The number of subjects we cannot talk about in public discourse are rapidly multiplying. The older notion of “free speech” as a search for the truth through reasonable argument is being replaced. We no longer want to hear speech if it “offends” someone’s feelings or self-defined identity. We would rather “just get along” than to have to decide about the truth of any issue or confront the consequences of its violation.
We thus have become infinitely “tolerant” of anything but truth itself. Speech is not directed to truth or falsity of an issue but to the “sensitivity” and “compassion” of those who hear it. “Objective” standards are subject to the listener’s “right” to hear only what he wants to hear. Thus, whatever is “permitted” in positive or civil law becomes a “right” for those who follow it. Furthermore, we cannot criticize the law as if there were some “standard” by which to judge its worth. There are no standards as there is no nature on which to base them. “Hate speech” laws become effective tools to suppress any objective judgment about the rightness or wrongness of what is legislated or practiced.
Academia and the press were once considered places where delicate and sensitive topics could be more freely discussed without being compromised by human passions. This presumption is no longer the case. Universities and the media are more likely to participate in the suppression of truth or objective reasoning than their advocates. The phrase “political correctness” accurately describes a culture that seeks to silence challenges to ruling orthodoxies. Arguments become unwelcome because they might challenge our way of life.
Read the rest here.