Censorship comes in many forms. It comes in the form of holding back information out of fear of a lawsuit. It comes in the form of not wanting children to see or hear information that they are not old enough to process, or using that as an excuse to create a media safe space. It comes in the form of redacting information deemed classified or restricted. But the most insidious form in our society comes out of fear of being “un-PC” or offending someone.
College campus across the country have experienced a surge in demand for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”. Dr. Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, recently summed up the issue well. “Free speech is at risk at the very institution where it should be assured: the university,” Dr. Zimmer said. “Invited speakers are disinvited because a segment of a university community deems them offensive, while other orators are shouted down for similar reasons. Demands have been made that assigned readings in some courses be eliminated because they might make some students uncomfortable.” Worst of all, such demands “have been supported by university administrators,” Zimmer said.
Demands of political correctness have divided this country and turned into a movement of self-righteousness. The irony that demanding protection of their own feelings is equally an infringement on the free speech rights of others is lost on the protesters. In our most recent presidential election, we witnessed the election of one of the most brash, unfiltered people to ever run for the office. Many who chose to vote for him said that they liked that “he says what he thinks”. Regardless of your feelings about the content of what he was saying (and trust me, I have issues with it), the underlying message of such a statement is “I’m tired of being told what I can or can’t say, and this guy is going to fight back”. Yeah, some of those people used that as an excuse to spew foul racist hatred nonsense. But others found solace in simply fighting back against the emerging national culture of behaving like emasculated children. They were scared of what was happening, and saw it is a battle of “entrenched, more of the same insider” vs “guy unafraid to take on the establishment and say and do what needs to be done”. The left used this as an excuse to paint all Trump supporters as racist. But the reality is that simply painting those choosing to follow Trump with wide brushes instead of fighting the policies and message has given the country to Trump. The presidency went to the worst candidate this country has ever seen, whose main qualification, according to many of his supporters, is that he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. People were tired of the PC culture and voted for a narcissistic madman because of it.
The movement is so absurd that it has become a joke. Even South Park has introduced a character called PC Principal, whose entire mission is to enforce political correctness in the elementary school. The show had an entire episode devoted to “safe spaces”, featuring a Snidely Whiplash-like character named “Reality” who destroys their safe spaces. And speaking of jokes, even the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and other comedians have said they will no longer perform at colleges because they cannot tell jokes without protesters shouting down things they disagree with.
Censorship takes other forms as well, many of which are harmful to our society. Legitimate news organizations now are at fear of being labeled “fake news” for speaking the uncomfortable truth and have begun censoring themselves by not digging into the news the way they once did. Gone are the days of Watergate investigations by journalists, which is unfortunate because they may be needed now more than ever. The government is now free to censor information from other places that makes Americans look bad. Our own president, the one who was supposed to be a champion of being allowed to “say what you think”, is blocking entire media outlets from covering his speeches.
Even progressive groups can’t agree on what is acceptably PC. They can’t find meeting spaces because of excuses like “they don’t cater to vegetarians”. I listen to the radio and hear songs with words bleeped out. I watch TV and scenes are cut that have no business being cut that make the movie suddenly make no sense. Are we protecting children, or catering to a bunch of people that want all media to be a safe space as well? My response to radio stations or tv that can’t broadcast something in its entirety is to not play the item in question at all.
We in society are not allowed to say what we think for fear of being shouted down, sued, or even physically abused. I have no fear on this blog of naming names or referencing specific people or events because I will never say things that are not either a) my opinion, or b) facts for which I can provide evidence. I will not defame anyone because I will never (intentionally!) say anything false, and if I did, I would immediately correct it and even retract it if it is pointed out.
In general, I am a believer in fact-based public shaming rather than censorship. You can do or say things, but they have consequences. You can say racist things, but don’t be surprised when the video of it appears on YouTube and you are cast as a pariah. Still, things should be judged on intent. Did that comedian on the stage say that bit because he is racist? No, he was trying to get a laugh. Why should certain things be totally off limits in comedy? Why can you make jokes about Canadians, but not Mexicans, without being racist? I watched a recent comedy special where the comedian pointed out that every joke is offensive…to someone. There is truth to that. You can’t be funny to some without being offensive to others. But those offended often are the loud ones taking to the street to shout down the perceived offender.
Freedom of press, freedom of speech, and freedom of movement are key rights in our country. Any attempts to restrict them, whether they come from the left or the right, should be viewed as harshly as an assault on any other constitutional rights. In the words of Reality: We take our spoiled lives for granted. Feel a little bad about it sometimes. Now, you want to put all your shit up on the internet and have every person say “hooray for you”. Fuck you. You’re all pricks.