So Paris was attacked on Friday. And all over social media people started telling each other what to do and what not to do. I collected a list of things that it is in appropriate to do so that the next time this happens, we can be prepared. Here goes nothing!
- Don’t talk about “unimportant things”. I don’t want to hear about your toddlers… Paris just got bombed.
- Don’t say things that I disagree with. “Unfriend me if you do.”
- Don’t be silent. We must show the enemy we are not afraid and we will not accept threats. Paris needs to know that we pay lip service. Symbolic gestures (tell the enemy that they) are important.
- Don’t let revenge motivate you. We must measured in our responses, or we let the enemy set the terms of engagement.
- Don’t profile. I don’t care that a key mental mechanism of scientific advancement is noticing patterns. It’s only okay to profile if it conforms to notions of “political correctness”.
- Don’t blame religion, we believe in freedom of religion! Especially not Islam or Christianity. (But atheism isn’t a religion… you can blame that all you want. You can’t have morality without a god to punish you in the afterworld.)
- Don’t be “intolerant” of any ideas. Even if the ideas imply that it’s okay to murder you if you offend/blaspheme some notion of some god(s). Even if the ideas lead to the brutal oppression and mutilation women. Who are you to judge?
- Don’t ever even suggest that Saudi Arabia is involved in exporting the ideas that animate coordinated mass murder. They are our “friends” and they sell us oil (it may seem like it’s for profit but they have our best interests in mind).
- Don’t verbally mention Islamism or Islam. If we don’t talk about it, we can’t be called intolerant.
- Don’t ever suggest war. War is not the answer.
It really does seem like when you add it all up, people really do want us to do nothing. That is, unless we happen to agree with them.
Using notions of what is “socially acceptable”, many voices emerge to pressure people and selectively work to constrain the conversation so that no one is saying anything too “upsetting”. Of course, the definition of what is “acceptable” and what is “upsetting” shifts depending on who you are. That’s how you end up with so many “Dont’s” that seem to contradict one another.
Sometimes the people doing the pressuring are you and me. We are playing the role of “thought police” any time we take it upon ourselves tell someone to pipe down and be politically correct or to act with decorum. We all have the potential to pressure others and shut other people down nowadays. The worst of us act to embarrass and humiliate and shame others until they submit.
In the aftermath of public mass murder, who does this serve and who does it harm? Does it help the victims to suppress speech? I can’t see how it would. One could argue in reason, however, that suppression of speech is completely in concert with the aim of the perpetrators of public mass murder.
How about we let the people who are still alive speak their words and trust them to revise their words and thinking as they go along? How about we let people react in their own ways? How about we let ourselves work through it?
The enemy wants us silenced. They want the ideas they don't like suppressed and they want the ideas that constrain us from acting in retaliation against them repeated loudly.
Let us defy them. Let us speak openly about the flaws of some of our ideas and begin to revise them. Let us name the enemy’s ideas: Islamism.