An Attack on Free Speech, in California?
by John P. Reisman
An item from The Daily Caller whose Editor in Chief is Tucker Carslon, raised an eyebrow with the title:
Having checked with the reporter on the story we were told that:
"The resolution was passed by the undergraduate student government body at UCLA."
according to Eric Owens who filed the story.
Editorial: The eyebrow alert contained the consideration of ramifications of such policy if it were widely adopted.
Let's be clear though. This is a student body at a University campus. This is neither State nor Federal. But it is something to think about. If we extrapolate the argument into the law of unintended consequences toward argumentum ad infinitum...
- Did those supporting this ban consider the fact that it is a direct violation of free speech?
- Should we then ban all offending language?
- Since it is impossible to determine which words others feel are offending should we ban all words?
- Should we try to make a happy peaceful world through such regulations so that all people are non offensive?
- If people or peoples offend individuals or peoples, then which individuals or peoples should be banned?
- If we are to ban offending people or peoples what should be the criteria?
- Should the criteria be skin color, accent, caste, grades, income, size, age, or should we just ban 'all' people?
It begs the question of 'how we should handle this'. Another classic example of attacking free speech is Anthony Watts from the wattsupwiththat.com web site where his policy is to ban the use of the word denialist and denier in relation to the climate debate.
"...name-calling such as “denialist,” “denier,” and other detritus that add nothing to further the discussion may get deleted; also posts repeatedly linking to a particular blog, or attempting to dominate a thread by excessive postings may get deleted."
The purpose of such restrictions on free speech is clear. It is to control the conversation. But this is not 'big brother' we are talking about, this is little brother. It seems some Americans are actually embracing limitations of free speech to help them not deal evidence or reality.
I recall conversations where I was raising the issue of my concern that the Tea Party seems to be quite fanatic about some positions. This was with two people that were involved with the effort. They immediately dismissed the notion. One of them was wearing a t-shirt that had a slogan that was something along the lines of a revolution to take over our entire government. I don't recall the exact phrase but I did question him about that. He replied with an onomatopoeia. When I attempted to ask why they were both dismissive about the notion of any form of fanaticism in the Tea Party, the woman present said "I don't want to talk about it".
The fact that people are willing to preach their points of view, wear t-shirts espousing that point of view, donate and go to events supporting that point of view and 'not' have that point of view discussed, addressed rationally, or challenged by saying "I don't want to talk about it" is fitting with the trend to eliminate the potential 'impact' free speech might have on their point of view; such as the possibility of a more rational point of view. We all should be wary of this trend.
Wherein The Problem Lies
Such attacks on free speech are symptomatic of larger issues though. Our academic capability, our education system, our willingness to be narrow-minded and try to regulate our way out of issues that are better handled by being smarter about such things, open-minded, and willing to accept that 'I' might be wrong in some manner in my own view.
Maybe the tenets of the Centrist Party can help here. Especially humility and being honest with ourselves.
Limiting free speech in this manner is not the answer, even though the individuals and groups limiting said speech may be well intended from their own perspectives. The answer may exist, or most likely does exist, in our willingness to work together and advance our understanding of those around us. Yes, it takes more effort, but laziness is not a quality one should embrace. Let's work together for a better America.