Hate-speech and Renee

One night in Paris; Francois-Marie pondered, as was his wont to do. It was 1756. He stared at the blank page before him, took his quill, dipped it with ink and began one of the more profound essays in the history of western thought, so profound that in the space of just one paragraph he penned two timeless and remarkable truths upon the fragility of reason and the danger of absurdity. Truths that would be consistently ignored; right up and into the 21st century. He wrote:

“Once your beliefs persuade you to believe what your intelligence declares to be absurd, beware, lest you likewise sacrifice your reason in the conduct of your life. In days gone by, there were people who said to us: “You believe in incomprehensible, contradictory and impossible things because we have commanded you to; now then, commit unjust acts because we likewise order you to do so.” Nothing could be more convincing. Certainly anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.”  

The latter sentence has become more famous in an embellished version substituting the word ‘atrocities’ for ‘injustices’, that is not what Francois-Marie said, although plentiful evidence exists for the amended statement’s accuracy in its own right.

The truth of Francois-Marie’s writings are  playing out in front of us, here in New Zealand, a place Francois-Marie (who wrote under the pen-name: ‘Voltaire’) could not have known the landscape of; yet he understood the landscape of human thinking extremely well.

Renee Gerlich is intelligent, articulate and talented. An advocate for women’s rights, actual women’s actual rights, whose voice is being shut down, her posters celebrating 125 years since female suffrage torn down, and the poster-billing company harassed.

Just when we thought we were living in the 21st century, just when we thought it was safe for a woman to step out and celebrate in her own way for her own sex, to rejoice in winning hard-fought rights, along come a lynch-mob to shut her down in a way that’s becoming routine here in Gods Own Country; with finger-pointing, bullying, the attendant and now de rigueur claims of ‘hate speech’, and allegations of thought-crimes.

Renee is attacked by her detractors with clichés torn straight from the language of absurdity “The core issue was not the posters themselves, but Gerlich’s blog…It’s a platform for what we see as hate speech…her blog is full of incredibly harmful words.”  In it Gerlich “criticises a lack of voices in media from gender critical feminists on gender identity, while saying the promotion of gender self-identification was constant.”

Whatever does that mean? It means four things; it means Renee believes the perfectly reasonable, but unutterable notion, that a woman is a woman, and it means that Renee has to give up, she does not have means to defeat the mob baying at her doorstep, it means absurdity defeats reason, as Voltaire warned, if we accept absurd notions, and it means injustice prevails when reason fails: “Free speech battle brews between feminist and trans-activist groups“.

There is a common theme developing amongst all the anti-free-speech clusters; all it takes is a claim of hurt-feelings from ‘harmful words’ which are, in reality, simply a challenge to their fragile concepts and beliefs, and they feel justified in threatening, bullying and abusing those they accuse of thought crimes.

It’s a real shame the easily-offended don’t seem to be able to exercise their energies developing an intelligent counter-argument to thoughts they find challenging, but, then again, why bother with a civilised response when mob-rule, shouting, slandering, bullying and threatening works so very, very well?

Certainly; anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.


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Living in Wellington idbkiwi is self-employed in a non-governmental role which suits his masochistic tendencies. He watches very little television, preferring to read or research, but still subscribes to the daily paper despite his distillation of dismay and disappointment at the very low standards of the modern press on every opening of the awful rag.

He is married, to an obviously very unfortunate woman, and has a family who allegedly loves him despite his right-wing nut-job views on life and the meaning of. He believes laughter is the best medicine for whatever ails you, closely, very closely, followed by wine. He hopes to reach retirement, both alive and eventually.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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