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Is Political Correctness out of control?

Is Political Correctness out of control?

Free speech is a like a leopard, spotty, not like a zebra, black or white. If you demand it, you should be the first to defend allowing it to others.

Is Political Correctness out of control?

By Louis A. Coutts*

Recently, quite a remarkable person (the developer of JavaScript, Brendan Eich), was appointed CEO of the Mozilla organisation, which makes the Firefox web browser.

In 2008 he had donated $1000 to a movement opposing the gay marriage proposal in California.

No sooner had the word spread that he had been appointed Mozilla CEO (and as you know, these days of internet it spreads with the speed of light) than gay rights people vented their outrage with the result that he apologized and resigned.

Now, I would have to say that gay marriages don’t worry me. I am not gay and therefore have no insight into the emotional views of gay couples. However, as they feel desperately that they want to marry I believe that the law should not prevent them from doing so.


Nevertheless, I can understand that people can and do have a different view which is a projection of their personal beliefs. In a civilized society it is essential that we preserve the right to free speech provided we do not insult people for their race or religious beliefs. It was Voltaire who made the famous remark “I disagree with what you say but I will defend unto death your right to say it”.

Mr Eich
Mr Eich

We seem to have reached a point in western society where special interest groups can determine political correctness which constrains people from expressing their honestly-held beliefs in the event that doing so is considered politically incorrect and socially unacceptable. It may be that Mr Eich (pictured) and others who are opposed to gay marriage are misguided but the best way to convince them of their error is to engage with them rather than to relegate them to politically incorrect obscurity.

The intransigence of those who attempt to ostracize people who fall into politically incorrect habits characterizes them as the arbiter of what is and is not acceptable.


A suspicion of intolerance?

Would it be politically incorrect to suspect such people of intolerance?

I was shocked that a decent person who has made such a contribution to modern society (most people would say “where would we be without the internet as it is today?”) had to surrender his position because he had a view on gay marriage that differed from the views held by others. We seem to be living in an age of a new morality that is often associated with minority groups who claim to be “right” without ever thinking that perhaps there is no right or wrong. And yet we can be condemned for taking a view that is considered “wrong”.

One characteristic of western society is that it has evolved as a result of ongoing debate about divisive issues. However, when dogma replaces debate, there is no room for alternative views with the result that “right” and “wrong” become battle grounds: it is a situation which not infrequently results in war.

So, to stoke the furnaces of political correctness I believe that in all probability we will never know what is dogmatically right or wrong and to arrogate to ourselves the right to state what is right and acceptable is not only conceited but prevents the intellectual pursuit of truth and justice.

I am not sure where we are at with this rubric of political correctness but I have a terrible feeling that unforgiving dogma and humility are uneasy bedfellows.

At the moment, I feel that humility has had to give way to intransigent dogma and the righteous who “know” are the enemies of the humble who seek the truth.

*Louis A Coutts is a lawyer and a CLA member from Victoria

One comment

  1. “In a civilized society it is essential that we preserve the right to free speech provided we do not insult people for their race or religious beliefs.” – I believe that incitement to violence is a more appropriate limit to free speech.

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