These are evil days indeed for free speech. You may have read of the banning of various commentators and pundits, Milo Yiannopolous, Alex Jones, Laura Loomer, cast out for life from ‘social media’ – FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram – which is how most speech is communicated, at least in any broad, commercialized sense.
However one understands Marshall McLuhan’s enigmatic phrase ‘the medium is the message’, it is certainly true that the medium conveys the message, and without the medium, there can be no message. Christ, the Logos, is the message and mediator of God. We are the mediators of Christ and His truth. But we need a medium to get that truth across to others, and that medium has become a lot narrower and controlled of late, under Commissar Zuckerberg, along with the bright techno-chaps at Google and their hierarchical ‘algorithm’ – the adjective is poignant – deciding what webpages come up first, and which last, in any search for, ahem, truth.
I am not on social media, although Catholic Insight has a link to FaceBook (until Zuckerberg’s Sauronic eye notices us). Our own medium is this webpage –a bit of virtual real-estate that readers may visit and peruse. Perhaps the day will arrive when we are banned from whatever company ‘hosts’ us in the ‘world wide web’. Oh well. We will compromise not the truth in the meanwhile.
I also teach in a classroom, the medium being my own voice, and what sections of the blackboard (or, alas, whiteboard) upon which I sometimes write in my own scribbled text, replete with arrows and, at times, doodles (one must entertain at times to teach effectively). So far, so good on that score. As a fully private, independent College, we can convey what we choose to students who themselves choose to avail themselves of such a (much needed, sine qua non) liberal arts education.
But for how long, I now wonder, will a liberal education be ‘free’? For it is not just social media, but the full coercive power of social and public law that is now laying down the hammer, deciding what we may, and may not, say.
There is the case of the Christian Aussie rugby star Israel Folau, banned for life from ever playing professionally again, after his public remarks on homosexual behaviour and its eternal consequences. Then again, he also said the same fate awaited thieves, fornicators and drunkards, but they don’t seem to care so much what Mr. Folou thinks of them, or, more specifically, what he thinks God will think of them, should they prove unrepentant at that particular judgement.
And it’s not just rugby. Douglas Farrow’s summary describes the travails of the anonymous father (known as CD), whose teenage daughter (AB) is ‘transitioning’ to being a ‘male’. The father, who has apparently been quite vocal in his opposition to his daughter’s desires, is now banned by the courts from ever referring to ‘him’ as a ‘her’, even to third-parties, claiming that such is ‘violence’ to her – or his – own identity, or something. If you can follow the argument and the logic – for the mainstream media always uses the pronouns the transitioning person prefers, as opposed to the pronouns that refer to reality – kudos to you.
The Dad – CD – or the ‘co-parent’ who still clings to that patriarchal term – is still free to ponder the injustice and insanity of all this in the privacy of his own thoughts, but even there, might they not soon come for him, and for all of us, a la, 1984?
This is not an outlandish conspiracy theory, for those sending their children to publicly funded – and even many private – schools are already ensuring their brainwashing into politically correct thinking, from avoiding any general, inclusive use of masculine pronouns (as in, ‘they’ and ‘their’, rather than ‘his’ or he’, which English and other Romance languages have always done), to, as mentioned, fitting pronouns to the preferred self-referential ‘gender’ of one’s interlocutor.
Even boats are not spared, as Theodore Dalrymple recounts of the Scottish Maritime Museum, which has now ceased referring to them in the feminine, as was custom immemorial, due to a tyrannical tidal backlash. But boats are beautiful, or should be, so does not the pronoun of the fairer sex fit more fittingly?
And what shall we say that has not been said – now, mostly unsaid – of homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, arachnophobia. Well, they haven’t got to the poor beleaguered spiders yet, but triskaidekaphobia is all the rage. Just try finding a thirteenth floor in an apartment building; and what has that poor number done to anyone? Would it be ‘violence’ to paste a ‘13’ sticker over the button on the elevator for the fake 14th floor, along with all the apartment numbers?
On a far more serious note, I have not yet heard of Christianophobia – a term left unsaid by any mainstream media – even if we are the most persecuted group on the planet at present; in fact, perhaps the most persecuted people in all of history. But did not Christ warn us so?
And this is before we even get to the enforced consensus on climate change, global warming, homosexual ‘marriage’, the endless spectra of gender identities, the goodness of abortion, contraception, population control, self-sterilization, socialism and tattoos, as well as the indisputable principle that plastic straws portend the end of civilization. Going outside the pale on any of these dogmas will get you shunned, mocked, a low or failing grade on any essay or exam, and, as the totalitarian creep continues – fines, prison and some time in a ‘re-education’ camp, euphemistically called ‘sensitivity training’. He who controls speech, controls thought; and he who controls thought, controls action, which is why Josef Pieper titled his warning on this topic in the wake of World War II ‘Abuse of Language – Abuse of Power’, and why Godless, socialist regimes – like ours – always strive to minimize, even obliterate – by fair means and foul – freedom of speech and expression. The lie must become the ‘truth’.
Bill and Melinda Gates are at the forefront of some of this nonsense, by means of their ‘charity’, the best-funded in the world. Now, Microsoft Word in its newer versions will come with an app that will auto-correct your compositions to ensure politically correct speech. Perhaps they – it – will even report you if you resist the algorithm, and, stet, you allow your archaic speech to ‘stand as is’. Caveat auctor.
Well, I, for one, am standing ‘as is’, and will resist the thought police – more aptly, the anti-thought police – so that the truth may be conveyed by what means we might. Perhaps we will have to go back to the medium of cursively written samizdat letters, passed hand-to-hand in wine and ale bottles in the depth of night. Certainly emptying the vessels would provide some comfort and joy, especially amongst like-minded company in eutrapelia, ‘pleasant conversation’, where the truth can be shared, along with all the good things of life.
So, despair not, dear reader, for even as the days grow metaphorically dark for freedom, Christ will always provide a ‘medium’ for the light of His truth, which will shine all the more brightly unto the end of the age.