One of the ways you can tell that the creeping totalitarianism of progressives seeking to enforce thought and speech conformity on us all “for the greater good” is getting closer is that advocacy for punishing thought has become mainstream. Indeed, it’s respectable. The supporters of punishing Americans not only for conduct but for “wrongthink” (“1984” lexicon might as well be considered common tongue today) are now not even slightly hesitant to reveal their goal: Agree with them, or lose jobs, friends, associations—rights.
A smoking gun in this regard is an op-ed page (the Times doesn’t call them op-eds any more for some reason: I don’t care) dominating essay by regular Lindsay Crouse—not to be confused with the now-retired actress of the same name—titled “‘Cancel Culture’ Isn’t the Problem. ‘OK Culture’ Is.” Using the firing of NFL coach Jon Gruden as her launching pad, Crouse argues that America is too tolerant of jerks and others who say or think things people like her—you know, good people—-object to, disagree with or find offensive.
“Here’s how it works,” the aspiring censor writes. “Do you have a sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic or fat-shaming thought? Are you smart enough to know you shouldn’t say it in public but want to say it anyway? Are you a powerful and successful person? If so, just make your mean remark or crass joke to a select group who hold similar views or at least wouldn’t dare challenge yours. Don’t worry. It’s OK!”
The writer apparently thinks this statement is so self-evidently ridiculous that she doesn’t feel it necessary to explain why expressing ideas, thoughts and beliefs that she regards as per se unacceptable to those who don’t feel as she does must be prevented and punished. “A common aspect of OK Culture is the tendency to look the other way when someone is professionally excellent but personally awful,” she adds later. Wait a minute: if the individual is really professionally excellent, then he or she isn’t “awful” in the workplace. Not being able to interact professionally with colleagues and subordinates is not professional excellence. So Crouse is referring to personal, private opinions, beliefs, tastes and speech habits that have no relationship to the workplace at all—in short, opinions, beliefs and speech habits that are none of the employing organization’s damn business, none of the government’s damn business, none of public accommodations’ damn business, and especially none of Lindsay Crouse’s damn business.
Crouse doesn’t understand what is so wrong with her position, because Crouse, like a frightening number of progressives today, no longer supports, if she ever did, pluralism and basic individual freedoms. After all, it is all those stick-in-the-mud, racist conservatives who are blocking the progress of the current push to make the United States a socialist, Leftist paradise.
Who gets to define “sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic or fat-shaming” so the miscreants who hold such beliefs can be swiftly destroyed? Why, people who agree with Lindsay Crouse, like, presumably, the New York Times editors and staff! “Sexist” is not thinking Hillary Clinton or Kamala Harris wouldn’t make dandy Presidents. “Racist” is not falling into line behind Black Lives Matter, and objecting to college admissions, hiring and promotions that are based on racial discrimination. “Xenophobic” means opposing the enforcement of immigration laws. “Homophobic” means not wanting to have Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special banned. “Fat-shaming” is making fun of Rosie O’Donnell, like Donald Trump did, but not making fun of the late Rush Limbaugh, because he deserved it, the fat Nazi. It’s all so clear!
The essay quickly veers into Soviet snitch-on-your-neighbor-and co-worker, Comrade! territory, which is the logical next step. After all, you can’t destroy someone guilty of wrongthink if nobody knows what they’re thinking. She writes,
“A 2018 analysis of internal whistle-blower hotline reports at public U.S. companies showed that encouraging employees to speak up, and listening to them when they do, is crucial to curbing bad behavior and toxic culture, reported Harvard Business Review. When employees recognize behaviors minor and major as not OK — and report them — companies face fewer lawsuits and pay out less in settlements.”
So now whistle-blowing is supposed to flag beliefs and opinions, not only conduct. Remember, Jon Gruden is the test case here, and Gruden was fired for his private emails that surfaced in a separate investigation years later. Thus the author believes “Pssst! He emails tasteless jokes to some friends!” is something workplace whistleblowers should be reporting to company managers. Also, presumably, “He owns a MAGA hat!” “He thinks Dave Chappelle is funny!” “He’s told friends that Joe Biden is senile!” warrant the same laudable treatment.
Then, without any evidence or even an argument, Crouse uses the examples of sexual abusers in various well-publicized scandals to prove her point, when they have nothing whatsoever to do with her point. What sexual abusers do is a crime, and it doesn’t matter if they have never expressed a controversial thought in their lives. Her implied argument, however, is that those who have bad thoughts, make tasteless jokes and have politically incorrect beliefs do bad things—except that wasn’t her own definition of “OK Culture.” Larry Nasser, the sick doctor who abused female gymnasts for decades, was not “professionally excellent” by any definition of the phrase. What is he doing in the op-ed?
He’s there, along with references to the scandals in the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, Enron, Theranos, Hollywood and elsewhere, because Crouse’s crude, oppressive, ominous and totalitarian message is that people who have private thoughts and opinions that people like her—you know, progressives, Democrats—find repugnant will surely commit real crimes sooner or later, so we need to purge society of them now, or at least intimidate and frighten them sufficiently that they change their ways. Look how she ends her piece:
“I suspect that many of those still mad about Gruden’s firing are worked up not just on his behalf. They’re horrified by his punishment because they fear it themselves. They may be able to recall or imagine themselves thinking, and saying, similar things in private conversation. So they shrug off Gruden’s offense with the well-worn excuse of locker room banter and cry “cancel culture.”But that helps nothing. It’s time to stop litigating whether these punishments are fair and to start thinking more deeply about why the behavior they punish seemed OK in the first place. And if others who act like Gruden are scared, perhaps they should be. More important, they should change.”
The Ehics Alarms analysis: Crouse’s essay and the Times decision that it is worth publishing are far, far more harmful and dangerous than Jon Gruden’s ugly emails. At least he had the good sense to try to keep them private: he wasn’t making an effort to encourage racist and sexist behavior. Crouse’s essay, however, creates a threat to all Americans who want to keep the right to believe or say things that Lindsay Crouse and her mob disagree with, and that is a threat to democracy itself.
Is it time for Gina again already? It is.