Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I Miss the Old Liberals

Call me a sentimental old fool but I miss the days when liberals were liberal. When I was a kid growing up in the 1980's the liberals believed in freedom of speech. They really did. In the 1980’s artist Robert Mapplethorpe dipped a crucifix in a vat of urine, snapped a picture, and called it art. And he convinced the Federal government to pay for it, an accomplishment that must have pleased the ghost of P.T.Barnum.

The liberals rushed to his defense claiming that all speech, and of course art is speech, is valuable, absolute, and beyond criticism. Indeed just denouncing Mapplethorpe, or turning your back when he was giving a commencement address, was considered by liberals to be intolerant and rude. Ok, I'm being a little bit facetious, I doubt Robert Mapplethorpe was ever asked to give a commencement address, but the point is that the liberal back then would have argued that if someone is speaking tolerance requires you to sit and listen. Especially if what he says is controversial.

The liberals back then believed in Voltaire's maxim “I may violently disagree with everything you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Liberals didn't just defend Mapplethorpe's right to display it, they advocated that taxpayers pay him for the work and pay to put it on display. This is where I parted company. I supported Mapplethorpe's artistic freedom, but I did not believe taxpayers, through the National Endowment for the Arts, should pay for it.

Things changed however in the 1990's and 2000's as Liberals decided to become “progressives.” In their search for "progress" they decided to abandon the tolerance that liberalism requires and adopted the Leninist concept of “hate speech.” A term that liberals Orwell and Voltaire would never have used, indeed they would have been offended by such a term. The term is a cudgel to be used against anyone advocating anything counter to what the progressives believe.

So a few years ago, when Pam Geller decided, perhaps in the sacrilegious spirit of Mapplethorpe, to host a Mohamad cartoon contest, that is where people get together and draw what they think the prophet Mohamad looked like, she was denounced by the left. Muslims were perhaps rightly offended so the left declared Geller's speech hateful. Needless to say no taxpayer funds were made available for her art generating contest. But to the left free speech is no longer absolute. There is only politically correct speech and there is hate speech.

We see on campuses across America conservatives being driven into silence. Accused of racisms, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia..etc. At commencement speeches across the country conservatives are either disinvited or protested. The left also silences debate by using terms like "settled science". A common example of that - the left can't prove the theory of anthropogenic global warming so they unilaterally declare it "settled". Speakers who challenge the theory are compared to the people who denied the holocaust.

In response to the Pence Notre Dame speech commencement boycott a leftist I know, claimed that the students were justified to walk out on Pence because they knew he would say "disgusting" things. A true liberal would never claim ideas are "disgusting." They would never say that it is ok to turn your back on different ideas, or close your ears or walk out. Liberals believed all ideas are welcome. A walkout is offensive.

Today's left is not populated by the heirs of Orwell and Voltaire, rather they are the disciples of Robespierre and Lenin. Today's left is anti-intellectual and intolerant.

When Mike Pence started to speak the snowflakes at Notre Dame turned their backs and walked out of the arena the great liberals Orwell and Voltaire rolled over in the graves.

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