As I was saying.
President Donald Trump’s inauguration brought up a lot of fiery emotion in people, and if the left’s anger and frustration can be distilled into a single image, it’s that clip of white supremacist and Trump supporter Richard Spencer being decked by an anti-fascist protester while giving an interview on camera.
Unsurprisingly, people on the internet really, really liked this, setting the video to music and generally rejoicing in this bit of violence that was part World Star Hip Hop, part Captain America, and part, “eh, whatever, fuck that guy.”
But this punch inspired a lot of debate. If you think nonviolence is generally the answer, is it OK to hit someone if you really, really don’t like them? On the other hand, if you disagree with socking Nazis in the face, are you giving a pass to literal fascists? If you’re conflicted about all this, is it still OK to giggle at the whole thing?
To settle this, I called up Randy Cohen, the former ethicist from the New York Times Magazine, and the person I generally ask when confronted with moral quandaries.