End Of Discussion: How the Left’s Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, And Makes America Less Free (And Fun), by Mary Katherine Ham and Guy Benson
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/Crown Forum in exchange for an honest review.]
Although this is one of several books promoting the Conservatarian political viewpoint in recent months , and despite the fact that I am not a Conservatarian myself, there is much to enjoy about this book. Both of the authors have a humorous and breezy style that makes the book feel shorter than its length (277 pages) because it such an easy book to enjoy. There is a lot of wit and sarcasm to be found here, and the authors both manage to focus their attention on the way in which the partisan and biased social and mainstream media enforcers, well-funded by a cabal of left-wing political action committees, seeks to shut down any kind of debate, discussion, or even humor about areas it deems offensive. The book chronicles, in wry and deeply biting references, the way in which this behavior over the past generation or so has led to the shutting down of free inquiry in America’s colleges and universities, threatened the viability of our social and political order, and led to the growth of tendencies to self-censor and self-critique that are ultimately harmful for our honesty and openness as a society.
In terms of its organization, the book is divided into ten chapters, each of which deals with a different aspect of the Left’s manufactured outrage industry, although the book, to be fair-minded, does comment on the more limited efforts at manufacturing outrage from the right that have happened as a response to the Left’s actions. The chapters talk about the politicization of our contemporary existence, detail how the outrage racket works using case studies, discusses race-baiting as a silencing strategy for worthwhile debate and discussion, talks about the speech policing of colleges and universities, and then looks specifically at issues related to feminism, double standards for leftist radicals, gay rights, and the war on comedy. During the course of the book there are three smaller mini-chapters on the issues of voter identification, abortion, and gun control—clearly the authors do not shy away from a controversy. And despite the breezy tone of the book, which manages to discuss everything from Cards Against Humanity to the Vagina Monologues to RuPaul’s reality television show, the book has some surprisingly poignant personal touches, as when one of the authors of the book manages to out himself in a footnote, not coincidentally in the chapter on homosexuality and genuine tolerance .
Yet despite the fact that this book is well-written and humorous, there is an underlying tone of alarm present in this book. Even if the advice at the end seems somewhat reluctant, the situation is worthy of grave concern. After all, we are at the point where people lose their livelihoods over politically motivated witch hunts, where free speech is paid lip service, but where in practice some people’s speech are freer than others, depending on whether they are able to marshal a large body of people to support them in the case of a public controversy. Having witnessed in my own life the harrowing and immensely damaging results of oversensitivity and a lack of interest in understanding others but rather feeding personal grievances, this book is like laughing and whistling while walking past a graveyard, where what is buried is our ability for self-examination, our sense of humor about ourselves, and our ability to discuss anything of importance with those who disagree with us, because of the rapidly declining levels of societal respect and ability to agree to disagree without being disagreeable. Furthermore, the book encourages us to look at ourselves and to reflect upon the way that our times have changed us in ways that are not praiseworthy and that are ultimately threatening to ourselves and our ability to live lives as honest and candid people, without fear of repercussions for exposing the truths that lie in our hearts and minds in the harsh glare of our country’s outrage culture.
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