The Atlantic’s newly hired conservative columnist Kevin Williamson abruptly lost his employment there Thursday after he was fired for his remarks about his pro-life stance.
Williamson, who is widely respected among conservatives, said years ago on Twitter and in a podcast that women who’ve had abortions should be hanged. That may sound extreme, especially if you’re pro-choice. But if you’re like Williamson and millions of other Americans, and believe that abortion is murder, then you many also believe that those who have abortions should be punished as murderers.
Yes, what he said may sound controversial and perhaps too blunt for your taste, but many people in this country, believe it or not, agree either partially or entirely. I don’t. However, he is certainly allowed to have his position. But in the age of social media outrage and blind partisanship, if your beliefs don’t align with the mob’s, the mob will do everything they can to destroy you.
The Atlantic caved to the pressures and let Williamson go after he had published only one article for the magazine. Their editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg released a memo calling the language Williamson used “callous and violent,” and saying it “runs contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate.”
With all due respect to Goldberg, he didn’t exactly seem “respectful” of Williamson’s beliefs. The abortion debate has been and will likely continue to be the most fiery and divisive debate along party lines. And if you fall on the side that believes abortion is murder, then how exactly is it not “well-reasoned” to think that those who have abortions are murderers? It is simply an ideological difference. But that didn’t stop the witch hunt.
Williamson surely isn’t the first target of such a campaign, and won’t be the last. The New York Times faces constant pressure to fire columnists Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss because readers simply can’t handle their views. The leftwing group Media Matters For America continuously tries to end Sean Hannity’s career, and they’re currently trying to end Laura Ingraham’s with an ad boycott.
It’s not just a problem in print and on the airwaves. The attempts to shut down speaking engagements on college campuses from folks like Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter, YouTube’s demonetizing of Dave Rubin, and Twitter’s suspension of Steven Crowder are a continued pattern of intolerance of opposing opinion.
If you’re offended by what Williamson, Stephens, Weiss, Hannity, Ingraham, Shapiro, Coulter, Rubin, or Crowder have to say, the answer isn’t less speech. It’s more speech.
It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why more than 25 million people tuned into the “Roseanne” revival last week. For the past three years, there has been a void for a honest, balanced political discussion, and Roseanne Barr filled that void for her viewers. The ignorance of those like Robert De Niro who believe they cannot reach across the aisle to those who voted for Donald Trump is what helped him get elected in the first place.
The mentality of “If you don’t agree with me, you’re a racist/misogynist/homophobe/Islamophobe/xenophobe/bigot” plagues our society. That in itself is bigotry. Demonizing millions of good people for believing what they believe or voting who they voted for is poisonous to our country. And enclosing ourselves in our own political vacuums limits our intelligence and ability to understand things we aren’t familiar with.
If people cannot respect other people’s views and allow them to have a platform to share those views, then civil discourse will cease to exist. Williamson’s firing should be a cautionary tale. Instead, it will probably inspire more of these witch hunts.