“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.” — Benjamin Franklin, author, inventor, political activist, Founding Father
So-called “political correctness” has increasingly become the bane of the First Amendment and anyone who understands and supports it. Most limitations on free speech are dangerous, and when government takes it upon itself to outlaw certain types of speech (e.g., “hate speech”), the Constitution is further eroded and, as Franklin says, we are on the road to tyranny. Even before such legal measures are officially taken, there is plenty of pressure from certain people — mostly, but not exclusively, on the Left — to badger and shame the general public into conforming to their ideas of what types of speech should be acceptable. Only certain words allowed, certain topics avoided.
In 2013 Dr. Ben Carson gave his second keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast. You may remember that it caused some stirring in Washington and around the nation — nervousness and offense from the Left, excitement from the Right — which led to early calls of “Ben Carson for President”. See, Carson isn’t afraid to say what he thinks needs to be said. So, without intending to offend anyone, his somewhat extemporaneous speech included remarks indicating he was clearly not on board with the President’s policies. This was especially awkward/entertaining, because the President was sitting just a couple chairs away. Obama was clearly uncomfortable, but when it was suggested afterward that Carson call to apologize for offending the President, Carson did not think such a call was warranted.
In his recent book, One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future, Dr. Carson talks a lot about the need for open and honest communication, if we are going to solve this country’s problems. “Political correctness” is a huge hindrance to this effort, so he spends some time early on discussing it. I don’t always agree with Carson or his approach to some things, but in this I think he makes some great points and suggestions for overcoming this barrier to solutions which also serves to undermine our freedoms and make many of our problems worse.
“Self-appointed political correctness police (PCP) have set up speech guidelines that go far beyond the requirements of kindness, good manners, education, and tact. They forbid the use of the word slavery by conservatives, the mention of Nazism by conservatives, or the mention of homosexuality in anything other than a positive context, to name a few of their rules. Going even further, they continually grow their list of terms they believe are offensive, tripping up innocent people with their increasingly strict speech code. By bludgeoning people who violate these rules, the PCP establish a chilling control over the speech of a nation that was founded on the principles of freedom of speech. Intent on managing the national conversation, they mock and belittle anyone who violates their tenets of speech or behavior with such ferocity that few people will dare trespass their boundaries….
Many well-meaning Americans have bought into the PC speech code, thinking that by being extra careful not to offend anyone we will achieve unity. What they fail to realize is that this is a false unity that prevents us from talking about important issues and is a Far Left strategy to paralyze us while they change our nation. People have been led to become so sensitive that fault can be found in almost anything anyone says because somewhere, somehow, someone will be offended by it.
To stop this, Americans need to recognize what is happening, speak up courageously, avoid fearful or angry responses, and ignore the barking and snarling as we put political correctness to bed forever. This is the reason why I choose to continue speaking out despite the many efforts of the secular progressives to discredit and silence me. It is also the reason why I continue to encourage Americans to stand up for the freedoms that were hard-won and must be preserved if we are to remain a free society….
When talking about hypersensitivity in our society, it is important to distinguish between those who are truly sensitive to comments and those instigators and manipulators with feigned sensitivity and outrage. To the first group I would say it’s time to grow up and start thinking about what you can do to contribute to society’s well-being instead of choosing to be a victim of speech that is sometimes intentionally cruel and at other times completely innocent. The best way not to be easily injured by others’ speech is to step out of the center of the circle so everything is not about you. By thinking about others and looking at things from other people’s perspectives, there is much less time to feel that someone is picking on you or your interests….
The real key to staying cool and calm is to relinquish selfishness and always consider the feelings of others. When someone is being particularly mean and nasty, I simply think to myself, He or she used to be a cute little baby. I wonder what happened? Thinking about that question will soften your attitude and lessen the likelihood of an inflammatory confrontation….
Sometimes a true wound can be so deep that it clouds the thoughts of the injured party to the point that they can no longer be objective. In such cases, continued explanations tend to result in diminishing returns or even exacerbations of the misunderstanding…. Sometimes you just have to realize that you cannot heal all wounds no matter how hard you try.
In today’s political scene, some people are so traumatized by perceived past injustices that they cannot conceive of any good thing that a group member who they believe has been unfair to them can do. They tend to demonize these individuals for past wrongs perpetrated by others and there is no changing their minds. It is important for the demonized group to understand this mentality and patiently attempt to undo the damage that has resulted in such attitudes. Both Republicans and Democrats can benefit from this advice.
Whether by creating hypersensitivity or drawing angry reactions, [Far Leftist activist Saul] Alinsky’s organizers’ goal is to make the societal majority feel that their opinion is the minority opinion and that the organizers’ opinion is the majority opinion. The ability to co-opt the mainstream media in this endeavor is a gigantic coup. If the majority of people who are rational, reasonable, and full of common sense feel that their opinions are out of sync with everyone else, it is easy to shut them up and beat them into submission. This is what has occurred in America today. Hopefully by bringing this to light, more people will see the necessity of seizing the banner of bravery just like Nathan Hale, Patrick Henry, and many others in the past who stood up to tyranny.
Why was freedom of speech so important to our nation’s founders? Many had come from countries like England where verbally opposing the king frequently resulted in a jail sentence or even death. The founders also felt that the free exchange of ideas would result in better government and would prevent government from becoming too big and self-important. These are the very reasons we must once again insist on freedom of speech and expression, and we should be repulsed by the very idea of political correctness that muzzles the populace.
If we are to survive as a united nation, we must learn how to engage in civil discussion of our differences without becoming bitter enemies. We cannot fall for the Saul Alinsky trick of not having a conversation while try to demonize each other…. [L]et’s toss out the hypersensitivity and roll up our sleeves and start working together to solve our problems. If each of us is willing to extend the benefit of the doubt or overlook verbal missteps, political correctness will become impotent.”
Wise words. I hope I can follow them consistently. What about you?