First, a pitch-perfect quote from Oliver Kamm, writing recently in The Times of London about the puerile opposition to honoring Charlie Hebdo:
Once you claim that free speech must be balanced against other values, such as “respect,” you limit the search for knowledge. Beliefs earn respect to the extent that they can withstand scrutiny.
Indeed. Commit that to memory.
Now consider more broadly what Kamm is writing about. It’s the idea, rapidly gaining influence outside university campus-cesspools, that certain speech is “oppressive” to certain groups. It’s a crucial step in the identity-politics gleichschaltung: the attempt to link all liberty, including free speech, to “white maleness” so that it can be delegitimized and eventually banned.
It’s why advertisements in London featuring a fit, bikini-clad woman have been attacked by self-proclaimed feminists and banned by authorities.
The trick is to say that free speech is not “really” free, since it’s just an extension of certain people’s “privilege”; the exercise of it is therefore the “oppression” of the non-privileged groups, who don’t have the “power” to speak freely. We will only be “really” free when there is no “privilege.” Until that time, we have to balance the scales by gagging this “privileged” speech.
How do we fight this?