Look, Richard Spencer is a terrible person, but I find this to be disturbing. It’s a clip from the CBS All Access web series The Good Fight:
— The Good Fight (@thegoodfight) April 12, 2019
A network series actually affirms and justifies the violent physical assault of a living American who was peacefully stating his opinion. And not only justifies it, but uses the assault to promote its own programming by rallying potential viewers to the episode.
Here is a recap of that particular episode, via Vulture, New York magazine’s culture site:
Sometimes titles are evocative and strange, more about setting a tone or a theme than telling audiences what they’re in for. As the bully Nelson Muntz says of Naked Lunch in The Simpsons, “I can think of at least two things wrong with that title.” But then sometimes it’s really satisfying for a piece of art to deliver on its title, especially if it involves literally beating back the surge of white supremacists in this country. To that end, “The One Where a Nazi Gets Punched” is like that first deep breath of fresh mountain air — crisp and pure and totally invigorating. Always feels great to watch Nazis get punched.
But is it right? Here’s Jay’s entire monologue, delivered straight to the camera, as a racially instigated melee breaks out in a parking lot of a polling place on election day:
Is it alright to hit a Nazi unprovoked? I was always taught never to throw the first punch, never to instigate. Defend, but don’t attack. But then I saw a video of the white nationalist Richard Spencer being punched in the face during an interview. I realized Spencer was in a pressed suit, wearing a tie, being interviewed like his opinion mattered — like it should be considered part of the conversation, like neo-Nazism is just one political point of view. And then I realized there’s no better way to show some speech is not equal. Some speech requires a more visceral response. It’s like Overton’s window — that’s the term for which ideas are tolerated in public discourse. Well, Overton’s window doesn’t mean shit unless it comes with some enforcement. So yeah, this is enforcement. It’s time to punch a few Nazis.
In the episode, its Republican and Democratic characters put their differences aside for the sake of beating up Nazis, à la Antifa, and then covering up for the Nazi-beaters.
As Lucca and Jay wait for Polly’s doxing to do its work, they watch Naomi interview the [neo-Nazi] Red Jackets’ leader, who is pretty open about his racism. After the interview ends, Jay runs into him in the bathroom and actually ends up punching him. One of the Republican lawyers is in one of the stalls when this happens, but he covers for Jay and pretends like it didn’t happen. This camaraderie rears its head again outside of the school where one of the Red Jackets flips out over being fired from his job because of Polly’s doxing. Lucca admits she doxed him and the other Republican lawyer stands up with her, as do many others. And that ends up leading to an all-out street fight between the Nazis and everyone else. The Good Fight is a fairly cynical show, but it’s rather optimistic of it to show Democrats and Republicans uniting to beat up Nazis. Cars are flipped, windows are smashed.
The most interesting part of the brawl, though, is Jay’s monologue, which he delivers directly to the camera.
That’s the monologue above. Keep in mind that this viewpoint is not rebutted in this episode, but sustained. The community of this show unites around the principle that punching people with offensive political views and then covering up for the crime is morally right. This is an extraordinary line for CBS to cross. What’s more, Richard Spencer is an actual person. A scripted network television show aired with approval a statement encouraging street violence against him, and against those who agree with him, in an effort to silence political speech.
Remember when liberals (rightly!) criticized Trump for encouraging political violence in his speeches? That was so three years ago.
“And then I realized there’s no better way to show some speech is not equal.” What an incredible thing. Yeah, I agree with you: Richard Spencer is a rotten person, and his views are horrible. But look, do you really think they’re going to stop with Richard Spencer and his kind? This happened last year in Toronto. The speaker (off camera) is a peaceful pro-life protester:
Having taken the position that “some speech is not equal,” and that there is “no better way” to demonstrate that than to beat up unpopular speakers, what is the limiting principle, CBS? What would you, CBS, say to some right-wing person who attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar over her words, you having promoted the point of view that violence is the best way to set the limits on free speech?
I’m old enough to remember when liberals defended the right of racist deplorables to gather peaceably, because by so doing, liberals were defending important liberal principles enshrined in the First Amendment. I do not enjoy seeing peaceful American citizens, however disgusting their words and beliefs, being physically assaulted to punish them for their words, or to deter them from speaking — and you shouldn’t either. Not even Richard Spencer. CBS is not a bit player. It’s a Hollywood mainstay — and for the sake of being edgy, woke, and of-the-moment, it has violated an important taboo in liberal democracy. CBS is the Antifa network.
(Via Robby Soave)
UPDATE: I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’m going to: I have no personal sympathy for Richard Spencer, as someone who is not only strongly opposed to his views, but who has also been the target of some of his rants. This is not about Richard Spencer. This is about the kind of country America is, and is going to be.