Much has rightly been made of the dire threat to our traditional freedoms of speech and expression posed by Big Tech censorship and the big-box media enabling of woke cancel culture. Pure political agendas are at play here, of course, as well as a shallow cult of victimhood that has been derided for its “snowflake” fragility. But there is something much more crass at the heart of it all. A particularly base form of human behavior that is as old as mankind has found a new socially acceptable way to express itself. This poses a threat to our civil discourse that ultimately will prove far greater than the latest big-name Twitter ban.
At some point, attempts to destroy the reputations, livelihoods and lives of private citizens for saying “bad words” or advocating personal opinions considered beyond the pale come only from a place of cruelty. We have manifestly arrived at that point in 2021. When the bile of wrongthink warriors consumes the right to free association and personal religious belief, liberty itself is lost.
Private Religion, Public Hanging
The formerly free nation of Canada to our immediate north serves up the latest insane example. If you don’t think it can happen in America, you simply haven’t been paying attention. LifeSiteNews reports:
“Police are investigating a Catholic father over allegations that he committed a ‘hate’ crime for asking a Catholic school board not to recognize ‘Pride month’ or fly the rainbow flag at Catholic schools.
Jody Maillet, a part-time university instructor, told the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s (TCDSB) March 4 meeting that he was ‘concerned’ about a proposal to ‘recognize or celebrate gay pride month and fly the gay pride flag over our Toronto schools.’”
Note that this is a Catholic parent who accurately articulated his Church’s teachings at a Catholic school board meeting. An outsider would have to go well out of their way to take offense. No matter. Attention was ginned up, complaints were made, and the Toronto Police soon affirmed that an “active investigation” by its Hate Crime Unit was underway. Maillet’s employment status was circulated. McMaster University, where he works as that part-time instructor, dutifully tweeted out its disapproval, writing that it “has been made aware of” Maillet’s comments and promising that they “do not align with our values and the inclusive environment we strive to provide.” Asked if Maillet would keep his job, a spokesman told Toronto CityNews that the university was “still looking into the matter.”
A Toronto city councilor also joined the fray, accusing Maillet of advocating the drowning of homosexuals because he brought up Christ’s famous quote from The Gospel of Matthew about millstones and people who lead children astray at a Catholic school forum.
Squalid, Sleazy and Claiming the Moral High Ground
How can one consider this to be in any way a manifestation of fragility? The potential implications in this case are utterly horrifying. A politically-charged police unit in Canada’s largest city is probing the possibility of filing criminal charges against a man espousing traditional Christian teaching and as the investigation is ongoing a local elected official declares that he has incited murder for quoting the words of Jesus. This displays a level of deep-seated enmity that completely obliterates any possibility of the free exchange of ideas.
The escalation is frightening. But it should come as no surprise to those who grasped the fundamental nature of the impromptu lynch mob that viciously smeared Covington High School student Nicholas Sandmann in January 2019. An ugly modern form of rubbernecking virtue-sadism fueled by the Internet’s real-time immediacy was its defining feature.
The targeted harassment of Colorado baker Jack Phillips similarly smacked of indulgence of attitude rather than any genuine commitment to a cause. Phillips is a Christian who does not want to bake cakes with messages that violate his personal religious principles. LGBT activists went out of their way to reach his bakery and demand he go against his conscience. The moment of human interaction between Phillips and these bad-faith actors should be dwelled upon more. They walked into his business, appeared at his counter, looked him in the eye and tried to destroy this man. Who does that?
We are witnessing the new voyeurism. We’ve become a culture of dirty sheet sniffers, only what gets a person in trouble these days isn’t sexual shenanigans, it’s having non-PC thoughts. What is there to be said for a society in which it has become perfectly normal to root around the words of private individuals in a manner akin to poring through a neighbor’s garbage looking for dirt? Leering at personal opinions that are deemed unacceptable is the peeping into windows of our age.
The cheap high of contrived outrage is not enough anymore. Victimhood begat moral righteousness and moral righteousness has now quite logically spawned the urge to punish. Blaming Big Tech and media elites only goes so far. A louche personal behavior that decent humans have always disdained is fatally poisoning our civic discourse.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.