Today, an interesting article from the WSJ tracking the evolution (or devolution) of our society's idea of what and when it is acceptable to censor.
The long and short of it: free speech is in enormous danger in the western world, and if it is danger then all of our basic civilizational principles are in danger. Because it's quite obvious to me that as soon as we say "yes, it's OK to silence someone's right to speak because we, who consider ourselves experts, think that he is a social harm" then what we will move to is not a social-justice utopia, but a society based on totalitarian might-makes-right. The Pseudo-Activists had better bring a lot of guns along with them, if they want to get to be the ones who decide who should have their "voice heard" and who should be silenced forever as someone using "hate speech", because at that point (not recognizing the inalienable right of EVERYONE to say any stupid thing they want), they will have no essential justification to be able to stop anyone else (the Islamic State, for example; but much more probably the Republican Party and the Southern Baptists) to come along with MORE GUNS and decide that in fact THEY are the ones who have the the intellectual, moral, religious, racial, or other justification to decide who gets Silenced, and then proceed to brutally and viciously silence all the progressives and all their cherished demographic groups.
You'd think that any progressive with the slightest knowledge of history would realize that's pretty much how it always went, with people saying that THEY got to decide who could speak and who didn't because of their greater claim-to-authority; and that all throughout history this sort of situation always went very very badly for the minority groups. Until, that is, Western Civilization came along with the idea of the Inalienable Right to Free Speech, and afforded a protection and voice to its minorities hitherto unrivaled in all of history or in any other culture.
So really, the progressives out there are either remarkably uneducated, or incredibly astoundingly arrogant in thinking that while everyone else who claimed for themselves the special right to decide who is rightfully deserving of speech and who isn't was a horrible monster, the progressives are actually and finally the right people and the only ones who actually deserve (because of their education and social indoctrination) to exercise that kind of power over the lives of others. In other words, so arrogant they're blinded by privilege.
One last historical note: while the WSJ article points out that in the Rushdie Fatwa case, the (intellectual) public reacted admirably at the time, I think it was also not just a coincidence that after that you started to have the big shift. From what I recall, I think it was the first time I heard people, educated people that is, starting to talk about whether we're "allowed to judge" what another culture does, and especially when that other culture was "harmed" by us. This was done in very careful language of course, still insisting that the Fatwa was wrong and that of course it is wrong to put someone to death for what they write in a novel; but these days these very same people (or their heirs) would in many cases, if not yet at the point to suggest that its justifiable to put someone to death for a novel, certainly state that not only can we not judge the Ayatollahs of the world but that we should in fact condemn the Rushdies of the world; and some would go so far as to say that we not only don't have the right to judge the fanatical extremists, we have no right to try to stop them. We have no such right, from their perspective, because they can no longer even understand the civilizational principles that could allow such a right to exist.
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