Ever since “political correctness” jumped into mainstream public discourse as first a threat against higher education, then against free speech everywhere, and – with Trump’s campaign – a threat against the very security of our nation, I’ve been making one argument: Power matters.
- Mostly, it’s not a problem when marginalized people ask for others to use less pejorative language.
- Mostly, it’s not a problem when people ask to be warned before confronted with traumatic or upsetting words and images.
- When it is problematic, or even just annoying, it only becomes a speech issue when coupled with a power dynamic that enforces language edicts.
- Such power is most likely to reside among conservative (political and cultural) forces in our society.
Attorney Andrea Burton was defending a client in court this past Friday, when JudgeRobert Milich of the Youngstown Municipal Court noticed her wearing a Black Lives Matter pin the size of a nickel. He asked her to remove the pin but she refused, resulting in Milich instructing the bailiffs to take Burton into custody for contempt.According to a news report from WKNB First News, Burton was forced to leave her client behind.
That’s what censorship looks like – the power of the state being used to limit freedom of speech.