If you have some conservative friends or family members on Facebook, then it is more than likely you’ve ran into a video of Tomi Lahren at some point. The 24-year old political commentator and TV show host on The Blaze, hailing from Texas, has garnered quite a bit of attention this past year due to some of her more “inflammatory” comments. Her newest comment however sees her bite the hand that feeds her, as she aligns herself with the pro-choice movement many conservatives are avidly against, and exposes some nasty realities about double standards.

It’s no secret we live in an increasingly politically polarised world, and this is clearer in America than anywhere else. On one hand we have extreme conservatism becoming more prevalent after the election of Donald Trump, and on the other we have an increasingly radicalised and loud opposition, emboldened by the mass outrage from this very same election. In the midst of all this shouting and yelling from all sides however, I’ve always felt that the silver lining of the situation is that at least we have platforms that allow us to shout and yell at one another.

The fact that Tomi Lahren can garner a massive following by insulting things like the “Black Lives Matter” Movement and mainstream feminism is something that a lot of people can get angry about, but few really appreciate how unthinkable this would’ve been a few years ago. Her employer at The Blaze himself, Glenn Beck, has publicly come out to say how he doesn’t hire people because they agree with him and celebrated showcasing a number of different opinions. For a long time he seems to have upheld this opinion, with him and Tomi having publicly had marked differences, yet he seems to have drawn an arbitrary line to boundless opinion after Tomi came on the TV show The View last Friday and claimed she was pro-choice.

“This ban is permanent”

Tomi’s reasoning behind her statement was that she is a true constitutional who is for limited government, and cannot therefore support the government in dictating a woman’s choice about what to do with her body. This is a reasoned argument, in the sense that even if you disagree with it completely you can at least understand where she comes from and respect her for it. However a number of conservatives, together with Glenn Beck, seemed to publicly disagree with her, and she was immediately banned from The Blaze, with reports recently coming out that this ban is permanent. Like many, I was bewildered and shocked by this decision at first. In retrospect, I’ve come to realise this is a natural response for a man profiting on a system that crushes individualism and celebrates a blanket-statement mind frame.

The problem with free speech is that it is actually very costly to exert it. It often can take courage, someone to listen, and an outlet through which to express yourself. It needs to come coupled with the idea that whatever you choose to speak about is what you choose to speak about and share. Individuals of course can have many different opinions about different things, so for freedom of speech to have any value we need to understand that what you share can be as varied as your opinions. In a world where publicly recognising individual thoughts is slowly dying out, freedom of speech is at dire risk.

“I personally do not see a hypocrite”

Tomi has been lucky enough to catch a political wind that spurred her to success in no time, but has failed to recognise (or maybe omitted) that her extreme opinions have an outlet because of how polarised towards the extremes America is becoming. After this whole debacle unraveled many started pointing the finger at Tomi saying she is a hypocrite for sharing this opinion while actively insulting many other liberal movements, but I personally do not see a hypocrite. I see someone who has done what she always does and is loved by many for doing: share her opinion. It just so happens to be that this opinion is not in line with what many people expect her to think.

However, until now, Tomi hasn’t retracted what she said, and she has not actively acted in a way that goes against what she has said. Glenn Beck however has. He speaks of free speech and paints himself as an open-minded patron saint, yet drops this facade the moment the bulk of his audience disagrees with it. If anyone is a hypocrite and holds double standards, it’s him.

“Individualism is slowly dying”

And this to me is why this whole situation is especially disturbing. It sends the message that it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the right or on the left or in the middle, if you cannot perfectly align with a group then you will be shut down, and those that shut you out will suffer very little consequence and some people will even cheer them on. Individualism is slowly dying in today’s politics, and with it it carries down real freedom of speech. Whatever happens next, whether Tomi terminates her relationship with The Blaze or shares some half-hearted apology to get back in, the statement has been made, and a disturbing precedent has been set.

Nicolas Caballero

Image courtesy of ‘Gage Skidmore’ via Flickr.

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