Features Australia

Morality through the lens of ‘hate’

Time for conservatives to fight back

2 April 2022

9:00 AM

2 April 2022

9:00 AM

We in the West are living in a world that more and more lacks any shared moral goalposts. There is no consensus at all on a range of issues from the desirability of quotas based on group identity, to abortion, to who can marry, to the worth of inculcating patriotism in school, to believing in the very notion of merit, to religion, to whether life in today’s West is the best that’s ever been on offer or a repository of the fruits of past evil-doing, all the way over to matters having to do with the need for strong borders and the nation state. Heck, big chunks of today’s population in the West purport not to know what does and doesn’t make someone a woman. The problem here is not just that people divide on all these issues and more. And it’s not just that the divisions seem to cleave countries ever closer to half-on-one-side and half-on-the-other carve ups. And it’s not even that one side on these debates has managed to capture most of the cultural institutions – the national broadcaster, the universities, the teaching profession, the vast preponderance of the legacy media and its journalists, the top public servants, most of the judges and even the upper echelons of the big corporations.

All that is are true, and lamentable. But the bigger problem than all those might be that there are no longer any shared first principles that allow people to debate such issues and try to resolve them. A legal philosopher friend of mine in the US suggests that this is why the language of ‘hate’ has become so pervasive. It’s because the notion of a sort of undefined hate, and of its being a bad thing, is one of the few remaining first principles that virtually all of us sort of accept. So one of the few remaining ways of winning arguments, or at least of keeping those on the other side quiet, is to throw around the charge of hate with gay abandon. (I don’t say most others would put the point exactly in those terms, but hey, I’m old-fashioned in my choice of phrases.)

Here’s the idea. If Jill is against transgender biological males – with all the massive advantages a male puberty, years of testosterone coursing through the body, muscle twitch speed, etc. give them – competing against biological females and ruining women’s sports, well don’t argue with her. Call her a ‘hater’. Or if Jack objects to quotas for good jobs or university places, even under today’s insidious guise of ‘diversity and equity’, well he must be a ‘hater’ too. Ditto anyone who wanted to stop self-styled refugees coming here by boat. And so on.

And wouldn’t you know it? One of the biggest threats to free speech in the West – and by that I mean the free speech of any of us who are not possessed of a progressive, inner-San Francisco set of sensibilities – is Big Tech and its incredible censorship of anyone to the right of, well, them. So if you hold, say, 90 per cent of the views that JFK held, or Bob Hawke held, or even Eleanor Roosevelt held, these Big Tech guys will feel free to censor and cancel you. Ending this pseudo-corporate oversight of speech has to be the biggest goal of any incoming Republican administration and Senate and House after the 2024 election. (And yes, I say this knowing our Prime Minister laughably does not believe free speech ever created a single job and hasn’t quite got his mind around such notions as ‘the presumption of innocence’.)

Now as some people think it is perfectly fine for Twitter to hush up the Hunter Biden laptop scandal and to have cancelled indefinitely the account of former president Trump (and congresswoman Majorie Taylor Greene, and writer Alex Berenson, and the Project Veritas organisation, and James O’Keefe, the list goes on and on but only on the right side of politics I assure you) while leaving open those of such upstanding figures as the mullahs in Iran and the despots in China, let me point to a different example. Take the very funny US website Babylon Bee. It’s a conservative Christian site (full disclosure, I’m conservative but also an atheist, albeit one who read the whole King James Bible and loved parts of it). Not only is this site vastly funnier in a day than anything you’ll see or hear on the ABC over a ten-year period, it deals in biting irony and spoofs.

When the USA Today newspaper recently named Joe Biden’s assistant secretary for health, the transgender Dr Rachel Levine, as one of its ‘women of the year’, the Babylon Bee the next day named Levine its ‘man of the year’. Funny, right? And if it offends someone, well that’s part and parcel of life in a vibrant democracy. I can attest to being called a lot worse things than that, over many years. But if you’re some San Francisco Big Tech employee this is just too much. Twitter immediately locked the account of Babylon Bee, despite its huge audience. Why? It was hateful said Twitter. Babylon Bee refused to apologise or take down its tweet. It remains banned. When Charlie Kirk noted that Levine spent 54 years of his life as a man and had had a wife and a family that too was deemed hateful and a violation of Twitter rules warranting censorship. When Tucker Carlson pointed out that what Kirk said was 100 per cent true, well, you guessed it. Hateful. Also suspended. This is bonkers, right?  These jumped-up sanctimonious little twits on the US West Coast running Big Tech, hipsters who haven’t met a person since high school with political views to the right of Bernie Saunders, are willy-nilly censoring and cancelling people because of legal protections put in place a few decades ago to let the internet expand and grow. These have to be changed. There are plenty of options from amending or repealing Section 230 to forcing old phone company-type ‘common carrier’ rules on them to, well, nationalising them all. (Bad for efficiency and innovation, yes, but then at least the 1st Amendment would apply and the censoring would stop, a net win I think.)

Look, the US Pew Survey last month (and it is no friend to conservatives) found that 3 per cent of Americans sent 90 per cent of tweets. Under 8 per cent of the country is active on Twitter, and these people lean Democrat by a whopping +15 points.   Worse, 92 per cent of all tweets were/are sent by 10 per cent of users. These active users lean left or Democrat by an incredible +43 points.

That’s two or three standard deviations to the left of the US’s political median voter, a bit like the crowd that votes for the mayor of Berkeley or the dean of a university’s women’s studies department. That’s the sewer of Twitter; that’s the outlet that scares our idiotic conservative politicians so witless (or more witless I suppose, to be accurate). And if you object to having lefty lunacy rammed down your throat? Apparently you’re a hater my friend. My advice? Embrace the term. Laugh at these morons.

And start fighting back, including by electing those who will.

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