Sunday, July 7, 2013

Let Hitler Speak

Years back, I was reading a periodical, I can't recall whether it was Analog or Isaac Asimov's magazine, and someone said something bad which occasioned me to write to the editor. My point then and now is that one does not defeat bad speech with censorship, but with reasoned counter-argument.

Let's suppose you think my advocating Whigs is not just disagreeable, but downright evil. And rather than counter my words, you scream shut up, and censor any utterance of them.

I think that is wrong, and instead, you should reply to my Whig speech with your own anti-Whig speech. If you disagree, say why you disagree. If you claim I'm evil, make your case to that effect.

Then, our respective audiences can decide for themselves whether Whigs deserve their place in the dust-bin of history.

In the case of Nazis, there are better reasons than, "They lost WW2," to believe they are wrong and evil.

Every person must take action in this life convinced what is right and what is wrong. We need better reasons to think the Nazis were evil than the guy in Indiana Jones pulling out a folding hangar in a menacing way, and then getting his face melted off when he looks inside the Ark of the Covenant.

What do you do when you find out that JFK admired Hitler? If all you know is "Shut him up! They're evil!", then you might think JFK was evil, too. However, if you understand that some things Hitler did were good and other things were much more evil, then you can sympathize with JFK's admiration for the good he could see, and give Hitler the doubt about the evil he did not yet see.

Transgressive things can have a sort of appeal to the ignorant. When I was a kid, parents were shocked and appalled at sex, drugs, and rock & roll. And kids went for it. Can those things kill you or ruin your life? Loud music can cause hearing loss I suppose. And alcohol is a legal, recreational drug.

You can't just say, "shut up," but you can teach discernment. And discernment requires more than Reefer Madness.

No matter how deeply you bury Hitler's evil, it has a way of coming back and citizens need discernment to recognize it when someone who doesn't sound or look like Hitler says the same things as him. For instance, the sloganeering of both John McLame and Barack Obama had a great deal in common with Nazi sloganeering. Are the GOP and Democrats both Fascists? You need discernment.

I say you get that discernment by letting the evil Fascists have free speech to make their case. But you don't stop there. They are evil. You have to follow up with your own free speech to make the opposing case that they are not only wrong, but evil. This means you have to know why we fight.

When I read Liberal Fascism and I got to the chapters about the present day, there was an Elephant in the room, and it was obvious that Mr. Goldberg was uncomfortable with the definition of Fascism he'd spent the rest of the book crafting fit Mr. Bush's "big government" as well as Mr. Obama's.

That is the reason against educating people about why good is good, and why evil is evil.

If a thing is evil because your party boss says it's evil, and good because your party boss says it's good, then you can wake up one morning like American Communists did on 23 August 1939 to find that Nazis are no longer evil, but good. And then when Hitler invades Russia, oops, your party boss has to tell you they're evil again.

This sounds ridiculous, but keep in mind the guiding principle of both Democrats and Republicans elected officials: "if you give us enough money, we vote like you like."

In this case, it isn't the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact or Operation Barbarossa that redefines good and evil, but whose check is larger. If you have reasons to believe good is good, and reasons to believe evil is evil, then party bosses have to be picky about whose checks they cash.

This can be an inconvenience, but I think it should be a necessary inconvenience.

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