“Controlling what people say is very close to controlling what people think.”
As everyone knows by now, a Missouri State Fair rodeo clown wore an Obama mask, and the Fair subsequently banned him from ever participating again. A White House spokesman tacitly approved of this response, calling the incident “not one of the finer moments” in the state. Furthermore, the fair started requiring “sensitivity training” for rodeo clowns. That’s right, sensitivity. For clowns.
On July 31st, Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry Arnn became a target after using the term “dark ones” in reference to minority students.
Rather than address the actual context and point Arnn was making, Michigan Department of Education lawmakers attempted to demonize Arnn as racially insensitive. Arnn stated that the Department sent people to the school specifically to note the number of non-white students. They were scanning faces for the “dark ones,” as Arnn said. Despite the validity of Arnn’s comments, he was excoriated for using non-approved language.
These incidents represent a frightening trend in American politics and culture. When making a statement that those in power don’t like, one becomes vulnerable to accusations of insensitivity, racism, or some similar form of bigotry and hatred. The message or intent becomes buried in the outrage.
Language use is now a weapon for progressive leaders who wish to silence their enemies. If these breaches of First Amendment principles weren’t enough, a glaring case of government manipulation of the press came into view recently.
The Washington Post broke an alarming story regarding NSA privacy violations, and the NSA and the White House responded with their own comments and an attempt to replace interview answers given by NSA director of compliance John DeLong with a prepared statement. This begs the question: how often does the White House make such requests to
change news stories, and how often does the press comply?
While it’s obvious that such control of speech, language, and the press is a useful tool for pushing down political opposition, there are even more drastic consequences. As George Orwell said in his Politics and the English Language, “if thought corrupts language, language corrupts thought.”
Portrayal of certain speech as bigoted is powerful because of the concept that what one thinks affects what one says, but the reverse is true as well.
Controlling what people say is very close to controlling what people think. When government holds power over thought, there is no freedom left. Orwell understood this, as shown through the fictional “Newspeak” in his famous novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
When clowns are going through sensitivity training, it sure seems like we’re very close to turning that dystopian fiction into reality.
Isaac Morrison is a student at Hillsdale College, and previously wrote RINOs and Wackos – The Problem With Politics for College Insurrection.