Adam James.

Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds by Michael Knowles – Book Summary & review

Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds by Michael Knowles – Book Summary & review

Political commentator and media personality Michael Knowles has authored an examination of politically correct speech in his book Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Mindsfrom Regnery Publishing.

Politics is now a war of words

We use language to communicate not only what we perceive and believe, but also to describe reality. This is frequently at odds with politically correct speech, and politics has become a war of words. Knowles makes the point that “according to political correctness, words do not describe reality; they constitute it.”  

A book like Speechless couldn’t be more relevant. In an age when the term “birthing person” is used, Knowles points out that our first words, “mama” or “papa,” may be politically incorrect. With speech, people frequently yield out of politeness. Furthermore, in modern America, people remain silent out of fear. Truth is regarded as not only dangerous but as Knowles can confirm: stating facts can get you physically attacked.

Opponents of political correctness frequently poke fun at the absurdity in the latest politically correct phrase du jour or insist on the necessity of free speech. In Speechless, Knowles argues instead that this frequently misses the point: “we must not merely demand the right to speak; more importantly, we must have something to say.” It’s a potent point during a time when one not only can’t dissent with mainstream narratives, but even questioning is forbidden.


Speechless is thoroughly researched and referenced

Speechless is a thoroughly researched work and the information presented is meticulously referenced. The book is rich with historical lore on political correctness and speech suppression as well as examples from current events. Knowles dismantled many of the enduring historical misconceptions relating to speech.

Political correctness is at odds with “the facts”

My biggest takeaway from Speechless by Michael Knowles is that political correctness is not and has never been about coherence. That’s not the purpose. Society cannot simultaneously embrace contradictory beliefs and viewpoints, but as Knowles illustrates, political correctness requires it. For your political correctness to be up to date, no belief can be fixed. Political correctness moves at too rapid a pace. Reality and political correctness are at odds with one another.

Knowles Is An Eloquent Writer

Speechless is not light reading however it is written quite eloquently.  Knowles’ command of the English language is masterful, much like his broadcasts. After such substantial reading, it’s fitting he should end with some of his unique and at times satirical humor.  The “Glossary of Jargon,” displays the trademark Knowlesian wit and provides some guidance on navigating politically correct terms.

Speechless is recommended for those curious minds who want to look beneath the surface of politically correct speech and censorship. Knowles’ book is the product of a sharp mind. You will see how the manipulation of words is effective and how they achieve goals with these devious methods.

My Favourite Quotes From The Book

“People who worry about microaggressions usually have never faced macroaggressions.”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“Under political correctness, saying the right thing supplants doing the right thing.”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“Boundaries must constrain free speech if only to protect speech, as in the case of laws against sedition or rules against the heckler’s veto. Tolerance cannot tolerate intolerance. And openness cannot leave itself open to closed-mindedness.”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“Until the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Texas v. Johnson, which created or recognized, according to one’s point of view, the constitutional right to burn the American flag, the law could prohibit desecration of venerated objects. Now courts hold that the First Amendment protects flag-burning. And yet in 2019, an Iowa judge sentenced thirty-year-old Adolfo Martinez to fifteen years in prison for the “hate crime” of stealing and burning a rainbow flag, which symbolizes colorful sexual desires. So in fact, the government still outlaws desecration of venerated objects; it’s just that the objects of veneration are different.”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“Both leftist critiques of the ‘American dream’ and conservative defenses of social mobility, each based on its side’s cherished statistics, miss the more fundamental transformation: radicals have replaced the virtue of diligence with the sin of sloth in the pantheon of public values.”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“Psychology Today admitted in 2019 that ‘people with conservative political attitudes tend to have better health than their liberal counterparts because the former place greater value on personal responsibility.”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“The gospel of radical leftism- call it any name you like- trades the virtue of charity for the sin of envy. According to the radicals’ new standard, it is greedy to keep one’s own property but charitable to covet and steal the possessions of another, a perfect inversion of the old standards of justice…. The greedy want something for themselves; the envious merely want others not to have it.”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“Gender theory abolishes the possibility of disinterested debate by recasting any disagreement with people who can claim to suffer as ‘erasing their lived experience.’
p. 182”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“Political correctness works to destroy traditional standards of speech and behavior, and it succeeds both when it coerces some people to adopt the new code and when it convinces others to disavow standards entirely; either response overthrows the old order.
p. 174”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“If man and woman do not exist as real sexual categories- if ‘gender’ is a mere ‘social construct’- then the logic behind ‘gay rights’ falls apart. Conversely, if men really are men, and women really are women, and men cannot become women by simply declaring that they are, then the logic behind ‘transgenderism’ collapses. Yet political correctness demands that we hold both contradictory views at the same time.
p. 184”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds

“Politically correct radicals seek to suppress and ultimately transform our moral intuitions, deny our rational faculties, and erase the wisdom of the ages.
p. 191”
Michael J. Knowles, Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds


It’s a good book.  I recommend it.  It’s well argued and these things need to be said in these crazy times.  I think he goes too far.  He’s too conservative in my opinion.  I typically hold a classical liberal world view on most issues.  He openly opposes this in the last chapter saying that this is insufficiently conservative to be of benefit.  I honestly think there are some ideas and beliefs that belong to the left side of politics that are meaningful and benefit society.  In my opinion, it is unwise to disregard all of these ideas only because you are ideologically opposed to them.  Nonetheless, most of the dominant institutions sit on the hard left end of the political spectrum and are horribly intolerant and illiberal.  From my liberal perspective, I can momentarily align myself with a hard line conservative to address the illiberal actions of the tyrannical left wing ideas these institutions impose on us. 

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I'm a musician, a podcaster, a blogger & I work in marketing. I live in Australia and have two dogs named Ned & Sasha.


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