If I recall correctly, Brendan O’Neill thinks I’m a complete tosser (in that useful British expression) but he’s on to something here – “Turning Society Into Room 101“:
In the past there were ‘isms’ – racism, sexism – which many recognised as being the products of ideologies that ought to be challenged through rigorous public debate. Now there are phobias – homophobia, Islamophobia, Jewphobia (a new name for anti-Semitism), and Christophobia (a hatred of Christianity, apparently). Or there’s just ‘hatred’: restrictions on ‘hate speech’ are justified on the grounds that it is also blind and irrational. Where the era of isms recognised that people took a decision, however wrong, to be suspicious of black people or to oppose immigration or women in the workplace, the era of phobias treats prejudice and certain moral views as disorders. And thus where you might have had debate, even protests and conflict, in the era of isms, today there are only demands for censorship or re-education to cure people of their irrational way of thinking. (Ironically, homosexuality was once considered to be a mental disorder in need of correction; today, many gay activists and their supporters in government have taken on board very similar language to describe those who are critical or suspicious of homosexuality.)
That’s the beauty of it. Eventually, if you persist in querying gay marriage or the right of women to wear a burqa for their driver’s license photo, they’ll just prescribe a course of pills and some electro-shock treatment and the problem will go away.