Perhaps I’m a dumbass, but I really don’t know what that means.
It appears as if everyone is guilty of this. It’s not monopolized by one side of the political spectrum. As Steven Pinker pointed out, even the Right has it’s own free speech taboos.
I’ll lift an example from an episode of BoJack Horseman. BoJack buys a box of muffins that a Navy Seal (A literal seal) called “dibs” on. The seal then ratted BoJack out to the media. Of course, the media sided with the seal because he was a veteran and was therefore deemed “a hero”. This provokes BoJack into saying something to the effect of “just because you’re a veteran, that doesn’t make you a hero”. Naturally, the media spins this into him saying “veterans aren’t heroes”.
This would be an example of right-wing “political correctness” (although the Left would probably pay some lip service to that outrage as well). Not only would questioning the sanctity of veteranship be taboo on the Right, but so would joking about abortion, the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and so on. So despite mocking the Left for its “political correctness”, the Right is every bit as guilty as those they bemoan.
Pinker (in the video above) indicates that right-wing political correctness can usually be found in the media and other public spheres, LEFT-WING political correctness (and the kind that gets all the attention) usually runs rampant on college campuses.
In my prior post, I criticized universities for essentially making themselves obsolete in the age of the internet. They are a relic of a by-gone era, when only the wealthy and extraordinarily talented were allowed to be educated. But my primary concern was that colleges were just instruments of further institutionalization (not necessarily indoctrination). At a time when everyone with a college education is riddled with debt and lack necessary skills to succeed in the “real world”, going to college is simply not the smarter decision.
But Pinker seems to be addressing an even larger problem with universities: namely their aim to become ‘indoctrination’ programs (or enabling students to find and develop a “soul”). Few within academia would openly embrace an ‘indoctrination’ objective. Nevertheless, that’s what professors are doing when they label opposing views as “microaggressions” or “weaponizing of language”. Pinker doesn’t think that the objective of universities should be to ‘indoctrinate’, but to expose students to ideas and methods of discussion, so that we can DEBATE the validity of those ideas.
In my argument, universities just aren’t necessary for that end anymore. They are still important apparatuses for knowledge, but the need for a typical “brick and mortar” experience is obsolete. A typical classroom is no longer necessary to learn. I would go so far as to say that most of the learning done towards the end of obtaining a degree is NOT done in a classroom. Fraternities and sororities are a blatant holdover from a by-gone era, and only contribute to inequality and rape culture on campus. AND, it’s too damn expensive. A literal college experience is not necessary for obtaining a liberal (as distinguished from ‘leftist’) education.
But also, as Pinker pointed out, the problem with political correctness on campus (or anywhere really) is how we internalize politics. We identify OURSELVES by how we vote and therefore we see differing opinions as a direct attack on US. Therefore shutting down any conversation that can be had on the subject.
And this is something that both sides are guilty of. In 2012, I had a co-worker that got hoppin’ mad that Obama got re-elected and took it so personally that he left work. I have no doubt that there were a few Clinton supporters that took Trump’s victory personally. We project onto a candidate and politics our own identity, to the point where there can only be a narrow road for discussion. And if one deviates from that road ever so slightly, there can be no discussion. And this is likely how we got to where we are today, on a path towards national divorce.
I partly blame social media and online culture for this mess. Social media particularly has secluded us from tactile interaction, to the point where we dehumanize those that disagree with us. Additionally, it has created a “ME” environment. The Self is the center of attention and you are made to feel that ALL of your opinions matter. Anyone that disagrees is only a picture on a screen, they are neither intelligent nor an actual person. All that we come to know of others is the words that they type. We are neither aware of their humanity, nor is it of any concern to us.
Simultaneously, we also become OVERLY reliant on the opinions of others. An idea that implicitly permeates society is: if the internet doesn’t know about it, it didn’t happen. We might not explicitly believe this, but this is how we behave. So although we don’t acknowledge ‘the other’s’ identity as independent of their opinions, we still rely on their opinions to validate OUR existence. Therefore, we require other people to acknowledge our “rights” if we are to have any “rights” whatsoever. So we fail to give ourselves any value outside of the existence of other people.
Therefore we rely on the external world to provide us with “rights”.
And this is why we often complain that our “freedom of speech” is under attack. We want to believe that it is the world of government and politics (that only exists in this domain of shared imagination) that gives us our rights. But it isn’t true. Free speech is something that can’t be given to you….you have to give it to yourself.
I hope that you were able to follow all of that.
One of the things that has driven me crazy over the last few years is a lack responsibility that we take for our rights. I have written about this subject before (which I’ll post below). Because we have linked our sense of self to attributes that others identify, this has eroded away our own sense of identity. And we become forever linked to an identity we are born with, and therefore we are forever trapped within our static identity.
Forgive me, I know that this post is a mess.
Freedom of Action is not Freedom From Consequence
It’s not difficult, people.
I know in our highly politicized world, we want to believe that our freedoms are being eroded away. It makes us feel good because it enables us to win arguments.
That’s fine. It’s also idiotic.
What’s really stopping you from committing arson and ramming your car through your neighbors house? Think about it.
Is it the law? If you answered yes, then try again. The law can only offer consequence for committing an action, it can’t prevent it. That is, unless the CIA or NSA are tracking your every move. In that case, they might be able to prevent your action, but they can’t remove the intention to action. So keep thinking.
What did you find?
That’s absolutely correct. The only person that can stop you from a disgruntled rampage is yourself. Now, of course fear of the law and consequence might prevent you from committing an action. Yet that fear is entirely generated within you. So again, only you can stop you, unless there’s a literal physical force there to stop you. But, that physical force can only prevent the action. It can’t prevent the will to action.
“Well what about people in prison? Asshole.”
Sure, their freedoms are severely restricted. But it’s the same story. The state can’t prevent the will to escape or take over the prison. The only power at its disposal is the physical force towards prevention. What citizens fail to realize, is that they have the same power at its disposal. The state might have greater power, therefore generating fear WITHIN the heart of the citizen. Which, in turn, might deter any such physical action. But, the will to action or the fear from action is entirely in the hands of the individual.
There are all kinds of crazy scenarios where we can envision the state taking away the will of the individual. Science fiction is loaded with these stories. And what we find is the individual becoming entirely dependent on the state to provide them with ‘rights’…which are just imaginative constructs of the state that aren’t found in nature.
And by the way, I’m not demeaning the idea of ‘rights’ or the power of the state. I find these things necessary evils. However, I appreciate these things for what they’re worth…a product of our collective imagination. I don’t actually believe that there is any metaphysical or supernatural power that validates them.
But what we find in these doomsday science fiction scenarios, and indeed in our very own political environment, is that people are reliant on the state to provide them with their individuality. The state has to provide them with ‘rights’, otherwise they lack any freedoms whatsoever. They actually believe that the state provides a ‘freedom of speech’.
And it’s horseshit. The state doesn’t provide any such freedoms. That’s only a freedom that you can provide yourself. The best that the state can do is provide a set of consequences (or a lack thereof) should that freedom be engaged. Whether or not you heed to those consequences is entirely up to you. The state might outlaw freedom of speech altogether, but all it can do is promote fear of consequences. Until technology is developed that can literally prevent free speech, you do have the power to engage it regardless of consequence.
Again, the state can only promote fear. Whether or not you subscribe to it is entirely in your hands. But once you start arguing from the perspective that only the state can provide freedoms, then you don’t have any freedoms.
We all have the freedom to action. But what none of us have is the freedom of consequence. So please, stop confusing the two.