Being the enforcer of speech codes can be lonely in my not-yet-fully-imagined futuristic Orwellian musical. In this song, I assume the role of a police officer charged with finding and eradicating non-state-sponsored materials littering the landscape of communication. Enthusiasm in the first half turns to gripes about the daily grind of destroying samizdat. Thanks to my daughter for lending her voice talent by uttering on of her favorite phrases, “Shut up!”
“Never discuss politics or religion at the dinner table,” so the saying goes. I spent a few minutes trying to track down the origin of this idiom without success. I did find several discussion boards where posters intimate that their mothers told them that. I’m left to assume this is a saying as old as these two institutions.
In case you haven’t noticed, people regularly ignore this idiom in the context of politics in two situations (I shall willfully ignore the “religion” part in this essay):
- In a meatspace social situation, when they assume their viewpoints match those of their present company; or
- on social media.
There is, however, a conundrum: Breaking this idiom consistently underscores the efficacy of it. Emotions, assumptions, and overconfidence lead to name calling, ridicule, career-ending bloviating, and even violence.
Why break the idiom at all, then?
Virtue signaling is a ubiquitous presence in Internet social justice rhetoric. That is why, when I discovered the following YouTube rant by conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, I was amused. I had discovered the Mother of All Virtue Signals.
I don’t harbor any sort of animus toward Ben. He does, however, seem to be overreaching in his conservative punditry with this video in which he admits that, if he *were* for censorship, he would burn every copy of John Lennon’s Imagine.
Have a look, then I’ll break it down: