Scared of Shakespeare: meet the right-wing snowflakes

Tom Bailey

Topics Free Speech

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Right-wing bodies are under attack. Multiple discourse(s) are normalising violence against the bodies of right-leaning or rightward people(s). As leftists monopolise violence against right-wing bodies, various cultural institutions create the climate in which such violence can take place. Culture and its various manifestations cannot be viewed as detached from the material reality confronting right-wing bodies.

Thus, cultural events (discourses of power) are themselves a site of violence – be they articles, plays or speeches. We cannot view such displays of cultural power abstracted from the lived experience of violence against right-wing bodies. Hate speech is not free speech!

Well, that is according to a bunch of right-wing activists who recently disrupted a performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at the New York Public Theater. While they didn’t quite go to the lengths of adopting the garbled language of the censorious left, these activists do seem to be driven by the same illiberal urges.

Last week, Laura Loomer, a journalist for Canada’s Rebel TV, and right-wing activists associated with Gavin McInnes’ Proud Boys group protested against the production of Julius Caesar over what they see as its ‘normalisation’ of violence against the right. Their main gripe is that Caesar is portrayed as a Trump-like figure. Ergo, when Caesar is slain in Act III, this production is saying Trump is a tyrant who deserves a similar fate.

A New York theatre production featuring Trump as Caesar does sound predictable and trite. But according to Loomer and the Proud Boys, it is also incitement; it puts their lives, and the lives of other right-wingers, at risk. During the scene in which Caesar is stabbed, Loomer advanced towards the stage and shouted: ‘Stop the normalisation of political violence against the right!’ It’s astounding how similar Loomer’s tactics and language are to those of the worst kind of leftist activism. The idea that a cultural work could ‘normalise’ violence against a group in society is like something straight out of an op-ed in a liberal arts college newspaper. It’s the sort of ideas right-wing figures normally rage against.

In an interview with the New Yorker, Loomer showed just how much she has adopted college-style ‘snowflake’ language. When asked if she was censoring the play by interrupting the performance, she said: ‘I was not blocking anyone’s speech.’ She continued: ‘The play didn’t stop after they made me leave. If anything, I was increasing the amount of speech!’ This is exactly what illiberal protesters on campus say as they shout down or shut down people they accuse of ‘normalising violence’.

Tom Bailey is a spiked columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @tBaileyBailey

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Topics Free Speech


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