Sunday, May 31, 2015

Blindfolds and Trigger Warnings

One’s first inclination is to laugh – laugh heartily or perhaps in despair – at the idea that college students, or students of any kind, require “trigger warnings” that they will encounter “upsetting” material in the books they are reading. I nearly laughed out loud when I read an article, which is linked in a Daniel Greenfield book review of a title produced by an especially repulsive writer, David K. Shipler. Greenfield wrote in “Shameless Liar: The Strange Dishonest World of David K. Shipler”:

Freedom of Speech [Shipler’s book] instead sets out an imaginary struggle in which the conservatives are censors while those on the left are defenders of free speech. There are bad parents who think their children shouldn’t be assigned novels filled with graphic sexual acts and good leftist teachers who teach children that free enterprise is evil. It’s a comfortable lefty talking point from a few generations ago.

Today books with sexual content are censored by social justice warriors who demand trigger warnings or object to heteronormative content. The final frontier for censoring novels isn’t the PTA; it’s angry students at colleges demanding trigger warnings for The Great Gatsby and Lolita.

The linked article of April 14th is on Inside Higher Ed, “Oberlin backs down on ‘trigger warnings’ for professors who teach sensitive material.” Its author, Colleen Flaherty wrote: 

Trigger warnings, which are common in blogs but also have begun to appear on college and university syllabuses, are supposed to signal to readers that forthcoming material may be uncomfortable or upsetting. Trigger warned-subject matter – in literature, films or other texts – usually relates to sexual assault and other kinds of violence, racism, and the like, and advocates say students have a right to know of sensitive material in advance.

It saves our short-attention span smitten students the trouble of actually reading a book, don’t you see? Better to strain ones neck reading one’s iPod, or iPhone.

But some critics of trigger warnings say that higher education is rooted in confronting uncomfortable ideas and experiences. And more practically, critics say, it’s nearly impossible in classes with students with differing sensibilities to define what deserves a trigger warning.

How did Oberlin define a “trigger” or a “trigger warning”?

“Triggers are not only relevant to sexual misconduct, but also to anything that might cause trauma,” the policy said. “Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression. Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.” The policy said that “anything could be a trigger,” and advised professors to “[r]emove triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals.”

Oberlin later “tabled the policy” because its faculty complained it wasn’t consulted on its content and recommendations. After all, how could they indoctrinate their students in the Marxist/Progressive litany of capitalist crimes of “of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression” if they had to preface every mention of Western “crimes” and “cultural imperialism” with a warning?

Given the lack of consensus on trigger warnings in the classroom, it was perhaps unsurprising that the extensive trigger warning policy Oberlin College published in its Sexual Offense Resource Guide proved controversial earlier this academic year. Faculty members criticized the policy from within, saying it had been drafted largely without their input, even though they stood on the front lines of such a policy….

“This section of the resource guide is currently under revision, after thoughtful discussion on campus suggested that some changes could make the guide more useful for faculty,” Meredith Raimondo, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and co-chair of the Sexual Offense Policy Task Force, said via email. “As the resource guide has always stated, the task force values both academic freedom and support for survivors of sexualized violence. We do not see these as contradictory projects, but rather that both are necessary to create an appropriately challenging and effective learning environment.” Oberlin’s sexual offense policy page for faculty contains a similar message under the heading “How can I make my classroom more inclusive for survivors of sexualized violence?”

The Higher Ed article reported that most of the Oberlin faculty, which initially endorsed such a policy, realized that to adhere to such a policy would render teaching anything virtually impossible. A teacher would need the faculty of omniscience to know the “sensitivities” and “trauma” potentialities of his students to pen such “trigger warnings” to his syllabus. Were it the subject of study, the violence in The Old Testament of the Bible would require ten or twenty dozen “trigger warnings,” as well as the seduction scenes in Alfred HItchcock’s North by Northwest, in one of which Eva Marie Saint is being seduced by Cary Grant, who says he might murder her, and she says, “Please do.”

It would be enough to drive a gay or LGBT student up the wall and cause it seek therapy, or seek some form of medicinal relief, and plummet it to the deepest depths of depression to see heterosexuals flaunting their cultural “privilege” and sexual hegemony so shamelessly.

Meghan Daum, in her Los Angeles Times article of April 3rd, 2014, “Why ‘trigger warnings’? We already live in a hair-trigger world,” reported:

Academia has always been an easy target for mockery. Henry Kissinger observed that university politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low, and one logical extension is that liberal arts departments are steeped in self-importance precisely because their impact on the "real world" is negligible.

Ergo, the recent campus phenomenon known as the "trigger warning." Originating on certain feminist, self-help and social activist blogs, trigger warnings are meant to inform readers that the ensuing material deals with subjects, such as war or sexual violence, that might upset those suffering from post-traumatic stress related to those issues….

Now the practice is creeping toward liberal arts syllabi. The UC Santa Barbara student Senate recently passed a resolution calling for professors to label potentially upsetting course material and even excuse "triggered" students from some classes. Oberlin College in Ohio has already implemented such guidelines, advising instructors not to assign triggering material at all unless it's directly relevant to the lesson.

Distressing as such potential incursions on academic freedom and inquiry may be, the real trend here may not be trigger warnings but the torrent of outrage they've set off. They're ripe for bemused chatter, to say the least. A New Republic article supplied a list of warning-worthy triggers: bullying, sizism, ablism, transphobia, slut shaming, alcohol and (seriously) animals in wigs. In December, Slate declared 2013 "the year of the trigger warning." Even the satirical Onion has been called out for failing to warn readers about disturbing content in fake stories.

Yes, “trigger warnings” are eminently susceptible to ribaldry and mockery, but the fact that such an issue even arises in the ivy of politically correctness that currently chokes the halls of academe should serve as a signal that students and teachers alike are thriving on the nonsense.

Michael Rubin, in his Commentary Magazine article, “I need a Trigger Warning on Trigger Warnings” of May 6th, 2015,  treats trigger warnings with the contempt they deserve.

I have to admit, the first time I heard about trigger warnings, I thought they were a joke. In short, trigger warnings assume that students are so infantile that they cannot handle classroom discussion or themes in great literature that push them beyond their comfort zone. Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (about whose work I previously blogged here), discusses trigger warnings in Freedom from Speech, his new Encounter Broadside booklet:

In May 2014, the New York Times called attention to a new arrival on the college campus: trigger warnings. Seemingly overnight, colleges and universities across America have begun fielding student demands that their professors issue content warnings before covering any material that might evoke a negative emotional response…. By way of illustration, the Times article pointed to a Rutgers’ student’s op-ed requesting trigger warnings for The Great Gatsby, which apparently “possesses a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence.”

Rubin later in his piece sends up trigger warnings in a paragraph full of trigger warnings, ending with:

Trigger warnings, even if well intentioned, might remind them of this oppressive and sometimes lethal political correctness and cause undue stress. Accordingly, in order to protect the mental well-being of those who value liberty, intellectual freedom, and oppose censorship, perhaps it’s time to agree to put trigger warnings ahead of trigger warnings to ensure that no one is inadvertently stressed out by the decline in mental and intellectual maturity and the infantilization of society which trigger warnings represent.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP)) reported in August 2014 in “On Trigger Warnings”:

A current threat to academic freedom in the classroom comes from a demand that teachers provide warnings in advance if assigned material contains anything that might trigger difficult emotional responses for students.  This follows from earlier calls not to offend students’ sensibilities by introducing material that challenges their values and beliefs….

As one report noted, at Wellesley College students objected to "a sculpture of a man in his underwear because it might be a source of 'triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault.' While the [students’] petition acknowledged that the sculpture might not disturb everyone on campus, it insisted that we share a 'responsibility to pay attention to and attempt to answer the needs of all of our community members.' Even after the artist explained that the figure was supposed to be sleepwalking, students continued to insist it be moved indoors."

The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual.  It makes comfort a higher priority than intellectual engagement and—as the Oberlin list demonstrates—it singles out politically controversial topics like sex, race, class, capitalism, and colonialism for attention. 

Jennifer Medina in her May 2014 New York Times article, “The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm,” also noted:

Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans. The warnings, which have their ideological roots in feminist thought, have gained the most traction at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where the student government formally called for them. But there have been similar requests from students at Oberlin College, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, George Washington University and other schools....

The most vociferous criticism has focused on trigger warnings for materials that have an established place on syllabuses across the country. Among the suggestions for books that would benefit from trigger warnings are Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” (contains anti-Semitism) and Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” (addresses suicide)….

“Frankly it seems this is sort of an inevitable movement toward people increasingly expecting physical comfort and intellectual comfort in their lives,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit group that advocates free speech. “It is only going to get harder to teach people that there is a real important and serious value to being offended. Part of that is talking about deadly serious and uncomfortable subjects.”

The New Republic also weighed in on the subject here, making many of the same points about “shielding students’ psyches” from “uncomfortable” or “traumatizing” literary and even cinematic content in the classroom and in readings.

I wonder how many “trigger warnings” would be required for students reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead that there is a rape scene in the novel (which Rand called “rape by engraved invitation”). On the side of the sexual assault coin is the rampage of rapes by ISIS on Yazidis and other non-Muslim women. But then, in today’s universities, Rand’s novels are not studied, and criticizing Islam is out of the question, as well.

My own hypothesis about the newly ubiquitous phenomena of “trigger warnings” is that that they are a direct result of the McDonald’s “hot coffee” lawsuit and similar lawsuits that followed it. That lawsuit resulted a huge “compensatory” award to the “victim” of scalding hot coffee. The LectLaw site has some interesting information on the case:

Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was in the passenger seat of her grandson's car when she was severely burned by McDonalds' coffee in February 1992. Liebeck, 79 at the time, ordered coffee that was served in a Styrofoam cup at the drive-through window of a local McDonalds.

After receiving the order, the grandson pulled his car forward and stopped momentarily so that Liebeck could add cream and sugar to her coffee. (Critics of civil justice, who have pounced on this case, often charge that Liebeck was driving the car or that the vehicle was in motion when she spilled the coffee; neither is true.) Liebeck placed the cup between her knees and attempted to remove the plastic lid from the cup. As she removed the lid, the entire contents of the cup spilled into her lap. The sweatpants Liebeck was wearing absorbed the coffee and held it next to her skin. A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body, including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas.

So, instead of setting the Styrofoam cup on her arm rest, or on the dashboard, or opening the glove compartment in front of her and placing the cup on the swing-open door to add her cream and sugar, she placed it between her knees. Naturally, this would require a bit of a squeeze by her knees to keep the cup steady, even were the car not moving. Naturally, the liquid would exert pressure on the plastic lid.  A sudden jolt would result in a caffeine eruption from the cup. Duh! This is carelessness with a capital C.

Liebeck might retort: “But I didn’t think of doing that! It’s McDonald’s fault I didn’t think! I shouldn’t have to think!”

And there’s your problem with product liability suits and “consumer” protection laws and warning labels on especially food packaging: It’s all devised to appeal to people who are habitually or congenitally non-thinkers, to stay the hands of the stupid, to deter the actions of the dense, and for companies to protect or insulate themselves from ruinous lawsuits by the thoughtless and their conniving lawyers.

There are now countless “trigger warnings” on food packaging, such as, “Caution: Product will be hot!” and “Lift lid carefully. It’s hot!” especially on microwavable snacks and entrĂ©es. Which is in the way of obviating the whole purpose of heating the meal in the first place. Such warnings seem addressed to anyone with a short-term memory who has forgotten the nature of heat.  These are in addition to the superfluous advisories to wait one or five minutes for the “product to complete cooking” after a microwaving, when it will sit in a microwave oven daring you to reach inside and touch the product before it cools to a presumably scientifically measured temperature and to a minimal point of tactile tolerance. Otherwise, you would presumably cook your fingers.

I must confess that I’ve squeezed a Styrofoam cup more than once and saw the liquid spill onto my Chicken McNuggets (but never into my lap). I’ve also been so drowsy in the morning that I’ve tried to brush my teeth with shaving cream and lather my face with toothpaste. I blame Barbasol and Crest for not providing me with “trigger warnings.” Those episodes of semi-consciousness cost me irreparable mental anguish.

I’m sure there are countless lovers of Marie Callender’s chicken pot pies who, without the trigger
warning that’s not only on the packaging, but on the pie wrapping itself, would thoughtlessly reach with their bare fingers into a steaming, freshly nuked pie and blame Marie Callender for their pains.

Perhaps drawings of Mohammad should come with “trigger warnings” for Muslims. “Caution! Visual contact with this picture may offend and traumatize you and make you so unconformable that you may become homicidal!” But, do Muslims really need “trigger fingers” for anything?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hate Crimes vs. Hate Speech: A False Dichotomy

“Thoughtcrime is death. Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death. I have committed even before setting pen to paper the essential crime that contains all others unto itself.” Winston Smith, Nineteen Eighty-Four*

I was alerted to the renewed assault on freedom of speech by a Jihad Watch article by Robert Spencer of May 26th, “Half of Democrats support laws curtailing the freedom of speech.” He opens with:

The problems with this should be obvious, and it’s a sign of the fix we’re in that they aren’t. Who decides what speech is “intended to stir up hatred against a particular group”? Islamic supremacist groups such as Hamas-linked CAIR and other “Islamophobia”-mongers relentlessly claim that foes of jihad terror and Sharia supremacism are stirring up hatred against Muslims. This charge is entirely baseless, as any Muslim who sincerely rejects jihad terror and the imposition of Sharia in the West should be standing with us, and is welcome to do so.

But the key question here is, who decides? The allies and friends of those who believe, or claim to believe, that it is “inciting hatred” to oppose jihad terror and Sharia supremacism are in the corridors of power. If the Democrats succeed in criminalizing “hate speech,” there is no doubt that it will become illegal to speak honestly about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat, and the jihadis will be able to advance unimpeded. [Italics mine]

Here is the article of May 20th from UGOV from which Spencer quotes:

Since 1994 people convicted of federal crimes motivated by the 'actual or perceived' identity of victims have faced tougher sentences. Many other states had passed 'hate crime' statutes in earlier years, and in recent years many states have been adopting laws which make crimes motivated by the victim's sexual orientation of gender identity hate crimes which face tougher sentences, something the federal government did in 2009. Unlike much of the rest of the developed world, however, the United States does not make it a criminal offense for people to make statements which encourage hatred of particular groups. For example a prominent British columnist, Katie Hopkins, is being investigated by the police for referring to African migrants crossing the Mediterranean as 'cockroaches'.

YouGov's latest research shows that many Americans support making it a criminal offense to make public statements which would stir up hatred against particular groups of people. Americans narrowly support (41%) rather than oppose (37%) criminalizing hate speech, but this conceals a partisan divide. Most Democrats (51%) support criminalizing hate speech, with only 26% opposed. Independents (41% to 35%) and Republicans (47% to 37%) tend to oppose making it illegal to stir up hatred against particular groups….

When it comes to crimes motivated by hatred, most Americans do back the current federal hate crime laws, including the expanded definition of hate crime passed in 2009. 56% of Americans back the federal law mandating tougher penalties for cimes motivated by race, religion or gender, and 51% support expanding that to include sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Democrats (68%) tend to be much more supportive of the law than either independents and Republicans. Republicans (38% to 39%) are split over the expanded definition of hate crime, while independent tend to support (46%) rather than oppose (28%) it. 

And one of the questions in the survey was whether respondents supported or opposed “the federal law which expands existing federal hate crime law to apply to crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability?”

Although the survey results are interesting, the percentages are irrelevant. I subscribe to the “Fifty million Frenchmen can be as wrong as one” school of deciding whether or not  something is right, or whether or not  something exists, or whether or not  something ought to be. That is, I do not make value judgments or act on a consensus. I base my decisions and conclusions on the evidence of my own senses, and not on the collective opinion of countless, anonymous others.

According to Wikipedia, “The modern era of hate-crime legislation began in 1968 with the passage of federal statute, 18 U.S. 245, part of the Civil Rights Act which made it illegal to "by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone who is engaged in six specified protected activities, by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin." However, "The prosecution of such crimes must be certified by the U.S. attorney general."

The Leadership Conference site on hate crime legislation cites the

Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act of 1994
Originally introduced by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as freestanding legislation, the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act was enacted into law as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Pursuant to the Act, the United States Sentencing Commission established a sentencing enhancement of "not less than 3 offense levels for [federal] offenses that the finder of fact at trial determines beyond a reasonable doubt are hate crimes." The enhancement defines a hate crime as "a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person." In other words, sentences imposed on defendants convicted of federal crimes may be substantially increased if the crime is found to be motivated by bias. This measure--which covers only federal crimes--applies, for example, to bias-motivated attacks and vandalism that occur in national parks and on other Federal property. This enhancement took effect on November 1, 1995. [Italics mine]

The notion of hate crimes has been troublesome for me ever since it was introduced. I couple it with the phenomenon of hate speech. The two notions are intimately – nay, intrinsically linked. For if one thinks a politically incorrect or criminalized thought, the assumption is that one will likely act on it. Ergo, the speech police must discourage, frustrate, and even censor speech before it could possibly entice the speaker to commit a violent crime. And if a hate crime is committed, then the penalty for it must be made more severe than if one committed the crime for banal reasons (e.g., committing a murder in the course of another felony, or just holding up a bank or a convenience store for “mere” money).

Linked in the USGOV story was an International Business Times story about Katie Hopkins, a British writer who characterized in her Sun newspaper column the hundreds of “migrants” from North Africa crossing the Mediterranean in boats to Italy and Europe as “cockroaches.” The Have a LIttle Faith site provided a more extensive quotation from the Sun article: 

Katie wrote in the Sun newspaper that instead of rescue boats helping migrants, there should in fact be gun ships. She refers to migrants as “a plague of feral humans” and likened them to cockroaches. She suggests we take the “Australian approach” of “threaten[ing] them with violence until they bugger off, throwing cans of Castlemaine in an Aussie version of Sharia stoning,” a statement which manages to be offensive to Australians, Muslims and migrants all in one.

Of course, liberal/left blog sites like The Huffington Post climbed on board the let’s-get-Hopkins fried-and-fired train. Regardless, however, of what one thinks of her remarks, should Hopkins be punished for speaking her mind? Is it the Sun newspaper’s option or is it “society’s” to determine her career status? Suppose I called all the illegal immigrants pouring into the U.S. from Mexico “cockroaches”? Or, better yet, “termites” meant to undermine the country and to solidify the Democratic voting bloc in this country for decades to come, as Obama intended all along? Should we gag Ann Coulter for alleging that one of the purposes of the border invasion is to achieve the “browning” of America, and force her to perform “community” service in an orange jump suit? Should the government shut down Rule of Reason for printing my “provocative” speech, or threaten other sites to refrain from reprinting my remarks on pain of financial or other penalties? For a detailed exchange between Coulter and her inadequate Fusion host, go to Salon here, or read her Point column about the Fusion interview here.

The Orwell quotation that opens this column is pertinent. The key part of it is the essential crime that contains all others unto itself. Wikipedia lists other terms that occur in Orwell’s dystopian novel.

Crimestop means to rid oneself of unwanted thoughts, i.e., thoughts that interfere with the ideology of the Party. This way, a person avoids committing thoughtcrime…. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.”

A voluntarily self-imposed protective stupidity, to be more precise. To dwell on unorthodox thoughts is crimethink. At the moment, Muslims seem to be the only observable group, aside from the MSM, to follow a regime of crimethink and presumably engage in crimestop. They do not question the basic, fundamental tenets of Islam, do acknowledge that some of what its adherents do is really awful, but stop short of blaming Islam itself. They don’t wish to commit hate speech. They do not wish to risk the charge of blasphemy. They do not wish to question the politically correct orthodoxy that Islam has been “hijacked” by monsters. They not wish to suggest, let alone say it explicitly, that Islam by its nature inculcates monsters and that monsters are all we can expect from Islam.

Imagine having a serious discussion with Joe Biden about Aristotelian philosophy. No? With Shirley Jackson Lee of Texas? I can hear the raspberries.

Or with Barack Obama on the golf course. “All I know is,” he’d say, “is that when I hit the ball, it goes somewhere. Not always where I want it to go. That’s metaphysics for you. Unreliable. Usually it’s in complete conflict with my epistemological expectations and desires.”

Want to call that “hate speech”? Go right ahead. It’s called satire. And I haven’t seen a flattering political cartoon of Obama in, well, years. Why aren’t those cartoonists in jail for having provoked enmity towards Obama? They’ve done violence to his reputation and credibility. Of reputation, he has carloads; of credibility, it amounts to a rusted Chevy sitting on cinder blocks in the Arkansas hinterland.

Back to the essential crime that contains all others unto itself. Imagine that I shot a rabbi, or a priest, or even an imam. Why would I shoot a cleric? Is it relevant why? Perhaps I found the cleric’s garb “provocative.” Perhaps he flipped me off some time in the past. Perhaps he shouted at me in front of witnesses that I was as thick as a brick. Anyway, the sight of him was personally offensive. But the motive, if objective law was adhered to, would be irrelevant. I committed a capital crime: first degree murder, aggravated assault, premeditated murder, whatever. Before the introduction of exception-making in criminal jurisprudence to protect specific groups, the physical crime was all that I would be tried and convicted for. I initiated force against another man. I murdered or wounded him. That’s the crime, and that’s all that would be to it.

My motive would not have been criminalized. My animus for clerics and my thinking about shooting the cleric would not have been criminalized. The contents of my mind would not have been the subject of criminal legislation. My motive likely would have been used by the prosecution and defense to explain why I shot the cleric, but my motive would not have been on trial. Just my provable, demonstrable actions. Atheistic or anti-cleric or Islamophobic literature might have been found by the police in my home, on my computer, or buried in the back yard – or there might have been no such literature at all to find.

Let’s change the scenario a wrinkle. Suppose I was a Muslim and I was offended by visual representations of Mohammad, or I was told by my American mullah or imam that I ought to be offended. I go to the magazine that’s published some really “provocatively” offensive images of Mohammad and shoot the staff. Or I go to Garland, Texas, and try to shoot everyone attending a conference held to celebrate the drawing of Mohammad. All those people deserved to die, I think, they were out to get my goat. Or my ewe. They were exploiting the phobia Americans have about Islam. About me.

Knowing that depictions of Mohammad are forbidden in Islam by the faithful and by the unbelievers wherever they live, they deliberately set out to provoke me! Taunt me! Dare me! I’m shot and wounded by a single policeman before I can do anything. The press and TV reporters learn I’m a Muslim. Possibly deranged, possibly not. A little strain of sympathy is felt for me. I couldn’t help but react the way I did. My religion was being mocked! My icon of a perfect man was being denigrated and slandered! Overwhelming hostility is felt for Pamela Geller and everyone having anything to do with scheduling and holding and participating in the Draw Mohammad conference. Geller and her fellow provocateurs ought to have known what the consequences would be. I would show up, or someone else. That’s what everyone would be saying. Wave a red cape at a bull and the bull’s going to charge. Don’t wave the red cape, and the bull will lie down beneath the press box to bask in the sun and dream of Pamplona.

Or of enlisting in ISIS.

Didn’t these freedom-of-speech fanatics know that? But they did know it! They boast of it! They were not practicing responsible free speech. They consciously set out to provoke me! I didn’t have to look at the drawings, no one forced me to. But I’m a product of my Islamic environment, and I can't help but look and be offended. I have no volitional consciousness. How do I know they deliberately provoked me? I just know it. I can’t help it if they choose to incite hatred against me and my faith!

The press and TV anchors, politicians, Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly don’t much examine my motives. But they put Geller’s motives through the wringer. They also insinuated that the Charlie Hebdo staff had it coming to them. They further insinuate that had I not forgotten to thumb off the safety on my gun, Geller and Bosch Fawstin and Robert Spencer would have had it coming to them, too.

Spencer reported that a gaggle of Democrats are all for passing laws that would restrict freedom of speech, to make it more “responsible.” Of course, as a consequence, speech would no longer be “free,” but regulated. Which would mean that thought would be regulated. If you have a thought, and must express it in a way deemed acceptable and proper according to some authority’s criteria, and there are penalties for not meeting those criteria, how free can thinking be, either? Before you set hand to keyboard or brush to an easel, you must indulge in crimestop before you commit crimethink, or “hate speech” or a hate crime. You must vet yourself before letting the speech police can vet your speech.

Which can easily lead to thoughtcrime.

It would be wrong to call this petit totalitarianism. It is totalitarianism pure and simple.

Sean Gabb in his May 2012 essay, “Another Surveillance Law: One More Step towards the Big Brother State,” published in The Barrister, in discussing the rise of the “soft” but no less insidious police state in Britain, the kind that is “investigating” Katie Hopkins and her “cockroaches” remarks, noted:

….A police state is less about enforcement than control. Its function is to make a ruling class irresistible when robbing and oppressing, or when imposing its utopian fantasies. If people can be made to obey without being clubbed to death in a police cell, why bother with violence? There is no British Gestapo or KGB or Stasi, because our own police state rests on a foundation of changes of investigatory and criminal procedure and of omnipresent surveillance. When people know that they are being watched in all that they do, and when they know that stepping over some invisible line will put them to great inconvenience and expense, they will change their behavior and their attitudes to authority.

But, back to my enraged and offended Muslim scenario and my fumbled attempt to impose Sharia Law on Geller and her provocateurs. I’m finally put on trial for an attempted act of terrorism. I’m convicted of attempted murder and nothing else. My defense counsel protests and I protest: But…but what about my religion? What about my motive? This isn’t fair! You’re just sentencing me for carrying a gun with the intent to kill some people! Sure, I was about to commit a hate crime, but that should be in my favor, because I’m a persecuted minority! And oppressed. And anti-Islamophobia! This is more evidence of my oppression, judging me by my mere actions, and not by my motives! Geller and her provocateurs are guilty of a hate crime, too! They entrapped me!

Let’s turn that around. It is but a few tentative, mincing steps from treating a physical, demonstrable crime and bundling it with one’s motive or the contents of one’s mind and packaging it as a whole. Which is what is being done today.

Blaming Pamela Geller  et al. for the violence in Garland, Texas, and deeming the Draw Mohammad contest and event a deliberate “provocation,” and illegal and a crime, is what the government and the MSM are coyly, if not vociferously, sidling up to, a British- or European-style power to fetter and regulate freedom of speech – a.k.a., censorship.

If ever legislated, that will be the end of America.

*Part I, Chapter 1, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the complete text. University of Adelaide.