On Freedom of Speech
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. —George Orwell (a socialist, ironically)
This post really shouldn’t be necessary. It really shouldn’t. The whole thing should be fairly obvious to any intelligent person. Also, quite a few people, intelligent and otherwise, have spoken and written already on this subject, sanely and sensibly, so this post is somewhat redundant. But the point is so important that it bears emphasizing again and again. So here goes. I’m emphasizing.
Freedom of thought and expression is under brutal attack in 21st-century western culture. In the United States some people are flat-out in favor of abolishing the first amendment to the US Constitution, while others simply choose to redefine “free speech” out of existence (in accordance with the new left’s penchant for redefining terms to better suit their ideology). Some endorse violent tactics, like antifa and others rioting against words and sentences they don’t like; some are more devious, like university administrations, Google, YouTube, etc. who rely on quiet censorship; and some try to be somewhat enlightened about it and say that we should be allowed some freedom of expression so long as it is not blatantly racist or hateful.
The main argument of the left on this issue is that “hate speech” must not be protected as a civil right. For example, in one of the protest petitions against Dr. Bruce Gilley’s notorious academic journal article defending colonialism, we find this attempt at enlightened “niceness”:
We all subscribe to the principle of freedom of speech and the value of provocation in order to generate critical debate. However, this cannot be done by means of a piece that fails to meet academic standards of rigour and balance by ignoring all manner of violence, exploitation and harm perpetrated in the name of colonialism (and imperialism) and that causes offence and hurt and thereby clearly violates that very principle of free speech. (←emphasis added)
Thus, free speech must not include any speech that offends or hurts the feelings of anybody.
Or is it really anybody? Activists of the new left seem to experience little hesitation when it comes to angry and/or vindictive name-calling directed at the outgroup, i.e. non-leftists, or even at some leftists who are seen as stepping out of line. Speech and behavior which some people, for example devout Christians or even devout Muslims, would find offensive are not to be included in this ban on hurtful offensiveness. Religious people may be deeply offended by public glorification of atheism or homosexuality, for example, but that’s just too bad for them, because they’re on the wrong side (or at least the intolerant Christians are—the feelings of intolerant Muslims are not considered, or even acknowledged, in fact referring to them as “intolerant” may be included under the odious rubric of “hate speech”). Stepping out of a leftist echo chamber and taking a hard look at the one-sidedness of their attitude should be completely sufficient to prove that the new left’s crying over hate speech is manifest hypocrisy. And infantile also. They can offend you; you just can’t offend them. They can call you fascists, Nazis, racists, and on and on, they can even call conservative black people coons or Uncle Toms, but you mustn’t call them snowflakes or SJWs, because that’s hurtful. Hypocritical, is what it is.
I was mildly surprised when I found out that the USA is one of a relatively small number of nations that guarantees freedom of speech to its citizens as a constitutional right. The UK and Germany don’t have that, for example, and you can be jailed in those countries just for criticizing policies of the government—like importing millions of uneducated, low-IQ Muslim migrants from Africa and the Middle East, for example. You can get into more trouble for criticizing immigration policies than one of the aforementioned migrants could get into for actually robbing or raping somebody. America is freer than most in that respect—political “hate speech,” thus far, is not positively illegal.
At present, the main limitations on freedom of expression in the USA concern slander and incitement to violence and/or non-constitutional overthrow of the government. There are a few other limitations, like verbal sexual harassment of women and showing pornography to children; but the most politically important and fundamental ones are considered to be the ones first mentioned. The problem of exactly where to draw the line delimiting what is allowable may be very vague and debatable—for example the mass media appear to have been slandering the President plenty over the past year—but it seems to me that the limits that are already in place are enough. Maybe even more than enough.
The thing is this: If free speech simply meant that you have the right to say whatever doesn’t offend anyone, then there would be no need at all for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing your right to say it! Why bother to make such a silly and pointless guarantee? It would be totally unnecessary, wouldn’t it. Who’s going to complain and have you arrested for saying something that doesn’t offend them and with which they agree? The right to free speech means that you can say what other people DON’T agree with and DON’T like, those other people including hypersensitive leftists who feel threatened and unsafe if you don’t call them by their preferred pronouns, let alone hyperconservative Evangelical Christians. People should be allowed, legally if not socially, to freely express their opinions, no matter how horribly noxious and unacceptable they seem, including things like “I hate transsexuals because they’re perverts” or “I think Hitler was right: Heil Hitler” so long as they’re not deliberately slandering anyone or deliberately inciting violence, like, “There’s a freak! Get him!”
If a person feels threatened and unsafe for, say, being called a fag, or even called by a pronoun that isn’t preferred, then that person is rather dysfunctional (as is a religious person who feels threatened and unsafe by hearing evolution taught in a school or seeing two gay men kissing), and should definitely consider trying to cultivate some emotional maturity and forbearance. Any civilization that panders to such mental weakness is doomed to collapse from its own weight and rigidity, even without such historically proven catalysts as barbarian invasions.
The feminized left pontificates away on the blessings of diversity, yet diversity of opinion is somehow evil and something to be outlawed. I don’t know of any socialist state, or any fascist one either, that has tolerated freedom of expression when that expression defies the official ideology. Freedom of thought and expression may result in hurt feelings sometimes, but it is a bastion against tyranny, and is definitely worth the trouble it occasionally inspires.
I conclude by saying, say what you think is right, and you’ll be OK almost always, morally if not legally. The limits of free thought and expression should be pushed if only to show the crybullies that they can’t push us around! Hence this blog.