A leftist narrative gaining a lot of momentum in our current climate is “hate speech isn’t free speech!”, which, in essence, translates to “this speech, that you use, is not protected by the first amendment”. Seems a bit…convenient. Challenge this narrative, requesting a definition of “hate speech” and you will most likely find out that “hate speech” just means anything with which they disagree. This is why they don’t view your speech as permissible or even defensible under the law (the very law which they do not understand).
Liberals also own this narrative so they no longer see it valuable to defend free speech at all. The left wing in American politics is increasingly becoming more radical now that they seem to have a monopoly on allowable opinions. From here on out, the tyranny of the mob dictates. The terrifying reality of this is the censorship effect. There are truly great and decent people who just don’t want to be branded racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc. They don’t want to have their character dragged through the mud. They realize the inhumanity of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. Labels stick, and they don’t want to go to work, go to school, hang out in social circles and get stares or catch wind that their community is under the assumption that they’re x, y, or z (you fill it in). There’s a real inhumanity of castigating individuals or making them social pariahs without evidence. The real tragedy here is that most people will never speak up – they don’t want to have to wear a Scarlet Letter.
In reality, there’s nothing tolerant about the Left. They’re a nasty, tyrannical bunch who, through the use of ad hominems (character assassinations), shouting down any opposing viewpoints, and through violence, have managed to suppress any speech/idea with which they disagree. Humans are social animals, and the thought of being barred from society is instinctively terrifying and causes people a great deal of anxiety because, not too long ago in our tribal past, social ostracization meant death.
So there’s either a lack of perspective or an extreme form of narcissism for someone who will create victims with such ease. I suspect it’s something like the chicken or the egg riddle. If we were to take away the kindness filter that has emotionally dismantled so many arguments and look at the chunk of what is uttered I would say it would sound like this:
How dare you speak your mind openly in a free society!
How dare you debate ideas against us lovely and “tolerant” people!
I’m morally superior by helping out the poor. You are evil and hate x. Can’t you see how much better I am?
We want diversity!
But as Nicholas Kristof admits in his article A Confession of Liberal Intolerance, “Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.” In this, he admits the lack of diversity of thought shared by the ever more radical progressives. Nicholas then goes on to highlight the consequences of going against the values they claim to have:
“The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.”
By betraying their values of acceptance and diversity they, in essence, lose what John Stuart Mill called “the genius”. In his book, On Liberty, he writes, “Genius can only breathe freely in an atmosphere of freedom. Persons of genius are; ex vi termini, more individual than any other people – less capable, consequently, of fitting themselves, without hurtful compression, into any of the small number of moulds which society provides in order to save its members the trouble of forming their own character.” He goes on further to say “…People think genius a fine thing if it enables a man to write an exciting poem, or paint a picture. But in its true sense, that of originality in thought and action, at heart, think that they can do well without it.”
This describes where we’re at in our current political climate. When we deny individuals their natural rights we lose as a collective whole.
Under this language with veiled intentions coupled with feigned outrage, we’ve silenced a majority of people. The range of allowable opinion continues to shrink as more and more people are shamed away from speaking their minds. Under this guise of tolerance, an intolerance has manifested itself. It has to stop. Whenever anyone says “I’m offended” reply with “so what?” – being offended is not an argument and it neither posits a claim nor disputes yours. Make them make an argument. Don’t run from these intellectual midgets. All they have is emotion and slander. Sharpen your mind, read, seek knowledge, argue, and be righteously indignant. Good ideas over time beat bad ones.