Kevin Williamson said some pretty harsh things. But he shouldn't have been fired.
Ok so here's what Kevin Williamson said that got him fired from The Atlantic today: Women who get abortions should be hanged. Yeah, that sounds pretty harsh. I'm personally not cool with it, if you really want to know. But he should not have been fired.
First, Williamson's comments are a lot less harsh than they sound. In fact, they make more sense to me than the comments of any pro-life conservative who believes that the government should intervene in women's abortions except for cases where rape or incest has occurred. If you believe abortion is murder, then why would rape or incest justify it? Is it that you think it's okay to murder somebody if you're a rape victim, or do you actually not believe abortion is murder, and you think it's okay for the government to intervene in women's personal life decisions?
If you're someone who believes abortion is murder, then yeah, you'd want punishment for murder. The question then comes down to who gets punished and how.
Who should be punished when an abortion happens? Should it be the abortionist? Should it be the mother? Should it be the father of the baby, who may have pressured his partner to do it?
How should the punishment occur? Should the person owe a penalty fee to the government? Should he or she be arrested? Should there be capital punishment?
If you're a person who believes abortion is murder and that people who murder other people deserve capital punishment, then you might actually agree with Williamson's comments. And you wouldn't think that is harsh at all.
I'm guessing most of the editors at The Atlantic do not agree with Williamson that abortion is murder, or that capital punishment is just. So to them, Williamson is just an all-around horrible person who wants a bunch of innocent women to be hanged.
He still shouldn't have been fired. And the reason for that is precisely that people at The Atlantic think Williamson and those who agree with him are horrible people.
You see, our country suffers a serious lack of discourse when it comes to politics. Mainstream media outlets and academic institutions began taking funding from liberal politicians and adopting left-wing politics, alienating conservatives in their institutions. Conservatives, in turn, began forming their own publications to combat a serious imbalance of political representation in the media. And they found a safe space where they could discuss their views comfortably; but the national discourse continued to polarize and become reactionary.
People like Williamson are few and far between. It's not easy to willingly offer yourself for hire at an institution that demonizes you regularly and gives you unfounded labels such as "racist!" "sexist!" and "bigot!" for no apparent reason other than your perceived political alignment. Most people would rather stick to places where they are wanted. As a someone who lives at the heart of the bluest district in America, I can attest to how difficult it is to feel like a bad person all the time because I don't share the same political views as the people around me.
The truth is that people want to do the right thing to the best of their understanding, regardless of their political leanings. But the idea of getting shunned for our views, or the views of somebody we agree with, frightens us and discourages us from having open and honest conversations. Our instinct is to follow into the mob mentality and shun media scapegoats in order to avoid getting hurt ourselves.
I hate that some people get to choose who is moral and who is not just because they do not understand the heart. I hate that people are applauded daily for saying they want President Trump executed because he said some not-nice things about women, but saying that you think murder deserves capital punishment can get you fired in an instant. I hate it because it represents a fundamental unwillingness to connect with and understand views that feel foreign to you. And that's exactly what happened with Williamson.
So when someone who doesn't agree with your views is interested and willing in having a conversation with you, it's a pretty big deal. And we should welcome more of that because those people—people like Williamson—are our last hope for civil discourse in this country.