Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The War against Speech

It began as a war against hate speech. Then it transformed into a war against hurt speech-- any speech act that hurt someone’s feelings.  Now it extends to differences of opinion, as in disagreeing with prevailing dogmas about climate change and transgenderism.

The campaign against free speech seeks above all else to produce nationwide, and even worldwide groupthink. In this environment, speech creates reality. If you want to change reality you need but force all people to say the same thing.

Theoretically, it is based on a logical error. While we would surely accept that when we see an ashtray on a table, we all agree that the ashtray is on the table. Some thinkers believe, however, that the ashtray would not be on the table if we did not all agree to its being there. Do you see the distortion. Thus, if we can all be convinced that the ashtray is not on the table or that the ashtray is really a decanter, well then, we have changed reality. 

In Norway, now, Jonathan Turley reports that people no longer have the right to express politically incorrect opinions anywhere-- even in the privacy of their own homes. (via Maggie’s Farm) The personal is political, as the old slogan went. In more obvious terms, people are being encouraged to rat out their family members, their friends and neighbors.

The East German Staasi is rising from the dustbin of history, a terrifying revenant.

So, Norway will no longer allow anyone, in public or in private, to deviate from transgender dogma. Because, don’t you see, an individual who mutilates his body with puberty blocking hormones, who mutilates his body with gender reassignment surgery surgery and who poisons his body by taking opposite sex hormones has one and only one problem-- that someone calls him by the wrong pronouns.

Turley explains the law:

Norway is an example of this headlong plunge into speech controls and crimes in the West. This week the legislature adopted (without even a vote) a new criminal law that punishes people for saying anything deemed hate speech toward transgender people in their own home or private conversations.

Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Maeland declared victory because speech regulation must be “adapted to the practical situations that arise.” The “practical situation” includes speaking to your own spouse or family.

Norway is not alone. Throughout Europe similar rules are rearing their ugly head:

Such speech controls in Europe have led to a chilling effect on political and religious speech. In their homes, people will often share religious and political views that depart from majoritarian values or beliefs. This law would regulate those conversations and criminalize the expression of prohibited viewpoints.

As we recently discussed, a poll in Germany found only 18 percent of Germans feel free to express their views in public. Notably, over 31 percent of Germans did not even feel free expressing themselves in private among friends. Just 17 percent felt free to express themselves on the Internet and 35 percent said that freedom to speak is confined to the smallest of private circles.

And you were denouncing China for its control over speech.

Then again, today’s Democratic Party has embraced the European aberration. If the world does not look like the Democrats want it to look, the obvious solution is to shut up anyone who thinks differently-- which means anyone who is willing to stand up and say that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

Turley writes:

The most chilling fact is that European-style speech controls have become a core value in the Democratic Party. Once a party that fought for free speech, it has become the party demanding Internet censorship and hate speech laws. President-Elect Joe Biden has called for speech controls and recently appointed a transition head for agency media issues that is one of the most pronounced anti-free speech figures in the United States. It is a trend that seems now to be find support in the media, which celebrated the speech of French President Emmanuel Macron before Congress where he called on the United States to follow the model of Europe on hate speech.

And also:

We are moving into potentially the most anti-free speech period of American history — and possibly the most anti-free speech Administration. Many politicians are already arguing for citizens to give up their free speech rights in forums like the Internet. With the media echoing many of these anti-free speech sentiments, it will require a greater effort of those who value the First Amendment and its core place in our constitutional system.


David Foster said...

It is important to ask *why* so many people seem eager to throw away free speech principles. Part of it, perhaps, is a hankering for security. David Brooks suggests that:

“The values of the Millennial and Gen Z generations that will dominate in the years ahead are the opposite of Boomer values: not liberation, but security; not freedom, but equality; not individualism, but the safety of the collective; not sink-or-swim meritocracy, but promotion on the basis of social justice…Distrustful people try to make themselves invulnerable, armour themselves up in a sour attempt to feel safe… start to see threats that aren’t there.”

I’m not generally much of a fan of Brooks’ analyses and conclusion, but even a stopped (analog) clock is right twice a day. Perhaps he has a valid point here?

Another factor, I suspect, is changes in family structure. Kids who are put in a day-care situation at a very early age may develop a lifelong or at least long-term tendency to identify with the group…whatever that group might be…more than those who are raised in a traditional family situation, and especially so if there is only one parent in the home. As one data point, here’s an interesting article by someone who was raised in a collective situation in an early Israeli kibbutz.

And perhaps the threats and realities of Islamic terrorism have also had an influence…for 20 years now, there has been a constant (if low-level) sense that ‘if you say anything that the radical Islamists don’t like, they may kill you.’ Has this led to a habit of speech-guarding that has been generalized into many aspects of life?

Discussed at my post here:

Sam L. said...

Now, if I pick up that ashtray that everyone believes is not there, and whack someone on the head with it, will that someone yell "OUCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!"? (Swear words left out by writer.) (Fisticuffs at 20 paces...)

Anonymous said...

"Now, if I pick up that ashtray that everyone believes is not there, and whack someone on the head with it, will that someone yell "OUCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!"? (Swear words left out by writer.) (Fisticuffs at 20 paces...)"

Bill ducked, so Hill threw the lamp.