Tag: free speech

Fact

An Important Battleline is Being Drawn for the Fate…

cover image from Alternative Press Review Fall 2000
There are many social issues that are dividing our attention as we enter 2019. From Trump and Brexit to climate change and China to the tearing down of historical statues and statutes to the raising up of minorities, migrants, and the marginalized, we can’t escape hearing about one or many of these subjects in any given day and regardless of which position one takes, there is always bad news.
I have come to believe that most of these issues are blown out of proportion and are just the same old fears that always circulate and I intend to ignore virtually all political discourse for the foreseeable future, at least until nearer election time when I need to become more well-versed on the political platforms. This means I will be training Facebook to hide all posts regarding Trump Derangement Syndrome, Climate Change Alarmism, Identity Politics, and Fear of a Brexit Planet. This is partly for personal sanity, and partly so I can direct all such energies toward what I believe it truly the most important issue of our time: Freedom of Speech in Our Digital World. I believe if we lose this fight we lose all meaningful freedom.
The information age / digital era has provide the potential for unimagined freedom. Freedom of creation, freedom of communication, freedom to pursue one’s dreams, and yes, even freedom to be an abusive jerk. That means it is a great threat to those with authoritarian leanings. It’s increasingly obvious, for example, that the majority of our leaders fall within that category, and they appear more than happy to use technology and the internet to finally achieve complete control over us. Such a social engineering experiment is already being attempted in China. If successful, you will see part or all of it rolled out to the West within a few years.
Unfortunately, if the Chinese are any example to go by, and current Western behaviour suggests they are, the majority of people are perfectly satisfied trading their freedom for a gilded cage. But those who don’t rock the boat rarely have any price to pay for their bland, sheep-like existence. Unless they accidentally come on the radar of the authorities. It’s only then that they find themselves completely at the mercy of an unfair and increasingly brutal authoritarian regime. Consider the cases of Tim Hunt, James Watson, Richard Dawkins, Mark Meechan (Count Dancula), James Damore, Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), Tommy Robinson, Lindsey Shepherd, and Alex Jones – and those are just the high-profile examples of people who have had their lives turned upside-down because they made a comment someone didn’t like. If you are unclear on who these people are or what they were accused of, I respectfully suggest you may already far behind the wave and you may want to inform yourself.
Now, many of your reading this may agree with me that free speech is an important issue, but surely it’s not ‘the issue’. You may consider there are many other very important causes. The media tells us of many of them all the time and how we may only have decades left if we don’t deal with some of them. Or you may think that your favourite cause is morally or factually just and your loud, brutal honesty and passionate discourse combined with the consequences of inaction have convinced the powers that be to act. You may consider this evidence that free speech is not threatened. And you would be wrong. At present, your protest is tolerated only because it serves a purpose. At present, there is only one issue that Western protesters are being punished for – free speech. Consider a few examples to demonstrate my point.

(1) Climate change alarmism. Surely the powers have heard us, you cry. They have summits every few years, they’re making changes, we call out the unbelievers and shame them…. and yet little has changed (except on the most obvious issues like the ozone hole) since the first summits. I suggest that’s because this issue is only important for our rulers in that they can use it to further other agendas — global economic redistribution and social engineering in particular. It has been technological advancements that have spurned on what little change has happened, very few of them can be claimed to have been inspired by direct government action. Our governments main tool has been carbon taxes, a policy that has resulted in companies shifting their money around the globe but doesn’t affect emission levels at all. What change we have seen has largely been driven by an increase in cheap, effective green technology created by industry.

(2) Trump derangement syndrome. A great many people believe Donald Trump is a horrible monster. While the man is definitely not the most likeable of beings, while in power he has done little to actually warrant the immense amount of hatred pushed his way. Many of his most hated policies can be seen to be carbon copies of those of more liked politicians such as Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Yet protests and disrespectful discourse continues because we live in free countries, right? No. It continues because the establishment (and perhaps even Trump himself) feel it’s useful. As an example, consider many of the horrible policies of the Obama administration. Yet criticisms of Barack Obama almost immediately lead to cries of ‘racism’ and were shut down. Even during the George W. Bush administration, during the lead up to the Iraq War criticism of government policy was met with condemnation. The lesson is that, if the government allows you ‘the right’ of protest, it means either you’re serving a purpose for them, or they haven’t got around to squashing you yet.

(3) Identity Politics – Sexist / Racist Policies in the name of Equality. In the name of equality we have created not only laws but now entire institutions that create laws of inequality. It’s argued that somehow more equality will equal less equality. To point out the absurdity of this, however, is to labelled sexist, racist, or some type of -phobic. If you fail to cave in to the hateful labels and you still wish to speak your opinion, you are either deplatformed, visited by the police, or even arrested. This even happens to people of those marginalized groups who have a different opinion from what the loudest voices desire, making this the current frontline in the battle for free speech. If you can only offer an opinion that is popular, than you can’t really offer an opinion.
The above examples are the types of issues that have circulated in society for much of the last century. Examples of history repeating. The curtailing of Freedom of Speech is also an example of history repeating, but this is the one issue that binds the others together. It’s the one issue that appears with each new technological advancement. It’s the one issue that, if we lose, we will automatically lose all the others. And we are at a time, once again, when we must fiercely fight for it or we will lose it.
We witness regular examples all around us. From the new Chinese use of mobile communication and facial recognition to police the social interactions of their entire population and the EU attempting to censor the entire internet in the name of copyright protection to British police considering predictive profile to prevent crimes before they happen and the removal of funding options for politically uncomfortable individuals at the request of financial cartels such as PayPal and Mastercard.
These powerful forces – from IT giants, to financial cartels, to national and continental collectives – are currently aligning that threaten our freedom of speech, potentially across the entire globe. They will succeed if we allow ourselves to believe their claims of altruistic purposes and allow them to build their ‘well-intentioned’ road to hell. They will succeed if we fail to realize that we have more individual power and opportunity now than we ever have at any time in the history of our species and that it can be taken away far more easily than it was given.
Or, we can allow ourselves to be distracted trying to save the Giant Panda and making laws to stop men from sitting with their legs too far apart on public transit while our future slips from between our fingers.
Fact

The Right to Offend is the Most Important Right…

All over the Western world, we are eroding our free speech in the name of being kind. Or rather, in our desire to legislate our world into being kind by using the carefully named and conceived hate speech laws. Such laws intend to forcibly prevent us from insulting — intentionally or otherwise — Western minorities, sexual minorities, gender minorities, religions, and women.

A short time ago, on Twitter, J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series, for anyone who has been living under a rock for the last two decades) became the latest author to defend hate speech laws. This stance is difficult to believe of any author, but especially someone of J.K. Rowling’s history. Not only is she someone who makes her living (and has make a very good living) on being allowed to say the words she wants, but her own work has faced attack for its content. Devout Christians and Muslims alike attempted banning the Harry Potter series because they believe it promotes witchcraft and Satanism (a good summary can be found on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_debates_over_the_Harry_Potter_series#Wicca).

Unless Rowling has ignored the issue and let her agents deal with it, she is someone who has had firsthand experience with censorship. And yet, still she advocates government censorship of speech in the guise of hate speech. And, among authors, she’s not alone. A few years ago (2013), the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers Association) erupted in conflict over the cover of an issue of their magazine. It depicted the Conan character Red Sonja besting a beast in a mountainside scene while wearing her iconic chainmail bikini. Claims of sexism and misogyny were levelled, despite pictures of male characters wearing loin clothes in similar situation adorning the covers of previous issues. Eventually, many people resigned from the SFWA leadership and steering committees, and many people left the organization altogether. The argument continued for over a year.

I will admit, to someone who wants all people to get along and treat each other well, as I do, a hate speech law can, initially, sound appealing. However, if the removal of freedom doesn’t bother you, then consider what happens when the political wind changes direction, when your preferred side is no longer pulling the strings.

Suddenly, that well-meaning hate speech law designed to protect the marginalized group of the moment, is being used to oppress anyone the state doesn’t like, and the truth of said law becomes blatantly apparent. Suddenly, anti-Islamophobia law is used to curtail all religious critique; laws meant to protect the feelings of minorities and women are used to prevent criticism of new policies; anti-transphobia laws are used to force us to say certain words. If this sounds like fiction to you, you haven’t been paying attention to North American universities. Or the current Canadian government.

Hate speech laws, and indeed any laws made by the state or an authoritarian body, against our freedom to speak or express our thoughts and feelings in non-physically violent ways, are tools of force used to control the individual. If the ability to criticize is removed, if the right to offend is removed, then the right to independent thought is removed.

Free speech does not exist without the right to offend. Any limits on this freedom only lead to oppression. But don’t take my word for it. The next time you think otherwise, consider what might happen if the law is made by the political side you most dislike and how it might be abused.

There are many examples of abuses of freedom in our modern society, do you have a story of one that has directly impact you? Feel free to share it in the comments.

You take away freedom of choice. You take away my right to voice, my beliefs and all my views. You take away my right to choose.

Should I See — Frozen Ghost, 1987

 

 

 


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