One of the lessons that I got out of my readings of 1984 (I love it and have read it a few times) is that in the face of tyranny, people will sometimes choose to rebel in ways that offend the sensibilities of more conservative individuals. Yes, I know the book is fiction, but it is in morals and spirit a very realistic critique of life under Stalin in the Sovet Union. Some people choose to rebel through sexuality, crass language and conduct and violent behavior in the face of cold, inhuman bureaucracy. And why shouldn’t they choose this path, since it is one of the last ways for them to exert their humanity and individuality in the face of a militantly conformist system that impinges on increasing numbers of areas where it has no business getting involved?
Life in America is increasingly becoming rigidly regimented by the forces of political correctness. A significant amount of the fundamental freedoms that were enjoyed at the turn of the twentieth century flat out do not exist today, and in the past several years, the attacks on individual freedom and choice have grown steadily. If people identify with incendiary writers with a flamboyant shock jock tendency, writers and public figures like Ann Coulter, it is a sign of the culture itself being cut off. Today, the only people who get their voices heard in the face of political correctness are those who care so little about the consequences or the feelings of others that they will not be silenced by the bureaucratic fascists in academia, government and corporate America.
Civil debate on many issues is dead. There is an official orthodoxy and the only ones who survive it are those are willing to go for the throat in defense of their ideas. When Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost attacked Ann Coulter for her willingness to be radical, over-the-top and flamingly-outspoken, it didn’t surprise me. The sad reality is that while George Will is a better intellectual than Coulter, he and most “civil” conservatives don’t take the battle to the left. We libertarians rarely tend to be the types that back down in the face of the typical left-wing, politically correct attakcs.
In my opinion, it’s actually good to have a conservative who is willing to come out and mutilate the sacred cows of the left like a drive by UFO raid. Many less-intellectual people associate an unease with defending one’s views with a weakness in the ideas themselves. Since conservatism is the leading force on the right at the present time, if a general right wing push in America is to be achieved, it is necessary for the conservative ranks to have members who are willing to fight fire with fire. Everytime a conservative backs down and says with a mealy-mouthed tone of voice, “I’m not (insert prejudice here” and genuflects before the alter of tolerance and accepted liberal values, the right (and this includes libertarians to a fairly significant degree) is discredited in a small way.
You don’t have to like writers like Ann Coulter to realize that they serve a good purpose. She is a pitbull for the right and is not willing to sit around while the robbers are walking out with the loot. Most conservatives of all stripes, however, while good people, are unable to muster the intestinal fortitude to get down in the trenches and fight their opponents. Regardless of whether many more “civil” conservatives like it, you can only afford to use morally superior methods to win a war when you have the ability to safely do so. Unfortunately, conservatism is by and large about as prepared to fight this war as the British Army of 1776 would be to suppress the IED-equipped insurgents of modern Iraq. Many conservatives do not realize that the culture has not swung in a conservative direction post-9/11. It’s imperative that they understand the difference between a fear of foreign attackers, triggering a vote for a stronger national security program, and a general push toward a limited government, right-wing system. In many areas, such as academia, we have gained almost nothing and are still losing ground.
When student newspapers are being censored for allowing students to see what a violent controversy is about, it should be obvious that civil discourse is being attacked. Those who insist on totally civil rules of debate, in the face of what is a blatant attempt to stifle all intellectual opposition to a hard left, post-modernist institutional ideology are not being morally superior. They are just lambs walking right into a slaughter. You can abide by certain limits to establish a moral superiority, but refusing to using incendiary rhetoric, some of which might be very offensive, is self-limiting. It’s regrettable that cool heads debating rationally is nowhere near the norm today, but that is the way things work.