Free speech has history
If words matter, we should be concerned as our quintessential ‘right’ to freedom of speech is under serious threat today. We may have thought the idea of free speech is new as it is assumed. Yet free speech, historically bound with our existence as a free person, draws on over 2000 years of political and theological thought in western traditions, according to Chris Berg in his book In Defence of Freedom of Speech.
With freedom to speak an individual was free. Without that freedom, an individual was not free[i] – an important concept in the era when slavery was common.
Berg goes on to say that the great debates over toleration emphasised that conscience and expression were one. God did not give any person the power to police the thoughts of another person.
New morality brings new meanings
In the vacuum created by the decline in practice of Christian religions in which individual freedoms flourished, powerful new religious cults have emerged to discipline our conscience, expression and behaviours, and to judge and punish defectors.
New cults are found in politics, government, education, corporations and non-profit globalists, who disdain our history, traditions, beliefs and us. New words and new meanings of common words infect our discourse as new offences surprise and confront. What was said may not be the problem; but how what was said was interpreted, misrepresented, conflated or distorted will not lessen the pile on by the ignorant and the moral guardians of the new religions. Facts do not matter. Adherence to the new moralities does.
Take your pick for offence and vilification from the cults of:
- Gender diversity that denies and vilifies the science of heterosexual realities, imposes new pronouns, disposes of accepted identities (male/female; girl/boy; husband/wife, etc.)
- Feminism seeking equity in outcomes with men, changes to language, treatment and pay
- Racism that positions people of colour as eternal victims, while vilifying Caucasians through the prism of white supremist colonists and slave owners, to overturn history, achievements and equality before the law;
- Climate catastrophists spouting failed warnings of the demise of the planet from global warming in 5, 10, 20 or 100 years if we (western economically viable countries) don’t take drastic action and pay a king’s ransom to unelected unaccountable global organisations, to be squandered amongst corrupt countries; or spend $billions on unsustainable “renewables”.
- COVID-19 pandemicists who have ridden a wave of power to control our actions, movement, social engagement and business operations and are reluctant to let go as the crises pass.
- Trump derangement: Dare I mention the offensive “T” word to join the chorus of everything wrong with the USA and the world that now calls for the cancelling and re-education of Trump, anyone who worked for him and the 74 million “white supremists” who voted for him.
A person can even be caught up in intersectionality – i.e. being guilty, at the same time, of crossing more than one of the moral boundaries. Harry Potter author J K Rowling, a supporter of gender diversity, was cancelled for also supporting heterosexual women. Black civil rights lawyer, Leo Terrell crosses the racist/Trump intersection to deserve trolling as a betrayer of his colour who supported Trump’s policies. Words can so easily offend, especially when one is already biased or sensitive.
Hardly a week goes by when some prominent sports person of colour doesn’t hit the headlines claiming racial victimhood playing a white man’s game while being richly rewarded. Bend the knee. Black lives matter.
Features of new moralities
From the broad spread of the new moralities with their new words and old words with different meanings, many commonalities prevail in the call to create in us a new conscience to capture our expression of words. Commonalities can be defined as:
- Hatred: Proselytes present as angry, hateful people determined to crush anyone who does not bend their conscience to their new morality. No humour to dampen the tone. No fun!
- Short on facts: Acceptance of LGBTQ+ does not negate the biological reality of male and female. Women are different from men, though given the opportunities they have today can achieve similarly by assuming equal responsibility; climate modelling and science promoted as “settled” is patently flawed and occasionally dishonest: climate is always changing, the question is whether humans contribute to it.
- No mercy: Judgement is ruthless, instantaneous, damning and forever, with no room for mercy, retraction or apology.
- Parameters always changing: Nothing is ever settled or enough. Ever there are new demands and criteria for compliance. No rest from the onslaught of demands, hatred and apportioned guilt.
- Demand money (other people’s): Always more money, concessions, compliance, new agencies more power over others, No amount of money satisfies.
- No end: Were these “causes” presented with a roadmap that supporters could follow and we would all know when we got there so everyone could cheer and move on together, it would be more acceptable all round. Yet there is never an end to the piling of guilt, blame and disempowering. Thrall of religious zealotry keeps the blood pumping.
- Censorship: We’ve arrived at contemporary book burning when big tech (Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon) colludes to suppress information they don’t agree with, and promotes stories more favourable to their left inclinations, in concert with main stream media, academia and big woke corporations, to win an election. Colluding to cancel the account of the President of the United States and his 88 million followers, while keeping those of the CCP China and Iran’s Ayatollahs shows true values of the new conscience of Trump Derangement. Free speech platforms Parler and Rumble were also cancelled as soon as the presidency of Joe Biden was confirmed. Publisher Simon & Schuster cancelling publication of a book by outspoken Senator Josh Hawley, who challenged big tech, demonstrates how far the new gods of morality seek to control the words we can say and hear.
- Punishments have evolved with technology though old style whipping in the stocks may have passed, hauling before the courts is still popular and punitive for the cost and life disruption. Andrew Bolt found that even as a journalist he could not criticise the allocation of Indigenous funding without ‘intending to’ offend (racism). Israel Folau lost his career for posting about his Christian faith on his private social media (gender diversity). A young mother in Ballarat was handcuffed and hauled away by police for posting about a safe meeting in the local park on the topic of COVID restrictions. In the UK, commentator Katie Hopkins has been banished from social media platforms, lost her home and assets for speaking truth about racism, climate change, COVID and Trump. Laurence Fox, star of the TV series alongside Lewis, has established the Reclaim Party, striving to counter misinformation and offer a trustworthy source of news alternative to main stream media.
Words have consequences
Using words that can be construed to offend anyone of these newly imposed moralities can result in consequences for individuals – from losing reputation, job, career, home and prospects. Commentators believe that anyone who supported Trump should be denied future employment and flight travel. They and their children need to be “re-educated” to the “new truths” espoused by the new gods.
Hmmmm! Sounds more than a little like China to me! Anyway, I’ve always felt it unwise to throw out the baby with the bath water. We would be wise to take what is value from the new morality without letting go of all that is of value in our faith, history, traditions and wisdom. By all means care for the environment, use safe COVID practices, and respect people of diverse colour, gender and capability.
Still I hear the voice of ancients sounding my conscience a warning to “beware of false gods”. The ancient tribe of Dan failed when it fell to worshiping the bull. We could also fail by worshiping the BS of the new morality. Words matter.
[i] P 156