A recent poll of Millennials by Pew Research Center, found 40 percent think it’s OK to stifle speech to protect minority groups. Much to the delight of PC principals everywhere (it’s South Park people, get with the program), the generation after Y thinks the microaggressions must stop, bro.
What meta was to 2014, microaggressions are for 2015, and it looks like the word I already hate is headed into 2016 with a bang (and by bang I don’t mean consensual sexual intercourse as indicated by the checklist distributed at the last PC chapter meeting, bro. I mean an industrial-military-complex-billion-dollar-while-people-are-starving rocket).
You may not be the brightest bulb on the strand of Christmas lights and your heart may indeed be Grinch sized. No matter. Talk. Keep talking. Make signs. Hashtag everything. Say words other people think are wrong if that’s what you really mean. Buy T-shirts that say “Go back to where you came from” and “English is the only language spoken here.”
Wear your opinions like frothy chinned spittle spewers at a right wing Republican rally. Use it or lose it. Fly your freak flag high. Make out with your same sex partner in public. Wear spandex and stilettos and dare somebody to say you are dressed suggestively. Buy a “No fat chicks” shirt and wear it over your own protruding belly. Put an “All Lives Matter” sign in your yard. Say publicly who you endorse and why. Call Hillary a goddamned women’s libber who should have just shut up and baked cookies and who can’t lead the country because she couldn’t keep her man at home. Say it. Wear it. Write it. Do it peacefully. Do it calmly. And do it without firearms. How shooting people who you fear or with whom you disagree became entrenched in our social fabric is beyond my knowledge and certainly beyond this column. What I can do is summarize for Millennials, and others, the days when people couldn’t criticize the government or share an opinion that varied from those in power. It was sort of like China without all the manufacturing.
Thanks to the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court — notwithstanding a threat to national security or one made with an intent to do actual harm or incite others to do actual harm — we get to say what we want to say and write what we want to write until the government says we can’t anymore. Is that day closer that I want it to be? Maybe. Have we been through this before? Yes, Virginia, we have. And we lived to tell about it:
1692: “Witches” burned alive for heresy in Salem. 1733: Alexander Hamilton defended successfully John Peter Zenger against libel for printing a journal critical of a governor. 1865 (Post 13th Amendment) to present day: Blacks jailed, lynched, murdered and imprisoned. 1919: Supreme Court creates clear and present danger test in Schenck v. U.S. and upholds his conviction for telling WWI draftees they can assert their rights not to go to war. Pre-1920: Women beaten and jailed for espousing equality and working for suffrage.
1969: Klan leader Brandenburg freed after Supreme Court found the law banning advocacy of “crime, sabotage, violence, or other acts of terrorism” to be overly broad despite his saying there may come a time the Caucasians have to take “revengent” on the man allowing the suppressionary (OK that was me not Brandenburg) of the Caucasians. 1970s: Gay men killed at Stonewall. Cohen wore a “Fuck the Draft” jacket and won; flags burned; vets spurned. Literary, artistic, political or social value test created to gauge obscenity and how far of an outlier it is from the protection accorded political and cultural speech by the 1st Amendment.
1980s: Tipper Gore and Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) put stickers on albums with lyrics deemed offensive. Reagan and his attorney general, Ed Meese waged a war on porn. 1990s: The threat of force to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health services became a federal crime. 2000s: Patriot Act became law. 2010s: Pendulum swings toward speech restraint with the Snowden leak, drones, wiretaps and campaigns aimed at banning offensive words to include “bossy” and “retarded.”
2015: Donald Trump offends every minority group everywhere by saying everything his base wants to say but won’t because they have manners or are cowards. Students demand safe spaces. Tweeters calls Sarah Silverman a kike, Margaret Cho a whore. Amy Schumer wonders aloud if she has had her “Last Fuckable Day.” Freddie Gray is portrayed as the son of a drug addict to kick off the trial of the police who killed him. Women who seek reproductive care are told they should have been aborted. Internet trolls threaten to rape women gamers. Television media falls to all time lows of race baiting, poverty bashing Hunger Gaming divisiveness, and the politicians who started it call for roll back of right wing rhetoric.