A couple of great posts on censorship you should read –
First, Captain’s Quarters discusses the criminalization of thought:
What has happened to the idea of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Ample legislation already exists for speech which specifically directs or demands violence against others. However, the notion that the state can decide which political speech springs from “hate” and which springs from reasoned debate only derives from the philosophy that the state must remain supreme over the individual — indeed, that the state has omniscient insight into the mind and soul of an individual.
Hate speech, while repugnant, remains as just words. Words have power to convince but none to harm, except in terms of libel or slander — which, again, ample legislation already covers. Hate-crime legislation attempts to create criminality where no crime has occurred, and puts more control over political debate into the hands of the government. The cure for bad speech is not handcuffs but more free speech. It’s a lesson that we all should have long ago learned.
I was, for a long time, a supporter of hate crime legislation because I believed that some crimes, motivated by the victim’s skin color or sexual orientation, deserved extra punishment. Lately, though, that isn’t how I’ve been looking at this legislation – I’ve been looking at it as it should be, as an attempt to criminalize thought.
And, no matter how despicable some people’s thoughts may be, freedom means the right to live your own life. I don’t like racists, or homophobes, but I don’t think trying to make their brains illegal is going to accomplish anything except getting a lot of folks to say, “Hey, this bill passed, I feel good.”
I figure (using my extremely well developed skills of detection) that this is why many right-wing pundits term this legislation, “feel good legislation.”
But I don’t believe the good skipper has all the answers, either. Posting on various blogs, I’ve noticed that a lot of right-wingers reply with some variation of, “I can have my (racist/homophobic/un-PC) opinion, and you telling me that I’m wrong is akin to censoring me.”
Over at Pinko Feminist Hellcat, PFH contends, “…It’s gotten to the point that people who merely criticize something for being misogynist, homophobic, racist, or violent are told (with lots of finger-wagging) that people have the right to say what they want. This seems to be the tactic du jour–if someone criticizes you, cry censorship. Who cares if you’re not actually being censored? Best to just tie yourself to the martyr’s stake and whine about how you’re being oppressed by those PC meanies who don’t recognize your genius.”
If I go into a bagel shop and I ask for a large pepperoni pizza, am I seriously going to start screaming “Censorship!” when the counter guy says, “We only sell bagels?”
There are an awful lot of Americans out there who believe that someone offering a different opinion is equal to censorship. It isn’t. And if they’re too brainwashed to recognize that, then it is their problem.
Like I said – both Captain’s Quarters and Pinko Feminist Hellcat have great posts that are worthy reading. You’d be doing yourself a diservice to yourself to not read them.