Written on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 by David L. Goetsch
Liberals have a love-hate relationship with the concept of free speech. They love it when it works on their behalf, but they hate it when it applies to people who disagree with them. To a liberal, free speech means the freedom to say what they want you to say and nothing else. Agree with a liberal and you will enjoy unimpeded free speech. Disagree with a liberal and you will wonder what ever happened to free speech. Because of the broad-based expectation of free speech by American society, liberals have had to come up with another way to suppress speech that runs counter to their nefarious agenda. That tactic is political correctness, a concept that is indeed political but hardly correct.
Political correctness is the left’s antidote to the expectations of Americans concerning free speech. Society’s expectations may not allow liberals to suppress free speech to the extent they would like—something along the lines of the infamous alien and sedition acts of President John Adams—but political correctness certainly does. Political correctness prescribes from the perspective of liberals what is appropriate to say in public conversation and what is not. In this way liberals are able to control conversation, debate, and discussion in the public square. By applying the one-sided tenets of political correctness, the left essentially controls verbal discourse in America.
I have always believed that people who are comfortable with their views should welcome discussion and debate. If they truly believe what they profess to believe people of any political persuasion should be able to defend their views. Further, they should welcome opportunities to do so. This is not the case with liberals. Their idea is to foist their views on American society while allowing neither debate nor dissention. State publically a point of view that runs counter to liberal orthodoxy and you will immediately be descended on by the god’s of political correctness. Whoever coined the adage about the fury of a woman scorned had never been subjected to the character assassination tactics of the left. The philosophy of liberals on free speech seems to be: When you cannot effectively debate someone whose views run counter to those of the left, attack, vilify, and destroy that person.
Political correctness is killing free speech in America and, by so doing, is undermining all of our freedoms. When we cannot talk about proscribed issues—issues ruled out of bounds by the dictates of the left—all Americans suffer a loss of freedom. We also lose the ability to find solutions to some of our most pressing socio-cultural problems. Just as fire is used to strengthen steel, free and open discussion can be used to strengthen the arguments of both sides when debating issues of importance. Free and open debate can also open the eyes of those debating the issues to possibilities, points of view, and solutions other than those they espouse. People who refuse to submit their views to the fire of open discussion are intellectual cowards who fear that their views take the heat. They are people who have arrived at unworthy points of view for reasons other than logic, reason, and truth; reasons such as politics, power, and position. In short, they are intellectual cowards.
What are some issues Americans should be openly and freely debating and would be if they had not been decreed off-limits by liberals and hidden behind the protective shield of political correctness? Two major issues come immediately to mind: racism and same-sex marriage. The racial divide in America is unnecessarily broad. The lack of trust between and among the races can be attributed in part to our inability to discuss race-related problems without being labeled racists. By the way, to disagree with a liberal on any racially-charged issue is to immediately be labeled a bigot and a racist, and this rule of thumb applies regardless of whether you happen to be white, black, Hispanic, or Asian.
To liberals, anybody of any race who disagrees with their political presuppositions is by their definition a racist. This is too bad because we will never solve our racial problems unless we can talk about them, and there are plenty that need to be talked about. We need to discuss problems such as school dropout rates, fatherless families, high unemployment, gang violence, drugs, and crime among minorities, but we cannot because these subjects have been ruled off limits by the gods of political correctness. We need to be able to talk about why black Americans cannot be conservatives who reject nanny government without being vilified by liberals, black and white. We need to be able to talk about how to appropriately deal with people of both races who make bigoted statements. We also need to be able to ask why a skunk like Donald Sterling is treated one way for making racist remarks while an equally offensive lout like Al Sharpton is given a pass when they both should be called to account—equally. We need to be able to discuss the ineffectiveness of the left’s so-called war on poverty. We need to be able to discuss whether the social safety net provided by the federal government has morphed into a magic carpet that welfare recipients have no intention of climbing off of.
The fact that we cannot openly and freely discuss these and other pressing socio-political issues responsibly is why I am convinced that liberals want neither harmony among the races nor solutions to America’s social problems. Take away racial discord and liberals are left without any ammunition for their political guns. Solve our most pressing social problems and liberals have nothing on which to base their anti-America, anti-conservative diatribes. To liberals advances toward racial harmony and solutions to social problems signal the eventual end of their relevance in American politics because liberals are not about finding solutions, they are about stirring up discord, envy, anger, and frustration. This is why for liberals it is necessary to use political correctness to rule inconvenient topics off limits and to vilify anyone—black or white—who has the temerity to even raise them. With the dependable cooperation of the mainstream media it is easier for liberals to use character assassination to pre-empt free speech than to discuss issues in an open and honest manner that might lead to solutions or, at the very least, less tension among the races. In this regard, liberals remind me of a college professor I once knew who would not allow students to ask questions for the simple reason that he could not answer them.
Another issue that has been ruled out of bounds by the liberal gods of political correctness is same-sex marriage. There are a lot of Americans who have legitimate concerns about equating conjugal relations between homosexuals with the marriage of a man and a woman, but to even raise such concerns is to be subjected to the venomous attacks of homosexuals who apparently came out of the closet for the purpose of putting their opponents in it. To oppose same-sex marriage on any ground—Biblical, biological, or societal—is to be labeled a bigot in a sheet and hood who burns crosses. Again, if liberals are so certain that their views on same-sex marriage are valid and defensible, why suppress free, open, and honest debate on the issue? Why apply the unworthy tactics of character assassination, vilification, and bullying?
The very people who for years were subjected to verbal and physical attacks because of their homosexuality are now using the same tactics on people who disagree with their views. If this were nothing but a case of turn-about is fair play, it would be hard to argue with their tactics but the people they are attacking are not hoodlums from their past who treated homosexuals badly. Rather, many who support traditional marriage are priests, pastors, Christian laypeople, intellectuals, and legal scholars who have legitimate objections to same-sex marriage but who would never stoop to the tactics used against homosexuals in the past and that homosexuals are using against them now.
Our Founders knew how important free speech would be in a Democratic and self-governed society. This is why the very first amendment added to the Constitution dealt with freedom of speech and the press; an amendment liberals in Congress are trying to amend as I write this column. They knew that protecting unpopular speech would be critical to the longevity of the country they risked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to establish. Speech that is broadly popular needs no protection. To use political correctness to impede free speech—not by law but by politically-correct bullying—threatens the continued existence of our country as a free and open nation, something liberals should acknowledge before it is too late. What is politically correct is specified by those who are able to dictate terms at any given point in time. Right now that is liberals, but this may not always be the case. If conservatives and Christians who have had their free speech suppressed for so long ever find themselves once again in the ascendancy on socio-cultural matters in America, it might prove difficult to convince them to be magnanimous.