Speech is not violence

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

This well known saying used to be taught to young children to help them better cope with bullying.  I remember learning this phrase myself not too long ago.  But most kids nowadays have never heard this.  In fact, they are frequently taught the opposite.  Many kids are now told that words are "literal violence." 

Being subjected to ideas that are contrary to their own beliefs is now considered significantly harmful.  Relying on your intuition and using a male pronoun to refer to an obvious man is even referred to as "genocide."  It has become commonplace to see students on college campuses objecting to ideas they disagree with and labeling universally held beliefs as "dangerous."  Many go so far as to advocate that any diversity of thought counter to progressive ideology should not be permitted or platformed in any real way.  These unsavory and unspeakable ideas instead should be relegated to the privacy of our own homes at best.

Campuses have begun posting warning signs so students will be aware that they might encounter others who have different beliefs.  Even just a few years ago, this would have been unconscionable.  Colleges are supposed to be places where ideas are exchanged, but increasingly, they have become brainwashing institutions, where students are taught only one way of thinking.  Being confronted with anyone who thinks differently poses a hostile threat.  Just being in the presence of someone wearing a "make America great again" hat can trigger a nervous breakdown.  Cry rooms are set up where students can retreat to handle their emotions after seeing someone who has an alternative perspective.

Let's think about this for a second: students are increasingly believing that the very existence of others who think differently causes them violence.

Even teachers and scientists will justify this thought process.  They say hearing ideas you don't agree with can cause you to feel anxious, worried, or angry.  And this can increase blood pressure and stress, which can lead to suicidal ideation.  This harm can also cause people to isolate themselves and can even increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.  So they justify calling speech violence because of the physiological response to what we don't like.

But the purpose of speech is so we don't have to use violence.  We use words rather than violence to settle disagreements.  This is what happens in a civilized society.  If we didn't have the right to use our speech, we'd have only violence to settle disagreements.

What happens when we teach young people, whose minds are not fully developed, that words they don't like, ideas they disagree with, and beliefs they do not hold can cause them physical harm?  As a society, we generally believe that violence is justified only in response to violence.  If someone is inflicting a physical attack against someone else, it's generally viewed as permissible for violence to be inflicted back on the perpetrator in self-defense.  When one believes that words are violence and that he is being physically harmed by these words, common sense would dictate that violence can then be used against the perceived thought criminal who is inflicting this harm.

So young people's understanding could be that it's permissible, for example, to inflict actual harm against someone who believes that biological sex is real if they do not hold that view.  This is a very scary prospect!  There is also a lack of awareness that the beliefs these students hold so dear may not be shared by others.  Is it sheer narcissism to presume that your personal belief is correct?  It is also interesting to see such a lack of regard for the beliefs of others.  What I consider hate speech, you may consider the truth, and vice versa.  What is the future going to look like when enough young people grow up thinking that anyone holding beliefs they don't agree with equates with committing actual physical harm?

Progressives don't recognize that they are expecting kids to understand the Orwellian concept of doublethink.  In the George Orwell novel 1984, the population was expected to state that 2+2=5.  They were expected not only to state this, but to believe this.  However, while they were told 2+2=5, they must also know that 2+2 actually equals 4, because a functioning society cannot exist believing such fallacies.  So when we are told, for example, that "transwomen" are women, we have to know in the back of our minds that they are not, because we know who the real women are. 

Children do not innately understand the concept of doublethink.  When we tell them "people are who they say they are," they will believe this.  So if a strange adult tells a young child "your mom told me to come pick you up, I'm her friend," not understanding the concept of doublethink, they may believe this person and put themselves in danger.

We need to teach kids and young people how to deal with words, ideas, and concepts that they don't agree with.  The answer to speech we do not like is not to demonize it, ban it, or label it as violence.  The answer to speech we don't like is to tolerate it, debate it, or walk away from it.

Young people need to understand that the world is cruel and unfair, and there is little we can do to remedy this.  The world will not bend to their whims, so young people need to learn how to accept this.  If we want to raise productive members of society who will be ready to lead humanity into the future we've all dreamed of, we have to start preparing them now.  If our future depends on those who cannot tolerate the existence of others, then how much of a future do we have to look forward to?

Harlyn De Luna is a commonsense conservative and mother of four young children.  She has an academic background in political science and mental health counseling, with degrees from the University of Arizona and University of Phoenix.  She has a professional background in project management.  When she isn't running after kids, she can be found writing for her Substack, educating, and advocating for conservative principles.  You can connect with her on Twitter and Substack.

Image: June Campbell via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.

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