A man went to the doctor and said, “I think I have a hearing problem.” The doctor asked, “Can you describe the symptoms?” The man replied, “Homer is a fat bloke and Marge has blue hair.”
I am about to get my hearing tested, because I have noticed that I have slight difficulty hearing higher frequencies. I am sure this is due to having played in rock bands for over 40 years!
I think a lot of people have a hearing problem. Not a physical hearing problem, but a cognitive one. In fact, I think there is an epidemic of bad hearing in society today, not caused by exposure to loud music, but caused by exposure to over-sensitive political correctness.
When I say to someone, “I don’t agree with your viewpoint on that issue”, they hear me saying “I hate you!”. When I say to someone, “I have a different opinion on that moral issue”, they hear me saying, “I reject you!”. I am saying one thing, but they are hearing something completely different.
Let’s be clear about one thing. Just because I have a different belief or a different standard of morality to someone else does not mean that I hate or reject them. How have we reached this point that open and frank discussion of diverse views is no longer tolerated, and is classified as “hate speech”? I recently listened to an online discussion between a morally conservative person and a morally permissive person, moderated by an interviewer. At one point the conservative moralist calmly commented that because of his personal beliefs, he considered a certain action to be wrong. As soon as he said this, the permissive moralist rudely interjected, exclaiming, “I refuse to listen to this hate speech!“and began projecting a diatribe of angry abuse towards the conservative.
It seems to me that the term “hate speech” is very commonly being completely misapplied. Hate speech is when angry, disparaging, vicious, hurtful comments are directed at someone. Hate speech is NOT the voicing of an alternate viewpoint, particularly when it is done calmly and respectfully. There was only one person in the above interview guilty of hate speech, and it wasn’t the conservative.
I don’t deny that hate speech exists, and, sadly, I have heard examples of hateful, prejudiced vitriol from both sides of recent moral debates. But the term “hate speech” is now all too commonly being used as a means of shutting down even the most temperate, reasonable discussion of alternate viewpoints. It has become the censorial mute button which is immediately applied when someone voices an opinion that differs from that of the current regime. It demonstrates a refusal to listen to alternate viewpoints. It is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ear and humming.
Have we really become that closed-minded that we cannot tolerate the existence of divergent opinions? Are we now reverting to the immaturity of the little child who cries out “You hate me!” when someone disagrees with them?
The sign of a mature, secure person is that he/she is able to able to listen to a divergent viewpoint without feeling that their whole world is falling apart. The sign of a mature society is that it allows and fosters the respectful expression of a rich diversity of viewpoints.
When I say to you, “I disagree”, I’m not not saying “I hate you.” If you think that’s what I’m saying, you need a hearing test. And why does Marge have blue hair anyway?