On July 6, 1535, the former Lord Chancellor and Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Thomas More lost his head for standing up to Henry VIII. His chief crime was to believe that the will of God was superior to that of the King. Up until the passing of the verdict against him, More never even said that this was what he believed, but he didn’t deny it, either. Silence was no defence. In the febrile reign of Henry VIII, you could as easily be condemned for what you didn’t say as what you did. Political correctness demanded the fervent positive affirmation of novel political orthodoxies — much as it does today.
These days, quiet forbearance won’t cost you your head, though if you aren’t careful, it might just cost you your job. And twenty-first century intolerance has one other advantage over the sixteenth century variety: if your politics make you unemployable everywhere else, at least now there’s YouTube. It may not be the Chancery or the Privy Council, but if you’re charismatic and you’ve got something to say, you just might be able to eke out a living peddling opinions online.
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