Have you seen the “controversial” Cheerios commercial yet?

Actually, it’s adorable.

The “controversy” stems from the fact a bunch of neanderthal racists got all torqued up because the commercial features an interracial couple and a biracial child. They spammed the comments section on YouTube to the point that administrators had to shut commenting down. Then the bozos moved over to other Cheerios videos and continued their ugly diatribes there.

As one half of an interracial couple and the proud stepfather of a biracial young lady, I find few things more offensive than this kind of racial venom. It’s disgusting, and I find it difficult to fathom people actually think like that. In fact, judging from my day-to-day interactions with people, I would conclude very few people DO think like that. I’ve never had any real issues with anybody. But post something on the Internet and these dirt-bags crawl out of the woodwork like roaches.

My wife made an interesting point as we discussed the commercial. She pointed out that all of the “political correctness” and censoring of “hate speech” has driven these people underground. They pop up in anonymous forums like YouTube comments because they can safely regurgitate their bile without having to face any real challenge to their ideas. As a friend of mine, who also happens to be in a interracial marriage with biracial children, said, “Broke My wife’s heart but the anonymity of the Internet turns everyone into a tough guy.”

Consider this: maybe our lack of tolerance when it comes to speech isn’t really such a good thing. Maybe pushing these cowards underground actually incubates their hate. As my wife said, “Let them talk out in public. That way I know where they are.”

Philosopher John Stuart Mill made a similar observation in the brilliant defense of free speech included  in On Liberty.

But though we do not now inflict so much evil on those who think differently from us, as it was formerly our custom to do, it may be that we do ourselves as much evil as ever by our treatment of them. Socrates was put to death, but the Socratic philosophy rose like the sun in heaven, and spread its illumination over the whole intellectual firmament. Christians were cast to the lions, but the Christian Church grew up a stately and spreading tree, overtopping the older and less vigorous growths, and stifling them by its shade. Our merely social intolerance, kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion. With us, heretical opinions do not perceptibly gain or even lose, ground in each decade or generation; they never blaze out far and wide, but continue to smoulder in the narrow circles of thinking and studious persons among whom they originate, without ever lighting up the general affairs of mankind with either a true or a deceptive light. And thus is kept up a state of things very satisfactory to some minds, because, without the unpleasant process of fining or imprisoning anybody, it maintains all prevailing opinions outwardly undisturbed, while it does not absolutely interdict the exercise of reason by dissentients afflicted with the malady of thought. A convenient plan for having peace in the intellectual world, and keeping all things going on therein very much as they do already. But the price paid for this sort of intellectual pacification, is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind.

I have to wonder: are all of our efforts to stomp out “unacceptable” speech simply keeping those ideas alive in dark cellars? Maybe the sunlight would kill them once and for all.