Free Speech

Who Will Stand Up To The PC Extremists?

As free markets ride out multiple global crises, the Conservative government discusses bringing back grammar schools, Ukip maintains its position as Britain’s third most popular party, and Labour continue their downward plunge in the opinion polls, you might be forgiven for thinking that the right wing is on a roll.

But that depends on what your definition of right wing is. There’s economic left and right, and in that field we can say that the right is more or less dominant. But it feels now like having conceded defeat in the economic arena, the left has decided to wage war in another area, and is currently crashing forward erratically in the culture wars.

This all began perfectly normally. In an effort to secure an end to discrimination of all kinds, and guarantees of equality and fair treatment, a relatively relaxed, acceptable form of political correctness was formed throughout the 1980s and 90s. However, those initial aims secured, rather than congratulating itself on a job well done, the left decided to push on, and is now making headway down a weird, looking glass path.

Like Marlow in Heart of Darkness, the further it sails down this maddening river, affected by heat, sun and devotion to an inevitable, unknown goal, the less conceivable it becomes to turn back, and it’s becoming clear that nothing good is waiting at the source.

These unhinged leftie sailors are now gripped irretrievably by a kind of hyper-enhanced identity obsession. The correctness of their politics has been buckled and warped, and is now tangibly incorrect and in need of repair. They no longer make sense, to themselves or to anyone else.

The logic in their peculiar model is illogical, and involves punishing people not because they’ve done something wrong, but because they’ve hurt someone’s feelings. The line at which a crime is deemed to have been committed isn’t fixed, it always lies at the precise point at which the accuser’s feelings were hurt. It’s a Kafkaesque distortion of justice, in which being accused of a previously non-existent crime (you’ve hurt my feelings) immediately means that you cannot not have committed the crime (you are guilty of having hurt my feelings, the proof is that my feelings are hurt.) You can’t win this argument, the evidence is invisible and subjective. Arguing your case or demanding a fair trial will, in this twisted court, only deepen your guilt — not only have you committed a crime, but you’re unrepentant: you are now the worst kind of aggressor. And the punishments can be Draconian, as victims and their legitimized lynch mobs demand at the very least public shaming, sometimes the suspension of social media accounts — an essential career tool for many — and in high profile cases that the ‘criminal’ be sacked, even when their fictional misdemeanor is unrelated to their job.

These days, the only place that I see any kind of concerted push back against this worryingly totalitarian shift is within the right wing. By contrast, the entire left spectrum is actively enabling this very puritanical, fanatical form of political correctness. It’s taken a powerful hold over college campuses, the liberal arts, the leftist media and the BBC.

At university there are now nauseatingly labelled safe spaces, in which students are babyishly coddled and ‘protected’ from facing up to dissenting opinions, for fear of, and here’s another strange, new PC term, being triggered. Trigger warnings are even required on some texts, lest students become freaked out unexpectedly by Huckleberry fucking Finn. This infantilizes students, who then go on to try and infantilize the world by forcing their weird morals on fully functioning adults who neither want nor need their embarrassing, junior school sermons.

But it goes beyond simply proselytizing, as academic programmes are undermined, progressive discussion is disrupted, and writers and public speakers are threatened and intimidated.

And this overbearing, know-it-all culture of offense, which is simultaneously aggressive and thin skinned, is inextricably bound up with the millennial left.

Among the right wingers who are fighting back, conservative traditionalists are more than willing to weigh in, but it’s the more centrist libertarians that are standing up most noticeably for free speech and the necessity of constructive disagreement, and who most clearly articulate and respect rational Enlightenment values. Anyone who understands the dire consequences of allowing a hardcore of moral zealots to control our speech, and by extension our thoughts and our culture, must now refuse to be cowed and must face down the censors, regardless of political allegiance. Freedom of expression is simply too fundamental a right to do otherwise.

The ultra-PC illiberals are carving out-of-control down a bizarre, self-defeating route. With every restriction they place on others, they clamp down equally hard on themselves. The end result, if extrapolated, is dismal. Our arts, our interactions, everything we read, listen to or consume would be heavily regulated and restricted, crippling progress and shackling creativity. We would be dehumanized and segregated, confined to our respective safe spaces according to superficial and unimportant differences like skin colour and sexual orientation, restricted from empathizing, connecting or exchanging ideas, and strictly disallowed from just mixing things up and seeing what happens. There are those in history who have tried to implement such regimes before. Their ideas went against all the most positive facets of human nature, and they were kicked out of civilized society. Clearly such dark urges — to punish and control, obey and proscribe — can appear in many forms and from any direction, and now a new variety has manifested.

 

Sam White is a freelance writer and journalist. Follow him on Twitter @SamWhiteTky

11 Comments

  1. Whyaxye says

    An excellent essay.

    Particularly alarming is your point about careers being trashed. This is certainly the case in the public sector in the UK, and to a lesser extent in corporate life. My advice would be to pick one’s battles carefully. At work, don’t support these idiots, and comply grudgingly. Elsewhere, rampant and misguided attitudes are little more than an annoyance. They only really hurt if one allows them to. Challenge and ridicule wherever you safely can, and care nothing for the opinions of people you are never going to meet. And remember that most sharing of opinions on social media is largely a waste of time. If it bothers you to be challenged, or to read others’ idiocy, then give up those media; you’ll probably find your life is all the better for it.

    A large part of PC extremism thrives on opposition, as you rightly point out. Simply ignoring it is a very potent antidote. I don’t pick fist-fights with the weight-lifting foul-mouthed 16 year olds in my local park, because although their behaviour is obnoxious, I can easily ignore it and they will in time grow out of it.

    • jesseje says

      I’m of the mind that the more people that speak up about it the less afraid more people will be of speaking up about it. Political correctness and social justice in its form today is an unconscionable monster of whose power is growing and gaining influence quickly. Silence about it is consent to it. Also, it is not the brainwashed PC lunatics you are trying to change, it’s the passive ones on the fence whose own minds you must influence to join the side of reason and rationality.

      • Whyaxye says

        Yes, jesseje, you make a very fair point. Hence my advice about picking one’s battles carefully. It’s no use speaking freely and standing your ground if one of the brainwashed pc lunatics is able to make trouble with your boss. But let’s fight back where we can, by all means.

  2. Incisive article! As a brief but critical footnote, I have seen many friends and colleagues self-censor due to the chilling effect. As most of us know, this is the very worst type of censorship, and has already taken hold.

  3. There was an interesting documentary on SBS last night ‘The Men Who Made us Spend’ you can see it on utube.

    The point is that marketers of computer games noticed that children would buy on “I want it now” and from that games marketers worked out how to appeal to 25-35 year old adults by infantilising them with violent games. So not only the millennials are kept as children by many strings (not just marketing) but now adults are being tied up in the same manner.

    Maybe we will get to a point in our PC world where there are no adults just aged children, throwing tantrums and demanding everything their puny emotions tell them to have or running from the slightest ‘trigger’ that fires them.

    Sad end to the Enlightenment if it comes to this.

    • We’ve already reached that point; indeed, we reached it a while ago. The White college kids who rallied with the Black Panthers in the 60s have been at the helm of the country and culture for a generation or two, and you can be sure that their successors will be even further Left-field than them.

  4. Michael says

    I miss the Doug Anthony Allstars. Paul McDermott would be castrated by this generation.

  5. Kinda ironic to go othering the millennials like a feminist sjw by blaming them for shit that started at least halfway back in the last century to my recollection.
    It’s a pathetic form of insecurity for the older generation to shame the younger as ‘not as good as my day,’ as every generation does. Mine got it back in the day and it irks me sore to see mine doing to kids today.
    Grow up.
    If WWIII starts tomorrow, these kids will be as brave as the WWII generation who fell over themselves to shame everyone since.
    Other than that, great article. Spot on.

    • john moriarty says

      I have always doubted just that. We have lost our appetite for war. A good thing? Yes, generally, until the really bad guys come

  6. This is well said: “It’s a Kafkaesque distortion of justice, in which being accused of a previously non-existent crime (you’ve hurt my feelings) immediately means that you cannot not have committed the crime (you are guilty of having hurt my feelings, the proof is that my feelings are hurt.)”

    We must continue to fight their authoritarian leftism with liberal debate. Every time they act like intellectual bigots they should be mocked, satirized, countered, and hopefully, little by little, society will turn.

    Humanity has discarded (for the most part) many bad ideas, including slavery, communism, McCarthyism, fascism, now it is Social Justice Warriors (who have a bit of communism and fascism inside them) that must be conquered.

    The concept of Social Justice needs to return to what it used to be. What it means now is regressive and harmful.

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