Denník N

Grab Me and I’ll Sue You

16-year-old Ben Franklin quoting a London Journal from 1720, now enshrined in U.S. Congress. Picture – Flickr/k_donovan11 (CC BY 2.0)
16-year-old Ben Franklin quoting a London Journal from 1720, now enshrined in U.S. Congress. Picture – Flickr/k_donovan11 (CC BY 2.0)

Can one injustice be repaired with another? Can you protect groups by suppressing the individual?

Donald Trump is a buffoon (potentially a dangerous one), and I’m a Bernie Sanders fan, but Trump is correct in lambasting political correctness that leads to absurdities like yesterday’s Washington Post editorial. Piers Morgan (also a minor buffoon) is likewise correct in saying that anyone suing others over something like this is relinquishing self-respect.

Was the campaign manager unnecessarily rude? Yeah, one may say so (even the surveillance video doesn’t tell the whole story), and if so, he might deserve a slap in the face, as such a brief (and apparently accidental) encounter might have been resolved in a more distant past; one might be congratulating the journalist if she slapped him right there and then. But to have someone charged and arrested over this is hair-raising.

(Especially after exaggerating – less benign observers might say: lying about – the incident; there was no “yank down”, and the grab appears to have occurred in the area of the journalist’s left elbow or perhaps even slightly above it, whereas the bruises photographed in the journalist’s tweet can be seen well below the elbow; this might well be medically explained – I’m not a doctor. The Washington Post, in its fervor, appears to have included an outright lie in its editorial, perhaps only metaphorically intended, in claiming that the video shows the manager with “his hands” on the journalist, although only the manager’s left hand seems to have interacted with the other person’s arm.)

To see much of the respectable media applauding and cheering on the police charge and arrest is equally stupefying. Given Trump’s attacks on journalists and veiled threats against them, their animus towards him is understandable, but can one injustice be repaired with another?

I wonder how a nation whose culture glorifies the image of “tough guys” (and nowadays “tough gals”, too, no doubt) can be so prone to litigation. One would expect such addiction to suing and counter-suing from a nation of weaklings. Political correctness has been rearing its ugly head in Europe, too, but hopefully we’ll never get to experience its excesses to the degree this can be seen these days in the US.

America is the land of freedom, but political correctness is the enemy of freedom; it is therefore perplexing to see the two in such close marriage there. Unlike in Europe, you can freely operate a Neo-Nazi party in the US, because that is supposed to be guaranteed by the First Amendment, protecting free speech. But in the same US (unlike in Europe – at least for now, for the most part), you cannot speak your mind freely on certain matters, if it contravenes political correctness. Therefore, it appears that political correctness now takes precedence over the First Amendment in the US.

The exercise of freedom is limited by your not limiting the freedom of others – but this basic tenet seems neglected by proponents of political correctness who, for the sake of allegedly protecting the dignity of groups, do not hesitate to encroach upon individual freedom. Again, it’s highly ironic for a country like the US, that has traditionally extolled individualism, to suddenly switch gears in order to protect the alleged interests of groups or collectives (something one might more readily associate with Communist regimes) at the expense of individual freedom.

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Alexander Avenarius

Prekladateľ, korektor, tlmočník, učiteľ jazykov, správca serverov. Milovník elektronickej literatúry a mobilných prístrojov (čiže digitálny knihomoľ), študent filozofie a filmov, polyglot, grafoman, hobby-recenzent. Tvorca alternatívneho rozloženia slovenskej klávesnice. Môj alternatívny blog je na adrese extempore.avenarius.sk. Svoje knižné, filmové a iné recenzie posielam – vzhľadom na prehlbujúcu sa nefunkčnosť portálov IMDb a Amazon – aj do blogu AveKritik.com.