Lydia Perovic, a journalist who was thrilled to emigrate to Canada to escape Slobodan Milosevic’s authoritarianism, writes that her adopted country is becoming much less free — because of the woke left. Excerpts:
Today, the consequences of unpopular speech are swifter and measurably harsher than they were even a few years ago. What’s also new is the tenor of the left’s embrace of censorship — often of fellow leftists. Cases are piling up fast, but one of the most stunning remains the removal of a Sky Gilbert play from Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, in retaliation for a couple of unrelated posts on Gilbert’s personal blog, in which he expressed some dislike for the writing of a younger member of the LGBTQ cohort and for the general culture of wokeness. Lengthy “Do better!” threads followed on Twitter, with the magic word “harmful” especially prominent. And lo, within days, Gilbert’s previously scheduled, announced, and promoted-in-brochures anniversary reading of Drag Queens in Outer Space was forthcoming no more. (Shakespeare’s Criminal was gone too, but that came later.)
How is this even legal? I’ve lived with both left and right authoritarianism, but I have never witnessed such a swift removal of a play — not even under Miloševic, when theatre was a centre of opposition activity. And what does this say about how online activists understand critics and criticism and what they are for?
This is new. The quality and quantity of punishments for expressed opinions or aesthetic choices are different than just a handful of years ago. This reminds me of a different time and place. What is happening, Canada? What are we hurtling toward? Perhaps a time when the left will see hate speech in every disagreement, while the right will continue to run the world. A time when the autonomy of science and art will be abandoned in favour of a more pressing societal value. A re-enchanted time, when journalists and historians look feeble next to the mythmakers. A time that we immigrants from countries with eventful histories know well and can spot from afar.
Emphasis mine. This is at the core of the thesis of my next book, which, I can tell you now, will have this title: Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents.
My book focuses on Christian experiences under Soviet totalitarianism, and is addressed to Christian readers. But as Lydia Perovic makes clear, this is by no means a strictly Christian challenge.
UPDATE: A reader who is a college professor e-mails:
Last semester, I had to deal with cops three times because my students are reporting each other to the police over threatening behavior in the classroom. “How would you describe the incident?” “There was no incident I am aware of”. Was the violent encounter a glance, a raised eyebrow, a corroboration/correction of somebody else’s statement? Who knows? The cops are nonplussed by this. They are getting dozens of anonymous reports like this a week.
This is the generation of elites who will welcome a pink police state, you know.