Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Liberals' "Hate Speech" Problem

I decided yesterday that I was going to write today about "hate speech." And today I find that everybody is doing the same.

I suppose it all started when various pundits, from left to right, criticized Pam Geller for her Draw Muhammed art show in Garland, Texas, at which two amateur terrorists were gunned down by police. It had the effect of concentrating the minds of all those that love freedom.

Because freedom begins and ends with the right to be wrong.

Here's Breitbart London descanting on the evil North London bias of the BBC. Here's Victor Davis Hanson writing on the erosion of the First Amendment. Here's Kirsten Powers writing about colleges silencing dissent. Here are college fraternity members suspended for texting "sexual comments about women and girls." Here's a report about SJW entryism in open source software. And then there is the strategic Obama crackdown on the political opposition.

Everywhere you look you see liberals working to silence the opposition or try to take over institutions using the Gramscian tactic of the "march through the institutions."

I want to say that this is a real problem, not for conservatives and libertarians. It is a problem for liberals.

Because of what it says about liberals and liberal ideas.

Do you mean to say, liberals, that you need to suppress evil thoughts and speech in order for your ideas to have the proper environment to grow? Do you mean to say that your ideas are so weak that they do not speak for themselves and cannot differentiate themselves from the dross of the opposing bigotry and superstition?

We've seen this before, of course. There's always a temptation for a ruling orthodoxy to decide that the time for debate is over. Now it's time for dissident voices to shut up; the matter is settled. It always seems much easier to say that the argument is over rather than keep up the hard work of advancing your ideas and continuing a dialog with the opposition.

But I'd say that anyone that starts muttering about heresy or denial has a problem. They are saying that they want an end to discourse; from now on, only force will rule.

I have the same attitude towards the Gramscian "march through the institutions." As soon as you develop a strategy for anything, you are saying that you want force to rule. You are saying: never mind about discussion, about exchange of deeply felt ideas and sentiments; our ideas are the right ones, and we will fight to make them prevail.

Here's what I think about "hate speech" and "entryism."

First: If you deny other people the right to speak then you are saying that your own ideas aren't good enough to prevail in an open outcry. You are closing off a genuine process of intersubjectivity, of putting yourself in the place of the other, of analyzing the other person's viewpoint from their own point of view. You are saying: let the strong rule.

Second: If you need an entryist strategy to advance your cause, you are saying that it will never capture hearts and minds without first capturing the commanding heights of the culture and politics by stealth. You are saying: the only way we can win is with subterfuge.

Third: You are saying that  political power is the only reality.

The great contest of the last 500 years is the question of the limits of power: political, economic, and religious. Some people want to concentrate power, to make politics, economics, and faith work together for the betterment of humankind. Other people want to separate powers, to make the power seekers, in government, in the economy, in belief systems fight with each other, and prevent one single power from lording it over the others.

I'd say that the question is pretty well settled. Concentrating power leads to totalitarianism; Separating power leads to human flourishing. But humans will never agree on this.

As soon as you say: well those people are bigots, and we should shut them up, you are saying that we already know it all. We don't need to give space to people that have different ideas.

As soon as you say: we must staff the institutions with our own people, to make them resonate to the right ideas, you are saying that you have the one final answer.

But the experience of the remarkable last 500 years is that we never have the final answer to anything. As soon as you close down opposing ideas you are announcing the death of your own ideas. As soon as you place "your people" in strategic institutions you are setting those institutions up for decline and death.

In my view the whole apparatus of "political correctness" and marches through the institutions might as well be a public declaration of intellectual bankruptcy. The progressives are saying that their ideas are rubbish, but they are going to force them on us anyway.

One thing is for sure. When you start bullying and ordering people around they have two options. They can shut up and take it, or they can start to form a head of rebellion. Or both.

And that is why the liberal war on "hate speech" is a real problem. For liberals. Because it will order up a cultural and political movement that will destroy liberalism.

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