14 May 2009

Disagree? You're A Criminal

We now have people seriously arguing (on another Civil War blog) in favor of criminal prosecution for those who happen to disagree with their interpretation of history. There were no objections, no rebukes, no "What, you can't be serious???!!!" moments, no disagreements, no requests for clarification. *None. I can only interpret that non-reaction as complicity.

I, for one, am in favor of vigorous debate over historical interpretation. It helps me; even when I disagree. I'm constantly learning by reading the opinions of those with whom I disagree. It causes me to re-examine my positions and views. That's a good thing. That's healthy. Sometimes, if the facts warrant it, I change my position. Other times, my views are strengthened by the weak and obvious agenda-driven arguments of others. Often, I'm spurred to further study and exploration of the facts. Other times I gain insight into how someone with whom I disagree came to their position, though I still may not agree with them. Still, at other times, while my opinion is not completely altered, it's moved in one direction or another. This is how academic freedom and freedom of speech benefits us all. Is it sometimes painful? Yes. Is it sometimes ugly? Yes. Is it sometimes stupid? Yes. Is it sometimes embarrassing? Yes. But that is the price a society pays for the benefits derived from academic and intellectual freedom, freedom of speech, and the right to make choices. We have the right to disagree.

But, increasingly, this is not the state of affairs in certain academic circles. They apparently prefer to shut down debate, burn books (figuratively), and criminally prosecute those who happen to disagree with them. Call it the Saul Alinsky approach. Criminalize any opinion outside so-called "academic orthodoxy". The High Priests of academia are the only ones who can interpret history. Challenge them and suffer ridicule, ostracization, and now, if some have their way, fines and jail time.

I would describe this position as intellectual fascism, Stalinist, anti-intellectual (in the truest form), anti-liberty, anti-freedom, and
small-minded.

It is absolutely jaw-dropping amazing and dangerous.

*At the time this was originally posted.

11 comments:

cenantua said...

Richard,

Simply stated, the mere suggestion of such a thing is absurd.

Robert

Border Ruffian said...

I saw that.

It's hard to believe anyone would promote such a view.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Robert, BR:

It is indeed absurd and unbelievable. As much as I sometimes disagree with someone's position, suggesting someone be criminally prosecuted for what they believe or think is, to put it mildly, beyond the pale.

Brboyd said...

The irony here is that if the church (or "a" church) then they would be the first to scream. For historians, one would think they would remember a time when it was criminal to say that the earth was round.

I would ask them if their belief extends to someone who knowingly publishes a school text with glaring lies and/or errors in it?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

My wife, who is descended from Monacan Indians, suggested that, while we're at it, let's throw some Hollywood producers/actors in jail for portraying Indians in a negative light.

How utterly ridiculous and Orwellian.

Anonymous said...

Similar discorse with regard to global warming... the debate is over, remember.

We live in a nation where all too many believe that the movies J.F.K. and Pearl Harbor accurately depict real events. And now we need the police powers of government to somehow regulate those thoughts?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Exactly. The mere suggestion is almost beyond any reasonable debate. What most shocked me on Kevin's blog was the lack of disagreement and outrage over Lacy's suggestion of criminalizing thought and opinion. Absolutely stunning. And many of those commenting there think I'm wacky for posting about PC in academia. Truth is stranger than fiction. Mr. Lacy is a textook example - pardon the pun.

Can't you just see jackboots coming to interrogate you for your opinions on the WBTS? Oops, is that term crimespeak?

Brboyd said...

"When they came to get the historians, I did not protest. Because I was not a historian...

...When they came to get me, there was no one left to protest."

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Right. I would never want even my worst enemies put in jail over thoughts and opinions.

"Are you now, or have you ever been . . .?"

Scary stuff.

Brboyd said...

This whole thing about a "truth commission" from Pelosi. She would spend years trying to find someone qualified to run it. That town and it's politicians couldnt point truth out of a lineup.

Anonymous said...

It's just another form of censorship Richard, and it's no different than not allowing proper debate in a blog comment section. Individual egos and a lack of merit to arguments are the primary reasons for such behavior.