I’ve known some fine people, in my time, who happened to be black. I enjoyed their company and genuinely valued them as friends. What would they think if they saw some of the comments I’ve made online about blacks in general? Most likely, they would feel betrayed. Perhaps even violated – because they would assume that I had been deceiving them, pretending to like them while I actually hated them in my heart. Confronted with two personae (one flesh and blood and the other an online entity), they’ll choose the online persona as the “real” one. It’s easy to see why; the anonymity of the internet allows people to express their true feelings while doing so in public, or at work, comes with serious risks. A more mature approach would be to ask me what I meant by my online comments and why I posted them. Then, if they listened, they would realize that there is no contradiction. Racial differences express themselves on the group/societal level. An individual can be what he chooses to be; there is always some level of free choice when it comes to being forgiving versus vindictive, charming versus offensive, hard-working versus lazy.
I don’t think it should be our business to determine what secret emotions might lie deep within the psyches of our acquaintances. Some of my best friends might be secret anti-Semites or anti-libertarians or anti-American. As long as they treat me right and express no such animosity toward me, it makes no difference to me that, deep inside, there’s an ember of hate. I suspect we all have private feelings we’d rather not reveal to our friends, family and co-workers. One could only imagine the chaos that would ensue if all of our innermost thoughts became public. Society would probably collapse.
We have free will regarding what comes out of our mouths. I’m not sure we have free will regarding what comes into our minds. Such things should certainly not be held against us. I opine that internet posts are, in some cases, closer to thought than to speech. If speech is a private matter that should not be limited by government, how much more so free thought. But now I’ve strayed from the topic of this post.