Columns
Premium

Norwegians Just Invited Big Brother Into Their Homes. Will Americans Do the Same?

('1984' screenshot)

Without even holding a formal vote, Norway’s parliament “outlawed hate speech against transgender people” last week, including in private conversations.

Rachel Savage reported for Reuters that “people found guilty of hate speech face a fine or up to a year in jail for private remarks, and a maximum of three years in jail for public comments.”

Monica Maeland, Norway’s Minister of Justice and Public Security, said that speech regulation should be “adapted to the practical situations that arise.” Left-leaning American legal scholar Jonathan Turley wryly noted that “practical situations” include “speaking to your own spouse or family.”

Turley continues:

Such speech controls in Europe have led to a chilling effect on political and religious speech. In their homes, people will often share religious and political views that depart from majoritarian values or beliefs. This law would regulate those conversations and criminalize the expression of prohibited viewpoints.

That’s the idea, isn’t it? The point isn’t whether one group or another is somehow deserving of special protections from the frictions in everyday life. The point is for the government to find — or if necessary, create — special protected classes in order to obviate liberties for everyone.

“Never give the government a power you wouldn’t want used against you someday” is an idea the Left has either forgotten or never understood.

Going further than “merely” restricting free speech, Norway’s new law can increase penalties for regular old criminals (as properly understood) “if a judge decides their actions were motivated by someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In any case, Norway has really done nothing more than made official what cancel culture has been unofficially doing for years in this country and throughout the Western world.

In Britain, the Daily Mail just revealed that according to a new survey of college students, “more than a quarter of students ‘self-censor’ because they fear their views will clash with the ‘woke’ values promoted by their university.” The Mail also reported that a “further 40 per cent withheld their opinions on ethical or religious matters for fear of being judged.”

Being “judged” as having verboten views goes much further than just being in disagreement with your professors or other students. In Austin, Texas, last week, it was revealed that freshmen have been “threatened with doxxing if they join conservative campus groups.”

Even being rich and famous and well-connected provides no safety from the outrage mob.

Over the weekend, actress (and girlfriend of Democratic senator and failed presidential candidate Cory Booker) Rosario Dawson had to perform a second public apology tour for a year-old allegation of transphobia.

Vanity Fair reports that 18 of the 20 claims that were made against Dawson and her family were “withdrawn voluntarily without a settlement,” and the accuser’s lawyer left the case. Only two counts remain, both of which involve an alleged physical altercation between the family friend and Dawson’s mother. A Los Angeles County Superior Court will decide next month whether or not there is enough evidence pertaining to the last two counts to move forward with the case.

Dawson’s most recent crime seems to be that she appeared on the latest episode of The Mandalorian, which sometimes also costars not-so-closeted conservative actress Gina Carano.

Dawson will probably be just fine after performing the proper acts of genuflection, but others are not so lucky.

Earlier this year, Boeing’s head of communications, Niel Golightly, was forced out of his job after it was revealed that he’d published an article against female fighter pilots — 33 years ago. At that time, the idea of women in any kind of combat role was still broadly unpopular.

Golightly apologized profusely anyway, just before being forced to resign.

The identity of the person behind Golightly’s public humiliation has not been revealed.

It seems unlikely at this time that the U.S. Congress would enact anything like Norway’s criminalization of free speech (including religious views), or that the courts would uphold such a law.

But when even celebrities and giant mega-corporations would rather grovel to the Woke Mob than to stand up for free speech, and when digital town squares like Facebook and Twitter routinely do the same, it would seem that the constitutional question is almost a moot point.