Stop playing the offence card
A “ThinkPiece” article by Josie Appleton at Spiked online is so spot on it could serve as the MWW manifesto.
The accusation of ‘hate speech’ or ‘phobia’ characterises an opponent as irrational, and not worth arguing with. Their views are apparently not opinions, to be listened to and debated, but merely the expression of instinctive hate or a knee-jerk phobia.
The focus on crying ‘hate speech’ means that lobby groups become organs for complaint. Their role is less to celebrate their own cause, than to present themselves as the victims of their opponents. Muslim organisations now spend very little time talking about the virtues of Islam, or offering moral guidance for a good Muslim life: instead, many have dedicated themselves to unearthing Islamophobia in every nook and cranny, analysing TV coverage and the subtexts of newspaper reports.
Similarly, gay organisations talk less about free love, free choice, or the virtue of love between people of the same sex. Instead they dedicate themselves to highlighting homophobia – for example, by exposing the use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult in school playgrounds and students unions.
If discussion is merely the exchange of accusations of offence, it is worse than silence, and fixes empty opinions as polarities to one another. After a few minutes of ‘Islamophobia’ versus ‘homophobia’, who really knows – or cares – what it means to ‘be Muslim’ or to ‘be gay’? A social exchange should produce new ideas, and develop both parties – in this case it numbs and stunts both. Discussants leave feeling more angry and more convinced of their own rightness, but ultimately more hollow.
UPDATE: (26 Oct) Claire Fox has a piece in the Independent on the same theme.