Sunday, August 5, 2018

Scarlet Letter: Mob Rule

In June 1638, in Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, a crowd gathers to witness the punishment of Hester Prynne, a young woman who has given birth to a baby of an unknown father. She is required to wear a scarlet 'A' on her dress when she is in front of the townspeople, to shame her. The letter 'A' stands for adulteress. Her punishment (because adultery was illegal at the time) is to stand on the scaffold for three hours, exposed to public humiliation, and to wear the scarlet 'A' for the rest of her life. As Hester approaches the scaffold, many of the women in the crowd are angered by her beauty and quiet dignity. When demanded and cajoled to name the father of her child, Hester refuses.

Although the Scarlet Letter was a fictional story, similar things have happened throughout history. In the past, people have been publicly humiliated for many crimes, including speech. Throughout history, speech has been tightly controlled. Even today, there are countries where you can be whipped, stoned, or imprisoned for speaking out against religion or government. When the founders of the United States created the Constitution, they decided the language for protecting speech needed to be more defined, so they added the 1st Amendment.

Throughout the history of the United States, there has been a lot of debate as to what speech was allowed under the Constitution. Through many court rulings it has been decided that all speech should be protected, even shouting fire in a crowded theater as long as no one is harmed. Despite those court rulings, society has decided some words and phrases are not allowed, especially for a specific race. It has gotten so bad that if I list some of those words I could lose this blog.

The internet seems to have exacerbated the restriction of free speech. Twitter and Facebook are under fire for restricting the speech of people on the ideological right. Because those are private companies, they can legally restrict speech, even if it might cut into their profit margin. Loss of profit to restrict speech is also their right under the law. I cannot understand why stockholders would supports anything that reduced profits, but political ideology can be a powerful force.

More disturbing to me is the justice, as we saw in the Scarlet Letter, where the town's people attacked the adulteress. The left has, for years, used mob rule to try and silence those on the ideological right. While writing this, Antifa (anti-fascist group) attacked a right wing group, Patriot Prayer, holding a free speech rally in Portland, to silence them.

Recently, the producer of Guardians of the Galaxy was fired by Disney because of pedophilia based jokes he tweeted in 2012. They were clearly bad and he did apologize for them that same year and deleted them. Because nothing is ever deleted from the internet, they reappeared in 2018. They set off a social media firestorm where conservatives called for his firing.

A few weeks after that, the New York Times hired Sarah Jeong as opinion editor. Soon after, racist, archived tweets began appearing that showed she was clearly racist against white people, especially white men. Immediately, conservatives called for her firing.

Anyone who didn't agree with the call for the firing of either person became targets, especially when it came to James Gunn. Anyone disagreeing with the call for his firing was said to be protecting a pedophile, despite there being no evidence he ever touched a child. What myself and others were trying to protect, was speech. In this country free speech is in danger of being lost forever. It doesn't take a fascist government to end free speech—all it takes is mob rule. All that needs to happen is for the mob to pin a scarlet letter to your chest, and you are, then, silenced forever. You can protest by not seeing any movies produced by Gunn or Disney, and you can refuse to not support Jeong or the New York Times, but calling for a firing is crossing the line.

I keep asking those calling for firings, these question. What is the ultimate punishment for using speech with which someone disagrees? Will being fired from this job be enough punishment? Will they be prevented from ever working again? Do we have to create a new welfare program to take care of those who say things with which we disagree?

You might ask why I chose those two people to speak about. One reason is they were the latest and most prominent. The other is it was people on the right who were leading the mob. It is the ideological right who is suppose to be protecting speech. I understand the desire to retaliate against the left, but that makes us no better than them. If the right becomes no different from the left, then free speech is lost forever. We are the last hope for free speech—we are the guardians of free speech.

Humans will always say something someone else will dislike. Racist speech is one of the most hurtful, but even that must be allowed. It's hurtful speech that is most in need of protection. People must toughen up to speech and not let it control your life. I've written before in Symbols of Hate on how we give words and symbols too much power. The left purposely gives words and symbols power so they can take power from those with whom they disagree.

Those of us on the ideological right must be the ones to defend all speech. James Gunn has been repentant for his speech, Sarah Jeong might never regret her words. If I was running the New York Times, I would have never hire this woman-child. I will, and have, given the Times a hard time for hiring her, but I also realize it was her words they wanted. It is a leftist newspaper and they don't believe people with brown skin can be racist. I suspect most of the white employees there hate their own skin color because that is what leftist propaganda and brainwashing has done to people. It is this group-think we must be fighting against, not trying to destroy the lives of individuals for speech we disagree with.

Ironically, while writing this, Dan Rather called President Trump a racist for saying Don Lemon was dumb. Rather believes he can prevent people on the right from saying negative things about blacks by labeling them a racist. This is all part of the mob rule that leftists use to control speech and actions.

The United States of American has set a standard for free speech around the world—we can't let the left take it from us, and we must not become the left and assist with the demise of free speech. 

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