Freedom of speech

There’s a story I like to tell, but I can’t always tell it straight, because I use the word “nigger” in it.  It doesn’t matter that I am quoting a black man, or that he was using the word to describe himself.   The word is forbidden, something that should be censored anywhere it’s found.  It should be called the n-word, and though it is so obscene that it shouldn’t be uttered in polite company.  And perhaps it shouldn’t.  But some people will, just for shock value, like hearing the word “fuck” being used in an casual office conversation.

But where are our limits, and how do we draw the line?  Black people can use the word “nigger” in any company they chose.  I cannot.  Feminists can hurl all manner of emotional invective against me, but I am expected to be calm and civil in all my responses.  SJW’s can call me all manner of names (racist, islamophobic, homophobic, misogynist), but I can’t even imply that they might be gay, because that would be beyond the pale.  I am otherized on a regular basis, but heaven help me if I am not tolerant of all who are unlike me.

And now some men tried to kill someone who dared insult their religion.  I don’t even have to explain which incident, because there are several examples to choose from, nor do I have to explain which religion was doing the attacking.  But if I were to violently defend my religion, I would be demonized in the press long before any charges could be filed.  Because I am not secular, nor I am Muslim.  Those two religions alone receive protection in our culture.

They say politics follows culture, but they fail to point out that the force of law is what politics is all about.  First we shame people into acting a certain way, then we make it legally binding.  Look at what has happened to smoking.  It used to be a common habit practiced everywhere.  Then came the campaign showing how harmful it was, and the public went from accepting to slightly disapproving.  Then came the laws: no smoking in government buildings, no smoking in restaurants, no smoking in any business, no smoking outdoors, no smoking in your own home.  It’s that bad, and we can’t trust people to make the right choice.

But if they can do it with smoking, why not other social ills?  Racism is bad.  We’ll pass a law.  Discrimination, sexism, ableism, all bad, all need a law.  If we can’t teach people to behave correctly, we’ll force them to.  And if even the idea is expressed, well, that’s incitement to commit what is now an illegal act, and will be punished accordingly.  So you can’t even talk about it, in even the vaguest terms.  You might give someone the wrong idea, and they might learn the wrong thing, and then they might act the wrong way, and don’t you see that we have to save all these future criminals from themselves?

But if we talk about harm actually caused, like the way it started with smoking, when do we get to outlaw Marxism?  Or the Democratic Party?  Or the IRS?