Last post I was worried about selfies. This week, dear reader, I’m worried about a trend I’m seeing in how our culture handles people they don’t like. Donald Sterling is the latest example, but I’m also thinking of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich who was forced to resign because he opposed Same Sex Marriage by giving a 1,000 donation to Proposition 8 in California. To be clear no one’s rights to free speech were violated. This is not a rant about the first amendment at all. Rather this is a rant about the new outrage that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar referred to as the “finger-wagging olympics.” in reference to the Donald Sterling debacle. It’s also what philosopher and statesman John Stewart Mill called the “social tyranny.”
[Society] practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.
to complain and eventually the electronic chant grew louder and louder, “Eich should resign.” I don’t know why Eich opposed gay marriage and likely neither will any of the twitterocracy because I doubt he’ll say much in public ever again. And that is what has me worried. I’m worried that a society that is short on rationality and brimming with rage will simply tweet certain ideas into silence. And I’m worried those ideas themselves won’t necessarily be evil. And even if they are evil, I’m worried that we will have no room for restoration. I say harsh things on this blog all the time about people in the public eye. However, I rarely call for those people to simply be drummed out of society without any life line back to the rest of us.
It is a very serious thing for an individual or even a mob to call for someone else to step down from a position and it ought to be because of more than we don’t like their views. A boycott is not the same thing as free speech. I worry that our society is transforming from apathy about bad ideas to an equally dangerous alternative–making those we disagree with persona non grata. This is a technical term in diplomacy. It means someone is no longer welcome in a particular country. You have to do some serious stuff to get labeled persona non grata. However, in its non-technical sense it means something like what Wikipedia says:
In non-diplomatic usage, referring to someone as persona non grata is to say that he or she is ostracized. Such a person is for all intents and purposes culturally shunned, so as to be figuratively nonexistent.
That’s what I worry about. I worry that there will be ideas one cannot hold in public because as Ravi Zacharias said, this generation listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings. Consider this op-ed from the illustrious Harvard Crimson:
If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”? Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue. The power to enforce academic justice comes from students, faculty, and workers organizing together to make our universities look as we want them to do.
Let that sink in, dear reader.
The power to enforce academic justice comes from students, faculty, and workers organizing together to make our universities look as we want them to do.
The last few years have brought an astonishing moral and political transformation in the American debate over same-sex marriage and gay equality. This has been a triumph not only for LGBT Americans but for the American idea. But the breakthrough has brought with it rapidly rising expectations among some supporters of gay marriage that the debate should now be over. As one advocate recently put it, “It would be enough for me if those people who are so ignorant or intransigent as to still be anti-gay in 2014 would simply shut up.” The signatories of this statement are grateful to our friends and allies for their enthusiasm. But we are concerned that recent events, including the resignation of the CEO of Mozilla under pressure because of an anti-same-sex- marriage donation he made in 2008, signal an eagerness by some supporters of same-sex marriage to punish rather than to criticize or to persuade those who disagree. We reject that deeply illiberal impulse, which is both wrong in principle and poor as politics.
. . . God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
No one is ever really persona non grata for us. A testimony to that is the many many times Midwest Christian Outreach has tried to meet with and persuade people like Bill Gothard. This has not always been successful but it has always been the goal. MCO’s model verse has always been “So have I now become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” We are commanded to tell the truth but to tell it for reconciliation No one–not racists, not pederasts, not sadists–no one is without a lifeline. I leave you with the words of my favorite band The Lost Dogs:
Skinheads, Dead heads, tax evaders, street kids
Alcoholics, workaholics, wise guys, dim wits
Blue collars, white collars, war mongers, peace nicksChorus
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep the Breath of GodSuicidal’s, rock idols, shut-ins, drop outs
Friendless, homeless, penniless and depressed
Presidents, residents, foreigners and aliens
Dissidents, feminists, xenophobes and chauvinistsChorusEvolutionists, creationists, perverts, slum lords
Dead-beats, athletes, Protestants and Catholics
Housewives, neophytes, pro-choice, pro-life
Misogynists, monogamists, philanthropists, blacks and whitesChorusPolice, obese, lawyers, and government
Sex offenders, tax collectors, war vets, rejects
Atheists, Scientists, racists, sadists
Biographers, photographers, artists, pornographers
Gays and lesbians, demagogues and thespians
The disabled, preachers, doctors and teachers
Meat eaters, wife beaters, judges and jurys
Long hair, no hair, everybody everywhere!