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.