There are a lot of things about the current state of the world that are concerning, obviously, but I think more than any fleeting concern like the pandemic or the recent social unrest, the idea of needing to sanitize all thought, to sterilize everyone’s environment is the most concerning of all.
I suppose I’m not sure when the right never to be offended, or never to be exposed to something that challenges you or opposes you, became a right. Why does someone get to simply claim they don’t like something and that it makes them feel “unsafe” or somesuch, and that’s it? The person or idea they don’t like is banned and banished?
(I’m not talking about the recent PB drama in specific, but the whole notion in general)
I wonder where this idea came from, because it’s not the way the real world works. I don’t really have a right to anything. Other people don’t have to cater to me. I suppose I might today be something of a free speech extremist in that I think people should be able to say whatever they want, and that there should be a general respect for the right of others to have ideas and beliefs that are different from mine, even ideas or beliefs that I hate.
The reason this is important is that without free exchange of opinions there can eventually be no free thought. There is a reason why oppressive governments need to heavily regular speech and criminalize certain types of thought. If we willingly submit to this, that the only ideas that are OK are what is popular in the present moment, what can you say when eventually they come for you? If the right to free thought and expression is not absolute, eventually the weapons you have fashioned will be used on you.
I’m not sure why we are so historically illiterate today, but banning things you simply don’t like from society is the road to a culture’s destruction. We have to be able to see things we don’t like and ignore them or argue against them without denying people who have different ideas the right to exist.
If you go to the holocaust museum in Washington you see the uniforms they put people in for having religious beliefs that prevailing opinion disliked. You see a rail car that was used to banish and eliminate humans who a society first decided had no place in polite society, and then no place at all. You also see an engraving that says something like:
First they came for the socialists and I did not speak, because I was not a socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak, because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak because I wasn’t a Jew
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak.
Ideas have consequences. Those things did not happen primarily because of soldiers who loved evil and devoted their life to it. They happened because what came out of books and newspapers and professors’ lecterns for a generation convinced them that what they were doing was good, and that questioning was unacceptable.
It’s at everyone’s doorstep now, even here.
It has to be ok for people to disagree, or we don’t have a culture anymore, we have a cult.