Who exactly is shutting down speech in the name of political correctness in America today? I’d been comfortably sailing along thinking I knew the answer to that one, but then along comes Catherine Rampell to ruin my day. In a lengthy diatribe at the Washington Post, I am informed in a most stern fashion that I need to “Stop saying only Democrats are politically correct. Republicans also favor censorship.”
Really? I stand ready to be educated because I’m clearly hanging out with the wrong people. Most all of the Republicans I know have, if anything, the exact opposite problem. Conservative activists across the board – at least in my experience – tend to be far likely to run on at the mouth to the point where you can never get them to shut up. And the only thing most of them like more than talking to somebody who agrees with them is finding somebody who disagrees so they can debate them until my ears begin to bleed. The various conservative camps in our larger than you might expect tent never seem to want to stifle dissent… in fact they thrive on it. And if you happen to wander in with a liberal opinion to espouse, oh… they will make a beeline for you and talk to you until closing time.
But let’s give Catherine her moment to shine. Perhaps I’ve been judging my colleagues all wrong. Show us what you’ve got, madam.
Sure, Democrats are more open to banning hate speech and more skittish about publishing drawings of Muhammad. But a recent Harris poll on censorship found that Republicans are more apt to want to scrub other forms of discourse. For example, Republicans are almost twice as likely — 42 percent vs. 23 percent — as Democrats to say that “there are any books that should be banned completely.”
A separate set of questions asked what kind of books should be barred from school libraries specifically. In almost every category, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to endorse book bans. That includes “books with explicit language” (bye-bye, “The Catcher in the Rye”); “books which include witchcraft or sorcery” (to the slaughter, “Harry Potter”); “books which include vampires” (night night, “Twilight”); “books that discuss evolution” (into the bin, Darwin); and “books which question the existence of a divine being or beings” (quit your squawking, Stephen Hawking).
The only school library categories about which Republicans were more open-minded than Democrats were “books that discuss creationism” and, perhaps not surprisingly, the Bible.
You might suspect that this was just example number one in a laundry list of specifics where conservatives want to “ban speech.” But you’d be wrong. That was the entire thing. After admitting that liberals love to ban “hate speech” the author cites a poll which shows that conservatives are in favor of limiting access to certain school books by children. Not books in general, mind you. School books. Now I’ll be the first to admit that some efforts at editing or removing books from schools can go too far for my taste. If there really are people who want to take Catcher in the Rye out of high schools (though it’s a bit spicy for younger kids) then I think that’s going too far. But there’s plenty of material that I don’t think children are ready to deal with until such time as their parents are ready to instruct them. If you want to call that political correctness I think you’re a little bit loopy.
But Ms. Rampell needs to realize that her single example is pretty far afield from what we mean when we talk about not only political correctness, but suppressing speech and dissent. Much of it is masked under her conveniently quick non-apology for banning “hate speech” which is rather hilarious since the Left these days generally defines “hate speech” as any speech they disagree with. But we need to dig a bit deeper than that. Real suppression is when you invite a speaker to campus and then run them out of town on a rail or, failing that, set up “safe rooms” where your delicate, hot house ears won’t be afflicted with contrary ideas. It’s the insistence on “trigger warnings” so people may be safely escorted away from the offending speaker and sheltered in your socialist cocoon. It’s when you not only insist on tearing down a flag or a statue or a symbol which – to you – symbolizes something you hate or fear or simply disagree with, but you enlist the government to outlaw such symbolism and punish those who speak differently.
The list goes on and it’s lengthy. And it’s all actual suppression of speech, not limiting the access of minors to adult material in their school library. Conservatives don’t support political correctness and they don’t support censorship. If anything, they’re the most annoying debate team in history.