Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) have found the enemy, and it is freedom of speech! On university campuses, on their podcasts, blogs, and social media, and in their advocacy and movements, this branch of the political spectrum is ostensibly fighting for the victims of abuse and bigotry and systemic injustice. But in so doing, they have armed themselves with weapons to fight against the free exchange of ideas. Now everyone and everything is scrutinized for a possible political impact. Every word is being parsed, every decision analyzed, every move broken down to find out how it potentially hurts someone somewhere, and thus hurts everyone everywhere, and therefore must be banned from the safe spaces, which are growing and merging, the logical end result of which looks startlingly like Orwellian dystopia. If you question everything, hold nothing as sacred, and say whatever is on your mind, you are not invited to the SJW party.
The regressive left has gone crazy. Being liberal used to mean protecting freedom of speech. Now the SJW flank of the left have abdicated that protector role in order to secure an illusory goal of somehow keeping everyone safe from ever hearing anything threatening or uncomfortable (triggers).
As I learn about the damage being done to the right to speak freely, it reminds me of my own self-censoring while I was a Christian, and a Bible teacher. The parallels between the right and left on free speech have been discussed frequently by Dave Rubin on his excellent Rubin Report, which I highly recommend to anyone concerned about free speech issues. I also credit his series of podcast interviews launched last September for the inspiration for this writing.
It finally dawned on me last night that I could remember being confronted with ‘threatening speech’ occasionally during my Christian delusion. Even in the safe spaces of the Seventh-day Adventist campus where I taught, I could access and interact with challenging ideas outside that protective bubble, using the Internet. When challenges to my faith arose, I usually just dismissed them, feeling a pang of guilt which was quickly tagged as ‘evil’, or whatever– Christians are good at inventing justifications from “The Devil made me do it”. The guilt and shame came from my conscience, which knew better than to dismiss facts just because they were uncomfortable, but I did it anyway, time and again, in order to prop up my delusional belief system. That dismissal and damage to the conscience is a thing everyone did, everyone who clung to the irrational and illogical doctrines we all held sacred. It was easier to do in a community which encouraged it.
This kind of violence done to one’s conscience cannot be healthy. Across years of indulging in this denial of basic values like freedom of expression and freedom to question sacred beliefs, the cognitive dissonance builds up like scar tissue on one’s reasoning ability. I know this self-censorship made me vulnerable to conspiracy theory paranoia, inappropriate trust in bogus claims and authority, and doubtless contributed to the depression I fought since I began my journey out of Christianity.
I think that same kind of cognitive dissonance threatens those apostles of the social justice mania chilling free speech on university campuses and trolling social media now. I wonder if they are becoming vulnerable to irrational schemes and conspiracy theories just like Christians are.
It hit me again last night how much I regret wasting my youth teaching teenagers how to deny their consciences for the purpose of delusion-maintenance. Those same regrets are waiting to pounce on any current advocates of the speech policing now popular in academia and the liberal press, just as soon as they realize the damage they are doing to our hard-won 1st Amendment rights.
Supporting popular causes can make you feel important, and stroke your need to belong. But if that cause you love ever makes you censor your doubts about it or damage your own conscience, run away from it. Get out of that toxic pattern now, before you build up life-altering loads of regret.
If you’re interested in learning more about freedom of speech and the current threats it faces, a good place to go is Dave Rubin’s Rubin Report. It’s a podcast and a YouTube video channel, and the interviews and commentary there are really interesting and informative. But prepared to be challenged! It is not a safe space for anyone still caught up in the regressive left mind-fuck!