Sunday, August 03, 2014

Standing Athwart History, Whining 'Make it Stop!'

Those of you who have better things to do may have missed, a couple of weeks ago, one of the greatest assaults on human liberty since the dawn of mankind. I am referring, of course, to The Day Josh Barro Imposed His Totalitarian Dictatorship on the World. In the least surprising plot development ever, Erick Erickson threw a hissy fit ("Certainly I’d like to think Barro doesn’t have extermination of the religious at mind", which is awfully generous of him, don't you think?), in response to which Barro disappointed us all by totally wussing out on the whole killing homophobes thing. But even this mild suggestion was way too much for the folks at the National Review. Because apparently it's too late--Barro has already killed a bunch of people, or at least tried to:
Consider the real-world actions against the Family Research Council (FRC), when a shooter in 2012 broke into its building with the intent of murdering staffers. How did this come about? The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labeled FRC a “hate group.” The shooter, who wounded and would have killed a brave security guard, confessed that he was influenced by the materials posted on the SPLC’s website. Similarly, Barro’s words give license to those who would seek to disparage people with traditional beliefs about sexuality. Even if Barro doesn’t actually want violence to occur, his rhetoric could help incite it.
Of course, you'll have noticed that in trying to score a cheap point against the SPLC the authors embrace the idea that speech can lead to violence--in other words, the underlying rationale for stigmatizing anti-gay speech. (It has probably also occurred to you that if the SPLC has blood on its hands, the FRC has a whole lot more.) But of course people who notice things like that don't end up writing for the National Review. But the hypothetical blood that might someday be on Josh Barro's figurative hands is a secondary issue. Really, it's all about freedom.
Barro’s sexual fundamentalism wants any dissent marginalized and he’s not reluctant to admit that. This attitude, which is emblematic of the increasing intolerance in many sectors of culture towards those with traditional beliefs about sexuality, penalizes citizens for their beliefs. What we see playing out, once more, is that for liberalism to take root, it must take root by authoritarian impulse where the lies of the sexual revolution, to be cemented, must be enforced through acts of social and legal coercion....

In these tweets, Barro has shared his honest opinion: that the New Sexual Moralism will tolerate no dissent....When it comes to promoting gay rights, all must come to heel. There will be no debate. There will be no room for disagreement. To disagree, in fact, is to “linger and oppress” and cannot be allowed.

American public discourse rests on a fragile foundation that requires living amongst those who disagree with us. It’s called pluralism. This is part of what has made this country so unusual over the centuries: Even in the face of heated debate, we grant one another respect....
You might be tempted to observe that amidst all the hand-waving, what they're really talking about is the right to say bigoted things without being considered a bigot. I, however, choose to take a more generous view. I commend them for their principled stand in favor of diversity of opinion and the free exchange of ideas...., never mind.

(And yes, as far as I can tell, they did this with every dissenting comment--including my own, which was tactless enough to refer to the National Review's historical support for segregation.)

Here, by the way, is a comment that was apparently considered unobjectionable:

If people like Josh Barro are allowed to stigmatize comments like these, the terrorists win.


Yastreblyansky said...

Laugh if you will, but just wait until they come for you and your attitudes lie broken and bleeding on the floor.

Incidentally I got deleted at NRO that way last February, and banned too--I think that was when I first made friends with Steve.

Anonymous said...

So given that we are agreed that speech of a certain type can lead to violence, where does that leave us?

Are we to have some sort of governmental committee to decide who and what are, so to speak, fair targets and who are not?

Or, are we to have another committee to decide that this phrase or that phrase is forbidden on grounds that it might provoke violence?

We're not too far from either of those possibilities given that there are certain people, not a zillion miles from this blog, who would require smelling salts if certain words were used!

David Duff

Yastreblyansky said...

No Duff, we are not agreed. Attitudes do not really bleed.

aimai said...

I'd put the onus on people who pretend that they *don't* want their words to lead to violence to STFU with their violent rhetoric. So: Sarah Palin's violent rhetoric which led to the shooting of Gabby Giffords. I'm not arguing for prior restraint but a little post violence humility and soul searching would have been in order.

Also: these right wing pleas for uncensoring language would go better if Erick Eric son of Eric and his supposedly "religious" comperes weren't campaigning for gag orders for Doctors to prevent them from honestly discussing gun ownership and abortion practices to their patients.

One party believes in banning free speech that makes it uncomfortable and is actually on record promoting such bans--and its not the Democratic party or the Gay Party (as if one existed).

Ken_L said...

NRO started with a no comments policy, then after a while they allowed them. For a few months they didn't delete dissenting comments - indeed a few of their writers even responded to some of my comments with civil arguments - but it all got too much for the rabid regulars. "WTF are these libtards doing here?" they bawled. "We want a nice conservative echo chamber without having people bringing up awkward facts and logic." Since then they seem to have adopted a practice where regulars can vote to delete comments - 3 strikes and you're out, or something - and they're a happy little cocoon again.

Tom Hilton said...

Duff: I have no idea how you made the leap from stigmatizing and marginalizing certain speech (racist, misogynist, homophobic) to "some sort of governmental committee to decide", since those two things are entirely different.

Anonymous said...

I apologise, Tom, if my words were unclear. Let me try again.

I think we should be free to be rude to or about other people - short of actually advocating violence against them. It doesn't matter *why* someone feels the necessity of being rude about others, but it does matter that they should be free to do so.

The relatively recent campaign to stigmatize people who are rude about certain *specific* groups of other people whilst simultaneously defending the right to be fearfully rude to people not so protected is not only illogical but stinks of first-class humbuggery!

Equally, the attempt to, in effect, ban the use of certain words because it is deemed by 'persons unknown' to be an offence is the stuff of Orwellian nightmares. And, yes, you may feel free to call me anything you like, I doubt you will reach the heights once attained by my former drill sergeant!

David Duff

Dark Avenger said...

I feel pity for your drill sargent, having to deal with a great intellect like yours.

Anonymous said...

Alas, DA, I fear he never appreciated it, but then again, I seem to recall that I was too terrified ever to deploy it!

GeoX, who is here to stay, like it or not. said...

Equally, the attempt to, in effect, ban the use of certain words because it is deemed by 'persons unknown' to be an offence is the stuff of Orwellian nightmares.

Well go on, then. What words do you want to say but are being cruelly persecuted about by "persons unknown?" It would be helpful it we had a list, I think.

Dark Avenger said...

You see, Duff, it's like this.

There are no laws banning you from bringing up your personal habits in conversation. If you want to expound on yesterdays' bowel movement you had, or detail the latest prostate exam, when your with your fellow H. sapiens oldusfartus you're free to do so.

It's the same thing with anti-gay speech. Nobody is saying that we need some sort of government program to prevent such speech, but that people who think that gays deserve to die or be "converted" don't need public attention or acceptance of their speech.

Let's end it with a quote from the Austrian Karl Popper, who probably had more brains in his little finger than the average conservative has in their skull:

Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.