Today brought out the HATE in innumerable tweets about the Garland TX shooting, intent on letting everyone know that the authors weigh intentions over freedom when it comes to speech. The percentage that said “I am in favor of free speech BUT the event was provocative” exceeded the reverse formulation by 200%, it seemed, because A) the target was on the wrong side, and B) the victims — being the people who were offended — belong to a group that must be protected lest the roiling waters of hatred boil over had flood the land, which they’re due to do any time now. Shootings like this are inconvenient, inasmuch as they seem to conform to a general preconception about young men of a particular doctrine, and inasmuch as that idea interferes with the daily elevation of all the really important things we have to hate on cue, like Joss Whedon, it must be explained away.
The most pathetic excuse I keep reading attacks the event for being provocative. Not just because it turns the objects of its muted sympathy into bulls who cannot resist the fluttering flag, but because it pretends that the entire point of the last 100 years in art hasn’t been provocation. It’s been the safest kind, of course; the arts have been poking beehives for years with the confidence of someone who knows they are vacant or otherwise occupied. For decades a thing has been judged less on its artistic merits than its intention, and if its intention is pure — that is, a handful of mud in the face of those who use the word “pure” without the requisite ironic inflection — then its demerits are waved away in favor of an enthusiastic endorsement of its transgressive nature, or how much rubble of the old paradigm it produced.
Giving offense has been a badge of courage and truth since the frickin’ Yippies, and now I’m supposed to believe that comity is prized above the foundation of the Bill of Rights.
The answer to speech, as always, is More Speech. For instance:
Blasphemy should be so widespread that it's boring.
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) May 4, 2015
By now we’ve had enough “transgessive” art to put almost anyone to sleep.
But some people will continue prattling on about “hate speech” and other arbitrary subsets of speech, because their values are sacred — and yours are not. Not that I have any particular desire to shoot them or anything.