Chicken PastaI was recently asked if I’m concerned about the possibility of “living in a future where people have to be careful what they say, and to whom, for fear they will be attacked.”

I responded that we already live in a present where people have to be careful about those things. In fact, that has pretty much been the status quo for the last 3000 years of human history: there are always crazies who resort to violence in order to shut people up or stop them from violating one social or religious edict or another. The names change, but the game stays the same.

But you can’t hide from it; the deeper you entrench yourself and your personal beliefs to avoid any conflicting or opposing viewpoint to what you already think, the more blinkered and insulated you become.

So when suddenly one finds oneself outed in a group of more socially-active folks who have been culturally compelled to maintain an open mind while basing their opinions on shared empirical evidence (not insular opinion), often such a blinkered mental hermit gets dismissed as a gibbering lunatic.

Lately our society has begun to weirdly demand that everyone be respected (even when such respect is neither earned nor applicable) and that everyone’s point of view and expressed opinion be respected (even when such respect is neither earned nor applicable). So we get inundated with people demanding their views be taken seriously simply because those people happen to subscribe to them, based on whatever evidence (tangible or not) they have decided to find compelling.

Thus: Young Earth Creationism is born, and gets its own museum based on essentially nothing except one interpretation of one holy text, an interpretation which 95% of that holy text’s OTHER adherents don’t accept as factual in precisely the same way. Or Radical Jihadist Islam, supported by only a tiny fraction of Muslims through the world. Or an anti-medical-industry belief in pseudoscience and mysticism, most of which has been completely debunked and proven incorrect a century ago, but which still has the power to create a billion-dollar industry based on grinding up a lot of nothing and calling it a “health supplement,” and keeping it on the market even if it kills people. Thanks, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, for taking the bribes (er, “contributions”) to keep that unregulated industry in business poisoning people. Way to keep it classy, Utah.

Yet despite all the shrieking rhetoric, the following remains true:

You CAN be a white male and still be correct about something. Whether or not you are correct about it typically has ZERO to do with the color of your skin, your sex, or gender. There are objective standards in place to judge whether or not someone is right or wrong about something— peer review, debate by proof, the scientific method, etc. As long as those processes are kept impartial, what is “true” can still be reasonably separated from who the speaker “is.”

And you can ALSO be from a persecuted minority and still be “wrong” about something. Or from a respected majority. Or from some supposedly-hyper-moral religious or moralistic group.

Someone once told me “You cannot be a person of color and be racist.” They told me this in defense of a person of color who had smashed and burned a storefront because (the culprit’s actual quote) “All Koreans are the same, and no better than animals anyway.”

Ridiculous. We can ALL be racist, or bigoted, or intolerant, and wrong. Or correct, or right. No social label carries perfect infallibility with it, on any topic.

Labels are bad, and they divide us. Even when they are adopted to empower the labeled. Once the stars start going on and coming off, and new symbols start being added to the mix, pretty soon ALL THE SNEETCHES WIND UP HIDING IN THEIR OWN CAVES, ignoring and hating all the other sneetches who don’t wear matching badges.

The new social justice agenda to level everyone by demanding that everyone be respected for being right about anything they say— no matter HOW INCORRECT it may be— and the implicit mob threat behind the demand that we must be judged either “right” or “wrong” based NOT ON WHAT WE SAY, DO, OR BELIEVE but rather upon what “label” we pin on ourselves— is precisely the kind of a divisive, fascist paradigm that is the root cause of bigotry and discrimination in the first place.

Cover your ears, close your mind, and hide in your cave. But the world outside won’t vanish, and there IS an objective, provable truth— based in measurable, testable commonality— to which all political and sociological opinions are subject— even if certain opinion-holders are too afraid to submit their opinions to such objective testing.

Maybe it’s really just a game of “pick a side you agree with” and “don’t look when the crazies hiding on your side cross the line into attacking the outspoken people on some OTHER side.”

I want to be on the “leave people alone and let them believe and do what they want to do, as long as it doesn’t include violently oppressing or attacking other people” side.

Except I’m not sure if that’s a side that actually exists.