Josh Barro is a reporter at The New York Times an MSNBC contributor, or, in other words, a “Progressive”. He’s getting all sorts of pushback over the following tweets, made this morning:
He later makes clear that he simply means to suppress expressing one’s opinions on the subject of sexuality, specifically LGBT sexuality, that differ from his own… to belittle, as a society, any dissent from groupthink.
I’ve spoken on this before, and suffered the consequences, but I’d rather stand for my principles than just “go along to get along.”
It may surprise you to hear that I am, at least partially, in agreement with Mr. Barro. I do believe we should be as accepting as possible of people as they present themselves to be. If a man prefers to lie with a man, what is that to me? It affects me in no way. However, my choosing not to express my befuddlement why a man would want to do that is my conscious choice, but if I felt strongly enough against the practice or someone flat out asked my opinion, I should be confident enough that there would be no undue reprisals that I would speak my mind.
My disagreement with Mr. Barro comes with the judgmental attitude that he has. Granted, it’s just his opinion, it has no force in law or anything, but he’s suggesting the collective “we” should all band together and shame people who express objectionable opinions into not speaking. He’s suggesting people like himself should be able to control the discussion. He’s suggesting that people with whom disagree with him should shut up.
We’ve come a long way from Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
There’s a difference between disagreeing with someone, finding someone’s views reprehensible, and actively seeking to stifle free speech. In the first example, I disagree with Mr. Barro. In the second, I find practically everything coming out of Westboro Baptist Church to be detestable apostasy. Then there’s Mr. Barro’s assertion that we should somehow suppress or censor or otherwise eliminate speech he disagrees with.
In the first two cases, I hold that both have every right to think and to say whatever they say without reasonable fear of reprisals. I won’t call for Mr. Barro to be fired or imprisoned or killed to otherwise mistreated because I do not agree with him, because I am civil and because he has a Constitutional right to his beliefs. Would I enjoy meeting him and sharing a drink with him? I doubt it. That is the extent to which I would reproach Mr. Barro.
And who would decide what is permissible and impermissible in this new groupthink? Mr. Barro? Me? You? If people are not free to speak their minds, we descend, ultimately, into the kind of new Fascism that Mr. barrio and his ilk represent.