This is not a political post, but rather a brief examination of how varying levels of authority are using their power to discriminate against and oppress people and ideas that go against sanctioned narrative; how people seem to support this practice despite vehemently claiming to oppose it; and what this means for free thought as we know it.
As I understand them, equality, rights, freedoms, and protections aren’t notions you extend to those with whom you agree and withhold from those with whom you don’t; equality, rights, freedoms, and protections are, inherently, universal. As far as ideas are concerned, they apply to everyone, from everyone. The second you start picking and choosing which opinions to allow, which opinions to protect, and which opinions to punish, you are practicing discrimination and oppression.
Yet, despite this, so many people seem to think otherwise, believing ever-subjective, always-changing “wrong” opinions shouldn’t be afforded the same legal protections as ever-subjective, always-changing “good” ones. I recently stumbled upon an AITA thread in which people near-unanimously celebrated a contractor charging a client more money solely for his personal views on immigration. Last year, in the UK, a teenager was placed under house arrest and fined for posting Snoop Dogg lyrics on her social media profile, which the courts deemed constituted “hate speech.” That same year, in Canada, a professor was fired for expressing views opposing things like “multiculturalism” and “the wage gap.” And, just recently, a video game corporation in America confiscated a player’s tournament winnings and banned him for one year in response to his vocal support of protests occuring in Hong Kong.
Of these four examples, only the latter has garnered any kind of significant attention or outrage. Why? Because people have deemed it to be the suppression of a “correct” opinion. The other examples were of “bad” and “wrong” opinions made by “bad” and “wrong” people, and so deserve to be punished. There is a prevailing belief that equality is conditional. When pressed, most people in that Reddit thread defended charging people different prices for the same amount of work based on their political views. No one considered it discrimination, as they reasoned you can’t discriminate against “bad” people. Despite having never met him, and despite nothing in the text corroborating this, that client was, in fact, “a racist” and thus deserved to be “taxed.”
Who gets to determine what is perceived as “bad,” as “wrong,” as “immoral”? Simple: whoever is in power at the time. This person, or people, or institutions, or corporations, or churches, or whatever, have and historically have had the power to snap their fingers, declare you an undesirable, and instantly take away all of your rights the second you say something they disagree with. The only way to oppose this is for people to stand up for one another and defend ALL opinions from persecution–not just those they happen to agree with.