It’s not good enough among certain segments of our population to simply disagree with ideas or religions or sexual practices. If you disagree with a media-favored group, you catch a phobia. It’s become an epidemic. But unlike other epidemics, there is no patient zero. No one knows who started the homophobic or Islamophobic name calling, yet it’s become the most popular form of stifling dissent, way less messy than truncheons and jackboots. The effects are more insidious than bloodier methods.
A language is how we communicate with each other, and arbitrarily changing the meaning of words is not a casual thing, it destroys truth itself. A phobia is an irrational fear marked by dramatic physiological changes and severe anxiety. Sufferers of real phobias should rise up against the labelers for denigrating their experience. The truth is that almost no one who disagrees with homosexual practices is phobic, and almost no one who disagrees with the Islamic concept of God is phobic. They disagree. If their disagreements become expressed through harm, they should be held accountable by the law, like all of us.
There is something far more insidious going on though. When any person or group deliberately changes the meaning of words to promote their cause or to stifle dissent, they undermine the truths on which their culture is based. The Nazis were masters of language twisting and disinformation, of the sowing of suspicion and fear, but then again that’s what totalitarians do. The spirit and core of totalitarianism is the drive to control what others do and even how they think. Totalitarian methods may differ, but as messy as the truncheon and jackboot are, they are less effective at stifling dissent than hate labeling and language manipulation. Yes, I am saying that labeling disagreement as “hate-speech” or labeling someone who disagrees that homosexuality is healthy as a “homophobe” (which automatically means that whatever they say is “hate speech) is ultimately more damaging to a “free society” than truncheons and dungeons and is a more insidious method for stifling disagreement.
Those who love truth and are not ashamed of themselves have no reason to fear disagreement. Those who cannot stand to even listen to a dissenting opinion loathe themselves or their own practices. How better to explain the rabid hatred they display towards disagreement while they simultaneously claim to love free speech?