I’m certain the thought police believe Jon Gruden’s resignation is a major victory in the long campaign for individual liberty. I’m also certain those same people would label me racist, homophobic, and whatever else for disagreeing with The Narrative, but this is simply another erosion of individual liberty.
First off, let’s be clear. Political policies that are targeted at specific ethnic groups to inflict pain are examples of racism. So are cops murdering unarmed black men. Gay people being beaten to death simply for their sexuality is an example of homophobia. People being denied opportunities because of their gender or threatened for their religious preferences are instances of hate. These actions must not be tolerated in a free society that seeks equality, and any expression that openly calls for these actions to be taken is clearly a form of hate speech.
However, mean words do not equate to hate speech. Saying a phrase that evokes a negative emotional response is not the same as calling for violent or discriminatory actions. If someone despises people with freckles, that person might come up a colorful expression to insult that group, such as “freckled face freak.” This saying, regardless of how distasteful, how emotionally hurtful, how ugly it might be, does not by itself call for any specific action to be taken against those with freckles. It merely expresses an idea of dislike. A dislike, even one couched in hate, should not be censored or restricted. It should be defeated by superior ideas.
In a nation defined by liberty, freedom of expression is paramount for a healthy democracy. Everyone needs to feel entitled to express their ideas, even unpopular, ugly ones in order for the best ones to rise to the surface. Censoring ideas and making certain words taboo doesn’t diminish hate or increase tolerance. In fact it often breeds resentment. Another way of thinking about is this: if you aren’t willing to afford those you disagree with the right to express themselves, how can you possibly expect to receive the same right yourself?
As far as Jon Gruden goes, I’ll close with this: I doubt very seriously that Darren Waller sees him as a racist. I doubt that the environment within the Raiders organization was homophobic because of Carl Nassib. Those emails contained some awful expressions that reveal immaturity and a foul mouth, but not discrimination or active violence against any group. And that’s an extremely important distinction that seems lost on the thought police.