I have to be annoying to you; though the following is something I cannot enforce, it is something that is imperative for you to understand where I am coming from when I say what I about to say, for the message to really sink in. Before you continue, I want you to take a walk. Look at your possessions, the people in your life, the family under your roof, the plans you have for the future. Walk through your house and take inventory of all you hold dear, all you control, whether you want it or not. The pictures of your family, the Playstation you play when you come from work, the car you wrench on in the garage, your wife or husband, perhaps, in the bedroom, the kids asleep in their own room. Your bank account, the wine cellar, the 85” flatscreen, the wardrobe you put together over the years. Even the little things like the coffee machine, the lunch packed in the fridge, the half-eaten bag of Fritos in the corner. Really take in all of it, everything in your domain. This article can wait until you do so; I literally walked my own grounds, so to speak, before I started this, so feel free to take it all in before you come back to this.
Everyone back? All two of you? Great! I have yet to annoy you again! Though I promise, this is also essential to understanding the purpose of this article. I was trained in various forms of violence, and one of my instructors always pushed this principle on me, among others: “The first line of defense you have is your voice.” You use your voice to address that which you perceive to be a threat before you use your wrist mounted missle launchers, the idea being that your voice would stop those that didn’t really mean to use physical violence against you. Keep this in mind as well, it is very important.
If you’re reading this, chances are you live in the USA. We have many rights here, and literally the first one we have is called the First Amendment. You can go read it for yourself, but basically it says we have the right to express ourselves in any way we see fit, so long as it does not directly harm others. In other words, as long as there is no force behind the expression, it is legal, whether you agree with it or not. And everyone here in this country, and many outside of it, agrees with this: maybe the guy yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater is an asshole, but you should be able to express yourself without being carried off to the patriotic gulag.
Another, very crucial part of freedom of expression is to point out when something is going wrong, particularly when it isn’t a popular opinion. The reason free speech needs to be lawfully protected today, after all, isn’t to defend against speech everyone likes, but that which everyone doesn’t like; no one feels threatened by “You look nice today”, as much as they would ” Good Lord, you look like shit!”. It is when you use your speech as a warning that it’s uncomfortable, and therefore is at its most valuable; because it precedes, and often is used to circumvent, violence. To ask most people, they would agree this is a good thing; everyone champions freedom of speech, after all. That is, until its called racist.
See, speech is free, until you give it a label that’s socially unacceptable. You talk about a group of thugs that destroyed a town, that may be O.K., until you point out many of them were black, or Hispanic, at which point it’s racist. You talk about the stupid people that spend tens of thousands of dollars going to college for degrees that are worthless, but if you point out many of them are women, you are sexist. You point out how many people that come to this country today don’t contribute more than they take, but if you say anything about them being from the Middle East, you’re a islamophobe. The examples are nearly endless, but you get the idea. Which is that, if someone says something you don’t like, if you call it ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, ‘’misogynist’, homophobic’, ‘islamophobic’, and any type of ‘-ist’ or ‘-phobe’, suddenly it’s not O.K. And many work so well, because like I said before, these play on your emotions, your primal urges; they skip past your rational and logical thinking to get there.
In other words: if you give something a specific label it is no longer free speech. It is classified as hate speech, which is now illegal. Therefore, even if it is factually true, you can be stopped from saying it; if not by legal means, then by social pressure, personal attacks, doxxing and the loss of your career and family, and other weapons of the social justice warrior witch hunters. When you can classify what you don’t like as hate speech, you can effectively censor it. If you have half a brain that works at a least 25% efficiency, you may realize this as the opposite of the 1st Amendment.
Now, is this a problem? Sure, if someone says something that offends you, or makes you feel bad, of course you may feel they shouldn’t say what they said, even if it was correct. No one likes being hurt after all; that’s a normal reaction, and it’s natural to avoid that which brings you pain, including the verbal variety. The problem is when that speech is A. Being used as a warning against a growing problem, and B. When it is used as self defense. In both cases, it is the first line of defense, and in both cases, if it has either failed or has been disabled, the next logical step is violence. Indeed, if you are not allowed to speak your mind, you either commit violence, or you allow it to happen without mitigation.
This may seem conspiratorial, if you haven’t given stuff like this much thought. But understand this isn’t some pet theory cooked up; this has happened throughout history, though many civilizations. The most glaring is the former Soviet Union: if you spoke out about a policy the government had that you thought was a bad idea, you would be rounded up by the KGB and he questioned intensely if you were lucky, and chances were they found out because your neighbors ratted you out. Same thing in North Korea; talk about how there’s not much to eat but rocks, and pretty soon you’ll be stoned with said local cuisine. The same happened in Venezuela, Much of Africa, the old Vietnam, many Middle Eastern states, and other dictatorial countries: you take away the power of the voice, and you are left with violence.
Now conversely, what have the western countries done that have made them different? You can argue that they have had their fair share of aggression and violence, and I would agree with you, but one thing that stands out is that there is reason. There is the ability to say what you believe is true, and put it out amongst competing theories and have it proven either true or false, without persecution. The ideas can be pointed out as wrong and immoral, but they couldn’t be censored. Until the last decade.
Who is doing this? I have tried to be nonpartisan about this, but I can’t not say this: look to your local media source. Whether it’s your friends in Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, whether it’s the mainstream media like Fox, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, whether its Gawker, Deadspin, Salon, Cracked, whether its tabloids like Daily Mail, The National Enquirer, Globe, whether it’s movies that are blockbusters or indie hits, they all tell you what you can and cannot say, whether you realize it or not. They tell you what is wrong to say out loud and, should someone overhear you, there shall be consequences to pay. And you wouldn’t want to have that happen, would you?
Well, yeah, maybe you should. Maybe you should stand up and say what you believe. Maybe you should speak your mind, if only to find out if you are right or wrong. If only to defend yourself and your self interests verbally. If only to protect your family. Because if that fails, or more importantly, if you are NOT allowed to use words to express and defend yourself, violence is right around the corner.
Now comes the reason why I asked you to take inventory of the things you love about your life: I did that myself, right after I typed it. Call me a weirdo: I take my integrity very seriously. I looked at my entire apartment: the main room where most of my electronics are, like my computers, T.V., PS3, chargers. My kitchen, decked out with a top of the line microwave, my old range top oven, coffee maker and grinder, a fridge and freezer full of hundreds of dollars of premium meats that took months to find, a deep fryer with oil that took hours upon hours to make, utensils that took months to find and master. A bathroom that not only makes pooping bearable, but almost a joy; one that makes showering not only a pleasure, but cheap, even for hours. Plenty of knick knacks I have found over the years that are unique, quirky, and make me laugh. A bedroom that I could sleep in and have sex for days without the slightest discomfort, with everything I could want not more than 10 paces away, or less than a mile if I had to leave the house. In said bed is a wonderful girl from Russia that makes me happy, who has her own goals in life and makes living here even better.
Outside there are my bikes, and my car, all of which are technological exercises and labors of love, not to mentions sources of income. Speaking of which, the job I have now is one I love doing, is something I have the skills to be the best at it, and one everyone love; even if it could be considered inconsequential, people are usually happy to see me. And that doesn’t even mention my family: though I don’t see many of them today, I still get to stay in contact with then, even if only fleetingly. I have great fulfillment and purpose in my life. And I would mourn, grieve, and be very, very pissed, if that life were to come to an end.
Look at your own life. Look at your loved ones. Look at your career, your home, your car, your neighborhood. Look at that rec room, that man cave, that cute breakfast nook. Look at your significant other, your spouse, your children, their children. Look at the plans you have for the future, what you have to look forward to. Now look at me, my crazy Facebook profile pic, when I tell you this:
YOU are gambling all of that. YOU are putting your own livelihood at risk. YOU are placing everything you hold dear at the mercy of certain destruction.
Because you cannot, or will not, defend yourself with words, with your voice, you will have to use your hands. Look at how a dog, a cat, a snake acts: they bark, hiss or rattle before they have to strike, precisely because that’s preferable to actual violence. If under threat, if you have no voice to use you have no choice but to use violence, and to use violence is to put in jeopardy all you hold dear. Therefore, those that oppose free speech are indirectly responsible for the use of violence, and are indirectly responsible for the loss of property or life as a result. Whether they believe in hate speech or not is irrelevant.
Now, I ask you: look at what you have been told to believe. If you want to make it about this election, since it’s such a good example, look at what Trump was portrayed as versus Clinton. Where one has been portrayed as an unstable pussy grabbing egotist, the other has been proven as a compromised corrupted warmonger. One looks weird and makes assholish tweets, the other is threatening war with the other world nuclear superpower. Which one do you oppose: the one that you can prove is logically evil, or the one that makes you feel angry?
I hate to put it like that, and to make it political, but this is a great way to point out how A. How emotion is used against you to trump (Ha!) facts, and B. How if you oppose those flaws, and it can be called racist sexist, misogynist, homophobic, etc, it will be shut down.
So what happens when you cannot use words to defend yourself? What happens when there is no diplomacy is that there is violence in it’s stead. Look at what you hold dear again. Really, take your time; peruse the labors of your love and hard work. Are you willing to risk violence, to spare your feelings? Are you willing to come to blows because you could not come to terms with reason?
Are you willing to destroy your life, and the lives of loved ones, because you could not speak out? Will you throw all you have away because you were offended?
Will you defend your life, or be silenced into destruction?