Is Modern Society preventing us from Telling the Truth?
Laws exist throughout the UK and wider western world that protect our right to freedom of expression. Running parallel to this right there is ‘Hate Speech’ legislation that to some extent curtails such freedom of expression. For those wanting to learn more about existing legislation in the UK click hate speech v free speech. However, in this article we seek to examine whether our society is actually preventing us from telling the truth.
Whether you remember your first day at school or the first sporting event you won, most of us can relate to a time when it was OK to win. Indeed winning was encouraged. Now in our ‘progressive’ world everyone is a winner even if they lose.
Critical thinking included in education taught us how to debate one opinion as opposed to another. Debate could often become heated but one way or another we debated topics freely without fear of being pilloried by the opposing side. These debates were often sponsored by the Round Table and if we won, we would proudly return home clutching our public speaking prize – a certificate, a medal and a Parker pen.
Arguing points on different topics helped us to learn that not everyone agrees. Sometimes you can win someone over to your side but at others not. It prepared us to go out into the world in knowledge that we would from time to time meet opposition.
The Oxford Union has been hosting debates from as far back as 1823. Universities all of Britain have also encouraged debate. But in recent years something disturbing has begun to insidiously creep into society.
There now appears to be an idea germinating that refusing to listen to anything that is offensive is a human right as opposed to a choice. Indeed rather confusing hate speech laws can easily be interpreted to suggest it is a right.
Various speakers have been denied a platform in some universities with pressure brought to bear by student unions. Some students might be offended by what certain speakers say. Therefore, they are banished never to be heard.
Young people are now brought up to believe that offense is given, rather than taken. Major search engines such as Google, the mainstream and social media channels all appear to subscribe to this view. Many of our politicians do too.
Identity politics has flourished under the banner of ‘political correctness’. More dangerously the sentiment that “if you are not with us, you are against us” is thriving.
The human element
Despite this rather protective world we are living in one fact has not changed. As humans we are all individuals, capable of independent thought. The danger of shutting down views that may offend us is that we live in an echo chamber, listening only to those who agree with us.
Most people have read the tale of the “Emperor’s New Clothes”. As he wanders around naked, no one dares to suggest that his “new clothes” actually don’t exist. He is not wearing any but all who see him lie and state that they can see them. No one is telling the truth.
Lie detector tests and telling the truth
There is no doubt that most of us bend the truth occasionally or tell ‘white lies’ so as not to ‘hurt another’s feelings’. The average person never willingly offends another if it can be helped. But how far does not telling the truth in order not to offend, extend? How do you know that by not telling the truth, you won’t offend someone more when they find out?
If you go abroad and someone from a different culture says something to offend you, how will you cope? And what about unscrupulous individuals who will say they weren’t telling the truth because they thought you might be offended?
It’s actually a licence to tell lies about almost anything and perhaps this may be the reason lie detector tests are becoming more popular. Telling the truth to a polygraph examiner will never offend since the examiner is an unbiased, uninvolved individual who administers the test.
So if ‘political correctness’ and the right to not be offended proceeds along these ‘progressive’ line much further, people will lie with alacrity because they simply can. These lies can traverse the entire spectrum of our lives including at work, at home and anywhere else a liar chooses not to offend! In a world where we can be anything we want to be and win even if we lose, there exists a liar’s paradise.
We welcome our readers’ comments.