“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
― George Orwell
“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
― George Washington
“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”
― Oscar Wilde
(It’s on the internet. Gotta be true.)
UPDATE: Peggy Noonan (Wow, she was a beautiful ice skater in 1968!) has a Wall Street Journal Column stuck behind a firewall but excerpted on Instapundit.
Life gives you potentials for freedom, creativity, achievement, love, all sorts of beautiful things, but none of us are “safe.” And you are especially not safe in an atmosphere of true freedom. People will say and do things that are wrong, stupid, unkind, meant to injure. They’ll bring up subjects you find upsetting. It’s uncomfortable. But isn’t that the price we pay for freedom of speech?
You can ask for courtesy, sensitivity and dignity. You can show others those things, too, as a way of encouraging them. But if you constantly feel anxious and frightened by what you encounter in life, are we sure that means the world must reorder itself? Might it mean you need a lot of therapy?
I am a conservative Republican. This rant is aimed at those who are not.
“Liberals and conservatives should have one great notion in common: We don’t like to be told to shut up.” – Dave Alexander (me)
Whatever you think of conservatives who ordinarily don’t agree with your politics, environmental policy or view of gender/sexuality issues, remember that. We have that in common. Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians…we all have to fight this trend.
People are losing their jobs, their careers, and their futures simply because they were indelicate in their speech. Their message did not fit into someone else’s worldview, and the townspeople arrived with torches and pitchforks.
I’m a free market kind of person, and most folks used to support the free exchange of ideas, especially on college campuses and schools.
This next bit seems to be off-topic, but you’ll understand if you stay with me.
Enjoy this quick excerpt from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: It involves people being shot at, and some cops with a PR problem. The problem being that…well. They happen to be shooting at people:
SHOOTY: (A cop)
It isn’t easy being a cop.
What did he say?
He said it isn’t easy being a cop.
Well, surely that’s his problem isn’t it?
I’d have thought so.
Er, er, hey listen! I think we’ve got enough problems of our own with you shooting at us, so if you could avoid laying your personal problems on us as well, I think we’d probably find it easier to cope!
BANG-BANG: (The other cop.)
Now see hear buddy. You’re not dealing with any dumb, two-bit trigger-pumping morons with low hairlines, little piggy eyes, and no conversation.
SHOOTY: (the other cop)
We’re a couple of intelligent, caring guys, who’d you probably like if you met us socially.
That’s right. I’m really sensitive.
I don’t go around gratuitously shootin’ people and then bragging about it in seedy space-rangers bars. I go around gratuitously shootin’ people and then agonizing about it afterwards to my girlfriend.
And I write novels.
He writes ‘em in crayon.
Though I haven’t had any of them published yet so I better warn ya, I’m in a mee-ee-eeannnn mood.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is fabulous, and thanks to Clive Banks for posting part of the radio play.
“We are all in a lot of trouble if we don’t support each other’s right to say things.” — Dave Alexander (still me)
I may seem as foreign to liberals as a space cop. You may assume all conservatives are dumb, two-bit trigger-pumping morons with low hairlines, little piggy eyes, and no conversation. Fine. Keep that idea. I just hope you will see how much the present social climate is hurting civil rights.
This extends to liberals, lesbians, gays, transgendered and a lot of other folks. You think you’re free today just because no one has recently told you to shut up? That’s a fantasy. You just haven’t pissed off the right people.
I don’t understand why the left in America does not get the message: People are coming to shut you up. And when it happens, it won’t be the Tea Party, or Mitt Romney, or any of the Bush boys. It will be someone who thinks you are stepping away from established orthodoxy and who figure you need reeducation. It might be someone who tries to convince you that you have committed a microaggression.
You think you should have full authority over your body? Great. Try having complete control over your mouth. Use the word “gal” on a college campus.
Ask a lesbian,”Honey. Be honest. Ryan Gosling does nothing for you?
(I’m not actually suggesting he does anything for me, cause he and I are both totally straight guys and I just spent five minutes staring into his dreamy eyes.)
Or worse yet, suggest to friends that abortion after 23 weeks seems barbaric.
Suggest that people on welfare should work harder.
Draw Mohammed. Or just suggest drawing Mohammed. Or suggest that drawing Mohammed shouldn’t be a crime punishable by death.
Suggest that it’s not easy being a cop.
Get back to me and let me know if the reaction was logical, emotional or visceral. I’m guessing the latter. See if those same friends don’t try to enforce orthodoxy on you.
Are you on a college campus with speech codes? Is there one “Free Speech Zone” in which controversial subjects are raised? Do your peers need “trigger warnings” before their delicate sensibilities can be upset by a new idea? Or are people refusing to invite courageous speakers to college?
Worrying too, then, is the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an ex Muslim, highly critical of Islam, too critical for some. As a victim herself, she has campaigned against female genital mutilation. She has campaigned for the rights of Muslim women. In a recent book she has argued that for Islam to live more at ease in the modern world it needs to rethink its attitudes to homosexuality, to the interpretation of the Koran as the literal word of God, to blasphemy, to punishing severely those who want to leave the religion. Contrary to what some have suggested, such arguments are neither racist nor driven by hatred. But she has received death threats. Crucially, on many American campuses she is not welcomed.
When did college campuses become places where orthodoxy is more important than freedom of thought?
Robert Tracinski of the Federalist points out that Liberals are actually becoming illiberal. He points out that in the area of gay marriage and bakeries, the notion that the government regulates commerce gives government an easy way to force orthodoxy.
This is how the “liberals” got so illiberal, because there is no hard and fast dividing line between regulating “only” our economic lives and regulating everything else. All aspects of human life find an expression in commerce, so if you regulate that, you regulate everything. Which they are now happily proceeding to do.
Ken White of Popehat chimes in with a great primer for those looking for anti-free speech messages hidden in the media:
In discussing our First Amendment rights, the media routinely begs the question — it adopts stock phrases and concepts that presume that censorship is desirable or constitutional, and then tries to pass the result off as neutral analysis. This promotes civic ignorance and empowers deliberate censors.
Some people just gotta get another hobby.
(I added a few sentences for clarity, and a Peggy Noonan quote at 2:20 PM, 5/22/15)
Every page would have the same graphics and links to the left and right of the new content. The links would include new writing by the author, which you might be interested in, but there would be a lot of stuff you’d just ignore.
Eventually, you would notice that the only new content would be isolated to the middle third of each page. Books would be very long.
Every now and then an animated commercial would block the book’s content. After a while, the ad would go away. If you accidentally touched the page during the ad, you it would take a while before you could read your book again. In the meantime, you would be holding a brochure from Toyota, on the new Prius. If you read at night, you might wake up your spouse with a really loud commercial — which can’t be shut down because the X is hidden. Better to turn off the volume of the whole book.
The publisher would suggest other writers whose work you might be interested in. A Mark Twain book would suggest O. Henry. This would be mildly helpful, except that you’re still trying to get to the end of Huckleberry Fin. Sometimes other people would pick up your book, and because of this, you would get suggestions for books you would never read.
If your cat walked across the book you were reading, the text might be sideways next time you picked it up. Your whole book may be replaced with search results of seven random letters plus the $ key.
Every now and then you would accidentally touch a part of the book and tell all your friends you “like” Twilight or The Diabetic’s Guide to Erectile Dysfunction.
Pictures would dance, move and slide across the page. This will in no way enhance your reading experience.
In the middle of a paragraph, you might be interrupted by the book asking if you wanted to stop a script. Click yes. It will make your book faster. Sometimes after you turn a page, you will need to download Shockwave or some other plugin to read on.
If your book has a list, like a list of people who are about to be killed, that list will be broken up over several pages. Very little content new will appear on each new page, and you will have to wait for ads and other distractions to fully load before you move on. Chapters will be total teases: Mr. Crumpet finds Laura in the library! And what happens next shocks everybody!
And finally, if books were blogs, every idiot would have written one.
Sometimes you can see these things coming. Who really thought that the monologue entitled “Mohammed Gets a Boner” would really ever open? The piece took on the subject of when it is appropriate to offend religious groups. Greenwich Village artsies can sit home with their DVD’s of “Monty Python’s Life of Brian,” which is something completely different.
Also in the news, a Duke Professor said something controversial about race and then was put on leave. Other than being inelegant, I can’t find anything that bad in what he said. He’s a white guy talking about race, and he mentions his workplace, so yes. He should have known he was on very thin ice. Note to self: Never use the phrase “the blacks.”
Not mentioned in that article was a part of the comment which noted that Asian-Americans have very American sounding names. (His term, not mine.) He contrasts this with African-American students who have more exotic names. He figures the Asians are more willing to assimilate. I’m not saying he’s right, but it’s worthy of debate. The relative success rates among racial groups are important, but apparently the subject can be career ending. Again, the guy should be able to speak up without immediately being put on leave. Duke has already taken an official stance against the professor.
From the News and Observer:
In an email, Hough said he was a disciple of Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s and voted for President Barack Obama. He pointed out that the first book he assigned to students in 1961 was “Black Like Me.” He further stated that one of the best students he ever taught was African American, and he had encouraged her to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship, but she pursued a career in athletics.
He said he’s working on a book on the 1960s social revolutions and that “I am very disappointed in the lack of progress” for African Americans.
“The point I was raising was why the Asians who were oppressed did so well and are integrating so well, and the blacks are not doing as well,” his email said. “The comments have convinced me to write a book which will add the Asians to all the research I did on blacks.”
Funny word. It means the actions of bullies who demand that you stop talking about a particular subject. Brett Kimberlin has sued a group of bloggers, and lost, in an attempt to keep his history as a criminal secret. Kimberlin lost his case but filed another. Another blogger by the name of Bill Schmalfeldt has done the same. Bill Schmalfeldt is threatening to sue a bunch of folks just for criticizing his writing. Both men claim they’ve been harassed, though folks who write about them don’t actually write TO them. Seems hard to harass somebody if you leave them alone.
If you’re a writer, a felon or a creepy internet character, you can hardly ask that people ignore you completely. What if you’re a religion?
The Charlie Hebdo attack and the attempted assassination of Pamela Geller are all a part of shuttuppery. These are the brownshirts who precede the elimination of First Amendment rights. We’re being encouraged by some to respect the demands of Muslims not to draw Mohammed. Or to stop talking about Brett Kimberlin, an individual who exploded several bombs — including one at a high school football game. We should ignore the writings of Bill Schmalfeldt, who records comedy featuring Scouts having anal sex, observed by a Scout Master?
Whether you’re a fanatical religionist, a butthurt failed author/comedian, or you’re just an odd dude with a criminal past, you really should know that some people will take notice. Don’t expect the legal system to protect you from having your feelings hurt.
Sorry. America doesn’t frighten so easily. I certainly don’t.
Update: Apparently this sort of thing is even worse in Canada, as there are “Human Rights Commissions” which will bring you grief for speeking freely. Ken White has some fun with a Quebec town and its thin-skinned police. Click on the link in his article, and you’ll find that his Onion style article is close to real life.
Black with two lumps? Smooth, and never bitter? Spicy and Colombian?
No, rich and full bodied.
Bill Schmalfeldt is a pest. He put my picture on Twitter, mentioned my Chapter 13 filing, and even threatened my employment. Today I mentioned that he might need to take a road trip to North Carolina about a Peace Order. He’s all sad about that. Mostly he wants me to keep my head down.
Schmalfeldt has been hinting about contacting my employer to inform them that I am harassing him on their time and/or computers. Now he says a judge could sign a subpoena to compel a search of my work computers. I’m not so sure my work really needs a suboena to search their own computers. In fact, every time I talk with them about this, they say how much they are concerned with my safety. Because they did the one thing I always suggest: They Googled Bill Schmalfeldt.
I don’t harass. I don’t ever contact Bill Schmalfeldt. Other than my email to him saying that he was to stop contact with me, he has NEVER heard from me. I never contact him at all. Apparently, he wants me to cut off my contact with the people who comment at hogewash.com and thinkingmanszombie.wordpress.com. Schmalfeldt, I’ll talk to anyone I want.
People keep asking me why I’m not angry about this, or scared. There are several reasons. Bill ain’t got nothin’. Zip. I have never harassed him, although I was pretty rough on his comedy sketch about the two Cub Scouts having anal sex. Yup, he thinks that’s funny. I’m pretty sure I commented about one of his lousy books. He’s a writer and self-styled comedian. He’s got to take the good reviews with the bad. OK, so far they’ve all been bad. I will continue to comment about his online harassment of others. I’ll talk about anything I want, Schmalfeldt.
The other reason is that this all centers around the First Amendment, and the rights of rabble like me to speak our minds. If I let this two bit bully push me around, then I’ve given up my right to speak my mind. Keep my head down? Not at your command, and not on your advice.