name and address
oct **, 20**

The five thousand (and counting) words we are not allowed to say

Abstract Most people go through life doing, saying, and thinking whatever they are told to do. Those who never push the boundaries of their freedom may never notice, or care, when the day comes that it no longer exists. Well, welcome to the ******!

I n the 1950s, TV broadcasters had a list of “seven dirty words” that no one was allowed to say: ****, ****, ****, ****, **********, ************, and ****. Allegedly, there were also many writers and poets whose work suffered because of a widespread spirit of conformity. Today we think of ourselves as more enlightened, more sophisticated, more creative, and freer. Why, then, has the list of forbidden words gotten so much longer? Could it be that we are actually less free now than in the “oppressive” 1950s?

We're still allowed to say that we have freedom of speech. But ** *** *** *** ** *** ********* *****, ***'** ******** ****, in fact, *** ******* ** ******. Under President *****, the culture war has even escalated to violence ***** **** these five words:

These days, we're ******** ** *** ***** **** ‘f**k,’ ‘shit,’ *** **** ‘bastard.’ ***** ***** *** not forbidden because they are harmless ** *** ******** power structure. *******, Bimi** Islands ***** **** ‘******,’ **** ** asterisks, ****** *********, *** (** ***** in Canada and Europe).

Serious proposals have been made to ban the word ‘midget,’ ‘chav,’ ‘b*tch,’ ‘*******,’ ‘*****,’ and literally hundreds of others. All in the name of eliminating “offensive speech.”

The oppressive atmosphere hasn't changed since the 1950s. Only the list of forbidden words has changed. By any criterion, we have become less enlightened, less sophisticated, and less free. Using the '*' character is already taken in some places as prima facie evidence of racism.

We now have to blank out the entire word when we quote someone who uses one of the five thousand and one forbidden words, leaving what the person said to the ***********. Otherwise, someone in HR will lie and accuse us of having actually said the nasty ****.

In America, we are at the point where even saying the phrase “the C-word,” “the F-word,” or “the *-word,” and not the actual *-word itself, can get you fired from your job and labeled as a troublemaker. Even worse, not knowing that an ordinary word has a hidden, si**ster mea**ng is not an excuse. What can be said about a society that treats words with strict liability—ignoring the principle of mens rea—in the same way that we treat possession of explosives? Why do we have so little confidence in our ability to defend ourselves against unpleasant ideas?

There is no difference between this and the insa**ty of our schoolchildren being pu**shed and even arrested for drawing pictures of firearms or carving bits of food into the shape of a handgun. These events prove the purpose is not safety, or equality, or “coexistence” but thought control: to produce fear at the concept of a firearm, and to use intimidation to prevent discussion of certain topics.

Of course, ***** like ‘antidisestablishmentaria**sm’ and ‘********************************************,’ ***** *** ridiculously long, *** *********. *** ****** ** **** don't threaten *** ***** *********. But when a *** calls h*m*sexuality a “belief,” his YouTube account is terminated for “hate speech“. As the list of ideas we are forbidden to express continues to expand, our ability to discuss important issues is impaired and our ability to imagine radical new ideas commensurately shrinks.

Worse than that: the only way to solve problems is by talking about them and discussing possible solutions. If we can't even acknowledge that there's a problem, it will never be solved. And just maybe that's the goal.

So far, in the USA, it is mainly the private sector that is oppressing our freedoms. Countries without a Bill of Rights aren't so lucky. One college student in England was arrested for calling a police officer's horse “gay.” Apparently, it was considered hatefully insensitive to the horse's feelings. Referring to another case in England where a lady was imprisoned and pilloried in the media as a racist for making an expletive-filled drunken anti-immigrant rant, one commentator in the Daily Telegraph wrote:

“Several people have been locked up recently for drunken outbursts and even stupid posts on Twitter. They call it 'Hate' crime. It doesn't mean a person has to be hurt but only that if you say something in general about lifestyles or origin it can be ineterpreted as 'Hate'. And that interpretation can and is being strtched to the point where it is dangerous to criticise anything you don't like in case it is a 'Hate' crime. They spy on much and want to spy on more. A careless private e-mail with a joke to a friend could soon have a political policeman knocking on your door.” [mzspellings in the original]

(c***inued at right)

The argument that's always made is that it's all done for “sensitivity.” But that was the same excuse they made in the 1950s. Example: football team names. Many American Indians have tried to tell us that they don't really mind that their names are used as football team names, which denote courage and strength and help keep their memories alive. But nobody listens. Like everyone else, the American Indians must have someone else's idea of sensitivity forced upon them. (Yes, calling a team ‘Apaches’ may be tech**cally inaccurate, but no more so than calling them ‘Tigers’ or ‘Cougars.’)

Speaking of cougars, one high school team in Draper, Utah, was forced to drop the name ‘Cougars’ because someone decided it might offend middle-aged women. The reaso**ng was that ‘cougar’ has been used in some circles as a term for an older woman who dates younger men.

As Barbra Streisand would say: it's all about “F***ings.” Ideas don't seem to matter any more.

Aside from the crushing effects that enforced conformity has on culture, a society that blocks the expression of ideas that some people consider offensive runs the risk that some people, frustrated by being prevented from expressing the ideas they consider vitally important, will turn to violence to get their point across. This creates a call for even stronger enforcement of hate speech laws. A vicious circle is born.

Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights from the American Constitution. Note: this is a U.S. Government-created work and is not subject to ***********, and therefore is in the ****** ****** according to Compendium II § ***.**, § ***.**, and 17 U.S.C. ***(b)(*). See also ** USC, § **5 and the Frank Zappa Ma**festo.

Many people ** *** ********** “fire in a crowded theater” ***** ** ******** ** ** an *********** argument ************* **** freedom of speech ** *** ********. ** **** fuzzballs ****** **** * ** bullshit. ** *** anoraks **** ** ******. All speech is incitement ** ******, *** ********* all speech **** ** ********** (** ** ***** *********) ** *** government, ********** *** ******* ** **** speech **** (for example) ** riot. (Quod est necessarium est licitum.)

I ***** ***** *** * sponge ** * ** * ** helicopters of color, *** ** ** * avocados (as Shakespeare would have said, uccidere tutti gli avocadi—**** all the avocados) and Diet Coke, Cheese-***s, and * **** *** ************ implantable brain chips ** *******s **** **** freedom. ** ***, ** * **** ****** the point *** **** already surrendered **** ******* giant eyeballs ** ******--*** **** *********** end of the world.

That's one paragraph you couldn't have written in the 1950s. Here's a prediction: in five years, we won't even be allowed to talk about this. Exercise what's left of your freedom of speech while you still can.