Wednesday, July 08, 2020
A friend of Voltaire described his attitude towards free speech as "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". Today a similar sentiment was expressed by JK Rowling and 150 other public figures speaking out against "cancel culture". The question is one of proportional response. If somebody just holds and expresses an offensive opinion, but other than that does not act on that opinion in a way that would be illegal, then wouldn't the proportional response be to tell him off? If people organize an online lynch mob to make somebody lose his job over an offensive remark, that is basically the thought police.
I'm not saying that you don't have the right to be offended by somebody who is for example racist. But does that racist person have to lose her job over the incident? And where exactly is the limit of offensiveness at which a person expressing a personal belief needs to be punished beyond being told that you disagree with him/her. Oh, I said "him/her" without including a third non-binary option. That could potentially be offensive to somebody with a non-binary gender identity. So does that mean that you should find out where I work and get me fired? (Fortunately that doesn't work in Europe) Should you get fired because you happen to believe that Columbus was a great person? That sure does offend somebody.
Nearly 160 years ago, the United States of America became disunited and split up over a difference in opinion about social justice. The result was over 1 million deaths, a third of which civilians. Sometimes I feel as if the USA are well on their way towards a second edition of this. You need to realize that Trump is not a politically correct person, and that the 40% of Americans who support him strongly are also unlikely to be politically correct. Organizing witch hunts against those 40% of Americans and causing them economic harm, despite knowing that these are the 40% of Americans who also own most of the guns, doesn't sound like a good idea to me. I am all for trying to change somebody else's mind with arguments and discussion. But the stronger the political correctness brigade persecutes the not-so-politically-correct with means beyond words, the stronger they will fight back.