By Mike Tront – Support Mike on Patreon
I still have a few memories of the history lessons from my public schooling. Most of them are of the narrative that government is wonderful as long as it’s a democracy. And FDR was the greatest thing since sliced bread. And without government, gruesome monopolies would roam the land.
But I also remember learning that the freedom of speech is the most important right to a free society. It is the 1st Amendment for a reason. And the old quote, “I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This was the early 90’s. I wonder if this is quote is being taught today!
At that time, it looked like the religious right was the big threat to speech. This was a time of hatred for dirty lyrics in music. By 1990, no less than 21 states introduced bills to restrict the selling of music to minors if it had “explicit lyrics.” Right around that time, from 1990 to 2004 to be exact, Howard Stern racked up an amazing $2.5 million in fines from the FCC for being indecent. The bulk of those fines were from 1991-1993.
Yes, around this time the term “politically correct” was being invented on college campuses, but it was largely ignored and mocked across the country. Bill Maher had a popular show called “Politically Incorrect.” The movie “PCU” came out in 1994, mocking PC culture on campuses. PC seemed to run out of steam as quickly as it had popped up.
Today it’s back full force. This time it may not go away. Maybe social media is to blame. In the 90’s, you had to be a on a major college campus to be in the PC crowd. Now, anyone with a smart phone and a hatred of anyone holding a different opinion than you can be a warrior.
To be fair, social justice warriors are right in wanting to end racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, and any other terrible phobia or ism that does not belong in a free society. But unfortunately, they are adopting the exact tactics of bigots to end bigotry. They operate on hate and force, not education and love.
Instead of embracing freedom of speech, they want to ban it. Some even want to repeal the 1st Amendment entirely! Just as insane, some in the PC crowd are actually embracing segregation! Thus limiting any discussion on why certain people might hold racist or sexist views. In his groundbreaking book Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought, Jonathan Rauch, who is a long time proponent of free speech and same-sex marriage equality, argues that only free and open debate will move society in a positive direction.
Whether you’re libertarian, conservative, or liberal, the only way to a society free of hatred and bigotry is through free and open discussion. Shouting down a group that thinks different than you only emboldens that group, whether they are right or wrong. Worse, it deepens their conviction, thus eliminating any doubt in their mind that they might be wrong in their thought.
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