Do you remember the previous era of free speech, when it was fashionable to say such things as “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it“?
To me, it doesn’t seem that long ago, although at the same time these days it can really feel an age away.
Now might be a very good time for those people who said that to put their words into action, even if the death is not physical, but social, economic and suchlike.
Because these days, to disapprove of what someone says is often grounds to begin a persecution of them. As long, of course, you are the one holding the ‘correct’ views.
In the age in which I used to live, speech that was banned was on the edge – calling for someones murder, or the classic of yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded cinema. Speech that would result in real harm, not just to ones feelings.
It’s not that way now. Now, anything defined as ‘hate’ is beyond the pale. Of course, it raises the question, who defines what is hate? The answer of course is – the powerful. Those who hold the social, media, governmental and increasingly commercial levers and who can impose their definition on everybody else.
Rather less than remarkably, the definition of hate by the powerful is expanded to encompass all opinions that are held to be disagreeable to the current zeitgeist. As a result, we find that we are fast losing our previously treasured freedom of speech.
This is no blessing to anybody, whichever side you find yourselves on the current cultural discussions of the day. One day you may bask in the righteousness of the mob, the next day you may find yourselves instead the subject of their wrath. The only escape is to turn yourself into a moral chameleon, which is the way of the coward.
This is the era in which we find ourselves. Much like I observed with Tolerance, Diversity and Inclusion, it is often those who are most anti ‘hate speech’, who are themselves full of hatred for others.
To be a Christian, in fact to be anyone who holds a principled moral worldview that is at odds with the latest correct opinion, is to ask for trouble. But then, this is nothing new.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.John 16 v33 b