These 2 stories may seem unrelated, but represent the realities behind what appear outwardly to be opposing ideologies. Both stories represent the hypocrisy behind both the alt-left and the alt-right.
An aggressive Alt-Left
The protest was in response to an invitation by an associated conservative body at the university of Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor at Breitbart News. The website has been accused of promoting racist and sexist views, but is the most read conservative news website in the US.
The Berkeley protests against the “hate-speech” turned violent when a group of approximately 150 offenders joined the collective - demanding other students not film them, injuring anyone who opposed them, and causing large amounts of property damage.
This morning – I, and many like me – read about Milo Yiannopoulos and his message. We wouldn't have were it not for the disruption caused in order to force the cancellation of his talk. Forcibly and violently preventing people from openly sharing ideas is not the sign of a free democracy – it is the sign of fascism.
On the other side of the argument you have Seb Dance holding up a sign during Nigel Farage's 3-minutes of allocated speaking time in the European Parliament. The sign read “He's lying to you.”
Farage is leader of EFDD (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy) and so entitled to speak for 3-minutes without interruption. In a moment of self-confessed frustration, Seb Dance scribbled the sign in hope that some viewers might recognise Farage's 'alternative facts'.
At the time, Farage was defending Trump's travel ban, continuing his theme that immigration and globalisation are the route of all evil – the alt-right message that Milo Yiannopoulos would have delivered at UC Berkeley, has been allowed to speak.
UKIP have since written to Antonio Tajani, president of the European parliament.
Over the years, UKIP, with Farage at the helm, have increased their popularity by announcing their alt-right vision of a UK that “takes back control” from Europe and from the uncontrolled numbers of immigrants ruining the country – despite statistics to the contrary.
And yet, what do we see happen when Seb Dance holds up his small, crudely written sign? UKIP immediately complain to the European parliament.
This is the real alt-right. One that only pretends to care more about freedom of speech than everyone else – so it can insult everybody – but as soon as they are the victim they will ask you to be quiet. President Trump spent his election campaign insulting his Republican and Democratic opposition – but in his first week in power has branded a critical media as liars and The White House are blocking certain news outlets from access.
Both of the alternative movements have spawned out of frustration that they are not being listened to, and that drastic measures have to be taken in order to take back control from their enemies. They quite rightly take issues seriously, but are behaving in a way that damages their cause.
The reality is that neither are advocating real freedom of speech. They use it as a marketing tool to win power – then tell you to shut up.
As emotion drives us towards extremes, we need to recognise the damage we are doing to our own cause, as well as our moral responsibility to respect our fellow human beings, and bring the movement back towards something more tempered – one where we can openly debate, criticise and ridicule ideas, without threat of being silenced.