Duke Student: Free Speech and Murder Not All That Different

First Amendment is nothing but white supremacy, white fragility, and white noise.

Free speech and murder are not all that different according to a Duke University student, at least in the context of white supremacy.

Writing his first column for the Duke Chronicle, graduate student Bennett Carpenter (believed to be a white student) says he has been thinking a lot about speech lately and wanted to have a long "overdue conversation about racism." He wants to set the record straight because in his view, the issue has been "derailed" by "a diversionary and duplicitous obsession with the First Amendment." Meaning too many marginalized groups other than blacks have tried to take the spotlight (he links to campus Palestinians talking about BDS issues). Even worse, he says, "the conversation has shifted from white supremacy to white fragility" and, you guessed it, that is just another "expression of white supremacy."

Carpenter goes on to define exactly what "white fragility" means: "a range of defensive behaviors through which white people deflect conversations about race and racism in order to protect themselves from race-based stress." And with that is included a link to a paper from 1984 which argued that there are only white people because there are black people. That is, the Europeans came to America and only became "white" by killing Native Americans, torching houses, and raping black women. See?

The whole column is literally a piece of work and it's a lot to take in right out of the gate. But it is obvious that he is trying to cover as much ground as possible in his first article to set the stage for his beef with the First Amendment; namely how it's basically the same thing as murder:

Words hurt as much as actions; indeed, words are actions. Within the context of white supremacy, any distinction between a defaced poster, a racist pamphlet and legal or extralegal murder can be only of degree.

Then, Carpenter laid out his solution strategies and... surprise! It's a safe space:

So where does that leave us? With the painful yet empowering realization that no one will save us but ourselves. Rather than relying on the state to censure hate speech, anti-racists can assume that task—calling out and shouting down every expression of white supremacy as we work to build a genuinely free society. In the meantime, we can construct safe spaces for ourselves where hatred is barred at the door. In other words, the exact work that campus activists are already doing.

"Cowardly racists and homophobes who deface posters or vandalize dormitories are not heroic defenders of free speech," Carpenter concludes. "The true heroes are those who have spoken out against injustice, time and again, in the face of both material and psychological retaliation. Everything else is just white noise."

White noise. We see what you did there.

Issues