Whither Liberty?

Communication of unwelcome ideas is increasingly restricted

Topics

Politics

George Orwell wrote, “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

It is a fine thing, in a 21st-century Western democracy, to be reminded that writers and journalists once thought like that, and acted accordingly.

Now, by contrast, the privilege of communicating unwelcome ideas is increasingly being restricted within certain tight limits. You will find your liberties very much curtailed if you presume to cause offence by talking about such issues as the deliberate termination of human life in its earliest or latest stages, or the high achievements of Christian culture, or the harder teachings of the Church.

We are now engaged in an open and full-blown conflict between conservatives who want to retain the structures and mores of traditional Christian-based Western civilization and radicals who would like to see almost all of that dismantled piece by piece.

This is not a simple political issue. There are conservatives in both wings of politics, right and left. Tragically, the Labor Party has virtually succumbed to radical doctrines of social engineering; but we can expect no better from the modern Liberal party, which seems riddled with such ideas — from the top down.

I have never heard hate speech in a Christian assembly. But those who are Christian or who sympathize with the Christian culture are accused of it every time they make an utterance or express an opinion that their opponents disagree with. I know of many who have been on the receiving end of abuse for expressing views that are unfashionable or “inappropriate” (such a mean, prim little word!). Almost everything I read in defense of the traditional values is carefully couched in courteous language designed to argue the case point by point. But the responses almost all contain ad hominem elements, sometimes cruel, sometimes angry, occasionally threatening.

Recognizing that a majority of politicians on both sides, and the mainstream media (I think of them now as the Staatsmedia!), no longer support us, our best and indeed only recourse must be to constant courtesy combined with rational argument — provided we can get a hearing, and there’s the crunch. While it is rare for anybody who holds rusted-in liberal ideas about the eventual triumph of Science and Progress to succumb to persuasion, we may hope that by patient good manners, truthfulness, and kindness we might sway those many who are open to reason and gentle persuasion.

 

David Daintree was President of Campion College (Australia’s only Catholic liberal arts college) from 2008 to 2012. In 2013 he founded and is now Director of the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies, under the patronage of the Archbishop of Hobart.

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