I’ve watched several times a video of a guy thumping another guy recently. There is, naturally several sides to consider here:
- Whether the violent act undermines free speech.
- Whether, even if provoked by the objectionable views of the person punched, the act lowers discourse in general.
- Whether violence is ever a justified reaction to a dialogue even with somebody obnoxious.
Having said that I think most people agree that the person doing the thumping was justified. Here is the video again (you’ve probably seen it already).
Yes, naturally I am talking about that time Buzz Aldrin hit lunar-landing denier Bart Sibrel in the face after Sibrel harassed and insulted Buzz and called him a coward and a liar. After multiple provocations, Buzz then, wack, thumps Sibrel in the face. What can one say? It is OK to both deplore violence AND accept that people have actual emotions and that when repeatedly provoked will react accordingly. Buzz doesn’t beat the guy up, he thumps him once.
The LA County District Attorney did not lay any charges on Buzz Aldrin and, according to Wikipedia, Sibrel (the man punched) later apologised to Aldrin.
So there you go. Yeah, maybe sometimes it is OK to thump people – you know if you are provoked enough it would be weird if people DIDN’T react that way. You know, like in the example above in which Buzz Aldrin is repeatedly harassed and called a liar by a guy whose ideas are based on stupidly elaborate conspiracy theories. Just don’t make a habit of it.
Oh, and apparently alt-right pro-genocide shit Richard Spencer was thumped the other day also. Whereas Sibrel was just a rude guy with an omnifallacious theory that in itself harms nobody, Spencer is a guy who promotes race hate and genocide. As far as I can tell the major ethical issue people have with this is that it wasn’t Buzz Aldrin who hit him.