Today in the US, designated ‘free speech zones’ are replacing the formerly ubiquitous right to speak one’s mind without censorship, prosecution, or legal recourse. These “First Amendment Expression Areas” are usually strategically located away from town centers, federal buildings, and often require permits obtained beforehand to use. Of course, the “law of the land,” as dictated by the US Constitution, explicitly grants free speech permission everywhere within the country. The First Amendment reads,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In truth, the Constitution is merely a piece of paper with some rhetoric and signatures, but this article aims to showcase the irony and hypocrisy of lawmakers who ‘doublespeak,’ as George Orwell would put it.
George Orwell’s 1984, published in 1948, is something of a cult phenomenon among conspiracy circles for its seemingly ominous foreboding of the ‘Big Brother’ technocratic control grid being realized now. Among many eerie “predictions” written into the novel, Orwell coins the neologism ‘newspeak.’
…a controlled language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as “thoughtcrime.”
This sounds all-too-similar to the ‘political correctness’ of today, which Oxford Dictionary defines as,
…the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.
Orwell’s Relationship with Aldous Huxley & the Fabian Society
George Orwell attended Eton College where he was introduced to Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, who taught him to speak French. The two exchanged letters that have since been made public.
The Fabian Society, akin to Freemasonry, is a compartmentalized society predicated on exclusivity, fraternity, and personal mastery. Its notorious emblem is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley did not predict the future, they were told about it. They were made privy to the inner workings of the plutocratic cabal and their blueprints for the psychospiritual enslavement of humanity.
Psychological Weakness & Emotional Reactivity
What makes a curse word offensive? Is it the historical context, stereotyping, or improper social etiquette? Who determines what words are polite and which ones are rude? Moreover, with the near-infinite inter-cultural nuances, how can one predict or obviate any adsciticious cultural improprieties? How can a highly-subjective moral code be adhered to or legally reinforced with any accuracy whatsoever? It cannot, of course, and it is not the responsibility of anyone anywhere to adhere to another’s conception of morality. It is up to the individual to harness his emotional reactivity and strengthen his psychological fortress so that the arrows of verbal attacks deflect off of a strong Sense of Self.
In the 5 hour 2013 drama Nymphomaniac, director Lars von Trier delivered a masterfully scripted scene between the two main characters Joe, the female protagonist, and Seligman, the confidant. In the scene, Joe is describing two black men who she referred to as ‘Negros.’ Seligman interrupts her story to insist that she speak with political correctness and the two of them explore self-censorship philosophically.
S: You shouldn’t use that word. It’s not what you would called “politically correct.”
J: Well excuse me, but in my circles, it’s always been a mark of honor to call a spade a spade. Each time a word becomes prohibited, you remove a stone from the democratic foundation. Society demonstrates its impotence in the face of a concrete problem by removing words from a language. The book burners have nothing on modern society.
S: I think society would claim that political correctness is a very precise expression of democratic concern for minorities.
J: And I say that society is as cowardly as the people in it, who in my opinion are also too stupid for democracy.
S: I understand your point, but I totally disagree. I have no doubt in the human qualities.
J: The human qualities can be expressed in one word: hypocrisy. We elevate those who say right that mean wrong, and not those say wrong but mean right. Society is based on hate, it should be based on forgiveness. Hatred is rudimentary. One should be able to forgive one’s executioner.
Confucianism & Rectifying ‘True Names’
In the Analects of Confucious, book 13 chapter 3, when asked by a disciple how to rule a state properly, Confucius replies that it begins with rectifying the names:
5. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.
6. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music will not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.
7. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.
Lenny Bruce & the Castration of Obscenity with Humor
Profanity is nearly synonymous with contemporary comedy, but young generations take this artistic luxury for granted. The handiwork of maverick comedians toppled over taboo barricades and picked the lock of censorship shackles. In the tradition of comedic iconoclasm, one name stands out amongst the rest: Lenny Bruce.
Born in 1925 to immigrant parents in New York, Bruce lived an average childhood before beginning stage performances in his early 20s. His rebellious nature often had him playing Devil’s Advocate on hot-button topics that drew him the attention of the nation. Controversial skits involved racism, abortion, patriotism, religion, and moral philosophy. Because he successfully married comedy with controversy, he developed a cult of personality.
Bruce was intelligent and pensive and found much joy in pushing the envelope of conservative 1940s-1950s America. As a result, he was arrested numerous times for behavior the public deemed “obscene.” Bruce was arrested thrice in 1961 for using words like “cocksucker” and “schmuck” during standup routines. He was arrested again in 1962 for obscenity and banned from England as an “undesirable alien.”
Two more times in 1964 he was arrested for public indecency as police began routinely attending his comedy shows in anticipation of arrest. In the latter instance, he was arrested alongside the 2 club owners who allowed him to perform in their venue, thus “condoning” obscenity. He was sentenced to 4 months in a workhouse, although he died during the appeals process. After his death, he was given a posthumous pardon of all charges.
Bruce’s legacy of social dissent and campaigning for free speech has paved the way for today’s vulgar and filthy-mouthed comedians to explore their art freely. Humor is a connective force – it transcends language barriers and cultural differences, it is enhanced in group settings, it fosters bonds between individuals, it enhances mood, improves health, breaks down taboos and obscenity, and as we have seen, it can be used as tool for the exploration of consciousness.