Trigger warning for anyone of a politically correct disposition: I’m a white, straight middle class male. Excuse me if I don’t check my privilege. I really don’t care if I offend you.
It was during a Student Union debate at the University of Essex five years ago that I found out I was apparently a racist, a fascist, an Islamophobe, a bigot and a homophobe.
Like many universities, mine enforced the NUS’s No Platform policy, barring speakers from the ‘far right’ from campus. I proposed to repeal it. Suffice to say I was less than successful.
My position can be boiled down to the following: Freedom of speech means everyone should all be allowed an opinion. The best way to challenge discrimination and prejudice is to speak out against it. Broad terms like ‘racism’ and ‘homophobia’ can be used to attack anyone advancing a conservative position on immigration and gay marriage.
Besides, I argued, it is blatantly unfair to ban the EDL but not unreconstructed Marxist loons who hero worship the murderous racist Che Guevara1 and act as apologists for a system that is responsible 100 million deaths2 .
The response was not particularly enthusiastic. A braying, catcalling, screeching fury swept the audience chamber like a tidal wave. Most of those who did not join in sat perfectly still in their chairs, blank eyes fixed on the floor between their feet.
Without ‘No Platform’ the feelings of gays, blacks and Muslims would be hurt, screamed one keffiyeh-wearing, red faced young man who was particularly good at whipping himself up into nonsensical paroxysms of rage.
Hitherto hidden blackshirts would rise up and riot on our campus, argued an outraged self-declared ‘feminist lesbian’. No one would feel ‘safe’ any more, the chorus repeated over and over.
I use this example because it reveals the mindset of the politically correct towards, not just free speech and expression, but free thought also. The same thing happens on university campuses, on Twitter, on shows like the BBC’s hilariously named ‘Free Speech’3 , every day.
As I write, PC lefties in the USA are tying themselves in knots trying to unpick this excellent article by Jonathan Chait in the New York magazine exposing the hypocrisy of the political correctness agenda in the States.
The rise of the ‘social justice warrior’, the militant witch-finder general of political correctness, has created a culture of fear in which to speak out against the prevailing orthodoxies on race, immigration, climate change and gender politics is to risk being treated like a heretic.
Fail to ‘check your privilege’; engage in ‘microaggressions’ invisible to everyone except dedicated social justice warriors; use the wrong word to refer to ethnic minority groups; and the mob will be unleashed against you.
Every time Jeremy Clarkson opens his mouth, an army of social justice warriors hang on his every word in the hope that he will say something ‘insensitive’ and they can complain to the BBC.
Every time time Katie Hopkins, that supremely irritating national treasure, says something calculated to offend, new petitions circulate demanding her immediate arrest4 .
Every time James Delingpole or Christopher Booker write about global warming, an army of well-organised trolls scream ‘denier’ in an attempt to evoke comparisons with neo-Nazi holocaust denial.
Even impeccably anti-racist celebrities like Benedict Cumberbatch can now be forced to make a grovelling apology for using the word ‘coloured’ to refer to black people5 .
Like most left wing doctrines, political correctness is rooted in concern for a ‘victim’. Never mind if black people, women or homosexuals don’t want to be classed as victims. Judging people by the content of their character is so 19636 .
Who you are doesn’t matter. It’s what you are that counts.
To PC-fanatics, free speech is all about equality. The powerless underdog must be free to say whatever he likes in order to attack entrenched privilege and power. The powerful and privileged must be restrained from defending themselves.
It’s the old Marxist notion of class war applied to race and gender politics. Freedom is for the ‘victims’ only. Thus the Islamist preacher gets away with praising the Nazi Holocaust7, but woe betide you if you happen to be white and express concerns about Islam8 .
Any call for truly free speech is to advocate all those things that the sensitive ears of ‘victimised’ minorities must be protected from at all costs: racism, fascism, bigotry, homophobia and Islamophobia.
Therefore anyone advocating free speech must be a racist, a fascist, a bigot, a homophobe and an Islamophobe. In the simplest terms. In the most convenient of definitions. It’s like some demented PC version of ‘The Breakfast Club’.
To disagree with a social justice warrior is to identify yourself as an irredeemably evil, uncaring, subhuman being. To have the temerity to stand in their way is the worst sin of all because it makes you guilty by association of all the evils that they crusade against.
Political correctness is all about shutting down free speech because it is dangerous. To speak freely is to think freely. So free speech has to go. Freedom is precious, argued Lenin. So precious it needs to be rationed9 .
If you value freedom of speech in the West today, this is what you must fight against.
This is far from a fringe viewpoint in this country. Labour’s hate crime laws and Equality Act are still the law of the land. If you can be arrested for quoting Churchill, you are not free10 .
We must stand firm against the social justice warriors. Otherwise our country will become a much more intolerant, less fun, less free place to live.
If you are a student, challenge the illiberal busybodies who run your union. Fight back. Break the rules. Occupy a building or two: let’s see how they like it.
Write to your MP demanding the repeal of hate crime legislation. Draw up your own petitions and tell everyone about them.
Whenever you see a tweet or Facebook status attacking freedom in the name of some victim group or other, don’t look the other way. It might be the easy thing to do but it’s certainly not the right thing.
Or as Edmund Burke put it: “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”11 .
Hasta la victoire siempre (Forever onwards towards victory).