An eye for an eye? (or, why Jesse Benn is an asshole)

So after Emmett Rensin decided that to endorse the idea of premeditated violent protest as a response to Donald Trump coming to town, something baffling happened. Jesse Benn, a writer for The Huffington Post, decided to endorse Emmett Rensin’s sentiment by writing an article about how violence is supposedly a logical response to Donald Trump. And why does Benn think violence is a valid response to Donald Trump, you may ask? Because he thinks Donald Trump is a fascist. That’s it. It’s not because Donald Trump is doing anything violent, or that his supporters are being violent, or because either of them plan to do anything violent. It’s just because the author thinks Trump is a fascist. That’s how the article reads to me. I find this premise to be unacceptable for the same reasons as Emmett Rensin’s suggestion – it’s premeditated violence aimed at someone based on political positions and ideas, which is not a good reason to do anything other than vote against him. He goes on about historical violent action apparently aimed at some kind of change and he claims that his article is a critique of liberals, but that is irrelevant to the fact that what Benn is suggesting is that it is OK to endorse violent suppression of a political candidate and his supporters for political reasons. That is unacceptable, and people like Jesse Benn don’t get that. Instead, they refer to those of us who condemn senseless politically motivated violence as privileged, which among other things to me at least suggests that he is looking at Trump’s campaign and violence related to it through something of a Marxist ideological lens. Just look at the tweets he’s posted in the wake of that article.

I have this to say to Jesse Benn: if you think premeditated violence as a means of protest is the answer to Trump because of who Trump is, or who you think he is, then you may well be a fascist. You could be a member of Anitfa and still fit perfectly – they spend their days disrupting the rallies of people on the far right solely because of the fact that they are holding rallies, rather than in response to any credible threats of violence. It’s not surprising then that you also seem to be endorsing Black Lives Matter, a movement known for its thuggish behavior, on your Twitter profile. You’re also a man who believes that intolerant views are not owed tolerance, which is in itself an indication of an intolerant personally, you twat! And I don’t care that apparently alt-right individuals are spewing hate on you for what you said, which I honestly can’t blame them for since everyone who doesn’t share your worldview also would, or even that white supremacists like Daily Stormer have taken to their usual racism to respond to your article. None of that will ever put you morally in the right or change the fact that you are a dick. Your outlook is one in which the right to freedom of assembly is not reserved for those whom you label as “fascists”, and so you believe that the rule of law and the liberal principles upon which we base the concept of political freedom can be discarded in the name of suppressing individuals who you find offensive, and if anyone complains then they are either hateful bigots or just “privileged”. You’re an asshole, and that’s all I have to say.

The case of Jesse Benn also seems to make me wonder about that phrase, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. Why you ask? Because I saw a tweet of Benn’s from April which reads:

“Maybe it’s because I’m a Jew, but I’m cool w/a violent response to counter rising tides of fascism.”

I know this was before Benn wrote the article that I was talking about, but I have to admit anyone who believes probably not only views Donald Trump as akin to Adolf Hitler, but also sees violent response to Trump as a kind of revenge.  And if you’re aware that I consider myself a Satanist then you might be thinking, “I thought Satanists embraced the concept of an eye for an eye or lex talionis”? Well, Satanists do believe in the principle of lex talionis (at least most do, I would think), and that principle is actually very specific. The principle refers to retribution or revenge for acts committed to an individual for crimes, specifically violent crimes, inflicted upon another individual or his/her family or loved ones. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and Benn isn’t really applying this concept. It seems as though he is advocating that it is OK to use violence in response to “fascism” based on getting revenge for a group identity, presumably because the Jews were killed by Nazi Germany over 70 years ago. Somehow I don’t think an eye for an eye outlook is appropriate in this situation. Besides, principles are stake when we consider the suggestions of Emmett Rensin and Jesse Benn – namely the liberal principles of political freedom (such as freedom of speech, expression, affiliation and assembly) and the rule of law. If we decide that premeditated violence against a political candidate for his ideas or the subjective perception of a threat is justified, let alone if we actually decide to carry that violence out, then we are choosing to abandon the principles of that make a free and at least somewhat democratic country and its culture, and the concept of freedom may not survive that abandonment.

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