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Commentary: The crowd can be as tyrannical as any leader

A righteous crowd can be as tyrannical as any leader.

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Timea Hajdú

The tyranny of the crowd can be worse than that of any political leader, columnist Tímea Hajdú writes on Hungarian news portal neokohn.hu. The portal defines itself as “a foreign policy-oriented Jewish conservative-liberal news and opinion portal.

Last week, US democrats aspiring at becoming presidential candidates attended an LGBT event, answering questions. One of them, Beto O’Rourke of Texas said he would lift the tax exemption of the Christian institutions that oppose gay marriage. The crowd cheered him.

Recently a UK court ruled that the belief in the Bible offends the rights and dignity of transgender people.

At their core, both cases are about freedom of speech and curtailing freedom of conscience.

The man in the UK brought to court was a doctor who refused to call a biological male identifying himself as a woman, a woman and was subsequently fired from his job. The fact that this man had to sue his former employer and the judge quoted the Bible when ruling against him is a clear indication that political correctness has not only been confined to stupid and self-serving academic debates but is in fact threatening classic freedom rights that have so far been considered self-evident in both Europe and the United States.

Some still claim that the debates are about acceptance. They claim that supporting “variety” is a fundamental part of progression. But they tend to forget that acceptance must, by definition, be voluntary. The moment it ceases to be that, it is called coercion. Even more so because modern “acceptance” is no longer based on the “live and let live” principle, but demands people to approve of things that go against their own core values.

The fundamental contradiction here is that those advocating political correctness, in their efforts to eliminate the oppression of divergence, would also annihilate freedom of speech. 19th century British liberal thinker John Stuart Mill said that the essence of freedom rights is to protect people from oppression. But he also said that oppression is not necessarily the prerogative of the state: society itself can also be oppressive.

One of the greatest sins of political correctness is that it robs words of their true meaning.

Nowadays anyone can be labeled racist without the slightest hint of evidence. For example, Donald Trump is often labeled racist, Nazi and fascist, none of which can be proven.

So those striving to overwrite such basics as gender, are essentially also destroying the very freedom rights others have been demanding for generations in the same forward-thinking countries as the United States or the UK. But humanity is not just a population of lab rats that can be replaced should the experiment go wrong. Much more caution should be applied before throwing out the window one set of freedoms in the name of another set.


Title image: Women’s rights march in the US in October 2018