Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Racist Bullies and Free Speech

doofusfront doofus rear

Doofus above is a member of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) dressed up for "Capture the Illegal Immigrant Day" at the University of North Texas in Denton on January 26. If you "captured" him, you won a candy bar and a flyer on the evils of the undocumented. An attractive specimen of smirking white manhood, don't you think?

YCT's stock in trade seems to be bullying racism; one of their previous efforts was an "affirmative action bake sale."

Naturally Latinos and friends at UNT weren't wild about these guys. Unfortunately, their protests got constructed in the media as a free speech issue: should the University administration have allowed YCT to use a designated free speech area? And I am sure that was what the "poor persecuted conservatives" wanted.

How to respond to such racist antics without ceding to the offenders the high ground of "free speech"?

One response would be "don't feed the trolls." After all, why give them the attention they so obviously want? Looks like a lot of the media did just that, as except for a few immediate newspaper stories (registration required, so I won't link), most of the media comment is from other wingnuts. Exception here.

However, ignoring this kind of thing is neither smart nor safe; if they get away with pushing the limits of hate, they'll just go further next time. So what to do?

A reasonable, responsible action would be to demand that the University administration hold a real educational forum on immigration policy; get some genuine experts and see whether these bullies can hold their own. That is, ask for more speech, not less.

But in addition, bullies need to be confronted and mocked. If they want to play silly games on campus, up the ante. Wouldn't it be fun to surround their table, peacefully and without obstruction of course, making so much noise they can't talk with anyone? Or even more fun, designate stalkers to follow Doofus around campus with a nice sign, a drawing of a candy bar labeled "He wants to give you shit!" I'm sure that folks more creative than I can come up with lots better ideas.

One more thing, it is easy for me to theorize on what to do about the likes of YCT, but I'm not a Latino on the UNT campus. Even if I were at UNT, I'd try to speak cautiously for my ideas. White allies will never be so vulnerable as their Latino friends and must act only under the leadership of the people who'll bear the brunt of any backlash or sanctions.

Anyone want to comment on how to confront racist bullies?

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