The terror during the French Revolution was perpetrated by the Committee of Public Safety. Public Safety! Who could object to that? Those who were arbitrarily thought to represent a threat to public safety ended up at the guillotine.
Vast ideological systems stand as rationalizations for evil. Marxism justified the murder of tens, if not hundreds, of millions in the 20th century and the enslavement of many more millions. One could argue that Islam is nothing more than a rationalization for Mohammed’s thuggery and power-lust. Well, one can argue that in America, at least until it’s outlawed as hate speech. Don’t try this in downtown Tehran.
One of the greatest rationalizations is equality. Most people have a vague conception that equality is good. If a family has three children and one pint of ice cream, and one child eats more ice cream than the other two, the others perceive it as unfair. In this context, equality means justice. Unfortunately, too many people think no more deeply about equality than this.
The theory that everyone should be equal is egalitarianism. In the Greek myth, Procrustes had a bed and anyone who slept in it had to be stretched or chopped down until he fit the bed. As the myth shows, equality always comes at a price.
On a cultural-philosophic level, egalitarianism is a tool, a rationalization, used by nihilists to destroy. It is the greatest, smoothest, most deceptive destroyer ever. Instead of saying, “We must destroy the good and noble,” a naked statement of evil that no one would accept, egalitarians say, “Everyone should be equal” or “Let’s not hold people to high standards.” Once you lose standards, then you lose the good and the noble and you’re left with the low, the mediocre, the ignoble. Nihilist mission accomplished: without ever stating their destructive purpose clearly, it is achieved through egalitarian rationalizations.
Equality among humans can only come through destruction. One cannot force a poor man to be rich, but one can take money from a rich man and give it to the poor. One cannot, like Procrustes, stretch a five-foot tall man to be six feet tall, but one can cut 12 inches of length off a six-foot tall man. The state cannot force idiots to be geniuses, but it can kill or jail all the intellectuals. (When the communists took over Vietnam, anyone who wore eyeglasses was sent to a prison camp.)
On a political-economic level equality is used to justify massive, destructive state intervention in the economy. The state is not a parent spooning out equal portions of ice cream to children, but the agency with a legal monopoly of force, whose function is to protect individual rights. Equality enforced by the state always comes at the price of violated rights.
The only proper sense in which the state should be concerned with equality is before the law. Rich, famous and beautiful people (as Paris Hilton recently found out) should be subject to the same laws with the same penalties as everyone else. No one should be persecuted because of the whims of those in power more than others are punished by the law. Other than this, the state has nothing to do with equality. It is not a function of the state to make life “fair.”
There has been a lot of talk lately about bringing back the Fairness Doctrine in radio. Jack Kelly summarizes recent efforts by the left to suppress speech they don’t like. The spirit of the New Left is the opposite of that expressed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, in which he wrote, “…a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes….” This is the spirit of reason. 1776 was a long time ago, and two centuries of modern philosophy have destroyed the west’s confidence in reason. The New Left no longer has respect for the opinions of mankind.
(But lest you think only Democrats oppose free speech, remember that Republican Senator Trent Lott recently groused, "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem." Predictably, he has backtracked since his remark, but it’s always enlightening when a politician lets the truth slip out. Whether his gaff was from arrogance, stupidity, living inside the Beltway so long that he has lost touch with the people or what, I don’t know.)
The United States Constitution, another 18th century document, protects freedom of speech in the first amendment.
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.You can’t get much clearer than that. So how do those who want to destroy free speech get around this inconvenient law? With the concept of fairness. The state is not abridging speech, they would argue, but only requiring that talk radio give both sides of the story. It’s only fair -- and who could object to fairness? Like equality and public safety, fairness is a good thing.
Of course, fairness -- as defined by the state -- comes at a price. The individual rights of radio stations are violated when the state commands them to run liberal commentary. This would surely lower the radio stations’ profits in proportion to how much time for liberal opinion is mandated. The destruction of wealth could be huge.
A return to the Fairness Doctrine would be a major step forward in our ongoing march into fascism.
Words can be used by reason and they can be used for force. Equality, public safety, fairness -- these are words used as weapons, words used to justify the initiation of force by the state against individuals.
UPDATE: Slight revision.