Free speech, honest discussion?
0 comment Saturday, October 18, 2014 |
In a recent discussion thread, a reader left a comment that might easily provoke controversy.
At the time the comment appeared, I judged that the comment might provoke such a response, and I considered how best to handle the situation. However, probably to my discredit, I was guilty of choosing to sidestep the issues raised by the comments, which was probably not courageous on my part. So I let the comment stand.
At the same time, the Haloscan glitch occurred, and I was unable to access my comments, manage them, or write any responses. And today when I was able to access my comments, I saw that there was a disagreement going on, with one commenter requesting that the original offending comment be deleted.
This is not an easy call for me; I've deleted comments rarely during the 15 months or so that this blog has existed. However I can and do ban people who have been uncivil and who make profane, pointless or inflammatory comments.
For some people, an anything-goes atmosphere epitomizes freedom. I disagree; I don't believe that free speech means there are no rules or standards. I don't see how a traditionalist could support that idea of freedom.
On the other hand, I am committed to following the truth wherever it leads, as I said to another commenter on another recent thread. I'm not inclined to forbid certain opinions or lines of questioning out of hand, because that approach is simply not consistent with seeking truth or having an open and honest discussion about the very real threat to our country and our culture and our very survival. These are not trivial and inconsequential matters we are discussing here, but the continued survival of our country and our posterity. America and the West are under threat from within and without and to refrain from discussing our predicament and its causes from all angles is to further diminish our chances.
Those who have read my blog for any length of time know that I am a sworn enemy of political correctness in all its forms. I find it much more than a mere annoyance, and far more than just a quaint absurdity, as some people regard it. Political Correctness is the mortal enemy of truth and honesty and fairness. As such it is one of the main factors in the compromising of our national immune system; it is one of the main weapons with which our enemies, internal and external, keep us weak and divided, and keep us from examining the truth with honesty. Political Correctness has to go if we are to continue to exist as a country, and if we are to have real freedom of thought, freedom of belief, and freedom of expression. Political correctness and sacred cows will find no friends here.
I've quoted a phrase of Carleton Putnam more than once here, and the quote seems apt here:
'I never hated anything in my life except two things: dishonesty and the appeasement of evil. These I hate with every fiber of my being. I would rather face controversy and bitterness indefinitely than surrender to either one.''
To me, avoiding the exploration of any question regarding America's predicament amounts to dishonesty. How can I forbid the asking of certain questions, especially when I oppose political correctness, and I refuse to put any group of people above criticism or questioning?
Many people who are as concerned with America's survival as I am are angry at 'White Anglo-Saxon Protestants', especially those of New England stock who all too often are liberal elitists, eager to sell America out in order to be seen as philanthropic and enlightened. I was just at another web forum where WASP New England liberals were taking quite a thrashing from several posters. Now I've said before that I have Puritan New England roots, (as well as much more numerous Southern roots), so some of the worst culprits among WASP politicians are in fact distant cousins of mine. I could name names, but I will refrain; fill in the blanks as you like. Suffice it to say that I have been critical here on this blog of individual political figures who are my own kin, albeit distant kin. As I said, I am no respecter of persons, and yes, there are too many old-stock New England elites who have no allegiance to this country and who are, quite bluntly, a disgrace to our common Puritan ancestors. So my own ethnic kin and my own extended family members are not above criticism; there are no sacred cows here.
I could, following the fashion of the day, take personal offense when someone insults WASP elites and liberal New England people, but I don't, because I recognize that there is more than a grain of truth in the insults. I could protest that there are exceptions, and complain about stereotypes and bigotry but I acknowledge there is truth in the stereotypes. That there are welcome exceptions among the 'New England WASP elite', such as my distant cousin Carleton Putnam, does not disprove the rule. He was an exception, and not typical overall.
I've been fairly hard on people of Irish and Italian immigrant stock here, but I have nothing against individuals of those groups if they are not rabid open-borders advocates or anti-American.
So when a commenter made remarks which were critical of Jews, I was torn as to whether to let the comments stand, and I ultimately allowed them. If the commenter had made similar comments about Irish-Americans, who tend to be very pro-immigrant and pro-open borders, would the same offense have been taken?
I know that the comeback would be: but the Irish have not suffered the persecution that Jews have suffered; there is no organized anti-Irish hatred whereas there is very real anti-Semitism which has resulted in genocidal violence at times in the past.
However some Irish partisans will answer that they themselves were 'targeted for genocide' by the British, and that they almost died out during the Famine of the 1840s. So on and on it goes.
But is it legitimate to place a group of people off limits for critical comments, based on past persecution? And is a fear of current persecution legitimate or overblown?
If I place one group above criticism, how does that square with honest discussion?
I can and occasionally do delete comments which are abusive, race-baiting, and slanderous. I have let stand many comments that I found to be personally insulting and rude, although I usually ban such commenters in the future simply because I am resolved that this blog will not be dominated by incivility or personal squabbles; I've seen it happen on far too many forums and blogs. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, the conflicts tend to drive away others who prefer not to witness the disputes.
My concern is to keep the discussion here as civilized and as objective as possible.
Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. Freedom without responsibility is license and sometimes ultimately anarchy.
We have free speech in this country but this blog is not obligated to allow any and all comments in the name of 'freedom.' I do require that my commenters make their points as civilly and as reasonably as possible, and refrain from personal comments and insults.
So was the controversial comment bannable? If so, in order to be consistent and fair, I would have to ban harsh comments about all ethnic/racial/religious groups if I banned the comments in question. And I and my commenters make some rather harsh comments about certain groups here, being no friends of political correctness. But we do so in the spirit of telling the truth and letting the chips fall where they may. In a country which has become increasingly afraid to speak difficult truths, we have to kick over the traces or we will be history.
So it's a dilemma. I will not make a blanket pronouncement about any group being exempt from criticism or questioning, but I will ask that commenters temper their comments, and refrain from making inflammatory or malicious statements, realizing too that the definiton of what is inflammatory or malicious is open to some subjective interpretation.
I will say, on the Jewish question, that I've been among many paleos who seem concerned with Jews in particular, and I have found that often their beliefs in a ubiquitous Jewish conspiracy sound eerily like the complaints heard from militant blacks who think Whitey invented AIDS to commit genocide against them, or that Whitey induces blacks to eat pork products because they contain a brain parasite which suppresses black functioning.
On the other hand, because I differ with paleocons on this one issue, I am not inclined to dismiss everything they stand for because I consider them tainted by this one opinion. I know this is the approach of many on the 'respectable right' but I think it is shortsighted. Because I disagree with one emphasis of the neocons, I can't declare them discredited completely, as some other conservatives do -- although I think they are wrong far more often than the paleos, and wrong more often than they are right.
In the end, I confess I am not comfortable with the conspiracy theories which portray Jews as all-powerful; it really reduces us, the majority, to being helpless pawns and victims, and to think of ourselves as victims and pawns is not a healthy state of being. Our forefathers would not have brooked that kind of thinking.
I do accept as reasonable that most minority groups who have experienced persecution, or who believe themselves to have experienced it (as with Irish-Americans) there is a kind of self-protective us-against-them mentality, a sense of grievance which leads to intense ethnocentrism and often a desire to promote one's ethnic group at the expense of the feared majority. Groups do act in self-interested ways; there is no denying that, and minority groups especially so, perhaps defensively at times.
But I prefer to keep discussion here on a higher plane if possible. Most of my commenters do so; I'm generally well-impressed with the quality of most of the comments I get here.
However we are adults here, and if a comment is made that you disagree with or find objectionable, refute it if possible; show where the facts are wrong, the reasoning is flawed, or the conclusions unfounded. Most of my commenters are good debaters and can do that with ease. I WILL step in and delete and ban where warranted , although our respective judgments on just what is acceptable and what is not may differ. It's much better to refute a falsehood than to merely silence it, but granted, sometimes feelings run high and the debate becomes heated.
I will put the question to my readers, or those who are still with me, anyway: should I ban certain topics or questions or issues here? If so, which ones? Or do I make a blanket ban on all ethnic generalizations? If so, then do I then become the people I've decried so often, such as the 'anti-illegal immigration' fighters who ban people for saying 'wetback' or who banish people for criticizing Hispanic culture? What topics and questions are forbidden?
I honestly hope that I will not lose readers over this issue, but truth is paramount here. I do pledge to try to be fair and honest and to keep the discussion civilized.
I realize I probably won't please everybody here; that's not always possible. But I hope that those who have added so much to the discussion on this blog will continue to visit and comment.

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