Francis posted something very thoughtful today. The story he links to I’ve read before, and I also recall a Twilight Zone episode that was similar (I’m not sure if they were explicitly related, or if it was coincidence). But it goes back to a subject that’s been on my mind for a very long time and for which, like Francis, I could write volumes on if I had the time.
We are forbidden to say certain things, or even to hold certain opinions and beliefs. And it’s difficult to even know what the prohibitions are, for they are not written down anywhere. There is no legal document to which we may turn to discover if our opinions are prohibited. Indeed, what was permissible yesterday may be banned tomorrow. Everything is potentially offensive. Every thought a potential thoughtcrime.
The one thing Orwell got wrong in 1984 was that he thought totalitarian dystopia would look like Hell, that an outside observer could clearly define it as such. It doesn’t. The Evil Empire doesn’t look overtly evil to the observer. It doesn’t have an evil flag, an evil symbol, and evil Big Brother symbolism in plain view. We are conditioned to think of evil as a caricature, like the Empire in Star Wars. Black costumes, despotic overlords, and the religious worship of hatred and darkness. Evil would self-report as evil, in other words. A tyrant would call himself lord of the universe, or something equally silly. That’s what our entertainment tells us, often enough, anyway.
Tyrants figured out some time ago that it was more effective to cloak evil in the costume of good. To wrap tyranny in velvet. To give totalitarianism a righteous, virtuous face and claim that it is doing great good. Nobody thought evil could be nice, and still be evil. And so the people were fooled for awhile.
Today, I doubt most people are fooled, but they are still controlled whether they know it or not. One thing I’ve discovered when talking to friends and relatives is that our opinions and beliefs are remarkably similar in private settings, where we are relatively certain Big Brother is not listening, and thus prohibited in our speech by what we might call polite society. Oh, there are the usual disagreements between people who are different, but nothing explicitly banned. No taboos or proscriptions on what we may or may not discuss.
John Derbyshire once referred to “the talk” and was deprived of a job because of it. He spoke publicly of a prohibited topic that is often discussed by people in private settings, and suffered the punishment.
Donald Trump caught flak in public for having said raunchy things about women. Yet all men know that most of us talk that way on occasion when we are sure Big Brother is not around. Trump’s sin, then, wasn’t saying things that any man might say per se, but in Big Brother catching him in the act. Whatever you may think of him as a candidate (and his flaws are legion), this particular “offense” was nothing more than an Orwellian thoughtcrime punished by a complicit media establishment.
What, you thought Big Brother didn’t exist just because there are no billboards proclaiming him?
The enforcement apparatus is not so blatantly obvious as in Orwell’s book, but it is there nonetheless. There are cameras in every phone, cameras on the street corners, microphones and surveillance equipment everywhere. Trump spoke on a “hot mic”, but that is a trick often used by journalists. “Oops, we accidentally left the mic on and it so happened to record this thoughtcrime…” And remember, everything said on the Internet is forever. SJW enforcers have used my own words on the Internet against me.
Beyond the physical surveillance state, we have the Social Justice enforcers, on constant lookout for perceived violations. If none are discovered, new ones may be invented. SJWs will infiltrate various groups, and then take up policing duties within them. You must be rigorous in vetting people to whom you may talk freely. And even then, SJWs may find ways to insert themselves into your gatherings, or private groups. Even though you may know them for what they are, their presence means you must follow the prohibitions. Your thoughtcrimes are stymied before they can begin, and they are thus not allowed to spread. There may even come a time where they offer rewards to friends who turn in their compatriots for thoughtcrimes. A “hot mic” might find its way into your living room conversations.
Big Brother is everywhere, and we must be increasingly on guard for his presence. This sort of censorship is fast becoming internalized in people. The fear of violating the taboos grows so great that there is a temptation to dispense with the thoughtcrime before it even fully materializes in your mind.
Did you think this was an accident? That it was your own sense of morality that created it? No, no. It is no accident.
I don’t know what to do about it. The tyrants have a strong lockdown on us now. But so many Americans, even conservative Americans, are blissfully unaware of the iron fist, because it is wrapped in hopey-changey, love-and-peace velvet. Though, I am seeing signs that many are waking up and becoming aware of it. Still, evil has never worn a more effective disguise. Big Brother is hidden behind the clothing of equality, niceness, and inoffensiveness. But he is still Big Brother.