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The Beauty of Free Speech in Action

by Beth Divine 20 Oct 2018

A lot of countries have legalised pornography, not because they are enlightened beings who understand that (most) sexual desires are absolutely normal and should be catered for, but because free speech is enshrined in their legal system. Along with the right to watch porn without fear of persecution, these countries, including the UK, allow their people the right to demonstrate and protest when they deem it necessary.

One recent protest has ignited controversy, that being the UK population’s reaction to Donald Trump’s visit. Donald Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be a crass, unmannerly, lecherous bully who cannot handle the slightest criticism or resistance. He would be an entirely laughable buffoon were he not in the position of being the so-called most powerful man in the world with – unfortunately – enough autonomy to make one hell of a mess.

Therefore the people of the UK, a very high proportion of them women, turned out in huge numbers to protest the welcome offered to this awful man. This has led to a small incoherent backlash by Trump supporters and a certain proportion of men of a certain age.

Now Trump supporters are easily dealt with – by not engaging with them. They are so supremely sure of themselves that any reasonable debate is waved away as ‘fake news’, any proof offered is waved away as ‘fake news’, and any requests for them to empathise with people not like them is treated as an affront. They tend to be white, poorly educated (and in this case poorly educated means that they have never been taught to think independently or to question the narrative), from a poorer background and be reliant on more menial jobs for their living. (Disclaimer, there probably are Trump supporters that do not meet these criteria, but the majority will meet most or all of it…)

The ‘men of a certain age’ are more problematic: they can be well educated, professional men with degrees and a belief in their own social liberalism. They may donate to charities and advocate helping refugees from all walks of life. But they have grown up and lived with the absolute certainty that men, especially civilised-looking men in suits, are superior beings, and being superior beings they deserve automatic respect and to be deferred to. These men see an older white man in a suit, with an impressive title and they believe, with every fibre of their being, that this man deserves respect. Therefore, when people began to protest Trump’s arrival, these men couldn’t handle it. They lost their shit. Scan Facebook and Twitter and any other social media platform that you care to, and you will find in probably every comment thread, one or two stiff-necked comments: ‘This is so disrespectful. He IS the leader of the USA.’, ‘We should rise above this, don’t give him the attention.’, and ‘Just ignore him, that’ll be more dignified than all this.’ ‘This all’ refers of course to the Trump Baby Blimp – a magnificent symbol that sums up Trump’s public persona and laughs at him, something that he despises. As a protest, it is perfect: non-violent, highly visible, and targeted very precisely at Trump’s massive (undeservedly so) ego.

Gentlemen, no. You are wrong. You cannot deal with someone like Trump by ignoring him, by being the better behaved, or by simply expecting him to do the right thing. Letting people like him get away with the crap he does is precisely why so many women needed to say #MeToo earlier this year... And this is why so many women have turned out to say ‘No!’ to Trump. No, to accepting the status quo. No, to letting bullies get away with it. No.