Do We Really Want More Self-Censorship?

Follow up to yesterday’s graphic which prompted this question from a lefty reader who is also a great daughter not just because she reads and comments on the humble blog.

“Is it bad for people to feel like they can’t say offensive things?”

For me, that begs this question, who gets to decide what’s “offensive”? A majority of your peers, but the First Amendment is explicitly designed to protect minority viewpoints.

Sure, given most people’s instincts for self preservation, publicly shaming anyone with retrograde, anti-social, even hateful opinions will probably get them to censure themselves.

But does that constitute progress? Isn’t it better to know what people honestly think because only then can we begin to deconstruct and challenge the parts that most reasonable people find offensive?

What if forcing those who communicate offensive things causes them to not just shut down, but to double-down on their ideology. Do we want those we find offensive to go “underground”, and in essence, let their retrograde ideas silently fester in their own heads? Won’t that make them more likely to eventually act upon their “offensive” ideas?

I find Louis Brandeis’s axiom convincing, “The light of day is the best disinfectant.”