Katie Rotondi wants to be the Madame Defarge of Sussex County politics. Since becoming Chairwoman of the Sussex County Democrats, she has led stalking parties against her neighbors in Sussex County.
Like Charles Dickens’ villain in A Tale of Two Cities, Rotondi operates out of hatred towards those who disagree with her “revolution” and revenge on Sussex County for having voted for Donald Trump. As she can’t stalk everyone, Rotondi focuses on high profile figures in Sussex County as symbols of all of Sussex County.
Rotondi stalks them, finds something to be offended about, whips her mob into a frenzy, and then demands that her victim is removed. This metaphorical “beheading” was the ultimate fate of those victims of mass persecution during the French Revolution. Their only “crime” was to fail to think or speak in line with how the Katie Rotondies of the world want everyone to think and speak.
It is what Rowan Atkinson calls, “The creeping culture of censoriousness.” Others have called it, “The new intolerance.” It is an attempt to straight jacket thought and speech.
This loss of Freedom is happening all around the world. Indeed, for the first time in recent memory, there is an authoritarian, anti-freedom, economic success story to counter all those arguments put forward by the democracies that prosperity and liberty go hand in hand. There is another way for an economy to prosper, and that is the Chinese Communist way of social credit authoritarianism.
Do we, as Americans, want to go down that road?
Many countries have criminalized opinions that we all once took for granted. Think of our bullying laws run amok and you will have some idea of what it is like to live in a country in which giving “offense” has been criminalized. Some nations, like the United Kingdom, have started to break down those laws and restore freedoms that Americans, for the moment, still possess…
The question for Americans is this: Is the rise of our informal system of punishment really any better than the European criminalization of giving “offense”? Are extra-legal lynch mobs preferable to due process and formal adjudication?
Perhaps the way forward is as Rowan Atkinson prescribes: More speech.