Editor, Daily Nexus,
“If you want to help stop this racial injustice, please boycott Details. This is America, folks. Racism should not be tolerated!”
I’m deeply and constantly troubled by the sentiment expressed by Christine Bai in the quote above (“Details Magazine Defames Asians, Gays” Daily Nexus, April 6). The sentiment is one that I have frequently encountered on three large public university campuses – UCSB, University of Maryland and University of Illinois – and it is symptomatic of the pseudoliberalism/free speech embraced by so many of the young people in this country.
It is precisely because this is America that racism – or more accurately prejudicial stereotypes that are often conflated with racism by the general populace – must be “tolerated.” The attempt to restrict racist, prejudicial or inflammatory speech should be regarded every bit as offensive as a law against suggestions that the current administration might not be doing the best job. What is commonly labeled “hate speech” is very much a part of our dear First Amendment right to express dissent.
So, while I may disagree with Ms. Bai’s latter statements, if she intends to suggest that such offensive stereotypes should be prohibited from being published in the commercial press, I think her former statement is absolutely right. If people are offended by the statements of an author or artist of any type then the market should be the mechanism by which the people express their displeasure with such statements.
The content of potentially unpopular speech is not something that should be dictated by any institution, be it federal or state government, or even the university. Until we are willing to “tolerate” the expression of totally repugnant points of view, our notion that this is a country of free speech will remain illusory.