KLAVAN: We Are In A War Of Words

People protesting
Paul Taylor/Getty Images

This week I delivered a speech at Boston College. The subject was the way in which leftists manipulate people’s minds. They teach them that disagreement is hatred so that they will not listen to the opposition. Thus they transform those who follow them into raging idiots — raging because they see hate-filled enemies everywhere, idiots because they never have to test their ideas in honest discussion with those who see things differently.

As I spoke, a mob — the police told me there were over a hundred people — gathered outside, pounding on the walls and screaming slogans. When the protestors tried to storm the door, I caught glimpses of their faces, twisted in white-eyed rage. They were trying to disrupt my talk but in fact they were illustrating it, proving my point.

This is a terrible thing the academic left does to our young people: transforming them into the zombie enforcers of their fierce miscreed. And what the left does to them, it would do to all of us. They are using their virtual monopoly on the means of communication — the news, social and entertainment media along with the academies — to assault our minds. And their weapon of choice is words.

My trollish young friend and colleague Michael Knowles sometimes gives a speech called “A Man is Not A Woman.” The protestors show up for that too and rage at him too. But of course a man is not a woman. A man can never be a woman, because man is a word and woman is a word and the words refer to two different things. Different things can’t be the same because different is a word and same is a word and they have opposite meanings.

The mob at my speech was incited by a newspaper article that called me Islamophobic.  But phobic is a word meaning beset by irrational fear. I have no irrational fear of Islam. I have questions about whether some tenets of Islamic thought have led to the oppression and violence rampant in the Islamic world today. There is nothing irrational — or hateful — about that.

I believe it is a good thing that gay people can now live their lives unafraid of the law and I encourage them to engage in long-term, committed, faithful relationships. But do I think that’s marriage? No, because marriage is a word, it has a meaning, and that’s not what it is.

This may seem like some abstruse, obscure theoretical consideration, but is it? The Supreme Court is now considering a number of cases in which plaintiffs are seeking to redefine the word sex in anti-discrimination law to include homosexuality and transgenderism. But if the court can redefine words to mean something other than what they meant to the legislators who made the law, what power do the legislators have? If the court can change the meaning of so basic a word as sex, it can redefine anything to mean anything and no law is safe from being rewritten to suit elite prejudices.

Likewise, those who seek to force us through law or social shame or censorship to use the pronouns they prefer are really seeking to force us to describe reality as they wish it were, rather than as we see it to be. Anyone who has that power over you has turned you into his mental slave.

The freedom we have, the justice we seek, are based on concepts that were handed down to us by our founders — written down for us in words. In order to continue free, in order to become more just, we must continue to reason within those traditions. In order to reason and communicate our reasoning, we must use words — words with agreed-upon meanings.

And yet whenever we try to describe the world as it is, the left cries out that such language is violence. It’s not though — because language is a word and violence is a word and they do not mean the same thing.

The left’s war on the west is a war of words and a war on words. Our best weapon in such a war is the truth. We must speak it plainly.

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