There is a level of anger and hate coming from the democratic left and directed at conservatives, especially those who voice their opinions in the virtual town square, i.e. social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, dialogue boxes beneath blog posts—that goes beyond debate. When pundits of the left push their progressive agenda, they aren’t interested in engaging in civil disagreement with those who hold opposing views. Why is that? Why has the left’s campaign strategy become categorically vicious? And what does that mean, not in a constitutional sense but in a practical one, for our ability to comfortably exercise free speech?
Contentious attacks from so-called journalist—who think they aren’t wildly transparent in their leftist crusade—have been ringing the same bell since 2016. And the sound of that bell is egregious labeling. If you do not agree with progressivism; if your opinion differs and you speak your mind publicly, you run the risk of being branded racist, alt-right, xenophobic, nationalist—because that is now equated with white supremacy for some reason—and otherwise inbred with the worst Native-American-slaughtering, Nazi-touting values that could ever be crammed into a single living, breathing being. In other words, if you’re not on the left, you’ve got to go, by any means necessary.
It isn’t difficult for the mainstream media, i.e. operatives of the democratic party, to influence their readership and viewership to discredit an individual who voices differing political views—or differing moral views which would be even more outlandish in their eyes—without breaking a sweat. Just call the person racist. Just call them misogynistic. Just call them a white supremacist. Equate their conservativism with racism. Explaining the connection won’t be necessary. The conflation alone will speak for itself.
This is an attack on free speech and it doesn’t matter that it hasn’t slammed through the congressional stratosphere, though we should all be concerned that it could. This attack on free speech, this attempt to shame and abuse individuals with differing political opinions into going away forever has become cultural, and that’s a problem.
The messaging of the leftist agenda is clear and it isn’t about equality. It’s about pumping more and more power into big government as a means to suppress the so-called evils in American society, which are:
· The wealthy
Where is the vitriol coming from?
It’s coming from here: a progressive covert agenda to demolish the autonomous individual in favor of elevating so-called groups in the spirit of fairness. The left uses a compelling “sympathy” argument that effectively guilts people into relinquishing self-interest for group interest, especially “minority” group interest—catering to the greatest “victim” groups—and this tactic has shamed the “individual” into silence, and also destroyed the meritocracy system that motivates the individual. The erosion of free speech is the engine driving this covert agenda and firing up the vitriol we see online and in the news.
The biggest problem with the free speech debate is that it really isn’t a debate. You would have to be openminded and interested in differing points of view to believe in free speech, and by extension, believe in the importance of the autonomous individuals. An individual who has his or her own viewpoint can spontaneously generate creative ideas and engage in an active dialogue with one another in a manner that consists of fundamental goodwill and truth. This implies a forum of genuine conversation is required, one that fundamentally allows for the changing of one another’s mind based on argument—this would be a truly free exchange of ideas, authentic debate—that results in negotiated agreement. Our American constitutional rights allow for this, no matter how messy and poorly uttered our debates become. Conservatives respect this—the rights and merits of the autonomous individual. Why has the left done away with this kind of good will?
If you closely examine the relationship between the democratic leftist agenda and how it is expressed in the town square i.e. social media, online news, it isn’t too difficult to see that the left isn’t interested in the autonomous individual. Rather, in their collective mind, the individual is a mouthpiece for a power assembly, one which is designed to elevate a group over all others. And that power assembly is the government veiled as a campaign for equality.
At first blush it may appear that the free speech debate is about who is allowed to talk. The left certainly silences individuals effectively enough for it to seem like this is the issue. But it isn’t. The real free speech debate that’s been percolating just below the cultural surface for quite some time now is actually whether or not there’s such a thing as free speech.
That should scare you.
Autonomous individuals are the bedrock of civilization and sovereignty. Autonomous individuals are also anathema to the radical left. Period. The left has broken bones to established that white men shouldn’t be allowed to talk. The left has spilled blood to obliterate blacks who tout Republican views—conservative blacks? oh the shame, they must be self-hating, so sad, so ignorant! The left has literally bought news organizations to proclaim the same headlines that equate conservativism with white supremacy, and they wield that conflation like a weapon.
Let me take a moment here to clarify. When I say “the left”, I’m referring to the machine behind the current democratic party that is inventing, carving out, and campaigning its agenda. Am I referring to the average liberal voter? No. I give most people the benefit of the doubt regardless of their party affiliations until I see them using robotic labels like “racist” and other labels to combat a headline they didn’t like, for example. Am I referring to Facebook warriors who regurgitate leftist news sources to obliterate differing opinions online as if free speech only applies to those who share their specific political views? Yes, yes, I am. There is a difference between unbridled thinking, debating, and the free exchange of ideas no matter how badly they clash, and parroting talking-points that have been drilled into the human psyche after watching CNN, PBS, and MSNBC, or reading the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Guardian too long. The latter is what I’m attempting to dismantle, and I’m doing this because the latter, otherwise referred to here as “the left” is the greatest affront to free speech in our culture that ever was.
The fundamental conceit of the left is that those of their party are innately more sympathetic and therefore more moral. It’s really hard to argue with that. It’s really hard to stand up for your individual rights and yourself when your interests are being equated with the evil “isms” that harm minority and victim groups. But if you remain sober-minded and examine the situation, you will likely see that—phew!—you aren’t a racist, and you will also see the war crime that the left has been using—harsh, scalding labels and horrendous accusations that get you to fall back in line with their agenda.
It’s time to get mad.
This goes back to the individual versus communitarian distinction. For the left, if you are an individual—one who expects their individualism comes with basic rights—it means that you are inherently unsympathetic to others because your individuality stands against the collective. However, if you’re a member of the collective, you can show that by the amount of sympathy you demonstrate for the collective, especially when that collective is elevating a victimized minority group. Sympathy is a sign of virtue, for the left. The greater the sympathy you can demonstrate for the oppressed, the more virtuous you are. Join the collective, be virtuous, support big government, they’re good at fairness.
Bizarrely, this is a very weird form of sympathy if we are to respect it in purely literal terms. Namely, the “collective” doesn’t suffer. It’s incapable of being oppressed and suffering. It’s a construct. Only the individual suffers.
But let’s get one thing straight here, or rather two things if you have the time. Democrats, the left, and certainly the radical left aren’t the only political parties that are capable of sympathy and exercising sympathy in legislation, or even—gasp!—the town square of social media. Drum roll please… conservatives possess sympathy, too! But the more important point to make in this moment is that we shouldn’t assume sympathy is virtuous—or even just plain ol’ “good”. Is more sympathy better? Is the person who is utterly crippled with overwhelm for how deeply sympathetic they are a more noble, more virtuous, and a better person than those who shrug? In my opinion, no, sorry, they are not. Massive political sympathy is detrimental to authentic democracy in that it’s designed to promote socialist ideals and communist experiments.
What the left likes to do is kill the conversation—the debate—from happening in the first place by preventing the person with an opposing opinion from appearing as a sympathetic human being, and they attempt to do this as soon as they can.
The left doesn’t want to talk about the societal consequences of its own agenda at work in the world. Instead, it likes to insist that you aren’t welcome in the conversation if you’re there to criticize its point of view and the reality of its policy in practice in the world. This is a serious problem. We need to be able to criticize everything, especially that which doesn’t work in our view.
Overt attacks against free speech for political reasons began to a vicious extent when Trump was campaigning for the presidency. Though Donald Trump in all his years as a real estate tycoon and reality TV star had never been accused of racism, suddenly during his campaigning he was labeled this. Evidence of his racism and white supremacy was imbedded in his voter base with video examples. The left sunk its teeth in and never gave up, despite the fact that America is structured legally in such a way that one man’s words aren’t responsible for another man’s actions, no matter if the second man heard those words before acting.
Ben Shapiro, a conservative political analyst who runs The Daily Wire has been accused of being an alt-right white supremacist Nazi by the left for his views on basically everything despite the fact that he’s a devout Jew. Shapiro has voiced his stance to dismantle the transgendered movement, arguing that thanks to science, we know that men cannot become women. It’s a chromosome thing. It’s also his right to voice an opinion on the matter. Shapiro has been accused of having no sympathy towards the plight of transgenders. He’s cruel, bad, and wrong. He would have to be, according to the left. It’s the only way to annihilate Shapiro’s use of literal science.
Candace Owens, another political pundit, is black. But she began a Republican-voting, anti-feminist website, which means that—according to the left—she must be a self-hating racist person, and look, she married a white man! Proof that she hates her black roots! The democratic party insists—viciously so—that all blacks must vote “democrat”. If they vote republican, it only means that they hate themselves, they hate their race, and they must be ignorant. If you’re black, you must only think a certain set of political things and you must absolutely vote with this one party-line, or else! What does that sound like to you? Hmm, if blacks don’t get to choose which party they vote for, are they truly free? Or does this look a little bit like social slavery?
Oh boy, I bet I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for making that comparison. Oops.
If you’re like most people, you probably feel like our political climate is hostile to free thinkers—those who don’t automatically accept the “woke” opinion of the day. As someone who has gone from “woke” to awake, I’m here to remind you that it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, the guiding philosophy of the U.S. Constitution is classical liberalism, but most people have no idea what that means.
Classical liberalism posits that the government’s top priority is protecting individual rights, including the rights to own what we earn and express what we believe, so that society can progress towards tolerance and justice for all. Freedom and liberty are of the highest order and the light touch of government is allowed when absolutely necessary—that’s what our founding fathers secured for us. But what has that turned into? Modern progressives have taken pride in segregating Americans into identity “groups” like black, white, gay, or Muslim, at the expense of the profoundly simple yet incredibly important ideal that all men—of course, all people—are created equal.
This progressive worldview is tempting because it’s safe, in addition to seeming “virtuous”, as long as you accept your “group”, even if that group is “privileged”, so long as you take on the burdens and guilts of that “privilege”. If you embrace that privilege, or better, a victimhood status, you are guaranteed social acceptance across the democratic party. But this outlook attacks voices who challenge the “norms” set by that party and erodes the truly liberal goals that our founding fathers imagined for us.
Free thinking is risky. It’s messy, and it comes with saying the wrong thing and—gasp—offending people in the process. But speaking your own mind, no matter how clumsy it sounds coming out of your mouth, is a risk worth taking.
There’s so much more I could say on this topic, and perhaps I will in another article on free speech. For the time being, I’ll take a risk by stating my conclusion. Americans are sick of not being allowed to speak freely.