Thursday, July 23, 2015

Free Speech

I wrote about free speech earlier, where I decried the crime of being offended (while still trying to look at the entire situation) should not have pushed people to silence others. In fact, I disagreed with many people who said that trying to silence someone was not the same as a free speech violation, and that, duly, we should all watch what we say. Even xkcd [1] chimed in to say you cannot offend. Right. Again, this is in line with the core of the Constitution (I'm speaking specifically of America now) while being completely against the spirit of that amendment. Yes, you're violating someone's free speech, and the very thing this nation relies upon is in danger when we try to silence people and not engage them.

I'm actually not sure why people find this hard to understand: that the first amendment is all about increasing the chance for dialogue and we should try to foster such an idea everywhere. And yet though in the past it was the right that really tried to use other methods of censorship, it now seems that the left is doing it more and more (for whatever ill-conceived reason); and even though this is against some of those old power structures of the right, this rarely achieves anything. As Coates says, it's just asking for a better class of racist since even if someone like Clive Bundy isn't around, there are still many racist policies around. So stop being so easily offended. And I'm telling this to people with whom I agree with on many issues.

Sad it is. But just because you gain a slight upper hand, don't immediately go for some odd purge (of the media as it) as the people who once purged you did once. We should always aim to be better.

Update 23JUL2015: Quick note here. I didn't mention, and thus I should the large role that social media plays in leveling the playing field with regard to public gags. Before the advent of social media, it was really only those in power who could enact such gags. So perhaps this is a matter of simply seeing those without power finally get some, and thus silencing a billionaire (or a racist who before could say what they wanted) feels like the tables have turned a little (nevermind that racist policies still abound)? This is perhaps true, and perhaps given the system we're in someone's view, such as my own, is a little on the naive side.

In other words, unless one can change the system, play by the rules provided to allow those without power [2] some say.

But again, this is completely misguided. Let's take Trump, someone a lot of people apparently want silenced. Perhaps he's a little upfront, but who doubts that the policies he would espouse would still be sought after by the Republican base? They still would. In this case, why try to silence him? As someone who loves the democratic tradition, this odd need to silence seems very much in line with the Victorian-era tradition of not being offended (perhaps somehow mixed in with out Puritanical traditions). Odd, and I'm still pretty certain that this is no way to run a democracy.

[1] Though I certainly don't take much of what that cartoon says seriously, since it's much fun about nothing

[2] The main case behind all this is that those in power would not hesitate to wield that power so that anyone who offended their views would suffer nothing short of starvation, if they had it their way. Note how the right wingers took on Ward Churchill and made sure that he was also fired from his job. The glee is much more vindictive than even the left wing mobs since right wingers expect such things to happen (not all, but many).

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