Driven from the arms of the political left he had loved, and had loved him, for a lifetime, comedian Dave Rubin is perhaps one of the most unlikely heroes of a burgeoning resistance to an increasingly impositional, authoritarian leftist ideological culture. Soft-spoken, cheerful, and eminently non-threatening, Rubin comes across as a friendly neighbor who might offer to take your garbage out for you, or invite you over for a BBQ with complimentary beers.
To his scorned former allies of the so-called progressive political persuasion, Rubin is now a “condescending hack” and a “political chameleon,” as the Daily Campus calls him. Basically, these are nice ways of calling someone an opportunistic male bimbo.
In reality, Dave Rubin is a thoughtful, inoffensive interviewer who engages with guests that mainstream media outlets decline to hear out and frequently demonize. Rubin has interviewed controversial author and anarcho-capitalist Stefan Molyneux, Republican radio show host and public speaker Larry Elder, and human rights activist and Islamic apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
The hit pieces are nothing new, and in fact, almost every person highlighted in this article has had a slew of hateful articles written about them, twisting them into evil caricatures that must be expunged from our culture and prevented from speaking from their soapboxes.
Dave Rubin and others like him, men and women who dare to buck the popular narrative being parroted by mainstream media outlets, their marching orders and talking points promulgated through Facebook shares, Twitter tweets, and an aging network media empire, are instead eminently worthy of respect. As Socrates thought one of his highest values and roles was as a social gadfly, or provocative and potent critic, so must the so called “renegades of the intellectual dark web,” as posited by the New York Times be shown at least some respect for their brave contributions to a blooming era of populist dissent.
University of Toronto psychology professor-turned-professional lecturer Dr. Jordan Peterson is one of the most prominent academics openly calling for an end to a culture of politically correct censorship, compelled speech laws, and postmodernist Marxism in toto. After a free-speech flap that saw him testify before the Canadian Senate against Bill C-16, a bill that eventually passed, Peterson became wildly popular on Patreon, YouTube, and Facebook. His recently released book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, reached the No. 1 spot on Amazon. The Canadian professor’s book would go on to be the most widely read piece of Canadian literature in living memory, according to the National Post.
Finally, and a bit far from the spotlight, an unlucky man who also happens to be the ultimate provocateur, British journalist Milo Yiannopoulos. Rising to fame during the Gamergate saga, where Milo defended gamers and gaming culture from tone policing, censorship, and high-level cover-ups made by gaming journalists attempting to obscure professional improprieties, the former Breitbart editor and full-time troll has fallen on some hard times recently. After a series of character assassinations sought to cast his personal experience as a victim of child sexual abuse instead as an endorsement of pedophilia, Milo’s brand was deeply damaged nonetheless as the mud stuck, as Breitbart reported.
No longer touring the nation, stirring up crowds of angry college students seeking to stop his mouth from moving, Milo seems to have withdrawn from public life to some degree, preferring to share content to his Facebook page and to collect residuals on his self-published bestseller, Dangerous. It would, however, be unwise to think that the extremely unconventional extrovert is done with his work as a professional jester. Look for a comeback later this year.
There is a very real hunger for these forbidden words and verboten ideas, some essential truth that many people feel is missing in the safe and sanitized social media shared story. An growing substrata of YouTube personalities that do not resemble media reporters or traditional political pundits in the least is emerging, from foul-mouthed and loquacious Razorfist, to the perpetually bemused and recently-sued Sargon of Akkad. Leather-clad metalheads and polo-shirt wearing public intellectuals are enmeshed in solidarity under one sole premise – free speech matters and it must be defended from an aggressive erosion taking place under the masthead of political correctness.
It is the role of the fool, the comedian, and the academic to reveal the truth about our shared reality, no matter how harsh and intolerable those truths may be to those used to being sheltered from them. These are, to borrow from Dr. Peterson a bit, essential archetypes to have at one’s side in the problematic pursuit of liberty, and the happiness that comes with it.
As so many of these rebels are fond of saying, in one form or another – facts don’t care about your feelings. Hurt feelings, particularly. Avoidant behavior reinforces false beliefs and fears, and like a core tenet of cognitive behavioral therapy, confrontation and repetitious combat with these anxieties and questions and political puzzles are the only way to come to terms with the whole truth of them.
While the quote is commonly attributed to conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, a variant of the philosophy is frequently on the lips of most libertarian or classical liberal figures fighting an ironic cultural war on the side of their former enemies, the conservative establishment. Alt-right, control-left, or anywhere in between, citizens with a conscience might consider supporting free speech no matter if they agree with the speaker or not.
We need more men and women willing to challenge the notion that there is no value in the ability to utter controversial truths. In a society of appearances, window dressing, empty platitudes and a five-second social-media generated attention span, deeply offensive truths may be the only type of truth left whatsoever. The stoics understood this, as the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains, Socrates died for this, and in our haughty postmodernity, ever concerned with a utopian concept of moral safety and propriety, we risk erasing everything those sacrifices have earned for us.