Political correctness is closing Australian minds

Political correctness is closing Australian minds, by Jennifer Oriel.

When politicians conflate free speech and physical harm, people come to believe that violence is a righteous response to free speech. Increasingly, politicians are conflating politically incorrect ideas and violence as part of populist campaigns for social reform.

PC populism is fostering a culture hostile to political dissent and the core principles of liberal democracy.

In the US and Australia, sections of the left have become ­isolationist by rejecting the ­enabling principles of liberal democracy such as free thought and political diversity. …

For decades, free thinkers have warned about the corrosive effect of political correctness on Western culture and democracy. In his best-selling book The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom predicted that politicising the curriculum would rob students of their capacity to reason. As a consequence, they would be ill-prepared to advance democracy. …

The claim that free speech causes actual harm is creating a counter-reaction where violence is considered an appropriate ­response to words that offend. The conflation of speech and harm is codified in [Australian] laws such as section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. However, the culturally corrosive idea is spreading to other areas of policy and legislative reform. …

Latest example: same sex marriage debate in Australia:

Labor leader Bill Shorten led the campaign against a free people’s vote on same-sex marriage by appealing to rank emotionalism. He said: “A No campaign would be an emotional torment for gay teenagers and if one child commits suicide over the plebiscite, then that is one too many.”

As it happens, the people’s vote on marriage reform is under way and free speech has not killed anyone. However, the conflation of dissenting thought and gay suicide has produced a highly charged ­climate where free speech is equated with violence.

While there have been serious attacks since the ballots were posted, almost all were committed by Yes voters. A violent assault of a Yes voter allegedly did occur after he tried to stop a man removing same-sex marriage posters. However, in most of the reported incidents, the aggressors were same-sex marriage advocates.

PC runs counter to how it’s supposed to work:

There is a recurrent fantasy among the politically correct that a regime of mental hygiene will protect us from harm. A desire for mental hygiene is invariably a bad omen. In peacetime, it makes people boring. In times of unrest, it ­fosters totalitarian beliefs about human perfectibility. The only forms of speech that should be prohibited are defamation and ­incitement to physical violence. The rest — the good, the bad and the ugly — is the sound of democracy.

hat-tip Stephen Neil