Flat White

How we’ve turned mad – half mad, anyway

23 May 2019

5:25 PM

23 May 2019

5:25 PM

Two numbers in the low forties popped up in two separate stories this week:

Americans today are more closely divided than they were earlier in the last century when asked whether some form of socialism would be a good or bad thing for the country. While 51 percent of U.S. adults say socialism would be a bad thing for the country, 43 percent believe it would be a good thing. Those results contrast with a 1942 Roper/Fortune survey that found 40 percent describing socialism as a bad thing, 25 percent a good thing and 34 percent not having an opinion.

And:

Conducted by the Knight Foundation, the survey reveals that 41 percent of college students believe hate speech should not be protected under the First Amendment, while 58 percent believe that it should be protected. While the majority of students believe that hate speech should be protected, 53 percent of college women contend it should not be protected, as well a majority of black students.

There were different demographics, as the latter poll only targets educated Millennials while the former all age groups – and we know that among the youngsters it’s significantly more than 43 per cent who heart socialism (certainly in Australia as well as the United States). There can be little doubt though that, samples aside, there would be a very significant overlap between both groups in the above-quoted surveys.

The matter of “socialists who don’t believe in free speech” is however complicated by the fact that most people have very little idea of what socialism actually means and entails just as they have very little idea of what hate speech is.

Where for older generations “hate speech” would be something spouted by the neo-Nazis and KKK as they rave about anyone who is not white, for the Millennials “hate speech” increasingly means merely something that disagrees or challenges their pieties and received wisdom, including most of the conservative philosophy. While they still maintain that “hate speech” is thus called because it embodies and promotes hate against others (usually the marginalised and/or the minorities), in most cases it’s simply any speech which they dislke.

Whether it’s socialism or censorship or any of many others new woke favourites, the fight for sanity continues. Sadly now more than ever: the last hundred years has pretty clearly demonstrated the sorry consequences of all these ideas; what it demonstrated even clearer is that bad ideas don’t die.

Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk, where this piece also appears.

Illustration: Columbia Pictures.

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