First of all, to be clear, I’m not a free speech absolutist. As I’ve said elsewhere, free speech is an important weapon for the working class, but it is not some sort of holy principle that rises above the class struggle.
Second, what I’m talking about here has nothing to do with the First Amendment. While I am a great supporter of that amendment, it has, as we all know, to do with the State, not with individuals or private organizations.
What does have a great deal to do with individuals or private organizations is suppression of speech. And many people who self-identify as Leftists are at least as guilty of this as those who openly and honestly declare their support of oppression.
I’m going to keep this short: If you are attempting to prevent others from expressing an opinion, you are acting against the free and open exchange of ideas. It’s really that simple. If you are saying, “You have expressed an opinion that I find abhorrent, therefore I am going to try to get you fired or keep you from getting work or have you shunned,” you are taking a stand against freedom and in favor of oppression, however well-meaning you might be.
And, seriously, don’t even start with the pettifogging. “Don’t I have the right to not buy something if I dislike the author?” Of course you do, it’s a non-issue, and it is utter bullshit and you know it. No one is trying to tell you whose work you should or shouldn’t buy. But if you try to tell me you can’t see the difference between not buying something, and making an active effort to harm someone’s livelihood, I’ll call you a liar to your face.
A simple, public declaration, such as,”I will not buy books from this publisher because [they publish someone I disapprove of] [they have failed to sufficiently chastise someone who said something I hate]” is putting you on the side of those who are against freedom, of those who benefit from oppression. Stop it.