I’m not sure what the definition of rock-bottom is for human progression, but banning speech and opinions must be close to the molten core.
We’ve already seen it historically with the Dark Ages, where those who dared to defy the church were called heretics and were then beheaded or burned at the stake.
As most would agree, it was a pretty nasty sliver of human history.
With that in mind, I am alarmed at how many people seem hellbent on sending our society back to a world where a wrong word or opinion shared with the wrong person can ruin your life.
We’ve reached a point that, with so many words and ideas banned, people are not expressing themselves freely. If you use the wrong word when referring to an Asian, you are called a racist. If you make jokes about women in any context, you are called sexist. If you don’t use the right pronoun when referring to a transsexual, you are called transphobic.
These labels are all just the modern equivalent of shouting “Heretic!” but instead of being physically killed, you face a cyber lynch-mob of SJW’s (Social Justice Warriors) who aim to destroy your professional and personal lives.
Yes, that’s why I am using the pseudonym of Tim at the moment. I’m a “social heretic” in many ways.
The irony is that these SJW’s are strongly opposed to ideas like eugenics. Yet, they engage in the ideological equivalent of eugenics.
As I have said before, human society is collectively an evolving organism. Ideas that have credibility are passed on, and the ones that don’t are naturally not propagated. The credibility of an idea is, therefore, decided by the jury of the masses.
But what is beginning to happen is that those who present ideas that are contrary to the new narrative are forcibly sterilized. They are provided with no platform to even offer their ideas, and if they attempt to do so on the established platforms, they are warned, brigaded, suspended or even criminally charged.
It is for that reason that I agree with the journalist Milo Yiannopoulos, who was recently banned on Twitter for upsetting fragile wallflowers, when he says that we need more speech of all varieties.
Because, as he states, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
And it’s true. When you give a soapbox to people who have genuinely malevolent ideas, the jury regulates them accordingly. Better than that, their toxic ideas are exposed for what they are, and, if their ideas have no basis in truth, their supporters totally evaporate.
The example he used was the BNP in the United Kingdom. Milo does a fantastic job of telling the story of how their support tanked when, after being censored from mainstream media for so long, they were given airtime on mainstream TV. I highly recommend watching it.
In step with my opinion on law, censorship should be limited to circumstances where an individual’s life, liberty and property are jeopardized. Material that violates those, such as actual death threats (life), unconsenting / unconsentable porn (liberty), and people’s personal information, passwords, etc. (property) are all that social media and other community-based sites should be censoring.
I applaud the enforcement of those.
But what should not be censored are opinions and ideas that make some people uncomfortable. When you reach a point where you feel the need for trigger warnings and safe spaces, it is time to take a very long, hard look at yourself.
Or just retreat from society. If someone presenting an opposing opinion to your own causes you to have a shrieking, quivering meltdown, maybe check yourself into a Tumblr echo-chamber where you can live out a sad existence with everyone agreeing with you.
Laughter really is the best medicine, and with mainstream humour being watered down to little more than fart jokes and aeroplane food, we are going to become toxically serious about ourselves and become unable to laugh at our differences. That’s the sort of pent-up friction that leads to wars.
On top of that, censorship and its ugly brother political correctness have also made people really “learning impaired”. It has progressed from “being nice” and trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings unnecessarily, to just being silly.
In some nurseries in the UK now, it is considered offensive to recite the nursery rhyme “Baa Baa Black Sheep” without changing the words to “Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep”, because of course, the original lyrics were considered racist.
But as a New Zealander (we are considered a global authority on sheep), and I can assure you I have never seen a rainbow sheep. Plenty of
sheep with wool that is darkly coloured, in a stark contrast to the more common white sheep black sheep, though.
That’s the other thing. It makes you use so many more words, when an old “offensive” word is more descriptive and said with no malicious intentions.
No wonder so many youths these days have social anxiety disorders! I’d have trouble talking to people too if I gave a shit what they might label me as if I slip up.
In fact, that’s the cure for both social anxiety and censorship: Realizing that an opinion cannot hurt you.
If the authoritarians who want to censor people by label-shame could realize that opinions and words don’t hurt people, they wouldn’t feel a need to engage in their ludicrous antics.
And if you understand that another person thinking that you are a sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, misogynist, cisgendered, privileged white male actually has no teeth and that they are just words from an unwell person who can’t operate on the field of logic or empathy, it doesn’t matter so much.
BUT! (This is a big but. I cannot lie)
When dealing with the PC brigade (ie. in a work environment), it’s probably not a good idea to go out of your way to piss in their cornflakes.
While I believe that we can collectively overcome the bounds of censorship to express ourselves fully, in the meantime, the lunatics are running the asylum, and as I alluded to before, personal and professional lives have been ruined over non-conforming opinions being expressed.
Don’t be a martyr for freedom of expression. Don’t get yourself fired because you called your boss a wanker. That’s not what I’m saying to do. That’s what the crazies want you to do so that they can make their point.
But if you have a strong conviction to say something, such as speaking out against perceived injustice, allow yourself to say it.
Intent is the most important factor – make sure you are proceeding from a place of truth and stability, not just rabidly using rhetorical artillery for the sake of hurting someone.
Keep pushing those boundaries.