Speech Police, do you really want this?


Despite what we might see in science fiction movies or documentaries about extrasensory perception, the chance of anyone ever having the ability to read other people's minds  is extremely small.  

That however, doesn't mean that none of us would want to have such a gift.   Maybe that's why it's been such a popular subject in film and literature over the years.  Wouldn't it be great if you could know what other people were thinking?  Wouldn't that give you a huge advantage when dealing with them?  

Sure, it would be great.  Sure, it would give us a huge advantage.  But it ain't ever gonna happen.  We can't know what others are thinking, but we can infer what people are thinking, through their facial expressions, their tone of voice, and the words they use.  That's why people often react differently from seeing a video of someone speaking than they might from reading a transcript of the same speech.

If we accept it as fact that most of us (at least from time to time) would like to have the ability to know what other people are thinking, then it would stand to reason that we would also oppose anything that may interfere with our ability to infer what other people are thinking.

There is a growing trend on college campuses these days to ban the use of certain words because such words have been deemed to be hurtful and hateful.



Let's assume for the moment, that the words speech police want to ban, are hurtful and hateful.  If that's true, why would anyone (particularly anyone who might be harmed by the use of such words) ever want them banned? 



Wouldn't it be easier to identify individuals that hate and/or are intent on hurting someone, if such people were free to use whatever words they wanted?  And then, wouldn't the people in danger of being harmed by these words be safer by simply identifying and avoiding such people? 

Wouldn't banning the use of certain words just drive those who want to use such words underground, into secret societies, conspiring amongst themselves to enact revenge against those who banished them?

Tyrannical governments have been able to control what people say, but the ability to control what people think remains the stuff of science fiction.  Banning the use of certain words may mask, but cannot change what people think and usually, it only makes them (more) resentful. 

Words can seldom hurt anyone if they are not true.  (If you call a skinny person "fatso", he or she will probably just look at you like you're some kind of weirdo.) 

 If the truth hurts, whoever is being hurt, probably deserves it.  That's why criminals don't like it when their victims speak out.  That's why bullies don't like being reported.  That's why corrupt politicians don't like being exposed.  That's why people who don't take care of themselves or their families don't like being called "trash".  That's why the immoral don't like being judged and it's why tyrannical governments ban free speech.

It should be a big red flag to everyone, whenever some group of people start making proclamations that go against what we were all taught to be common sense since we were as young as we can remember.  "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."  

The thing various groups of people that claim to be offended by the use of certain words need to understand is that they are in control of what offends them, not the people speaking the words that they feel are offensive, and taking offense to use of such words just gives the people who use them more power.  

I grew up in Wisconsin, right on the Illinois border.  For as long as I can remember, people from Wisconsin referred to their neighbors to the south as FIB'S. (Fuckin' Illinois bastards)  Needless to say few people from Land of Lincoln liked this term.  For years, they tried to come with some derogatory term for Wisconsinites.  They finally came up with the term "cheeseheads".  Unfortunately for the Illinoisans, we didn't let the term bother us for one minute, in fact, we embraced it. Just look at the fans at a Packer game.  Meanwhile, the FIB's still seethe with anger, every time they hear the term.  One can draw the a parallel with the term redneck and the n-word.  One has become a badge of honor and the other remains so hurtful that it can't even be uttered.  Which groups have been harmed more by the way they reacted to slurs against them?  

Our colleges and universities need to understand that the downside of banning the use of certain words has a detrimental potential that by far, outweighs any upside, real or imaginary.  Speech control is the tool of tyrants.
    
The motto of many real police departments is "To protect and serve".  The speech police protect no one and serve only themselves.

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