There have been many takes on the Intellectual Dark Web; serious, funny, and antagonistic. What isn’t often said is that that each member of this “movement” would likely happily see it abandoned as soon as conversation on “taboo” topics can be had without risk of reputational suicide. One of the more common criticisms heard amongst likely IDW members is that forming a tribe to attack the notion of tribes is ridiculous, but this purposefully navigates around the fact that these people have been pushed together due to the shared desire to talk about crazy subjects like evolutionary psychology or the pros and cons of immigration. More over, they appreciate when these conversations can be had without the Sword of Damocles hanging over head to be dropped if the other participant feels attacked or offended. We all have the capacity to be offended but it is not a virtue, and as Sam so eloquently put it we can not allow it to continue functioning in people like an epistemological principle.
How did we even get here? With here being a state in which to say anything against the group think of whichever echo chamber you exist within is to guarantee ostracisation with very little hope of recompense. As with anything complex the reasons are likely innumerable, but we can tackle some of the bigger factors.
What can appear to be a public conversation is often a disguised performance where two or more people supposedly engaged in a debate are not tackling the ideas of one another, but are speaking through the other person to their audience. While this has ramped up tremendously now that most of us have our own audience via social networks it is something that we have seen in politics for a while. Politicians can say so much and yet absolutely nothing of value, indeed it is by avoiding meaningful topics that most keep their career. We have all become politicians, pre-empting how what we say could be misconstrued, but as Douglas Murray has said, if we speak or write in such a way that dishonest critics cannot speak dishonestly about our words we will say nothing at all.
Perhaps yet another problem is the nature of global communication itself. With the scope of discourse having been widened to encompass anybody with an internet connection the meaning of words too had broadened, to the detriment of productive debate. What was once a useful step in the argumentation process - the definition of terms - is now an absolute necessity if people want something other than talking past one another. A word as fundamental as "race" can be interpreted differently with one side subscribing to the "1 drop" theory and another referring to distinct populations. How one maps a term in their mind can be the difference between taking huge offence or merely noting an observation.
Problems in open speech cannot be discussed without at least remarking on the insistence that one must have personally experienced a matter before any input can be given. There are those that will shut down a conversation entirely if it ventures into a realm beyond a person's own direct experience. If it is insisted that I cannot understand you as I have not lived your life, but it is simultaneously demanded that I better understand you and your struggle, we are once again in an impossible situation.
Lastly I want to give the time to embracing risk and understanding that the most important conversations cannot be had without it. If I need to clean the stains in my sink I will use bleach and I own the bleach knowing the many harmful ways in which it could be used. When talking about the dangers of Islam inherent in the holy book and the need for reform I understand that there are those who may want to use my words to justify anti-muslim bigotry. However, the same could be said of the other side to fuel more ISIS propaganda. Should we decide that, as there is no risk-free way to talk about protecting Western culture, we should abandon all efforts? This leaves the narrative in the hands of those who will happily maximise the risk as they are motivated by ill-will and genuine xenophobia.
Ultimately in pursuing each argument against free speech on these difficult topics we reliably end up in a situation where nothing can be said at all. When nothing is said no progress is made, and there are those that will continue saying things in bad faith and will be free to sculpt the story. As individuals it is all too clear what must be done and it involves little more than saying the thing that you feel needs to be said and sticking with the conversation through the point at which most people feel uncomfortable because that is where the magic happens.