The most dangerous aspect of today’s cancel culture is that self-expression carries the very real risks of shaming, ridicule, being outcast, labeled racist, unemployment, even violence.
The left used to be the proud and fearless protectors of free speech. Where’d they go?
Liberals used to believe in free speech so much the ACLU came to the defense of hideous neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, in the 1970s, because even scum has the right to speech.
Our nation desperately needs these good liberals to return and stand up to the tyranny of progressive speech intimidation. Sadly, conservatives and libertarians today are less worthy of free speech than Nazis back then.
Today people are terrified to express themselves. And when 12-year-old boys get beat up by adults just for showing support for the president, it’s no wonder people are terrified.
In the enlightened city of Boulder, where they smugly parade their open-mindedness by using tax money to affix words like “tolerance” and “diversity” to government buildings, the bigotry is so palpable that grown women feel completely empowered to assault children who express unpopular beliefs.
Last Monday, 12-year-old Jayden was peddling in town on his bicycle, which had a Trump yard sign on it, when a white female in her “late 20’s to mid 30’s” took time out of her scooter ride to pull over and beat him.
Quoting directly from the police report: “The female turned her moped around and drove up to Jayden saying something to the affect (sic) of, ‘You want something to look at.’ The suspect then used a closed fist to strike Jayden in the back of the head and arms. Jayden said he was struck about four to five times. The suspect also caused a scratch on his left arm…The suspect tried to take the political sign out of Jayden’s hand, but he was using it to defend himself against the attack.”
It’s worth noting here that the fully-grown, angry progressive couldn’t get the Trump sign out of the little kid’s hands even after repeatedly punching him, which might say something about adult vegans compared to kids with a hotdog or two in them. Or, it could say a Trump sign is a little like Captain America’s shield. You choose.
People who support Trump, or at least don’t detest him to the level demanded by the current culture, reasonably feel the need to stay quiet about it. And can you blame them? Boulder’s no isolated incident.
I have been told by scores of people they’d like to put a Trump bumper sticker on their car or a sign in their yard but genuinely fear excommunication from neighbors and coworkers, vandalism or worse.
For Bernie or Biden supporters who think this trepidation is made up, I invite them to take the test. Slap a Trump sticker over that Bernie one on your Subaru and park it in Boulder for a week. Don’t tell me you won’t have anxiety.
Or, wear a MAGA hat all day, stroll through your regular Whole Foods and see how you feel. Could you make it the full day without explaining to someone you were doing it as a joke?
A liberal buddy of mine who worked on a college campus wore a MAGA shirt for a laugh to work back in 2016 when Trump’s campaign was only a punchline. After Trump won the Republican nomination his wife asked him to stop wearing it for his own safety. He gleefully complied.
But the fear is much more insidious. It leads to the bigotry of self-censorship. People at work and kids in schools instinctively know not to voice their opinions. It’s clear their grades, peer relationships, job advancement and maybe even their income is endangered. So, they wisely closet themselves.
It is easier, and less risky, to come out as gay or trans at school or the office than to come out as pro-Trump.
There are more closeted Trumpies than the left thinks. A strategist for JP Morgan, Marko Kolanovic, warned investors that people giving inaccurate answers could artificially skew polls in favor of Biden by 5%-6%.
If a Trump supporter is too scared to tell an anonymous pollster on the phone her true feelings, imagine how many are walking around you, and you just don’t know it.
Best play it safe and reduce the penalties for beating up kids.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.