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n obsession with policing the elusive evil of “hate speech” has made America a very tense and unpleasant place, where one wrong move can destroy reputations and livelihoods. As a result, many today censor their political beliefs out of fear. Even celebrities, billionaires, and former presidents live under the all-seeing eye, as recent events surrounding Kanye West and Donald Trump demonstrate.
Consider some of the biggest news stories of the past month and a half: West caused a media firestorm and lost hundreds of millions in net worth overnight for saying he would go “death con 3” on Jews. NBA star Kyrie Irving was given a lengthy list of homework assignments after he tweeted an anti-Semitic video. The comedian Dave Chappelle was scolded for winkingly defending West and joking about Jews in show business on “Saturday Night Live.” And, of course, the melodrama found its way to Mar-a-Lago, when West had dinner with Trump and, apparently unbeknownst to the former president, the right-wing shock jock Nick Fuentes.
This encounter is supposed to have disqualified Trump, according to numerous mainstream conservative voices who have been on West’s case for weeks, often the same people who complain about cancel culture. “A good way not to accidentally dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you don’t know is not to dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you do know,” said Ben Shapiro, doing his best imitation of an aggrieved lefty.
The hate speech police are never able to articulate the abstract harms caused by these outrages. The real harm is in the inevitably extreme reaction, which leaves society more on edge than a moment ago. Does it matter that Trump had dinner with someone we are supposed to find objectionable? Should we weigh very much the effusions of West, an obviously mentally unbalanced person who subscribes to an absurd ideology, which teaches that blacks are descended from the Israelites of the Torah?
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