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The very idea that “Congress shall make no law” that abridges free speech apparently did not consider the notion of political correctness. This scourge of forced self-censorship is worse than any law of prohibition that congress could enact because it is nebulous and subject to the whims of the self-important, self-righteous or those who make a living out of being easily offended (see self-righteous).

What is speech if not simply the verbalization of ideas or thought? What is so dangerous about stifling speech isn’t in the silencing of a voice; ideas related to politics and civics are usually shared by groups big or small. Silence one voice and the ideas behind that voice will likely be given air by another.

More dangerous and effective by any tyrannical opposition is the ability through political correctness to get people to self regulate their speech, which has a very real and negative impact on their thoughts, and even their mental health. Create a real fear in the hearts and minds of your subjects and you don’t necessarily need a law; they’ll censor themselves out of fear — fear of bodily harm to themselves or others close to them, fear of financial ruin, or both.

This worked well in the former Soviet Bloc and in Nazi Germany, and later East Germany under the National Socialists. Citizens (subjects) were legitimately fearful of speaking out, or even aloud to one another, because those in power had informants or were actively listening to them and dealt swiftly with anyone who’s ideas ran counter to the political powers of the day. Dissent was strictly verboten! This idea has been put into practice here in America under the subtler, but equally effective ideal of political correctness. Don’t believe me? Try talking openly and in a voice loud enough for others to hear you at work about Conservative ideals, particularly if you work in a large company. You can easily share your thoughts around the water cooler about what an idiot George Bush was, but criticize Barrack Hussein Obama, or dare to use his middle name in conversation, and you somehow feel the need to whisper for fear that someone might be listening in and deem your conversation “unacceptable” and worthy of punishment.

Ironically this ideal was birthed on college campuses, where free thought and critical thinking is allegedly honored and revered. I recall thinking about how ironic this notion was to the concept of free speech when I first came across it myself when I was in college in the late 1980’s. I found it rather distasteful and demagogic that, in order to use the free speech area, one had to gain permission by first sharing what they were going to say and their ideas to someone in the student union. It became widely known that Conservative ideals were unacceptable forms of free speech and not allowed in the free speech area. Maybe once a year the powers in the student union would relent long enough to allow college Republicans to set up a table and play patriotic music in the free speech area, but that was more an exception than the rule.

The very notion that someone’s thoughts are somehow unacceptable simply because they don’t fit a prescribed template is dangerous and offensive; it certainly flies in opposition to everything our American society stands for under our First Amendment and in our republican form of government. Political discourse that honestly and critically disagrees is a healthy part of a free society. While I would argue that this discourse should have within its core the altruistic desire to seek the improvement of others and the society as a whole, rather than the protection of the few and the expense of the many, even I recognize that some of the more repulsive ideals that folks can conjure up should not be automatically censored but remembered in such a way that a civil society we never allow them to take root and gain practical acceptance.