The Left cannot win the debate on the merits of their ideas. This is the reason for the hyper-focus approach to policing language and continuously evolving what are considered appropriate words and phrases. When you know you are likely to lose, your best bet is being allowed to choose the weapons and the terrain. If you watch interviews with Leftist activists 15 or even 5 years ago you can see how the language is continuously shifting like a sand waiting to pull some unfortunate Conservative to the bottomless depths should they step into a quagmire that was not there previously. Once the ground is ceded in allowing the Left to define what is considered “appropriate language” we also limit our ability to express our ideas and values with the words that best suit our arguments. Nothing irritates me more than someone who attempts to define the first amendment rights of others under the guise of reasonable accommodations. My first amendment rights are sacrosanct and they have nothing to do with how you feel.
As I wrote about earlier in “Words with Enemies – Leftist Edition”, the political Left has pursued their tyrannical approach at suppressing Conservative speech with reckless abandon in the past few months. They have used violence, character attacks and legal action in the name of silencing speech with which they disagree. The most insidious technique in their arsenal of thought policing is and has always been the language of political correctness and the arguments for reasonable accommodations like one made by a University of Maryland student writer in their Op Ed, “Colleges should only prevent speech that makes students feel unsafe.” This student writer opens their piece with several nonsense questions when taken in the context of free speech.
When is something outside the parameters of acceptability? Where does free speech end and offensive rhetoric begin? When is political correctness appropriate, and when is it used to avoid what makes us uncomfortable? These are pressing questions that college campuses around the country are struggling to answer.
While I appreciate the writer’s childlike sense of wonder that they bring to their discussion of free speech these questions have already been answered and if we as Americans want to maintain our freedom of thought then the debate needs to stay settled. The writer does not even realize how dangerous their innocent questions are in the end. When the writer asks about “parameters of acceptability” on whose definition does this get determined? I am quite sure that they would not like for me to make the determination on what are the boundaries for what they can say that is acceptable, but in the end, I would not want that power or responsibility either. There is no line that separates free speech from offensive rhetoric, they are one and the same. Political correctness and if someone feels uncomfortable have zero bearing on determining what speech is protected as there is only one measurement of what type of speech is disallowed and that is the incitement of violence. Colleges are not struggling to answer these questions as many have already chosen to restrict freedoms instead of protecting it and encouraging debate. I would even argue that simply by asking this set of questions the author lacks a fundamental understanding of the essential nature that freedom of expression plays in ensuring that our society stay free.
While the writer does attempt to make the point that maybe the Left “gone too far” in their draconian enforcement of safe spaces on campuses they still end up missing the mark when they say, “If students feel uncomfortable, upset or angry, as long as the speaker does not directly advocate targeting groups and make them feel unsafe…” (Emphasis added) This writer would add a litmus test to someone else’s freedom of speech based upon the impact to someone’s feelings? By this measure the University of Notre Dame should have prevented the Vice President from giving the commencement address because as I have previously reported in “Notre Dame Students Protest VP Pence: An Avalanche of Stupidity” they were protesting his visit because they felt “unsafe”. If we let the subjective feelings of a few people dictate the what people can say then we will live in a quiet world indeed… unfortunately the Left does not believe this principle to operate in both directions and only applies to those that disagree with them.