A group of university students protest outside the administration building. Their complaint: they want to ban racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia and all other forms of intolerance;
New York City’s Commission on Human Rights wants to re-interpret the city’s anti-discrimination laws. These will cover all citizens in all public places. If a person is denied same-sex facilities, or cross-dressers are treated differently or if a person is called ‘he’ when they want to be called ‘she,’ this would be a violation of the anti-discrimination regulations. The penalty: a $250,000 fine.
Religious and social conservatives complain of being silenced by the social media giants for violating ‘anti-abuse’ regulations. What is the ‘abuse?’ Expressing a dissenting opinion from those from the Left Wing.
What do all these incidents have in common?
The demise of free speech as we know it.
For all these examples, and many more, are practicing ‘political correctness,’ with the ultimate goal of ‘preventing offence.’
Contrary to popular notion, political correctness has been around for a long time. It basically paints a desired narrative and will suppress any and all voices who do not support this narrative. As an enemy of ‘free speech,’ it has no equal. ‘The Narrative’ is more important than facts, truth, common sense, Godliness, or every day justice. Failure to conform to the political correctness and the new tolerance will invite a torrent of abuse (bigot, hater, phobe, ist), mandatory attendance in ‘sensitivity sessions,’ being fined or threatened with prison. Even a few Christian organisations are firing employees who are politically incorrect.
In the postmodern times, political correctness is viewed this way: reality is not discovered, it is created by our words. Therefore, we need to use vocabulary that is tolerant, inclusive, and affirming, especially towards women, racial minorities, multiculturals, Muslims and LGBTs. These erstwhile marginalised groups are viewed as the victims and underdogs by the white, male, Christian establishment. Bottom line: Today’s political correctness includes the ‘right’ not to be offended, particularly if you are in one of the above categories.
Being deliberately offensive is obnoxious.
Being offended is bondage and hurtful.
But can we really legislate against offensive speech?
Can we insulate people from offence?
Is there a ‘better way?’ (SHORT ANSWER: Yes!).
Let us bear some facts in mind:
First, we live in a fallen world. Bad things can happen to good people and good things can happen to bad people. This situation will be radically changed for the better, but in the meantime that is the reality. For Bible-believing Christians, if we are going to ‘fight the good fight of faith’ (I Timothy 6:12), let’s realise that there are punches and blows along the way. We can either retire into a corner to ‘lick our wounds,’ or resiliently bounced back to live and fight another day. Our victory is assured (I Corinthians 15:57).
Second, the attempt to prevent offensive speech is actually an attack on ‘freedom of speech.’ Freedom of speech is the first of our freedoms, along with freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, freedom of association, freedom of conscience. It is part and parcel of a democratic society. If ‘social progressives’ and ‘political correctness’ succeeds in limiting free speech in the name of tolerance, anti-discrimination and ‘the right not to be offended,’ democracy as we know it will go out the window. Without exaggeration, tyranny will not be far behind.
Third, the bar has been lowered alarmingly. Postmodernism has reduced and redefined words like ‘tolerance,’ ‘hate,’ ‘marriage,’ family,’ and ‘offence.’ The classic, time-honoured definitions of these and other terms has been transformed beyond recognition. In the past, to be ‘offensive’ meant to be arrogantly rude, irreverent, deliberately setting out to be haughty and hurtful.
Today, people are apparently so hyper-sensitive and thin-skinned that merely disagreeing with an individual is perceived as a ‘personal attack.’ Taking another position to ‘The Narrative’ is seen as ‘micro-aggression,’ ‘white privilege,’ and ‘cultural appropriate,’ against the other party. Religious conviction is deemed as ‘discrimination’ and ‘hate’ when it comes in conflict with the agenda of ‘social progressives.’ Religious freedom, as well as freedom of speech, are seriously under threat in this milieu.
There must be a better way!
And there is … stay tuned for part 2.