Shapiro’s hardcore conservative views led some students to question their safety at the university and the event was even compared to a KKK meeting.
Such a comparison is ironic considering Shapiro, who is Jewish is one of the most targeted journalists by anti-Semites. But then again, SJWs are not exactly known for doing their homework on their opponents.
Still another notable beneficiary of the far-left’s hysterical overreaction to opinions they disagree with would have to be Dr. Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto, clinical psychologist and author. Peterson made headlines in fall 2016 after announcing he would refuse to use “gender-neutral” pronouns, especially ones such as “zhe” and “zher.”
Peterson’s vocal opposition to the pronouns and to Canada’s highly-controversial C-16 bill, which was passed in 2017, drew the fury of scores of individuals on the far-left, particularly in Canada, inspiring protests from LGBT activists and social justice warriors. In fact, some of the outlandish behavior of counter protestors to Peterson and other speakers at a free speech rally in Fall 2016 was recorded on cell phone videos that have received millions of views.
Peterson was even compared to Adolf Hitler by a faculty member at Wilfred Laurier University in Canada. The predictable hate and insults directed at Peterson over his stances on issues such as the pronouns, cultural appropriation, identity politics, white guilt and the radical left only caused his popularity to soar among conservatives and classic liberals in Canada, the United States and elsewhere.
Rather than ignoring him, the professor’s critics allowed him to become a sort of anti-political correctness hero. Peterson, who considers himself a “classic British liberal” and libertarian on most social issues, now boasts over 591,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel as of January 15, 2018.
Peterson, who had previously received roughly $1,000 per month on Patreon to pay for the costs of uploading and filming videos of his lectures to YouTube, exceeded a fundraising goal of $45,000 on June 10. Although Peterson has a lot of fascinating things to say about psychology and history in his YouTube lectures, one has to wonder if he would have been even remotely this popular had leftists simply ignored his political views.
The political right is no stranger to such hysterical overreaction either. Over a year after then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting the national anthem, Shapiro, Tomi Lahren, and a host of other popular right-wing speakers continued to complain about him on a regular basis. A seemingly endless number of members of social media sewers such as Twitter called for the player to be fined, suspended, or even banned from the league and this only fired up his supporters.
When Kaepernick became a free agent, some conservative fans promised to boycott their favorite NFL team’s games if they signed the dual-threat quarterback. Critics’ obsession with the protesting players and comments by President Donald Trump were counterproductive and simply led more players to protest. These conservatives would have been better served to ignore him and agree to disagree.
So, what is the best way to handle dissenting views that bother you? Honestly, the answer appears to be to not give them the publicity in the first place.
A distinction should be made between people with major influence or political power and those without it. One should indeed be angry over tyrannical actions or hateful comments when they come from elected officials and those who could have the means to do the country a great deal of harm. NFL players, an opinionated college professor, or political journalists who are not running for office are not going to cause widespread harm to their respective countries.
Sadly, so many people these days seem incapable of making such distinctions. If they cannot learn to manage their emotions better and become more tolerant of dissenting views, they will ensure that individuals such as Peterson and Kaepernick will continue to gain support. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.