Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

When Does Political Correctness Become Orwellian?

Limiting speech doesn't change the nature of hate, says Josh Lieb. Thoughts can be hateful and stupid—but should they be criminal?\r\n

Josh Lieb: We're America—we can say anything the fuck we want and no one can stop us, and that's great.

In any political time the ability to poke fun at the leader or supposed leader is invaluable. It’s not just a stress relief. I’m not one of those people who sees a whole bunch of nobility in comedy, like it’s a great art and important thing we do, but it’s nice. It’s funny. It’s a good thing, and it really is important in democracy to be able to do that. I’m an absolutist on free speech. I think once we can’t make fun of our leaders… As long as we can make fun of our leaders I’m okay. Once we can’t make fun of the leaders, then I’m concerned about where we’re going.

People sometimes confuse—I think legally you should be able to say anything you want. But then again, if you’re seeing that someone is booked on a tv show who you don’t agree with, you’re not violating anyone’s free speech when you say, “I don’t want to be in a program with that person.” Or if your publishing house is publishing a book by someone you don’t like, there’s no violation of free speech or you’re not impinging on anyone when you say, “I don’t care to be associated with this person.” That's fine. But I do think legally we need to be able to say anything we want to say. 

I'm worried. I'm worried when I see people get in trouble for slips of the tongue; I'm worried when I see interpretation being used to hurt people. 

But the list of words that you cannot say seems to grow. It's never going to get smaller, it's never going to be like, "Well actually you know what go ahead with that one, like, we're cool with that." I think it's fantastic when oppressed groups like sort of reclaim words like when the queer community made queer like “their” word, they said, “All right you can apply that label to us, fine, we'll take pride and we'll slap it on ourselves.” And I think every group does that to a certain extent, or has learned from that example. But once that little demon gets in your head and says, “Can't say that,” we're screwed. 

I worry when there's talk of limiting speech. And I worry—I sound like a grandmother—I don't like hate speech laws. I'm vehemently against them. I think they're as anti-American and anti-democratic and anything you can be. I don't like the idea of criminalizing thought no matter how hateful or stupid the thought is. It sounds like something from 1984. I don't think we make the hate go away by not saying it. Basically I'm Lenny Bruce in Harry Potter, I will say Voldemort's name. It doesn't make Voldemort go away to not say that fucking word. I always curse too much on these things. I'm sorry. 

The road to hell is paved with great intentions. I get it, but it's a bad path for us and the problem is things are so chaotic now, things are at such a high tenor. People are so filled with vitriol that it's very possible that just to get everyone to cool down this is when this kind of stuff could get through, but that would not be American.

 

Josh Lieb is an absolutist when it comes to freedom of speech. As a comedy writer and producer on late night programs like The Daily Show and The Tonight Show, he knows that the freedom to essentially roast leading political figures is vital to true democracy. Jokes made in bad taste may worry you, but you should be absolutely petrified if you’re not hearing jokes and satire at all. It’s the same for hate speech, says Lieb: limiting expression has never changed the nature of hate, it only leads to an Orwellian path—and it’s during these exact moments in history, when the political divisions are so high, that thought criminalization and oppressive control find their way in. Josh Lieb is the author of I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President and Ratscalibur.


The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
Keep reading Show less

The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

Videos
  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
Keep reading Show less

Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

Dinosaur bone? Meteorite? These men's wedding bands are a real break from boredom.

Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.

Sex & Relationships
  • Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
  • Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
  • The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
Keep reading Show less

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

Keep reading Show less
Quantcast