The words of movie heroes are now igniting real passion in the hearts of people in Thailand, moving them to take a symbolic action: raising three fingers into the air. If this goes against government wishes and leads to arrests being made then these protesters will go to jail for referencing a fictional story from a movie.

Hunger Games is shaking the world? Maybe. It is certainly not going to usher in a new era, much as we fans may wish. Why would strict governments be wary of this film, then? Because the message of Hunger Games is the immorality of tyranny, and the virtue of justified revolt.

Popular culture seems to have created a worldwide narrative of “freedom,” though it’s still as vague and hazy as the fictional sources it’s being extracted from to find its final shape. At the end of the day Katniss is a fictional character living in a fabricated world conceived of by her creator Suzanne Collins.

She is not taking real action, not facing consequences for marching in the streets, she may be the spark that lights the kindling—but the kindling has to be there to light. The heart of revolution lies in the people. Fictional characters don’t create social change, people do.

Well, that is true, although it’s nothing new or surprising. Did anyone think Winston Smith (of 1984) was actually to have an impact in Soviet Russia? Of course not! That was why Orwell set his socialist myth on the Isles, warning a free people not to relinquish authority to their government. What about Dagny Taggart (Atlas Shrugged)? Same idea, essentially.

No, fictional characters do not do the leg work. However, they do fire up the passions and steel the determination of real people, those real people who actually drive society.

China’s policy of hiding ideas from its people is screaming out the flaws inherent in their system. Can there be any quality in a society that has to shelter itself from all ideological competition? Doubtful.

In fact, one can scarcely have confidence in a system but for testing it; one of the reasons America was meant to be a federalist society. As originally envisioned, each state would try different things and discover what worked and what didn’t. Such an enterprise on the scale of our states should allow foolishness to be assuaged and wisdom to be embraced. Whether or not anyone actually learns the lessons  and discards of foolishness is another matter, I must admit…

China, though, concerned about the content of Mockingjay Part 1? Why? After all, the rebels aren’t praying in it. Is the communist government of Beijing really terrified enough to withhold a movie about rebellion? Did they ban Star Wars too?

Perhaps a state that has lived and breathed propaganda for the better part of a century can appreciate the power of an idea. Thus, for communists to retain authority, the people must remain ignorant of all which challenges communism and Chinese ultra-nationalism. If I had to guess, I would speculate that China is very wary of this film, because of how frankly it depicts the manufacturing of propaganda to support a cause, both for District 13 and for the Capitol.

China cannot let any more holes develop in their once-airtight seal on the minds of the Chinese people.

How disgraceful that so many millions have their access to alternative ideas closed off! Right?


Maybe they should ban Mockingjay Part 1 on most college campuses too… Or relegate it to the tiny free speech zones.

Maybe, just maybe, free speech is important, not so that we may all agree on everything lest someone be offended. Maybe free speech is valuable because speech which is disfavored must be evaluated in free and open debate in the marketplace of ideas.

In America, we have come to a point where many topics are avoided altogether, or if not avoided, people tiptoe around them as though a single syllable out of place could mean the end of their public image. This is not just the politicians. Many regular people quietly refuse to speak, lest someone level an accusation against them. If they speak, they take care to know what ears hear.

In America, most poor blacks who are victims of crimes are victimized by young black men who are ingrained into a thug culture. Talk about it? You’re instantly labelled a racist.

Meanwhile, protests go on for one black man who was shot by a white police officer. A tragedy to be sure, but a mere 250 miles away, the shooting of dozens of black men goes quietly unmentioned, because many of the suspects are non-white. Where is the cry to stop this tragedy?

I do not denounce the protestors, only the focus. But the moment anyone brings this up, the shouts of racist begin.

Similarly, college campuses have become stagnant. Either you agree with the modern feminist pandemonium, or you are helping rapists. No room is left for debate and polite disagreement. Agree, or else…

The environment. If you want free market solutions to the problems of pollution and congestion, you are denounced as a shill for the oil companies, and you must want to destroy the whole planet. You’re worse than a holocaust denier, your children should be taken away to re-education camp, and your house should be burned down! Sounds reasonable enough a position, right?

Everywhere in America we’re surrounded by atrociously awful bureaucracies that fail miserably at even the most basic of tasks. Some of us say that it’s probably not best to empower these chronically inept bureaucrats with the healthcare of the people. To that, we’re accused of being rich misers who want the poor to die off and work for slave wages. Never mind that those two goals are paradoxical!

Of government dependency programs, we want people to be weaned off the addicting support of government. We want social workers to see those they want to help as people, and not permanent victims. We want government to stop wasting all of the human potential of those they proclaim to help. That makes us fatcats, robber barons, and one-percenters. Never mind the fact that I have not once made $30,000 a year yet…

I could go on, but you get the idea. And you may disagree with my position on most of these specific issues, and that’s fine! However, we ought to at the very least agree that it is better to be able to talk openly and freely about these issues, without the fear of mob tactics being used to silence discussion.

Harmony is not a Mexican standoff, where no one shoots, lest everyone be shot. Harmony is not all disfavored opinions remaining unspoken, lest a savage reprisal follow a politically incorrect phrase.

Harmony is when people agree to disagree. Hear each opinion, remain civil, discuss, disagree, and go on with their lives.

Or agree.

That’s the real key to free speech! How else do you convince someone to change his opinion but to discuss and debate with him? Mere dictation of the ‘appropriate’ opinion makes you… a dictator.

Free speech means everyone needs to have thick enough skin to hear things they dislike. If you come to pieces because you dislike what someone says, then you need to go to de-sensitivity training. If micro-aggressions are your overriding concern in life, then things must be pretty peachy keen. If you unfriend every single person on Facebook who disagrees with you, are you really an open minded person? Can you really believe in free speech and refuse to hear anything that challenges your view?

One can hardly blame the people of Thailand for picking up on the simple expression of a salute, which can be imbued with as much political weight as it had in Catching Fire. I sincerely hope fans of The Hunger Games can overcome whatever repression and intimidation they face from their governments.

And I hope we in the West can refuse this nonsense about abridging the freedom of speech in the name of stopping anyone from having hurt feelings. Being polite and gentle is all well and good, but when sensitivity demands dishonesty and delusion from all of society, sensitivity becomes but a vehicle for expanded state authority.

Let us be free and civil, the world over. If you strip our freedom from us, then you shall not have our civility too.