End The Oppression Of Free Speech

In case you couldn’t tell by my unkempt hair or proclivity for drawing Jesus as a non-white dude, I’m a pretty liberal guy. So when progressive ideas like feminism and gay-rights and whatever- the-opposite-of-racism-is began to take hold among popular culture I was pretty happy because, fundamentally, I think these ideas serve as a reminder to judge each person by their character, not the genetics they were born with.

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Still want to call me racist, even after reading those funny pictures? Well, guess what, sucka? I’ve never mentioned my race or my gender on this blog. If you assume I’m a white man just because I draw myself with no skin color and a square body then YOU’RE THE HETERO-NORMATIVE RACIST BIGGOT. Mwahahaha.

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If you’re not picking up on the irony then that probably means you haven’t been spending time on big, wealthy, liberal arts colleges in America. Congratulations on graduating/not being an American.

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Listen: as of late, hordes of young, wealthy, supposedly progressive college students have been gathering together to complain that their large, prestigious, ivy-league institutes (whose admittance was definitely merit-based and had nothing to do with parental connection and wealth) are not doing enough to protect them from words and ideas they don’t like. I would find this phenomenon disconcerting if it were happening in my local middle school. The fact that it’s happening in million-dollar educational institutions is terrifying.

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If all this seems outlandish to you, here’s a couple of articles from much more credible sources than my dumb, internet thingamablog:

The Atlantic – Coddling of the American Mind

US NEWS – Megaphones to Muzzles

New York Times – Hiding from Scary Ideas

The most personally frustrating part of this phenomenon is that I actually agree with a lot of the underlying messages of these protests. There are many socially marginalized groups in America that absolutely deserve to have their voice heard. But demanding the censorship of anyone who doesn’t welcome you with open arms is the kind of crazy radical idea that can only existing in a country that DOESN’T have such censorship.

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The world can be a tough place, but living in a city as diverse as Vancouver, I’ve met and worked alongside people who literally had to flee their own countries to avoid persecution or death for their religion, race, or orientation. One of my coworkers is a refugee from the Nepalese earthquake.  One is an orphaned Iranian refugee. One is a gay man from Sri Lanka, a country where homosexuality is illegal — not frowned upon by the religious right wing — an actual crime you can be sentenced to prison for. Just about everyone I work with has experienced more institutionalized tragedy and discrimination than anyone I ever met living in America, and I’m willing to bet, more than anyone engaged in these college protests.

Why am I so sure?

Because, overwhelmingly, the people I’ve met who’ve suffered horrifically don’t try to censor others. Overwhelmingly,  they’re grateful. That doesn’t mean they’re always happy, or that they never complain, or that they aren’t willing to fight for their ideas. It means they understand how much freedom they have, and that there is a sharp, cutting difference between having someone disagree with you (or, as often the case in these protests, having someone only agree with you 95 percent)  and real, legislated, institutional repression.  When college students in some of the most prestigious, powerful, advantaged establishments on earth use their privilege to censor the free-exchange of ideas, they look spoiled. Worst of all, they make legitimate ideas and ideologies appear weak to those on the other side.

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A person who promotes acceptance through unacceptance has nothing but hollow words. Hating homophobes won’t make homosexuals safer. Hating whites won’t make blacks any more accepted. Hating the rich won’t feed the poor and hating yourself doesn’t give you a right to hurt people.

Hating those who hate only increases the net amount of hate in the world.

Censorship is a temporary solution that does nothing to solve the underlying problem. Let’s improve the world through solutions, not suppression.

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~Fin