For those of us saddled with the tag “baby boomers” it has been a remarkable march toward human perfection, or at least what is now considered the prerequisites for perfection. When those of our generation were entering our teens the world looked like this: abortion was illegal, homosexuality was a crime, African-Americans were being beaten and shot for demanding the right to vote and pregnant teens were sent to homes for “unwed mothers.” In the late 1960’s a student of the University of Western Ontario was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for simple possession of the impotent weed that passed for marijuana at that time. I often wonder what became of his life.
Against that backdrop it was no surprise that the bulk of the younger generation of that day became liberal or progressive in outlook. We rebelled in varying degrees against the world of our parents, who we later realized, thanks to reminders from writers like Tom Brokaw with his Greatest Generation, that we were rebelling against one of the most decent, self-sacrificing and on the whole, most tolerant generation of parents. Tolerant, because they tolerated us, with what must have seemed incredible ingratitude for the sacrifices they made living through the depression and the war and still providing us with life, freedom of expression, television and a reasonable standard of living in most cases. They tolerated our rock and roll, even joining with us to watch Elvis and later the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. And by and large, though they were a generation older, they agreed with our condemnation of racism, legal oppression and illiberal sentiment.
At that time we thought the main objective was to eliminate the harsh physical manifestations of intolerance, oppressive laws and racism. But today most of the things that the 60’s generation railed against have been corrected by the state, at least officially. That is not to say that there aren’t still significant numbers of people who discriminate against people of colour, who hate gays, who want to restrict access to abortion, but now they are in the minority, they are no longer in the mainstream. But instead of abating, the sense of public outrage has multiplied. The war now is against thought and speech.
Many universities have become fortresses of intolerance where everyone is apparently expected to hold the same world view. With social media as the weapon, ill-conceived thoughts or words result in instant and severe censure. Increasingly the penalty for giving voice to unorthodox views is a form of capital punishment—loss of job, loss of a speaking gig. Seemingly there are no second chances given by a group who nonetheless themselves are shielded from life’s harshness by ‘trigger warnings’ and the establishment of ‘safe places.” In a simpler time, when discourse generally occurred face-to-face, sensible people would temper their language for the very practical reason that going too far could result in a punch in the nose. Now that we can communicate with the world in anonymity there is no check on behaviour and the level of venom delivered from a safe place with no consequences has skyrocketed. Progressiveness no longer can be identified with the naiveté of flower power and folk songs, it’s now all about anger and outrage.

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

One Comment to: 60’s Liberalism has moved from fighting deeds to suppression of thought

  1. October 19th, 2017

    yeah the new generation who call themselves liberals aren’t even that liberal. they really need to be knocked down a peg.

    Reply

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