Anyone who doubts the story should consider that, in the modern world, huge empires imprisoning billions of people and killing tens of millions, have been based on speech control (implicitly, thought control) backed by violence. Usually, the empires’ theories were wrong, their projects useless or destructive, and their end welcome. The pity is that no one was able to shut them down quickly by making everyone mutually incomprehensible about everything.
he thought I sounded “like Jared Loughner” (the alleged perpetrator of the recent Tucson, Arizona, shootings at a handshaker where the Congresswoman was seriously wounded, and many others killed). I’ve no idea what phase of Loughner’s ramblings he means. But mine is a conventional view of the totalitarian utopias of the twentieth century, with some of which I was contemporaneous. Time doesn’t permit more than a few words here but, after several decades of increasing tolerance, we are seeing the return, in Europe and Canada certainly, of the totalitarian mindset. And the Loughner story has actually found a role in that effort. The speech controllers’ attitude to fact and evidence is well put here by Australian newser Dan Ryan (March 12, 2011):
From Ottawa (Mark Steyn), and Vienna (Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff) to Amsterdam (Geerts Wilders) and Melbourne (Andrew Bolt), prominent journalists and politicians are put on trial not because they have breached any traditional, narrowly defined limits on free speech (defamation, incitement to violence, breach of national security) but because they have criticised or drawn unwelcome attention to some important cultural, religious or ethnic problem that should rightfully be subject to debate.
Let me be quite clear, the issue is not hate speech but making statements (as Canada’s Mark Steyn did) that are easily defensible but gave offence to a grievance group. Of course, such anti-speech laws are always inequitably enforced. Appalling, unsubstantiable statements can be safely made about some groups. In fairness, however, this bleeper cost an American media bureaucrat his job. But that’s the exception. It was a sting. Absent that element, he was free to trash some groups every day, but trashing others would be career suicide.
Now back to the stuff I’d prefer to talk about