Down through time, few things have been punished more severely than blasphemy or heresy. To disrespect commonly held views, or worse yet to hold unconventional ones, has always been treated fairly severely. Well before the Salem witch hunts, there’s been a certain element of fear and self-preservation that has forced people to react negatively to anyone or any idea that challenges the conventional thinking of the time.
Ironically, in a world supposedly more open-minded and tolerant, we’re just as quick to accuse someone of blasphemy or heresy. The difference today is that the charges, in the U.S. anyway, usually don’t center on religion but whether one dares to challenge the liberal orthodoxy of the day.
Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, is the latest victim. He became a heretic by simply saying that he wasn’t sure whether global warming existed or not. That was enough to spur 110,000 people to sign a petition asking the Washington Post to no longer carry his column. I find it unnerving that someone with the intellect and elegance of Krauthammer would be silenced because his views don’t fall in line with the establishment’s views.
Another example is Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Duck Dynasty reality show. He ran afoul of the thought police when, in response to a question during a wide-ranging interview, he said he believed in the traditional Judeo-Christian view of marriage.
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Of course, while these protests are aimed at high-profile personalities like Krauthammer and Robertson, their real intent is to intimidate and silence anyone with less “star” power who might think about expressing an opinion that questions the unapproved way of thinking. President Obama made this very clear in his State of the Union speech last month when he pronounced the debate about climate change is settled. That’s, of course, despite the abject failure of models to accurately predict global warming. As Krauthammer lucidly points out, science isn’t decided by consensus: “There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge.”
But if one dares to challenge the conventional politically correct dogma, your career is in danger. It’s long been understood in the scientific community that you either do research that conforms or you won’t be funded. Intimidation is the new norm.
The real danger, however, isn’t the attempt to force people to conform and the derailing of public discourse. It is the license it has given governmental groups, whether it be the Environmental Protection Agency or the Internal Revenue Service, to act outside of any legislative mandate to effect policies outside of the legislative process.
The economic boycotts and pressure brought by these groups are well within their rights. Personally, I haven’t bought a single CD from any country singer who advocates for vegetarianism. That’s my right, but I haven’t taken part in any efforts to remove their songs from the airwaves.
The difference has become that the left has perfected its economic boycott mechanisms; almost instantly, they can generate 100,000 outraged citizens on just about any topic. Technology has provided tremendous clout to the vocal minority.
The vocal minority has become extremely sophisticated in its tactics. It has invested in technology and become proficient in guerilla warfare. The silent majority has no such organization and infrastructure. I liken it to the early days of terrorism before society began to make significant investments to protect itself.
Instead of just complaining that public discourse and non-establishment thinking is being curtailed, we need to step forward and fight for sound science and honest debate. A monolithic world not only doesn’t make good decisions, it leads to tyranny.
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