The Generation of Outrage

Is this generation too easily offended? Gregor Thomson discusses freedom of speech in the ‘post Weinstein world’.

In the last couple of months, it has been stated that many universities in the UK have restricted free speech with the creation of lists of restricted ‘trigger’ words and the removal of controversial books in libraries. Student unions in the UK also attempted to stop high profile speakers such as former UKIP leader, Nigel Farrage. Although many university spokespeople deny these claims, it still boils up a rising issue in politics and our society itself if the right of free speech is being threatened.

We are suddenly moving into a society of outrage and sensitivity towards offence. This dramatically threatens student’s opportunity for true and critical debate for fear of dangerous thoughts. It’s gotten to the point where universities are banning fancy dress and clapping. Yes, clapping. It’s okay to disagree with what someone has said or dislike the person who said it but we shouldn’t be trying to stop it from being said. This censorious approach to how we interact with one another can only end in the abolition of free speech. Of course, I’m not speaking about anti-Semitic, homophobic, victimised remarks or the generalisation of a certain group of people; however when you ban clapping in safe spaces to avoid people feeling nervous, you know we’ve got a problem. If we restrict people from voicing their true opinions, we could be impeding some important contributions to society, “some of the greatest ideas in human history have caused great offence” says Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Activist.

However, these restrictions have been bubbling to the surface for a long time, the so called, Social Justice Warriors have been harassing people by making allegations of sexual harassment. If I could remind you of an extreme example below.

A couple of years on and this leads me onto what Matt Damon was raged at for late last year, as seen below.

In the interview, Damon, says:

“There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?”

“Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated, without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”

Now, what exactly has Damon said that’s so wrong? He states that child molestation and touching someone’s butt are different. Now, who could possibly disagree? He is not saying any of these assaults are acceptable, or tolerable. However, many took to Twitter to voice their predictable outrage at Damon’s ‘tone deaf’ statements.

blogs-trending-42410104

Source : Twitter

Milano started the #MeToo movement in October, urging people to share their stories of sexual harassment on social media.

Others voiced their outrage towards those offended by Damon’s remarks.

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Source : Twitter

Just last week, Phil Neville was scrutinised for a couple of tweets he posted over 6 years ago.  He tweeted on 1 July 2011:

“Relax I’m back chilled – just battered the wife!!! Feel better now!!!”

He later claimed that he was referring to a table tennis game. It’s a silly mistake to make but it’s just that, a mistake. Another read:

“Morning men couple of hours cricket be4 work sets me up nicely for the day!”

When asked why he failed to mention women, Neville replied:

“When I said morning men I thought the women would have been busy preparing breakfast/getting kids ready/making the beds – sorry morning women!”

Phil Neville was appointed England Women’s Head Coach in January. Image : Daily Star

These are clearly ironic, if you took those tweets seriously or were offended by them, fair enough. But, it’s good to remember this took place on Twitter, as Noel Gallagher would put it, ‘the playground of idiots.’ If you’re offended by something on Twitter, you shouldn’t be on Twitter, it’s full of offensive, controversial posts and outrage.

But this age of outrage and offensiveness is also part of something bigger. With the many brave women who came forward to speak truth about those in power, the disgusting, frankly weird acts some of these Hollywood moguls conducted, something that is rarely discussed is the effect these allegations have on young men in the western world. I’d just like to take the time to reiterate what I said before: I condemn any acts of sexual assault.  But some allegations can have damning effects on the careers of well-established men as well as those who are just starting to make it on the mainstream light.

Although, I’m positive many of the allegations made against those in power in Hollywood are true, I’m afraid we have to face the fact that people lie and SOME of these allegations may not be true, consequently damaging someone’s career and psyche. I think we need to be careful about who we condemn before we have all the information or hard evidence. An example of this comes from allegations that were made and spread by Twitter accusing Rob Damiani-the singer of rock band Don Broco-of inappropriate sexual behaviour with a female after a gig. Damiani spoke out to strongly deny the allegations. The alleged victim has fully retracted her claims, and the band are now looking to ‘draw a line under this whole matter’. The question to be asked is: what if this allegation wasn’t retracted? It is likely that a lot of people would’ve condemned Damiani’s alleged behaviour and his reputation would’ve been tarnished.

Don Broco was falsely denied of sexual assault. Image : NME.com

It becomes dangerous when we assume all men accused are guilty. As Jordan Peterson, Canadian Clinical Psychologist, said in an interview with the BBC:

“…we’re alienating young men- we’re telling them that they’re patriarchal oppressors and denizens of rape culture, and tyrants in waiting and we’ve failed to discriminate between their competence and it’s just awful and it’s so unnecessary.”

So why has this happened? Peterson argues it comes down to resentment:

“it’s people saying instead of looking at the part they play in making the world a dark and terrible place they blame something like the patriarchy and then assume that all the men who compose it are somehow malevolent tyrants…”

It’s alarming when we live in a patriarchal society and blame this on the men of that society and aim the sexual misconduct and assault others have committed on the young men of the western world. We are discriminating against men due to factors (gender) outside their control. Disenfranchised men are being left behind in this modern world. Although these views are perhaps controversial and an argument against the mainstream narrative, the power of free speech should allows us to be able to; listen to this alternative narrative, make an informed decision on how they view this argument, and debate it constructively and civilly.

If this assumption of men continues, we may well have male children growing up with no clue of where they stand in the world, their responsibility and how to work properly in the modern world. If we continue to restrict and threaten free speech, we are edging ever closer to a dystopian Armageddon.

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