Sunday, July 22, 2018

Are radical activists really serious about banning speech on "settled issues"?

I had a conversation with a friend Friday night over the problem of whether activists have any moral leverage in claiming that some subjects are settled and should be off the table. The "settled issue" claim runs parallel to the "settled precedent" in litigated (even Supreme Court) cases. 

We started hearing this more often after Charlottesville, specifically about white supremacy;  but there are all kinds of other possible issues.  We used to say that about communism.

Other countries are much more specific about certain subject matter.  Neo-Nazi speech and Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany, out of a fear that political pressure could grow to bring it back if the speech were tolerated.

Now sometimes on the far Left, especially, you see claims that only the victims of oppression have a right to address it in public spaces. This is a variation of the "skin in the game" idea, as in Nassim Taleb's recent book. 

Yes, I have been criticized for bringing up the military draft gratuitously, when I am no longer personally exposed to it;  and making it more likely politicians would take it seriously again, by gratuitously "reminding them".  (Of course, politicians have brought up making women register for Selective Service!) Also drawing more serious potential objection is the idea of discussing the “sissy boy” syndrome, and even “demographic winter”. These ideas are supposed to be forgotten forever in this world of political correctness, 

The friend said, “What people say this?”  Not many, but Silicon Valley is getting spooked by these more extreme claims of potential group oppression, seen as hate speech or bullying because of its gratuitousness.
The friend agreed, however, that my working alone, and my setting this example, tends to weaken group-based activism in general.  The impulse to limit speech in some areas as inappropriate for continued public discussion really is politically motivated as a way to protect "oppressed minorities". 

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