Monday, June 13, 2016

Brendan O'Neill: The Real Threat To Free Speech Is Now Conformism And Cowardice

Also, this is worth thinking about: " 'Hate speech' is the secular equivalent of blasphemy."


Blogger The Mystic said...

Oh man. That's a really good simile.

You know, one of the absolute biggest, most dangerous problems in modern Islam (if you ask me, and further, if it's not overwhelmingly obvious) is the extreme dogmatism that has formed in the various theocratic factions in the Middle East. It is a total travesty, for the Islamic Golden Age was a time of tremendously creative, syncretic theological approaches to the Koran, integrating the Stoic and Platonic thought which preceded them in the Greeks, and just taking everything of value from all of human culture to produce absolutely staggeringly beautiful theology.

And now, we're left with the vast majority of Islamic society virtually outlawing (if not actually, literally outlawing) such endeavors. It is scary, really, that heroes of days past are now considered, in many cases, not only to have been wrong, but to have been unforgivable blasphemers.

It is extremely ironic that this is happening (as is often the case with religion gone wrong), given that the Koran explicitly and repeatedly exhorts readers not to make sects of themselves, and one of the greatest problems in modern Islam is violent sectarian conflict and cult-like thought control.

But this, I'm afraid, is what happens in the world; dogmatism breeds dogmatism. When one mindless cult begins threatening or violently assaulting another group of people, that group starts to dogmatize right quick. No cost at the hands of the other group is to be permitted; any successful attack by the other group, no matter how trivial on the grand scale, is taken as evidence that even more extreme dogmatism is to be demanded of the defending side.

Perhaps it's simply that people feel impotent in action, so they attempt to make up for that impotence with thought control and mind games.

I dunno, that's just some jabber, but it comes from a lot of recent thought about the horrible cost of illiberal religious policies and the toll they have taken on Islam in particular, and this post of yours in which equally terrible secular methods may be ramping up right before our eyes...

Oy. Those of us still possessed of minds need to remain calm, steadfast, and uber-cool in a time that the public discourse desperately needs us.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Good points.

I've been struggling with that a lot. I've got all these devil's advocate posts in the chamber to try and see what might be salvaged out of PC...but the fuckers are just so loathsome and piss me off so much that it's hard for me to bring myself to agree with them in any way...

10:02 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

And it may be that PC has rotted from the inside out to the point where a total replacement is merited. I don't know if we can save that set of theories at all; I wasn't even thinking about doing so.

What I was thinking about is this: we can still reach out to people standing on these shaky platforms and ensure that they understand that we want only to do what is right. To whatever extent they change their positions, we are offering to them superior infrastructure for their use. If they want to focus on the horrible problem that is rape, for example, they face two problems with the PC theories: (1) they are running afoul of their moral obligation to the truth, for willful ignorance and suppression of disagreement is their M.O., and (2) it does them no good to have terrible theories that do nothing but befuddle and disempower them, making them bona fide laughing stocks among even those who are genuinely part of the problem they seek to address.

We who seek to do what is right have to convince everyone that we are on the same team. We will not consider you a loser if you change your mind, and you should not consider yourself to be a loser either. This isn't about winning or losing, but it is about no longer succumbing to that foolish consistency which is the hobgoblin of little minds.

No matter how horrifyingly annoying those in the wrong become, I'm convinced that we have to avoid angrily beating them down and laughing as they fall. And really, is their present humiliation inadequate? Even when it seems right, even when it seems totally justified, it can only bring further impassioned rejection of the position from which the beating and laughter comes, and that does no good for anyone. We cannot will such a thing into reality.

I think we have to dedicate ourselves to taking extreme care not to make the right position seem wrong, or unpalatable in any way, by acting like assholes. I used to totally dismiss rhetoric as a silly game, but I think, actually, it might be incumbent upon those in the right to be extremely tactful and appealing in communicating the right positions. We have to shun any vanity that might rear its head in us, even if it rises under cover of others' abject failures which seem to grant us authority to be jerks.

I think the more saint-like we can make our disposition, the better for everyone.

10:19 AM  

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