Wednesday, April 23, 2014

PC Watch (part 3) - Too Weak to Live with Freedom?

Wikipedia/Free Speech Wall

The above picture is of the  Freedom of Speech Wall in Charlottesville, VA. Permanently inscribed on one segment of the wall is this text from the Bill of Rights, Amendment I:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
[reference:  Bill of Rights Transcript Text]

Free Speech vs PC

My motivation for this thread - PC Watch - is a reaction to the disturbing trend to silence free speech.

You may have heard the recent controversies in the news.  Someone says something offensive or has expressed an opinion - even one expressed or acted upon many years ago - that does not line up with the prevailing PC - Political Correctness.  What ensues is an orchestrated campaign of personal destruction to censor, boycott, or run a person out of his/her job. (This could be a subjects for many posts.)

That strikes me as wrong, wrong, wrong!

I agree inciting violence and harassment should not be tolerated and not be exempt.  But now, it seems, we are to never speak anything to offend anyone - especially those with a powerful grievance lobby.

What has happened to Freedom of Speech in the America I grew up in?

Are some groups not strong enough to hear diverse opinion; therefore anything that offends them must be silenced?  Hence, the obvious question is ...

Are we too weak to live with freedom?

Alan Charles Kors who is s a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania makes this case:

Below is a list of some of the points made in the clip above.

Princeton in the early 1960s:

* Professors (though mostly left leaning) did not see their task as producing clones in the classroom

* Diverse set of readings were given to students

* Students were told *not* to write what professor had wanted to hear  (can you imagine that now?!)

* The following groups coexisted at Princeton in the early 1960s and were not censored:
   - Gay Liberation
   - Campus Crusade for Christ
   - Maoists
   - New Age Leftists
   - Campus Republicans
   - Socialists

* Students were free to argue among themselves and offend others

* Students learned to talk to each other and humanize each other - and hence change minds

* The answer to horrible speech was bearing witness to your beliefs (hence more speech)

The fallout today of Political Correctness:

* Today we are paying a terrible price for the "comfort" of not offending anyone

* Double standards evolved when enforcing exemptions of free speech on some groups, but not others

Some conclusions:

* Due process of law should protect freedoms for all - especially those whose expressions are seen as "abhorrent"

* We are either all equally free or we are not free

* There is cause for optimism as long as we hold this belief in our spirit -

It's a Free Country!!!

Any thoughts? 


Reference of reading assignment for Princeton students as mentioned in the video clip above  -

Road to Serfdom:  The Illustrated Road to Serfdom



Previous post in this series:

 PC Watch (part 1) - Political Correctness (2013)

PC Watch (part 2) - The South Park Offense (2013)


Photo from:  Wikipedia/Free Speech Wall

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