Why Silencing Christians will Continue

by Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

WASHINGTON, DC, April 24, 2014 (Crisis Magazine) -- The number of subjects we cannot talk about in public discourse are rapidly multiplying. The older notion of “free speech” as a search for the truth through reasonable argument is being replaced. We no longer want to hear speech if it “offends” someone’s feelings or self-defined identity. We would rather “just get along” than to have to decide about the truth of any issue or confront the consequences of its violation.

Rev. James Schall, SJ

We thus have become infinitely “tolerant” of anything but truth itself. Speech is not directed to truth or falsity of an issue but to the “sensitivity” and “compassion” of those who hear it. “Objective” standards are subject to the listener’s “right” to hear only what he wants to hear. Thus, whatever is “permitted” in positive or civil law becomes a “right” for those who follow it. Furthermore, we cannot criticize the law as if there were some “standard” by which to judge its worth. There are no standards as there is no nature on which to base them. “Hate speech” laws become effective tools to suppress any objective judgment about the rightness or wrongness of what is legislated or practiced.

Academia and the press were once considered places where delicate and sensitive topics could be more freely discussed without being compromised by human passions. This presumption is no longer the case. Universities and the media are more likely to participate in the suppression of truth or objective reasoning than their advocates. The phrase “political correctness” accurately describes a culture that seeks to silence challenges to ruling orthodoxies. Arguments become unwelcome because they might challenge our way of life.

Moral Attitudes Change in Dramatic Ways
Something new has occurred that serves to further expand the list of things that can only be approved, but never discussed critically. Let us suppose that we have a classroom of high school or college students, or even a church congregation or a public meeting of some sort. We cannot presume that any audience we encounter is firmly rooted in a single culture. We must assume that, in the body of listeners, we will find the results of what may be called “lived multiculturalism.” That is, in any audience, congregation, or classroom, we will find not a few listeners with divorced parents, relatives, or friends. We will find others who either have had or assented to abortions, even euthanasia.

More and more, also, we will have young people born of in vitro fertilization techniques, whether of parents or various surrogates. We will even find those conceived in vitro but born of a third mother who carried the conception to its completion when the fertilized cells were implanted in her womb. We do not yet have actual clones, but these sorts of lives are certainly being pursued by scientists. We will find women who insist on conceiving children long after the normal ending of their natural fertility cycle. We hear of men who have impregnated many, many women.

Continue reading

Copyright © 2004–2012 Catholics for the Common Good®
Permission granted for use of content with attribution to