The Culture Wars have returned, and freedom of speech is the latest battleground. It seems like nearly every week one college campus or another explodes into protests or riots over a controversial speaker (but it’s usually UC Berkeley). Right wing nationalists and self-proclaimed anti-fascist/anarchist groups are usually the most eager combatants in these melees, but they shouldn’t be discounted as extremists or absurd outliers. Instead, they represent a radical manifestation of a deeper sociological debate.
A few contentious questions lie at the center of this dispute: Is hate speech protected speech? Should it be? Do alt-right provocateurs and internet trolls deserve the same rights and protections as activists and journalists? Are groups like antifa fighting against racism and authoritarianism, or working to dismantle the First Amendment? Is there a way to find common ground and foster a productive dialogue in this era of unparalleled political polarization and hostility? As this Misery Tourism documentary short shows, answering these questions may be more challenging than anyone wants to admit.