No sooner did my article come out last week on how renaming Fenway’s Park’s famed Yawkey Way was another example of political correctness run amok than ESPN decided to be even 50 shades nuttier than Red Sox owner John Henry. The Worldwide Leader, as it bills itself, drew universal negative condemnation for removing a football analyst by the name of Robert Lee from a University of Virginia football game, solely because he shares the same name as Confederate General Robert E. Lee who has been dead since 1870.
ESPN is the same network that terminated tennis analyst Doug Adler who on air referred to African American Venus Williams’ playing style as guerrilla, which was too close to the word gorilla for the ESPN brass’s comfort, so Doug Adler was quickly fired, labeled a racist, and is now unemployable.
When issues such as the removal of Robert Lee from a football game come up, it is easy to take satisfaction in the swift criticism the general public gives such action. But the larger issue is that despite near universal loathing of political correctness for decades now, political correctness is still gathering speed and power as it is the preferred modus operandi of the cultural elite, and the marriage between the cultural elite and political correctness is well on its way to shuttering free speech once and for all.
Take for instance how free speech is distributed in our modern technological world. Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple control the lion’s share of speech distribution online. All four of these corporations are diligently at work figuring how best to censor what they consider inappropriate speech. So far at least, the inappropriate speech that has been targeted isn’t typically jihadist spewing venom from people trying to recruit members for ISIS, but from conservative Westerners who push past the line beyond what those arbiters feel is appropriate.
It becomes hard to feel at ease with these oligopolists when they are perfectly content to cut deals with communist dictators and the world’s bad guys on what speech needs to be censored in order to gain access to do business in their countries.
If you’re looking for your country of residence to safeguard free speech you’re a little behind the times. Europe and Canada have gleefully thrown in the towel on free speech awhile ago. They have taken a page from Google, or Google has taken a page from them, where inappropriate speech is verboten and can get you into a world of hurt. And like the corporate titans that control the distribution of online speech they have an odd perspective of what inappropriate speech is. A video of a German Imam calling Jews pigs probably isn’t going to raise their ire, but a cross word about Angela Merkel’s immigration policy in a German blog will get the police knocking on your door faster than you can utter the term Wie geht’s. In America, we haven’t quite sunken that low yet, but give us a new Congress and President from a different political party and we’ll all have to wait with baited breath on how Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy breaks a 4-4 tie on the matter of free speech, or for the Supreme Court to deliver a new definition of what free speech is, just as it did recently on marriage.
We are even seeing the potential convergence in America of the online speech censors and elected officials. Last week Apple CEO Tim Page looked like a potential candidate barnstorming Iowa and throwing out the type of mumbo jumbo politicians usually spew when he said Apple’s core value is to leave “the world better than we found it.” Additionally, you’ll find more speculative articles on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg running for President in 2020 than you will find for any Democratic politician.
Running for public office or not, the corporate titans that distribute online speech are also happy to play behind-the-scene puppet masters as they funnel millions to outfits like the Southern Poverty Law School to do their rabidly anti-conservative lobbying of Washington, D.C.
The Tim Cooks of the world claim to want to leave the world a better place. It seems this better place includes prohibitions on free space. If this is the case, I want my old lousy world back.