Dispatches from reader-land

The Spearhead has a new post about an old article of mine on hate speech, in which I argue that private companies should regulate speech on their forums. It’s because I come from a tradition of debate where saying things like, “you’re a dumb c***” generally don’t end up getting us any closer to the truth. Most of the post is just an attack on me, but I write about it because a large portion of the people who read the article just saw “censor hate speech” and rushed to send me hate mail. Here’s a sentence from my piece:

Again, this isn’t an argument for government intervention. The goal is for companies to adopt a European-model hate speech policy, one not aimed at expunging offense, but rather hate. Such a system would be subject to outside scrutiny by users.

And here is a quote from the response:

Although they’ve played an important role, especially in universities, it isn’t solely because of feminists that “liberals” have become authoritarian; it is the nature of power to seek to preserve itself. If you’re at the top of the heap, it’s mighty tempting to try to decide which thoughts are acceptable and which are off-limits. I suspect the Internet has given even more urgency to this impulse, as the mainstream media seeks to preserve its place as the font of respectable opinion. But you’d think that they would at least continue to defend – if not embrace – the concept of a free press. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

Today, as young McElwee demonstrates, denouncing the free press is the sort of thing that identifies a “good young man” — a right-thinker. When I was Sean’s age, I realized that I’d never make the cut under the new rules – I’m constitutionally incapable of toeing their line – so I gave up on trying to join them. I could already see the writing on the wall around the year 2000, so I abandoned the idea of getting involved in mainstream media, choosing instead to lead a humble life. However, ironically, rejecting the constraints of contemporary political correctness has been a blessing and has given me many more opportunities to express myself. When you subordinate your own opinions and speak only within collectively-defined parameters, it feels like you’ve sold your soul.

Most of the response is Mr. Price reminiscing about his past days or denouncing me. He never really engages the argument, other than to call me an “authoritarian.” It would be interesting to see what an intelligent response to this piece would look like. Sadly, we’ve all been robbed the chance.

 

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