However, it comes as a shock to reasonable people on the left when so emboldened the SJWs [Social Justice Warriors - NF] begin to do the same thing to people on their own side. Stephen Colbert says something they don’t like. Outrage. Patton Oswalt simply agrees with someone on my side. Outrage. Jonathan Ross might say something in the future. Outrage. Patrick Rothfuss says maybe fandom shouldn’t be so quick to outrage. Outrage. Wil Wheaton simply retweets Rothfuss. Outrage. So on and so forth.It doesn’t even matter that all of these people are staunch allies of the outrage crowd, the mob has been programmed to attack, so they do.
Sounds about right.
Full disclosure – I’ve never read any of Mr. Correia’s work. I hardly need to, however, to have a considerable interest in the principle involved. On general terms, I want to live in a world where differences of ideas and opinions are given full and fair hearing, and that people can get along with all sorts of people. On specific terms, if I ever really do buckle down and finish the Mother of Unfinishable Stories (or any of the others), I want my own ideas to have as wide an audience as they can find.
As some have pointed out, simply having an opinion doesn’t oblige others to listen to it. That is certainly true. It is also true that refusing to even hear the idea is a lousy method of understanding it, or anyone who might agree with it.
Science fiction has long been a bulwark of using fantastic trappings to talk about the human condition, with a long tradition of speaking against discrimination and narrow-mindedness. That people can be lifelong fans of the genre and yet seek to enforce their own orthodoxy within sci-fi – even to the point of trying to determine who is permitted to write or read the work – is a gruesome irony. Love of the thing itself has been surreptitiously hollowed out and replaced by love of being a fan of the thing, having power to confer True Fan Status on others, vetoing what they may or may not enjoy.
The pods, it is true, are not violating the First Amendment. But as the xkcd cartoon’s alt-tag window states, if that’s the most that can recommend your position – that it’s not technically illegal – it’s a huge concession. It is also not usually what free speech defenders are actually arguing. They aren’t using free speech to defend a particular unpopular position, only their right to have a position that’s different. Where Munroe glosses in his cartoon is precisely this distinction. Correia isn’t appealing to free speech to win his argument, only to have the right to make it.
It’s the alleged free-thinking and open-minded Tolerators who are indulging in “The Debate is Over” Syndrome. And they’re fooling themselves by saying, as in the fourth comment on that thread, that “While we might be wary of a panic leading to persecution of people holding a minority viewpoint, this hardly seems to be the case.”
You can scroll down from here to see why you’d want to be wary – it never stops with the first person silenced, ever. That’s what Correia observed in the quote above, what he demonstrated happens when people first learn to be shut-uppity and start to enjoy the rush of power they get when they first succeed in controlling what opinions are acceptable. They become quite jealous of that sort of power and seek to confine it as closely as they can.
Worst, that mindset finds a natural outlet in a place like a DMV or Homeowner’s Association or some other small, insular group of people who may have a legitimate need to wield authority, but who have let it get to their head. Instead of the actual function being the goal and the authority being the tool, the authority takes over and is no longer tethered to a larger purpose. When that happens, no law or guideline or principle designed to restrict that power will have any hold on them. And when that goes on long enough, well… then you get things like the BLM trying to enforce “First Amendment Zones” at the point of a gun, or the IRS systemically hindering and punishing ordinary citizens for their opinions, or agencies as diverse as the CBO, Department of Labor, and the Census Office gaming the books and massaging data to pursue a partisan goal.
Is it the right of the entertainment industry to seek a monolithic point of view? It must be their right if they so choose, in order for the country to function and its citizens to be free. That doesn’t make it healthy. Eventually you stultify if you only hear one kind of thing all the time – as they never cease to remind “right wingers” or “god botherers” or “cisgendernormatives” or whatever buzzword is yet to be crafted to justify willful ignorance. As if they aren’t exposed daily to a culture and mindset that is alien to their own!
Besides this, the Tolerators aren’t being honest with themselves. Having long ago confined their own minds to that airless little box, they want everyone else’s heads crammed in as well, and are busily burning down free speech and free thought in order to save it. It’s impossible for so many people to be so blind and dumb as to miss the illogic, so something else must be happening, and I think that it’s this subtle replacement of the Love of Something with the Love of Things About Something. The temptation is to care less and less about telling a great story than it is to be an Approved Official Storyteller, to gain the imprimatur of the correct class of people and belong with them, and to be recognized by lesser sorts for one’s expertise; eventually, to be the Inner Circle of that class and determine who else is admitted or rejected. As CS Lewis wrote in The Four Loves, a group that gathered around an idea is always tempted in this fashion, and their proper rejection of ignorant people’s ideas about their field or profession soon grows to a rejection of the idea that they should pay their debts and act civilly in public. The ego that attaches from being really elite at something soon attaches to things that have nothing at all to do with it. That’s precisely when the good is lost.
In this case, of course, it’s made even sillier because this ego is now attaching not to the actual creators but merely to those who enjoy reading the work; it’s as if a mirror was proud of how brightly it shone in the sunlight and sought to keep other mirrors forever indoors in dusty rooms.