Remember when people decried censorship? When the reaction to “you can’t say that” was a resounding “says who?”
Millennials reading this might never have experienced that. Our culture of Politically-Correct self-censorship had already begun to metastasize by their time.
The world predicted by Ray Bradbury and so many other dystopian writers about the stifling of dissent, is fast taking shape.
Strangely silent in this process — or worse, embracing this change — is the very group that Hollywood tends to cast as the perpetual defenders of freedom of speech and nonconformity: the political left.
In the typical Hollyweird narrative, you have some knuckle-dragging Bible-thumper, Corporate Flunkie, or bow-tie-sporting Neocon leading a witch hunt against people who might be *gasp* individuals. Discover a nonconformist? Report him. Crush him.
Older movies like Flashdance, as well as newer ones like Avatar, Hunger Games and Divergent follow this pattern. Traditionalist, conservative, religious or powerbroker types are the perpetual villains, stamping out individuality wherever it may be found.
How true is that of real life?
Some would argue that the traditional Left has blazed trails to permit individuals to “be themselves” (whatever that might mean today). I’m sure Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner would agree with that point.
It doesn’t take much “tolerance”, however, to flex your influence in support of those who are in line with your own biases.
Nobody, for example, would be surprised to see my columns mention LBGT harassment of Christians. You know where I stand on such issues. But when my columns slam the vicious, cowardly behaviour of a certain “church” in Westboro, that might raise an eyebrow.
True partisans won’t understand how I can disagree with a movement (LBGT) without any personal animosity to the people involved.
And that’s the problem with hardcore partisans. Their side is always right, and can do no wrong, while the other side are sub-human monsters who need to be controlled for their own good. Or something like that.
A local news story helps bring this to light. Many Canadians have a limited grasp of their own history, let alone US history. So they don’t really know much about the whole controversy with the Confederate Flag, and why each side takes its stand. But they do watch American news broadcasts on the usual alphabet channels. So they hear one word. “Racist”.
If you had asked Canadians this February about the Confederate flag, and what it meant, you might have a variety of answers. But the one thing you would not get was outrage. Because we really didn’t care. That was an in-house fight on your side of the border. Big deal.
“Bluesfest” is the big music festival here in Ottawa. Internationally acclaimed, 11 days long, plays to all kinds of genres now, from KISS to Skrillex.
You all know the strict dress code that concert goers hold to, right? Shirts are optional (for the ladies too, sometimes) the shirts that are worn can sometimes have “bad words” on them. (*gasp*!) Profanities, even. Aggressive, even antisocial slogans. Sometimes violent, gory, disturbing or sexist images on them. (The “risque” shirt in my own High School days had a half-dressed woman in an alley who appeared to have been sexually abused.”)
So the big news story?
The day before the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, a volunteer at Bluesfest made a formal complaint about a ticket holder’s dress code. He had the nerve — the gall, really! — to come to a concert wearing inappropriate clothing. And Bluesfest did not send him home to change! They even let him in! Wearing that!
This news story dragged on for days: His shorts had the Confederate Flag printed on them.
The same people who organize “slut walks” to show how people can wear whatever the hell they please without being judged for it… the people who intentionally smash boundaries of public decency in “pride” parades… who write obscenities on their breasts as a form of protest… are policing inappropriate clothing.
They believe in freedom — for people whose ideas they agree with.
And rules for people they don’t.
If Mozilla can remove a CEO for having the “wrong” political affiliation… how much freedom do we really have?
And how long will we let this trend continue?