I have noticed something quite disturbing of late, and I think it’s been a long time coming but recently has been taken to its logical absurdity. The most insidious problem we face as humans is not climate change. It is Political Correctness. There is a determined, well-funded movement to suppress speech that is considered “harmful” to others. Who gets to determine what is harmful and what is not? Certainly not you or me. “Top. Men.” (stolen from Raiders of the Lost Ark) Who are these “top men”? Well, they are politicians, celebrities, news organizations, and other pearl-clutching busybodies who insist on controlling the narrative.
The funny bit is the Internet is very hard to censor. Certainly there are ways to make it harder to get to things, but by and large, the Internet is still self-healing and will work around blockages. (Google the “Streisand Effect” for a good example.) When things get out on the Internet, they do not disappear. Removing things would be about as productive as putting toothpaste back in the tube, if the opening were the diameter of two atoms. This sort of unintended consequences of instant communication and a networked world really scares politicians, moneyed interests, celebrities, and anyone else who wants to control what the “great unwashed” see and hear. But I digress… this isn’t about the Streisand Effect in particular, but how people cannot express their own opinions anymore without immediate “apologies” and other acts of contrition while everyone tweets death threats because a person dared to say “I don’t give two monkeys about the Kardashians”.
A good recent example of this behavior is Ted Nugent’s tweet about Barak Obama. He called him a “subhuman mongrel”, and immediately the Internet was awash with virtual Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons calling for Ted’s head on a platter. Was it the most eloquent way to tell everyone his position on the current President? No, but that’s not the point. The point was he should be allowed to say it without facing repercussions from people who shouldn’t be policing other human beings’ speech in the first place. They are just words. Words are not force. Speech is not force. You literally cannot hurt someone with words. The person may allow themselves to be offended, hurt, angered by words, but that is the recipient’s problem, not the speaker’s.
What can be done about this? I don’t know, considering how entrenched it is. We cannot criticize the President or we’re “racists”. We cannot make off-color jokes about people and celebrities because we might hurt their feelings. News flash, folks: You don’t have a right not to be offended. Ignore the trolls. Stop being “Social Justice Warriors” and stop trying to police speech that isn’t bothering anyone. Remember what people said about all the religious groups who protested films that depicted their religion in a less-than-flattering light? I’ll give you a hint. They didn’t tell the film maker to stop doing it. They told those “offended” to get a life and change the channel.
So here’s what everyone should remember about the Internet and free speech. If you don’t like it, get a life and change the channel. In the immortal words of Denis Leary: “Life’s hard, buy a helmet.” It won’t matter in a few years when the thought police censure you for thinking a controversial thought if you don’t nip it in the bud today. Remember, you’re not truly free unless you are free to be wrong.