The Thought (and Speech) Police Strike Again

23 Dec

Of all the forms of censorship, self-censorship is the most insidious and the most dangerous. It is insidious purely because it can be justified – because the self-censor can and does justify it to himself – and because those justifications are often valid. It is dangerous because it is often unnoticeable. Maybe you disapprove of your daughter’s black boyfriend. That isn’t an excuse to call him racist names to his face – or even use them when trying to talk your daughter out of seeing him.

But while there is such a thing as common politeness, it is possible to take it too far. Political correctness is so dangerous precisely because it seeks to humiliate and punish people for using politically incorrect terms, which seems reasonable enough until you realise that those terms are not always very well defined. Or, for that matter, that political correctness will be invoked as a bludgeon to hammer someone into submission, even when said person was not actually being politically incorrect. In the example I mentioned above, the boyfriend might be a drug addict or a serial womaniser, hardly problems restricted to young black men. But I’d bet good money that the poor father will be accused of being racist purely for daring to disapprove of the boyfriend.

I mention all this because of the recent issue with Duck Dynasty. I have never watched an episode in my life. About the only television I watch on a regular basis is Doctor Who, so from what I’ve read I rather doubt I’d enjoy watching it. But I don’t have to approve of the show to realise that NBC’s treatment of its star was completely and totally beyond the pale.

Let me put this in context. Phil Robertson was asked for his opinion on homosexuality. He gave it. NBC promptly removed him from the show on the grounds that his opinions were homophobic … why, precisely?

Opinions are like assholes, if I can borrow a phrase; everyone has one. Phil Robertson’s opinion may or may not be valid and, frankly, I don’t care if it is or isn’t. No one is asking him to take part in homosexual acts and, at least to the best of my knowledge, he isn’t trying to stop homosexuals from engaging in homosexual acts. He isn’t required, as far as I can tell, to toe NBC’s party line on anything and I would be surprised to discover that his contract with them has a provision for penalties if he says something unfortunate.

The problem here is simple. Phil Robertson is being penalised for daring to utter a non-PC opinion. He was hammered for his imprudence, which will have a dampening effect on any future public discourse. Who will dare to utter an opinion if they fear for their jobs or reputations? What will be left, but pandering to the group-think laid out by pressure groups that claim to fight on behalf of threatened minorities? And, with opinions constantly changing, who will even be able to follow the ‘right’ course of thinking?

You may not approve of his opinions on homosexuality, although I would advise you to make sure that you know what he actually said before reacting. However, even if you don’t, I invite you to think about the long term effects of penalising someone – anyone – for daring to express a honest opinion. Can you honestly say that you will be safe in a world where one word out of place could destroy your life?

The pressure groups that claim to defend homosexuals may also want to think about their actions. They come across as bullies – and they may not always hold the whip hand. In the future, groupthink may become far less ‘liberal’ and homosexual groups may wind up banned. The problem with any sort of pressure is that it can provoke a very angry reaction.

And, while you’re at it, you might want to ask why GLAAD is wasting time attacking Phil Robertson while homosexuals in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Uganda face the very real danger of death for daring to express their love. A misplaced sense of priorities, anyone?

16 Responses to “The Thought (and Speech) Police Strike Again”

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard December 23, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Citizen! Criticizing Muslims is a Thought Crime. Report to the nearest re-education facility. [Sarcasm]

    Seriously Chris, GLAAD and others of that ilk find it safer to criticize/hate Christians than it would to criticize Muslims. [Sad Smile]

  2. Bob Walters December 24, 2013 at 1:30 am #

    And yet you guys danced the dance of joy over what happened to Martin Bashir for his remark about caribou Barbie. Can you say hypocrisy?

  3. Dr. Jim December 24, 2013 at 3:43 am #

    So, Chris, a hypothetical question:
    Say you hired a guy and later found out that he had posted an offensive remark on Facebook (or insert the public forum of your choice here) that hurt a bunch of your readers (customers), would you even hesitate for a moment to fire him?
    In a world getting shorter on civility, why should we tolerate hate in any form to become a distraction when trying to entertain people?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard December 24, 2013 at 4:09 am #

      “Hate”? IMO believing homosexual behavior is sinful isn’t hatred of gays but of course in the Liberal world it is OK to hate Christians. Sorry Dr. Jim but this incident only shows the basic intolerance of the Left.

      Oh by the way, it’s amazing how many “offensive remarks” come from the Left which is part of the reason that the world is getting shorter on civility.

      • Bob Walters December 24, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

        The sad thing is that this guy really believes this baloney.

    • chrishanger December 24, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

      The honest answer is ‘depends.’ Do I have a contractual and moral right to sack him? I mean, if Phil had stolen money from NBC, sacking him would be quite understandable. Or if he had not shown up to work every day for a week … well, they could reasonably claim he wasn’t upholding his side of the contract. But in this case, he’s in a grey area and NBC has set a ghastly precedent. All that aside, there’s no human right not to be offended. The world is full of people who offend me. That doesn’t give me a right to silence them … and it doesn’t give them a right to silence me, should they happen to find me offensive. Chris > Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2013 03:43:15 +0000 > To: >

  4. Tim December 24, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    RE: “A misplaced set of priorities…”

    Maybe not. Their lack of “action” viz-a-viz Islamic regimes treatment of homosexuals may be simple cowardice. It’s easy for them to attack Christians — because they know that Christians will not kill them as a result. Islamofascists will.

    • chrishanger December 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      They could make a song and dance about it from a safe distance (i.e. in the US.) Chris > Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2013 13:52:27 +0000 > To: >

      • Tim January 12, 2014 at 6:42 am #

        Sorry about the late reply — I haven’t checked in lately.

        Wish Islam, I don’t believe there really is a “safe distance”. The long arm of the Islamofascists can reach literally anywhere in the world, if they so desire it.

        Unless you have the means to hide well, I suppose. (See the story about Rushdie and “The Satanic Verses”.) He was successful. However, Rashad Khalifa was not.

  5. Terry Edmunds December 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Very well said, Chris…..Duck Dynasty is a “reality” show but they only want reality if it toes the line….Merry Christmas!!!

  6. Alves December 28, 2013 at 3:28 am #

    NBC is not a public company. They can fire or hire whoever they want for whatever reason they like, as long as they don’t break the law while doing it.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard December 28, 2013 at 3:57 am #

      Nobody said otherwise. It was the Reason that Chris was talking about.

      Oh by the way, A&E has “ended” the gentleman’s banishment.

      Apparently, they got too many complaints from his fans. [Very Big Evil Grin]

      • Bob Walters December 28, 2013 at 5:56 am #

        Now if MSNBC would just rehire Martin Bashir. Ironically since WW2 it is has been the liberals who have suffered the worst from this type of nonsense. Starting with the McCarthy era, then the Vietnam war and Tricky Dicky’s presidency, Ronald McDonald’s administration’s campaign against government workers, those who had the guts to oppose Dubya’s military adventures to finally the people who were fired for voting for President Obama. So forgive me if I do not shed any tears for the so-called persecution by the left.

      • chrishanger December 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

        Now would make a good moment for them to demand concessions . Chris > Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2013 03:57:18 +0000 > To: >

    • chrishanger December 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      I am no expert on American business/employment law, but I think there have to be specific grounds for someone to be sacked. Would answering a honest question really be covered by the contract? Chris > Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2013 03:28:32 +0000 > To: >

      • Bob Walters December 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

        I wish that you were universally correct but it greatly depends on the state. In some states the universal “at will” statement in acceptance letters allows the employer to can anyone at any time for any reason. Indeed, those are the states in which that occurs most frequently and usually to employees with the least ability to resist. Other states with a more progressive outlook have greater worker protections. However, the current Supreme Court have been eroding the limitation on the “at will” statement in favor of the employer. In a majority of the cases in the US if the employee is without a union (or even with a union in some places) he is out of luck.

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