I’m reading a book right now that I think ought to be required reading for anyone concerned over the censorship on college campuses and on the way the liberal left attacks and dogpiles on anyone who dares to disagree with their one-dimensional view of the world. It shows what happens when we become afraid of different opinions, wrapped in the self righteous sense that we should be immune from the horror of being offended. The book is called “Kindly Inquisitors” by J. Rausch and I’m about a third of the way through.
I’m reading this in tandem with a documentary called “Can we take a joke,” about the way the illiberal left are ruining comedy and shutting down discourse on campuses. It was actually quite horrifying, especially when the producers interviewed Jon Ronson, who wrote a book about the twitter inspired attacks on Justine Sacco, and others who have been publicly shamed. It really brings home the fact that (and I say this being someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy comedy) our comedians and satirists are often the first warning sign of a society out of true. They’re the ones holding the line against well meaning incursions against our freedom of speech.
Growing up I never thought about what it meant to have freedom of speech. I took my classes in US History, Government, Civics and it was an assumed right in this country. We have a right to freedom of speech, not freedom from being offended. I think in the wake of our various well meaning (?) outrage mobs, that is slowly – and perhaps not so slowly—changing. Now, conservative speakers on college campuses risk assault. Artists and comedians risk getting shot.
If you want free speech, you don’t get to decide who has the right to speak. You don’t get to shut down opinions with which you might disagree. Free speech means free speech. I detest, absolutely detest much of what comes out of the Pagan left. I would never presume to tell them they don’t have the right to say those things. Instead, I’ll take them on head on and carefully dissect their rhetoric for those who haven’t the time or courage to do so for themselves.
Hate speech laws…the idea that we could be arrested for our words…are a terrifying reality today, and a clear violation of our freedom of speech. They’re the legislative acts of cowards, the new McCarthys. Our community is not immune.