“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” –George Orwell “Politics and the English Language,” 1946.
If you read the link I assigned for homework you no doubt saw that on March 30th, the Organization of Islamic Progress pushed for, and passed, a resolution through the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission, which urges countries “to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement and religious hatred, hostility, or violence.”
Notice, if you will, that they don’t suggest condemning racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion, but they advocate that countries take resolute action to prohibit racist and xenophobic ideas. I find the fact that they used the terms “ideas and materials” very unsettling. Not only are they calling for the censorship of spoken and written words, but the Organization of Islamic Progress is in fact calling for the censorship of thought. That, my friends, is beyond dangerous.
And to harken back yet again to Orwell, this perfectly represents what he coined as “crimethink” and “thoughtcrime” in 1984. I’m sure even if you haven’t read 1984 you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with the term “newspeak.” In 1984, “newspeak” was an evolution of the English language that was meant to remove any and all ambiguities, dichotomies, synonyms, and antonyms. The Party understood that if you are able to control language then you’re able to control how people think. Because of the elimination of words, phrases, and grammatical structures, newspeak was only capable of expressing the most denotative of meanings. The Party took newspeak one step further, and criminalized thoughts they deemed as offensive. If the Thought Police found a person guilty of a “thoughtcrime,” that person could expect torture and execution.
The Organization of Islamic Progress subtly suggests that we change our language to a form that they find acceptable, much like newspeak, and they are outright calling for the actualization and enforcement of Orwell’s “thoughtcrime.”
Ironically, the only progress The Organization of Islamic Progress is interested in is in forcing their ideological outlooks onto the rest of the world, and to progress to the point that it’s illegal to disseminate viewpoints that they deem offensive.
This serves two purposes: 1) As I’ve already said, it allows them to impose their values on others, while at the same time suppressing any contrary viewpoints. 2) It allows them to ignore the very serious problem of radical Muslims using interpretations of the Qur’an to rationalize terrorism and their very own xenophobic and racist ideas.
No problem was ever solved by ignoring it and acting as if it doesn’t exist. I do believe that many Americans, and I’d assume many people around the world, do hold racist and xenophobic ideas about Muslims and the religion of Islam. However, silencing those people does not change the fact that they hold those views. Silencing them only serves to strengthen their resolve and to validate their belief that Muslims are radicals that are intolerant of opposing cultures.
If Muslims want to participate in the global community then they need to do some crunches, because they’re in for a gut-check. I’m not censoring myself for fear that I might offend a Muslim. I’m an equal opportunity offender. I’ll offend the Jews if I want to. I’ll offend the Christians if I want to, and I’ll damn sure offend the Muslims if I want to. I’ll say what I want, when I want. If Muslims don’t like that then obviously they aren’t ready to participate in a free culture. And that’s fine, but if that’s the case then they need to pull out of the UN and the global market, take their marbles, and head back home.
I’m an American, dammit, and because of the first amendment I can make racial slurs whenever I want. I can stereotype whatever group of people that I feel like stereotyping, and I even have the freedom to end a perfectly intelligent blog post with a wholly vulgar term like “motherfucker.”
I think the key to your comment is “there must be boundaries somewhere, in the public good.” Obviously, I whole-heartedly agree. I just don’t think those boundaries need to be defined by a government institution. Once government begins legislating speech, writing, and thought based on moral distinctions we’re in serious trouble. There can be a very fine line between “that’s morally offensive,” and, “that’s oppositional rhetoric.”
A culture of informed and active citizens should have little trouble identifying between hate-speech and freedom of speech. If I want to satirize or parody a group of people to emphasize a particular social point, then that should be my right. If I go too far, then the culture should ostracize me.
I agree that there should be limits. I’m simply arguing that giving the government the power to delineate those limits would be a very bad thing, indeed.
So who does delineate those (we have agreed) necessary limits, if not government?
Well, that’s the sacrifice you have to make to have a free society. The citizens must be informed and actively involved in deciding what they will tolerate, and what will be pushed aside for the sake of the collective. And I use collective in the least Marxist way possible.
Granted, that’s awfully idealistic. Most people here are so damn apathetic that they have no idea what’s going on…which is why so many of the current laws and political rhetoric disgusts me.