The “Shut Up and Go Away” Trap

It’s easy to condemn offensive comments. It always has been. In a democracy that reveres freedom of speech, the best way to defeat the ideas behind the stupid and offensive comments of others has always been to explain logically just how stupid and offensive they are.

It’s as simple as that.

Unfortunately, the recent trend has been to condemn the act and then demand retribution. Not only does the offender deserve condemnation, but there must be a price paid. It used to be good enough to say “that’s ridiculous”. Now it requires punishment so that it never happens again.

This is a trend that started with leftist attempts to deny the speech and destroy the speaker. It’s obvious to any reasonable person that leftists rely on suppression to get their way. That tactic is as old as the hills. It goes with their territory.

What is worrisome, downright dangerous actually, is that those opposing the left’s agenda have adopted a reactionary approach of tit-for-tat. “You want to shut us up? Well, we want to shut you up! We hate you even more! Die, traitor!”

The problem with this simplistic and guttural reaction is that it inevitably devolves into hatred and conflict. The next thing is anarchy. Is that really what we want?

Obviously not. But it’s the kind of reaction seen everyday in the comment section of NoBull Cause’s posts on Facebook. It’s everywhere, actually.

While their logical failings and hypocrisy are easily pointed out, showing the sheer ridiculousness of the ideas foisted upon us by socialists and simple ignoramuses, many conservatives seem bent on a battle of mutual denigration and destruction.

This is a big mistake. It’s just too easy to be mad and vengeful. It takes nothing but an emotional reaction. Thought and reflection are thrown to the wolves by too many partisans with strongly held views. But lost in the haste to get some sort of payback is the very thing that true, thoughtful conservatives have been fighting for…for decades, even centuries, in the struggle for freedom and individual rights.

In America, the fact is that people have a constitutional right to say stupid and offensive things. And people have a right to ignore them. People also have a right to explain how stupid and offensive such statements are. That’s what freedom of speech is.

We make choices every day. But to choose to extinguish those who disagree with us is just plain wrong and anti-American. It’s a trap, set by those who who don’t believe in freedom of speech and the rights of the individual. Don’t fall for it. It may be easy. It may seem right, but it’s not. It’s just dumb and dangerous.

Conservatives need to be better than the competition, not just better at oppression. A good argument requires logic and common sense, not the gallows. Sometimes, fighting for your own rights requires fighting for the rights of your opponent.

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