The new age censors: Banning
“problematic” ideas

Declaring an idea or opinion to be “problematic” has become the activist Left’s tool of choice for shutting down debate and attacking free speech.

I have a real issue with the recent hijacking and misappropriation of the word “problematic” by new generation feminists, trigger warning-toting student activists and the right-on Left in general. You could say that I find it…well, problematic.

Until recently, expressing a right-wing opinion or questioning the inexorable rise of identity culture might have seen you branded by the activist Left as being offensive, racist, sexist or oppressive in some other way. The criticism may well have been a shrill overreaction to a perfectly reasonable and valid point, but at least you knew where you stood and of what you were accused.

Today, you are far more likely to be noted and quietly logged by the new age censors as being “problematic” – someone possessing opinions which do not properly conform to the current orthodoxy.

You also see it in the language of people like American internet activist Laci Green who explains: 

When feminists say that something is problematic, they are usually referring to words, behaviours, ideas, tropes, stereotypes and so forth that are factually inaccurate and ultimately harm women, people of colour, the LGBT community and so forth. 

Which would be vaguely true if you swap out “factually inaccurate” and replace it with “contrary to my opinion”. And also swap out “harm” and replace it with “offend some”. Green continues:

We have to identify harmful behaviours and words to actively discourage them. This promotes a more just and equal world.  

But of course Laci Green and her co-conspirators in Britain do not just want to actively discourage the speaking of words and ideas which are contrary to their own worldview. They want to banish them entirely, and do so by holding a gun to society’s head and basically threatening that failing to abide by these new rules will result in social media shaming, social ostracising and complete excommunication from public life.

But here’s the dark heart of the New Age Censors, as revealed by Laci Green:

The truth is, literally everyone and everything is problematic. The search for feminist perfection will cause burnout because there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All of us have been born into a culture that teaches us toxic behaviours and words that actively harm other people.

[..] To improve, we need to need to encourage unlearning in our dialogue. We have to actively unlearn racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and all manner of oppressions. And that is a lifelong process.

This is dangerous stuff, the propagation of the idea that spoken or written words can cause physical harm. But this is absolutely central to what the leftist new age censors are trying to do. They are fully aware that controlling the language means controlling public thought, and they aim to bring all of us problematic people into conformity with their own narrow worldview by declaring any dissenting opinion to be “problematic”, and doing their utmost to suppress it.

Laci Green’s casual assertion that “everything and everyone is problematic” is hilarious but also telling, for it reveals how the censors of the activist Left plan to gain power and suppress free speech in the process.

If everyone and everything is problematic then we are all guilty of committing unwitting micro-aggressions and oppressive behaviours, all the time. With every breath that we take we actively “harm” another human being with our thoughts and words, goes this line of thought. And therefore we need people to continually tell us what is offensive – what new language is in, what bad words are out, who we may have inadvertently mortally wounded with a careless glance or an unpolished turn of phrase.

And that’s where the new age censors step in, always watching over your shoulder and always quick and eager to tell you when you have crossed one of the many invisible lines that they are busy drawing across our political and social discourse. Only the telling always seems to take the form of a social media lynching rather than a friendly pointer.

When the rules over precisely what can be said and how it must be phrased become so fiendishly complex that we are all liable to fall over them at some point, it grants enormous power to the gatekeepers, those swivel-eyed young activists at the forefront of modern identity politics. Not only do they get to write the rules, they and they alone get to sit in judgement as to whether those rules have been violated.

And pity the unwitting transgressor who entertains vain hope of ever again being allowed to step onto a British university campus. It doesn’t matter even if you are Germaine Greer and have led the charge for women’s equality for decades. The selfish, virtue-signalling young activists of today – people whose own micro-causes literally stand on the shoulders of people like Greer – will throw you under the bus and Trigger Warning you out of history because you failed to keep pace with the change.

Who knew that the petty tyrants of today would be cherubic-faced, smiley student activists, chanting mantras about keeping us safe as they imprison us in their closed-minded, ideological dystopia?

Samuel Hooper is a journalist and blogger. He is passionate about politics, free markets and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter here.

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