The Dangers of an Unvaccinated Mind

Medical pioneers like Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur discovered that many infectious diseases, like small pox and rabies, could be combated by essentially injecting controlled quantities of those same diseases into people’s bodies and allowing their immune systems to naturally build up a resistance strong enough to combat the real disease should they ever be exposed to it.

As crazy as that hypothesis might have sounded a couple of centuries ago, vaccines have proved themselves incredibly effective in the prevention and even eradication of many terrible diseases.

Bad diseases that affect the body can kill an extraordinary amount of people. From the bubonic plague to smallpox to polio, diseases have maimed and killed millions of people. Fortunately, modern medicine, including vaccines, have generally eradicated many of the most crippling, contagious and deadly diseases that have unrelentingly plagued humankind throughout history.

As bad as the worst diseases to have plagued humankind have been, there is something that is far more vicious, cruel, savage, monstrous and deadly than a bad disease: A bad idea.

The Holocaust, Armenian and Rwandan Genocides, 9/11, Nanking Massacre, Wounded Knee, Trail of Tears, communism, fascism, Maoist China, Soviet Ethnic Cleansing, racism, slavery, murder, theft, rape and taxation, are all the result of, or are themselves, bad ideas.

Most of us have an aversion toward bad ideas not unlike the aversion we have toward bad diseases and that is, to a certain extent, reasonable and healthy. However, this aversion begins to become unreasonable and dangerous when the fear of ideas leads people to completely shield themselves from exposure to any idea subjectively deemed as new, bad, taboo or outside the constantly shrinking Overton Window.

Recently, America and much of the West in general, has experienced the beginnings of a movement in which ideas are feared, not in the rational way that diseases are feared, but in the oftimes irrational way that vaccines are feared.

Things like safe spaces and trigger warnings have spread through university campuses like wildfire, or more appropriately, like infectious diseases. Microaggressions, and speech in general, are often equated with literal violence. An outside observer of a modern university campus in the West might think that exposure to ideas is akin to being literally tortured or raped. The discussion of an increasingly large number of ideas is feared and even abhorred by a very vocal segment of university students and even faculty.

Any action or idea that falls outside the Overton Window, as constructed by the Social Justice Glaziers, is immediately met, not with argument, but with inarticulate screeching, befuddled chanting, random noise-making, and even violence.

Infectious diseases can spread quickly through an unvaccinated or otherwise uninoculated population, resulting in the suffering and death of many. The vaccine of bad ideas is free speech. It is argument, discussion and rational, independent thought. When free speech is tabooed and independent thought is replaced with Orwellian Groupthink, individuals cannot learn to deal with new, different, and often bad ideas. They will grow up with weakened mental immune systems, unequipped to deal with, or even recognize, the real-life bad ideas that exist outside of the classroom, the truly monstrous and grotesque ideas have caused, and likely will cause again, the brutal suffering, unimaginable anguish and ultimate death of hundreds of millions of people.

Hopefully, the dread of being exposed to different ideas will not lead to an entire generation of communally unvaccinated minds, incapable of recognizing and dealing with ideas that go far beyond simply causing cerebral discomfort. As a species, we may not survive another 20th Century-esque outbreak of truly terrible ideas.

Open This Content

Censorship by Social Sanction is Douchey

What do you call it when someone reacts negatively to something you said or wrote in a way intended to make you feel ashamed? I call it douchey.

Reacting this way to expression is a form of censorship, I think. It’s an attempt get you to shut up by pushing an undesirable consequence your way, that being the inspired feelings of either being frustratingly misunderstood or hated for what you said.

If they can make you think twice before opening your mouth or putting pen to paper, they have succeeded to some degree in censoring you.

Which begs the question: should any expression be censored by social sanction? We lovers of liberty overwhelmingly give an emphatic NO to the idea of political, ie. violent, reaction to speech. Political censorship is a grave injustice, in every case, no exceptions, in my opinion. But what about this other kind of censorship, by social sanction?

One part of me wants to say, “it depends.” If the expression is promoting aggression in some way, shouldn’t it be met with, at minimum, social sanctions, ie. shaming and ostracism?

The other part of me wants to say, “never!” Expression, no matter how outrageous, should always be allowed its full due.

This second part of me is growing. Aaron White is to thank for that. He recorded a video in a private group on Facebook arguing against the idea of apologizing for or self-censoring what you have said or written in the past. I had expressed regret that my post on the “Me, too” campaign led to severe backlash due to misunderstanding. I expressed regret and took responsibility for not being clearer.

His main thesis was the danger in promoting censorship in any degree. Expression should always be free, no matter its content. I don’t know what he would say about expression on someone else’s property, but aside from that, I am finding myself closer and closer in agreement to that idea.

Thinking about the times this has happened to me, the feeling of being attacked really sucked. I would have much preferred to be questioned for clarification, and in the event that there was still disagreement, been politely dismissed.

Being attacked because of something I wrote or said, no matter how right or wrong I was, feels really shitty. And it ruins my day because I’ve felt the need to defend myself. I don’t want people to hold a misrepresentation of me in their minds; I care much less about people simply disagreeing with me.

Which brings us back to the beginning: censorship by social sanction is douchey. It’s a prick move, I think. There’s no reason why a person can’t simply dig in with questions, peacefully and politely. If the expression is promoting aggression, we can point that out and make it clear how we feel about it. But why be a prick about it in attempt to censor an expression you disagree with? The Golden Rule comes to mind. This isn’t to say that I’m innocent of behaving this way; I’m not.

My biggest concern here: What important truths are not being expressed because people are afraid of social sanction? That’s the unfortunate outcome of allowing censorship in any degree, methinks.

Open This Content

Cincinnati II

Nobody asked but …

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government … too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism. If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

— Robert Taft

— Kilgore Forelle

Open This Content

Net of the Long Knives? Neutrality Advocates Put it in Reverse

On July 12, a number of prominent companies joined in the “Internet-wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.” Among them were GoDaddy, Namecheap, Google, and CloudFlare. All four companies issued pious statements about the dangerous possibility of Internet Service Providers cutting off access to perfectly legal content.

A little more than a month later, all four companies (and others) are themselves doing exactly what they warned us ISPs might do unless a “Net Neutrality” law forbade it: They’re cutting off access to perfectly legal content (yes,  neo-Nazi speech is legal in America).

Specifically, GoDaddy, Namecheap, and Google have canceled (and in Google’s case, stolen) legitimately purchased domain names for, and Cloudflare has cut-off DNS forwarding and DDOS protection services for, The Daily Stormer, a site connected with the “alt-right” and “white nationalist” groups of Charlottesville infamy.

This sudden turn of tech sector players has a Nazi analog, too: The Night of the Long Knives, a three-day purge in 1934, intended to eliminate threats to Hitler’s power from within his own party. The victims here are the companies’ customers.

What gives, guys? A month ago, you were promoting the message that stuff like this would  end the “free and open Internet.” Why is Net Neutrality sauce good for the geese (ISPs), but not for you ganders (other providers of Internet services)?

I personally oppose Net Neutrality laws because I prefer to let the market handle things and expect other service providers to fulfill the market demand these companies are refusing services to. I likewise support the companies’ right to decide with whom they will or will not do business, although, in my opinion, Google went a bridge too far by actually stealing a customer’s domain name.

But wow, the hypocrisy. “Net Neutrality for thee, but not for me.”

And where does this stuff stop? Rumor has it that Cloudflare has now cut off another customer, That site is a seller of perfectly legal gun parts and machine tools. I’ve been unable to confirm that it’s an ideological ban rather than, say a billing matter. But if it’s the former, then Cloudflare’s war on a “free and open Internet” is already escalating.

First, they came for The Daily Stormer. Is it possible that by 2020 the Internet will routinely “protect” us from “fake news” and only show us industry-approved “mainstream” political candidates?

As they like to say in the news biz, developing …

Open This Content

What Free Speech is Not

What “free speech” actually means: people do not have the moral right to initiate violence against you to stop you from expressing what you believe.

Some things “free speech” does not mean:

1) You have some magical right to say what you think on someone else’s property, or using someone else’s equipment or services.

2) You have a right to trespass, or commit vandalism, or detain others by impeding their movement, or threaten violence, as long as you call those things “freedom of speech.”

3) You have a right to not be ridiculed, insulted and/or shunned by people for what you believe or what you say.

Finally, if you are using your “free speech” to condone the initiation of violence against others, while you’re not actually committing or directly threatening violence, it’s not morally justified for others to respond to you with violence. However, when you’re a cheerleader for your own brand of thuggery, don’t be too surprised if you don’t get much sympathy when you are the victim of someone else’s thuggery. In other words, if you talk and act like an aggressive thug looking for a fight, and someone kicks your ass, don’t expect very many people to care.

Open This Content