March 27, 2015 7 Comments
I imagine you’ve notices the attacks on free speech from the left in the last few years. I have actually had people tell me calmly (like they really thought so) that the reason for the amendment was to protect popular speech, to which my response was, “That makes no sense, popular speech needs no protection. It was written to protect unpopular SPEECH, BECAUSE IT NEEDS IT.
But that’ sort of a side issue, important as it is. The real problem is the attempt to suppress what we could call ‘non politically correct speech’
My point is that free speech is inherently offensive-to somebody. It incites disagreements, even arguments. I’d call it the forge that tempers freedom, because it makes us think about things. We may or may not change our minds but it does us no harm to know that others disagree. In addition, without free speech and all that it entails, innovation and society’s progress will simply stop.
And that is its pernicious side, one can’t stifle on part of a man–you stifle the whole man. All of this is worse in the UK, of course, because they have sold their rights, long ago, for a little temporary safety. And this article lays out well why PC is very dangerous, even now, maybe especially now, in its death throes.
For years a few of us have warned that modern “liberals” would live to regret abandoning the principle that you should only censor speech when it incited violence. We would enjoy our vindication if the unravelling of progressive assumptions was not so extraordinarily menacing.
Political correctness is eating itself. It is abandoning its children, and declaring them illegitimate. It is shouting down activists who once subscribed to its doctrines and turning its guns on its own. Women are suffering the most, as they always do. “Radical feminist” is now an insult on many campuses. Fall into that pariah category, and your opponents will ban you if they can and scream you down if they cannot.
It is tempting to say “serves you right” or “I told you so” to the feminists on the receiving end of the new intolerance. But you will not understand how Western societies have become so tongue-tied and hypocritical unless you understand the human desires behind the feminists’ original urge to suppress, which now lie behind their enemies’ desire to suppress them.
A generation ago, a faction within Western feminism campaigned to ban pornography. They believed it caused harm by inciting men to rape, but couldn’t prove it. Despite decades of research, no one has been able to show that pornography brutalises otherwise peaceful men. So they added the argument that sexual fantasy should be banned because it spread harmful stereotypes that polluted society. Unfortunately, for them, they could not substantiate that claim beyond reasonable doubt either.
“You have no identity, no personality, you are a collection of appealing body parts,” the American law professor Catharine MacKinnon told her followers in the 1980s. Pornography ensured women were assessed only by their looks. It “strips women of credibility, from our accounts of sexual assault to our everyday reality of sexual subordination. We are reduced and devalidated and silenced.”
For all its faults, America has the First Amendment, which protects free speech and freedom of the press. The US Supreme Court duly struck down an ordinance MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin drafted for Indianapolis City Council in 1984 which would have allowed women who could say they were harmed by pornography to sue. It might have killed the law but it did not kill the movement. The impulse behind the original demands drives campaigns against sexist advertising and naked women in tabloids to this day.–
It’s an outstanding article (albeit a touch long), that we should all read and ponder.