Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: Freedom is slavery
O LORD, God of my salvation,
         I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
         Incline Your ear to my cry. 

Psalm 88:1-2 (NKJV)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Freedom is slavery

...or so believes Tanya Cohen. Read the article (which unfortunately is not satire) and judge for yourselves.

Key quote:

Most countries have freedom of speech, but only in the US is “freedom of speech” so restrictive and repressive. Not only is the US the only country without any laws against hateful or offensive speech, but it’s also the only country where the government cannot ban any movies, books, or video games, no matter how dangerous, demeaning to human dignity, or harmful to society they may be. The US government is also the only government that cannot ban any groups or political parties, even when those groups or political parties pose a serious threat to democracy. This is completely incompatible with international human rights standards, which clearly state that freedom of speech does not protect speech which is harmful to society, to morality, or to human rights. Countries like the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Australia – to name just a few examples – take a much more sensible approach to freedom of expression. They allow legitimate freedom of expression while banning bigots, hatemongers, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, pro-pedophile groups, terrorist sympathizers, harmful media, Holocaust deniers, pick-up artists, climate change deniers, and other forms of expression which damage society and social cohesion.

The United States has a very limited and very outdated understanding of human rights and political freedoms. In all other countries, it is simply common knowledge that freedom of speech does not permit hatred or other human rights abuses. This is not something that anyone outside of the US would ever question. In the US, however, it’s a concept that seems to be utterly alien to the vast majority of the population. The US appears completely backwards and positively uncivilized to the rest of the world when it refuses to crack down on manifestations of hatred.

While America has always been far behind the rest of the world when it comes to basic human rights – we still have yet to ban firearms, we still have yet to provide free higher education, and we still have yet to implement free universal healthcare, for example – the need to outlaw hate speech is one of the most basic and fundamental human rights obligations.

Wow. When it comes to dangerous paranoia, Richard Nixon could take lessons from Tanya Cohen.

Of course, it is easy to undermine the logic behind Cohen's love-letter to totalitarianism by asking a few simple questions. For starters: who gets to decide which groups/ideas are "legitimate" and protected by the State, and which ones are not? Cohen's short answer is: her side does (how she became the moral and intellectual judge of what is right and wrong with the legal authority to punish dissent is never explained). The irony is exquisite: if a Christian merely says that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ or that the homosexual lifestyle is wrong, he or she is denounced by secular progressives as a dangerous theocratic bigot. Now Cohen is proposing jailing people just because they disagree with her. Dissent used to be the highest form of patriotism; now (according to Cohen) it should be considered a crime against the State.

Another question to ask her is: how do you protect free speech by decreasing it? Cohen's "Freedom is Slavery" argument, that liberty is expanded only when it is rationed and doled out by those who presume to know more than everyone else, is an Orwellian nightmare. One may as well argue that the only way to combat hunger is to ban food. America suffers from too little free speech and too little freedom, not too much.

There is no question that Cohen's thuggish plea comes from her fear that she is losing the debate on many political and social issues. Rather than win legitimately by argument and persuasion (which I doubt she is capable of anymore), she instead seeks to use the power of the State to persecute those whom she hates. So much for "diversity and tolerance".

While it would be easy to dismiss Tanya Cohen as a powerless fringe kook, it would not be wise. Cohen's totalitarian fantasies are unfortunately widespread in academia, the media, and other organizations where our self-anointed moral and intellectual betters tend to congregate. Having wrecked the US economy, politicized Federal agencies like the IRS, enabled Islamic terrorist groups abroad like ISIS and al-Qaeda, and poisoned race relations, all that modern-day progressives like Cohen have to show for their efforts are very impressive, lengthy enemies lists - and little else. It should not surprise anyone that they will do anything to continue to cling to power.

The Bible tells Christians that we are to respect those who are in authority over us (Romans 13). At the same time, we are not to put our trust in the princes of this world (Psalm 146:3). When we make government a god (as some liberal Christians seem to want), we instead make government a demon. I strongly recommend reading Tanya Cohen's article, since it reminds us how cruel and bloodthirsty people can become when they prize political power above all else.

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