Unquestioning Acceptance As The Opposite Of Bigotry, and The Rise In Wrongthink.
We live in the most progressive and accepting era of our times. Our rights to love and speak and feel our truths are protected. We celebrate diversity in identity, in sexuality and in opinion.
Except you. You’re a bigot.
Whilst we live in a free time, we seem to be protecting one area of our freedoms by sacrificing others without hesitation. Debate is shut down, words we don’t like are “literal violence”, being offended automatically gives you a moral high ground, and people we disagree with are no platformed from events, or banned from social media.
I was raised to believe everyone has a right to an opinion, and everyone has a right to express that opinion, but nobody has the right to force people to agree with them. So many times my mother would repeat this quote:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”Evelyn Beatrice Hall
If you’re using your voice to call for violence against people, you should be stopped. If you’re using your voice to disagree with people, you should be left alone. I might disagree with you, I might think you’re a vile human being, but controlling people’s right to speak and think freely is worse.
As free as our times may be, we are also in times where “no debate” is used to prevent conversations about issues that deserve a debate. Whether it’s the legalisation of prostitution, abortion access, Self-ID for gender, or anything else. No debate as a slogan is dangerous. We need these debates to happen, these dialogues to be heard. The issues are complex and important, and we can learn from them.
I always thought that Universities were places of discovery. Where diverse people with intelligence and passion could debate their ideas, politics and beliefs, could disagree with one another on every level, whilst still respecting their opponents’ right to a voice.
Apparently, I was wrong. Our bright young minds are being educated in a world where books are banned, and Jenni Murray (breast cancer surviving Dame who presents Woman’s Hour) is no platformed from speaking at events.
If our students are prevented from hearing views that don’t support their own, how are they going to learn of a world beyond that echo chamber? This is not an education, it’s where ideas and thoughts go to die.
And it’s not just education being impacted. People’s jobs are being threatened because they stepped over the line from acceptable into needing to be silenced.
Recently Mario Lopez, host of Access Hollywood, has risked his entire career for engaging in debate. He was asked about transgender children and said:
“Look, I’m never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids, obviously, and I think if you come from a place of love, you really can’t go wrong. But at the same time, my God, if you’re 3-years-old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way, or you think you’re a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make this determination then, well, OK, then you’re going to a boy or a girl, whatever the case may be … It’s sort of alarming and, my gosh, I just think about the repercussions later on.”Will Mario Lopez Get Fired Over Transphobic Comments? Cheetsheat
His comments have been labelled as so bigoted, and so many people called for him to be fired, that his employment is in question. If a high profile man in a powerful position cannot survive without offering full and unquestioning support for the accepted ideology, what does that say for everyone else? Unquestioning acceptance is the only way to avoid the label that can not only prevent you from speaking in public, but lose you your livelihood.
People are given labels, bigot, TERF, SWERF etc. Labels that identify them as unacceptable. Labels that are applied liberally and to anyone who doesn’t conform. Anyone who commits thought crimes. Not violent crimes, not sex crimes, not harassment. Because thoughts and words are equal to violence.
When words are classed as “literal violence”, where can you go? Do “violent” words justify physical violence in retaliation? Recently Maria MacLachlan, a 60 year old feminist, was assaulted in public because her views on transgenderism were labelled unacceptable.
If, like myself, you believe everybody, no matter how they identify or what they believe, deserves to live and speak safely, then this must be condemned. You may think MacLachlan’s opinion is wrong, but you must fight for her right to express it.
We are living in the age of Wrongthink. Thought crimes. Conform. Agree. Don’t question, don’t debate. Accept what you’re told, even if it worries you, even if you have evidence that tells you you’re right.
If you believe in equality you don’t get to pick and choose who is equal enough they get to speak publicly, and who is less equal and should be silenced.
We need to be free to have a conversation. We need to recognise that debate needs to happen across so many fields.
There is so much hate in the world, so much cruelty, and it needs to be addressed and it needs to be pointed out. To not do so is negligent and allows it to flourish in secret, taking power, and ultimately rising up and hurting people because nobody has been able to stop it. But it must not come at the price of not being allowed to think freely, not be allowed to ask questions or debate or hold controversial ideas.
The alt-right needs to be criticised, calls to dehumanise immigrants, subjugate women and people of colour, need to be fought against. But the left needs to accept that disagreement with woke theory is not violent or dangerous. It’s essential. We cannot argue with and fight cruelty if we can’t debate ideas.
Punch someone? Literal violence. Argue with someone? Not literal violence. A simple statement but one we must remind everybody of. You have the right to be offended, angry or hurt. You do not have the right to stop people saying things that make you feel offended, angry or hurt.