Progressives have often been the defenders of free speech, standing up for books like “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” comedians like Lenny Bruce or artists like Robert Mapplethorpe. However, every few decades, something goes wrong, and they become advocates for speech restrictions.
We are now in one of those times.
I’ve been writing letters to the editor for over three decades, free speech being a favorite topic. I recently dug out my file of letters, as it might be time to bring up some old stories about how when the left wants to crack down, it always boomerangs on them.
In the 1930s, there was a desire to fight the far right, and some liberals thought a special congressional committee would be ideal. This body became the House Un-American Activities Committee. Almost immediately, liberals lost control and it was those on the left who found themselves facing the congressional hot seat for over 30 years.
In the 1980s and 1990s, there were the radical feminists Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, who looked at pornography the way African-Americans look at Confederate flags. They helped the Canadian government pass a new obscenity law. In an ironic turn, Dworkin found two of her own books facing charges of obscenity under the law she helped create, and only media criticism led to the charges being reversed.
George Orwell’s “1984” has been a big seller this year, but I believe Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” is the more accurate vision. I read it some years ago and had to wonder if Bradbury had access to a time machine; the book reads the way someone from the 1950s would describe our present. Orwell foresaw political correctness, and how it would be used to create the book-burning culture he portrayed.
The left is going down a dangerous road that can only end in disaster for itself. How long will it be before we see progressives, people of color and the LGBTQ community weeping and wailing as they realize their own weapons have been used against them.