Connecticut is taken with an authoritarian mood. The Constitution State—I deferentially refer to it as The Eminent Domain—is in the beginning stages of passing hate crime legislation that lords the authority of correct thinking cognoscenti over the state’s subjects. Or, using the linguistic benignity of legislators, “organizations committed to decreasing hate crimes and improving diversity awareness.”
The blue blood branch of the northeast states aims to institute a Hate Crimes Advisory Council “committed to decreasing hate crimes and improving diversity awareness” by “coordinat[ing] programs to increase community awareness and reporting of crimes motivated by bigotry or bias.”
Delegation is a funny thing. Before you know it, quasi-governmental councils and independent agents transform to monsters. There’s the special prosecutor who bites the hand that feeds, the government agents accountable to no one who shut down the simple toymaker, and Claire Guadiani, the Christina-Kirscher-esque supervillain of Kelo v. New London—all of them and their “commissions” and “councils” simply contemporary star chambers run by power-graspers.
All you need to know about the direction Hate Crime Councils will take is in the history of similar bias patrols, informer networks, and homogeneous political climates structured throughout America. More specifically, we can look to the universities. That’s where diversity councils draft their first-round picks.
At Suffolk University, micro-aggression training was mandated after a sociology professor questioned a young Latina woman’s use of the word “hence.” (Cry out a hysteria hosanna for “hence”!)
If tenured professors at universities aren’t shielded from the petty rebukes of infant tyrants, what makes you think that lone, powerless adults facing the full power of the state will?
Maybe you’re shopping for a subtler orthodoxy. In that case, I offer to you Old Dominion University, which has instituted a “Safe Space Committee,” reserving housing specifically for students who are of a progressive/multi-sexual orientation. Irish Republicans Need Not Apply. But it’s not discrimination. It’s “inclusiveness.”
Go look at any of FIRE’s cases and see whether you like the result of universal progressive hegemony. FIRE, that laudable center of First Amendment fervor, has ventured into film in its efforts to expose higher education’s collective farcical take on free speech, helping to produce the tragicomic documentary Can We Take a Joke? But if I were to chronicle Connecticut’s high-handed hijinks on celluloid, I’d call it The Day the Government Finally Told You to Shut Up (coming soon to a Theatre of the Absurd, check local listings for movie times).
But what about hate speech?! Ah, that old chestnut.
One of the tricks progressives use to define hate speech up—meaning they use hyperbolic language to describe what would otherwise be recognized as impolitic gaffing or uncouth manners—is by referring to hate incidents. Hate crimes are actions—bomb threats aimed at synagogues, epithet-layered graffiti—while hate incidents “involve sending messages that are objectionable but protected by the First Amendment.”
There are many problems with the proposed Connecticut legislation, not least that it’s unclear whether simply saying “stupid Jew” or “black sonofabitch”—or whatever else—would render those utterances criminal in character. (This, of course, would ruin my annual “Nubians v. Jewbians Passover Seder” in New Haven.) The statute appears to cover hate incidents, too.
Remember, though, the truism that objectionable free speech is really the only kind that needs First Amendment protection. If you’re a man (or a woman, or whatever) of the left, consider what one of your luminous lords, Noam Chomsky, said about free speech in Manufacturing Consent: “Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.”
Normally when I find myself agreeing with Noam Chomsky, I do a thousand jumping jacks, take a freezing cold shower, and then ask a friend to hit me in the face with a pan. (A jarring physical reset helps clear the brain.) And yet, still, I’m in agreement with Brother Noam of the Hater of All-Americana Congregation.
There’s a big problem even with using the hate crime classification. Like every other issue in life, I use South Park to determine my views on hate crimes: “Mayor, it is time to stop splitting people into groups. All hate crimes do is support the idea that blacks are different from whites, that homosexuals need to be treated differently from non-homos, that we aren’t the same.” That’s Stan Marsh wisdom, people. It’s problematic to continually bisect grievance-mongers into tinier sub-classified groups. This taxonomy of minorities can continue ad infinitum—black Jews, lesbian Mongols, trans-Latinas, inuit-differently-abled-trans-species-race-non-conforming-dolphinistas—until the only basis for claiming equal or fair treatment is the newness of the classification and the historical oppression experienced by the identities that make up the fresh grievance category. The logical result is that only the inuit-differently-abled-trans-species-race-non-conforming-dolphinista can have a claim to being discriminated against, resulting in a Rule of Law that is inherently discriminatory. There are certain people who have an algorithmic type of thinking when it comes to politics and ideology—they’re ideologically possessed, as Dr. Jordan Peterson puts it.
Most people will look at a situation and decide how to handle it based on the facts in front of them. The ideologically possessed, however, subconsciously know how they’ll respond to any scenario long before it occurs. They may, for instance, favor discrimination so long as it comports with their algorithmic worldview. The ideologically possessed are those who make up the whole of diversity committees, inclusion programs, and so on. It’s from those groups that the Hate Crimes Council will recruit. The result will be the arm of the state twisting careless speakers into compliance. Or as Nat Hentoff put it: Free speech for me—but not for thee.