Conservatism

The Preposterous Limiting of Free Speech and the Morons Who Actually Want to Do It

For once, the always magnanimous Jeffrey Tayler has written something well worth reading, something that even a raving, lunatic theist, such as myself, can look at and cry “amen!” Granted, the irony that I find so much pleasure in an article subtitled “Laughing at Religion Is Exactly What the World Needs” has not gone unnoticed and, to be sure, much of its content is the usual putrid drivel we’ve come to expect from a Salon writer who apparently has little more than a Sunday school education in theology. But Tayler’s unhealthy obsession with religion-bashing and proclivity for hate-fueled rants notwithstanding (What happened to you as a child, Jeffrey?), the core of his overall contention, in this article at least, is pure, unadulterated gold.

That Bill Maher has been so harshly criticized on so many occasions has often been a thing of disappointment for me, and I sometimes find it rather amusing that the bulk of this criticism comes from those of his own political persuasion, which, as far as I can tell, only reinforces the idea that those on the left have become increasingly totalitarian: liberals in name only. Interestingly, Tayler seems to neglect any mention that modern liberalism is one of the greatest enemies to free speech, choosing instead to focus solely on those Muslims and Christians who demand respect and freedom from offense, all the while failing to note that the Muslims and Christians calling for such action are primarily those who identify with the political left. A curious omission indeed.

None of this is to suggest that conservatives are innocent, mind you. It was, after all, Paul Weyrich who accused Natalie Maines of treason for doing little more than than criticizing George W. Bush (Let’s just bring back the Alien-Sedition Acts, shall we?), and you’ll find no end of non-profit “family” organizations whining over some benign joke or sexual innuendo that offends the delicate sensibilities of their pious, little souls. Rarely, however, have they actually called for the stifling of one’s right to unhindered expression (at least not in recent years), and what gripes they do have often remain in a relatively private setting as opposed to the appalling media circus incited by these idiotic clowns who clamor for that impossibly stupid forced “apology.” Give me a break. The matter is really one of balance and weight, since lunatics on both sides of the aisle will always try to quell the ideas of their ideological opponents in flagrant rebellion against the standards set by Milton, Bayle, Paine, Voltaire, Jefferson, Mill, and yes, the United States Constitution; but to my eye, it is the contemporary left that has been far and away the greatest single transgressor of this most basic human right, convicting the world of thought crimes and raping the minds of those with whom they disagree.

In a horrifying blog entry entitled “Here Is Why It’s Time to Get Tough on Hate Speech in America” a disgusting and evil woman by the purported name of Tanya Cohen, whose writings reek of such unimaginable, closed-minded intolerance that I momentarily thought her a satirist of the highest rank, proposes the outlawing of everything from insults and impoliteness to “speech that undermines the authority of the state.” (Odd that one by the name of Cohen should be so averse to questioning governmental authority.) Laughably she continues to suggest this abominable tripe all the while maintaining that she is a “strong believer in the unalienable right to freedom of speech,” as if one who calls for the banning of unacceptable ideas can possibly have even the slightest idea of what free speech really is. The whole concept of it is based on the exchange of unacceptable ideas and on the anti-authoritarian rhetoric that flourished at a time when the human mind was being liberated from the intellectual tyranny of popes, bishops, and man-made institutions.

Today we have controversy over whether or not public transportation in New York should carry the AFDI’s ad campaign exposing that farcical piss-stain of a religion known as radical Islam, Islamo-terrorism, Satanism, or whatever you prefer to call it. Admittedly, the matter is a sticky one since a company should never be forced to advance a message it finds objectionable, and, as a public benefit corporation, the MTA straddles a unique fence as part private entity and part government organization. It’s not my state. I’ll leave it alone. The whole debate, however, is indicative of the times: times characterized by a shocking sensitivity unparalleled in the history of mankind and accompanied by a fear of every possible offense that may possibly arise. As a result of this forced and artificial “tolerance” the entire left is becoming increasingly intolerant and turning, as Jim Norton says, “into the religious book-burners of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

What Ms. Cohen and her reprehensible ilk, blinded as their are by their own vile stupidity, don’t seem to understand is that the suppression of a word is the suppression of an idea. And the suppression of an idea, even a bad one, is an assault on human progress and probably the most illiberal thing a so-called “civil libertarian” can do. (Don’t sully that word, my dear.) However much I disagree with Jeffrey Tayler and the nonsensical excrement he tries to pass off as “reason,” the man is absolutely right when he says,

“[S]hut up!” is the last command of which the Greats of the Enlightenment and their heirs would have approved. The 19th-century British philosopher John Stuart Mill, in On Liberty, put it best, referring to suppressed speech: “If the opinion is right, [the shutter-uppers] are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” If Maher is really so wrong, why not let him hoist himself by his own petard?

Freedom and Fear Are Strange and Secret Bedfellows Who Need a Divorce.

As a corollary to the supercilious bullshittery being peddled by the worst representatives of leftist politics is the tragic proposition by California’s Matthew McLaughlin not only to outlaw homosexual behavior, but to make it a crime punishable by death (via bullets, though it’s not clear if the traditional methods of stoning and burning are acceptable). From one point of view this latter suggestion would appear substantially worse than the gross intolerance demonstrated by mainstream LBGT advocates, as seen especially in the wake of Indiana’s RFRA debacle, yet the matter is nonetheless precisely the same in both cases, i.e. a totalitarian imposition of personal morality upon a vast and diverse population who should have every right to judge for themselves what ethical and religious beliefs they consider best.

It’s hard to imagine McLaughlin making any pretensions of inclusivity, since I suspect most of those embracing his form of theonomy care little for the classically liberal, Enlightenment-based political philosophy of the American way and would prefer instead to live in a Geneva-like utopia, complete with consistory and all just to make sure there’s not too much dancing in the streets. But semantics and persona aside, is there any real difference to the underlying thought processes that inform the polar ends of our ideological spectrum and the participants in modern policy debate? As I see it, one of the major driving forces behind the vitriol of both sides is an incessant and nagging fear, likely stemming from a primitive instinct to favor the group, which can, in turn, cause us to view outside individuals as inherently suspect and potentially dangerous to our own well-being. Beneficial though this may have been in our ancestral environment (and maybe even today in certain contexts), when applied to a world in which democracy reigns, the inevitable result is a sort of political tribalism that elevates identity and ideology over reason and logic, thereby engendering a measure of strife that can’t be assuaged by rationalization, but only by bloodbath and sheer disaster.