Today’s youth are keen on the idea of political correctness. Some have even suggested limiting free speech in the name of political correctness. Some universities have already started banning anything that causes offense to the progressive minded PC police.
Of course on the surface it seems like a nice idea. Why should people be allowed to intentionally offend other people? In a world where words hurt, isn’t it assault to say offensive things to another human being?
Twenty years ago, (when I was in college), the world was a different place. We weren’t on the tail end of a 2 term liberal president. We were at the end of twelve years of conservative leadership. We lived in a world in which baggy pants and being gay were offensive. It was a time when being an atheist was something you kept to yourself and slut shaming was politically correct.
So what did we do to fight this oppression? We offended everyone we could. We forcefully pushed homosexuality into the mainstream. We forced our self expression on the “preppies”, and we flaunted our slutty behavior in front of the moral majority. Why? Because “sticks and stones can break bones, but words can never hurt”.
If you need a prime example of how we fought politically correct people, by being offensive, check out a 1990’s era Troma film like Terror Firmer. That movie has everything that moral majority PC police of the time hated: Homosexuals, bisexuals, cross dressers, hermaphrodites, pot smokers, sluts, and black people with power were all accounted for. This movie was designed to offend what, at the time, was considered Politically Correct, and it is because we fought PC with this type of offensive material the “counter culture” of the time became the mainstream of today. Yet the “mainstream” of today want to restrict the same “offensive” free speech that gave them the ability to be the new politically correct.
The moods of society are cyclical. There is an old say “those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. That saying has added levity when you consider what is going on in today’s colleges. You see, eventually, the progressive liberals will no longer be in control. When this happens, they will want to use their freedom of speech to offend the people who are in control. But they may not have that right anymore because they may have fought to eliminate that very right that they need to maintain balance.
You see, we don’t have to agree with the voice of dissent, but we do have to allow it. This is the very principle of free speech. Free speech is about protecting the unpopular opinion. As the English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Because one day, the voice of dissent will be yours.