Confederate Flag, Free Speech, and Censorship
Usually I avoid issues like this one, but (for reasons that should soon become self-evident) this one has grabbed me. So, I am stepping up onto the soapbox for a moment.
The Confederate battle flag has been a symbol of The South (the American South) throughout (the latter) 20th Century (and into the 21st). It is a symbol of a region though some have used it for other purposes.
According to one source, it was a dormant symbol that saw a resurgence when it became popular at football games (North v. South games). While some extremists might appropriate it for malevolent purpose, branding it as “racist” or “hate speech” smacks of poor quality thinking stemming from an incorrect inference about a population based on a small sample of outliers (see, also: base rate fallacy) or intentional deceit of the variety Joseph McCarthy (and others) was well known for perpetrating (more on this momentarily).
Travel to points north of Washington DC (e.g. PA, Jersey, New England….), and you will see many businesses and homes sporting an old Revolutionary War Flag with 13 stars in a circle. (Sometimes it is called the Betsy Ross flag.) It is no longer the flag of the United States (that has had fifty stars since the admission of Hawaii into the Union in 1959). That thirteen star flag has only two ordinary functions: (1) to acknowledge history, and (2) to function as a regional flag.
The Confederate Battle flag has served a similar purpose throughout the South for many decades. It acknowledges (1) an admittedly painful past and (2) serves as a regional flag.
Removing it from every possible venue is yet another attempt to homogenize us in the name of tolerance. I think this guy has some interesting comments on the topic.
The fact is that we are NOT homogeneous. Nor SHOULD we be. Genius and innovation spring from variation. Six Sigma mindsets and the elimination of variation may be useful for producing cans of beans and fault free cell phones, but the elimination of “unwanted” or “undesirable” variation is NOT what democracy is about.
Elimination of variation, and expression of that variation through Free Speech, is what totalitarian governments are about. Whether it is done by political action or economic oppression, censorship remains the ugly enemy of Free Speech.
To be certain, I keep my blog anonymous because I am certain that some would use economic oppression to silence my voice as an astrologer were my identity to be made known (as was done in the days of McCarthyism). In the 1950’s, all you had to do to destroy someone was to brand them as a “communist.” Today, the exact same thing is true except that the witch hunters brand someone as a “racist.” (Other labels can work just as well. “Astrologer” would do in deeply conservative Texas.)
And THAT is what the Confederate Flag controversy is REALLY about: using witch-hunting tactics to eradicate Free Speech and individuality.
And, it stinks.