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Free Speech? Absolutely.

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posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 11:37 AM
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Free Speech?

Absolutely





1.

One thing of which I am absolutely certain, unconditionally convinced, and unapologetically cocksure is the principle of free speech. In that respect I am an absolutist. Anything less is conditional, constrained, or otherwise unfree speech.

Before you assail me for crime of certainty, though, remember it is not the result of blind faith and dogma the principle exists among our charters, constitutions, and the philosophies of those who conceived them. Free speech has been put to its own grindstone. It has, over time, been battle tested in its own arena. Free speech has been fought for and fought against since ancient times, and as a result, it is the reigning symbol of the Western tradition.

Any certainty in the principle is derived from argument, reason and evidence, not force or superstition. The collective wisdom of centuries attests to its merits, not to its faults. The titans of western thought have provided sufficient reason for its application, not for its abandonment. Finally, the application of Free Speech has revealed it to be the tree of knowledge itself, the cure for violence and tyranny, and what scant hope that’s left in Pandora's box after all the evils have left it.

It doesn’t matter anyways. No one cares. The continued assault on free speech is met with, at best, a lazy hand wave, or at worse a tendency to its silence, often by those who benefit from it the most. It simply does not matter to them. Maybe they take it for granted. Mostly they are too busy enjoying its fruits to think about it, let alone defend it. And though some claim to be in favour of free speech, often paying it simple lip-service, many do so out of habit and nothing besides. Without the impetus for its defence, they can offer no other justification besides law or tradition or their feelings—dogma, the antithesis of free speech.

In short they are ignorant as to why the principle is codified into our laws. From this one error arises countless others, for instance, the fairly common but very false notion that the principle applies only to governments and never themselves. With this species of justification, they can wiggle out of defending free speech and right back into censoring it. And as a result of having neither the evidence nor the arguments (nor even the will), we can witness in real time when their claims turn from principle into doubt, tossing what little they know about free speech to the currents of their fatuous drives and passions.

That’s why we should beware the lazy and half-hearted when it comes to this principle. With their capitulation to censorship they risk everything.

Salman Rushdie, himself a victim of censorship, calls them the “but brigade”. Their timidity sounds something like “I’m all for free speech, but…” Their ignorance prompts them to defend it when it suits them, when it is easy to do so, but to abandon it precisely when their defence is needed most of all.

This is to say nothing of most people, whom are censorial by nature.

Therefor we must ask these questions to the beneficiaries of the liberal tradition: who knows why the principle is enshrined as a universal human right in the charters and constitutions throughout the world? Who knows the long and bloody history of censorship, or have any idea of the knowledge lost to it? Perhaps worse, who even cares, and why should you?


edit on 14-9-2017 by LesMisanthrope because: (no reason given)




posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 11:38 AM
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2.

The subsequent silence reminds us why we should reflect on Socrates’ refusal to hold his tongue, even when faced with certain death.

“Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say again that the greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living - that you are still less likely to believe.”

“The life which is unexamined”, he says, “is not worth living”. The relationship between free expression and free inquiry is immortalized in these final remarks, but more, it shows us how one act of censorship is far worse than a thousand-fold expressions. Socrates was condemned to execution for saying this, and whatever he might have expressed afterwards was stolen from history. Rather than concede his thoughts and words to the superstitious whims of dogma and authority, Socrates became a martyr to free speech.

Blessed be to the Romans! We are reminded of the good and the bad times of ancient Roman life by the historian Tacitus. In the intro to his Histories, he hefted lofty praise on “Nerva’s reign and Trajan’s rule…an age in which we may feel what we wish and may say what we feel”. Marcus Arelius, the father of stoicism, also believed in free speech, and thus people were allowed to satirize him, whereas under other emperors they were executed.

In comparison we have that eternal desire to censor, and as a result, the countless prohibitions, Inquisitions, the book burnings, witch trials, the campaigns against heresy and blasphemy at the hands of the superstitious, and the unfathomable library of lost works put to ashes.

To the next generation of would-be censors, I have to wonder if you prefer to live in a democracy among free men, or among the many voiceless captives of tyranny. Guess which one you tacitly advocate. Free speech is the very foundation of democracy and open societies. It is what allows us to have differing opinions in the first place. It unchains expression, and by extension, thought, creativity, spirituality, art, and science, from the countless prohibitions set against them. Extirpating or otherwise damaging this foundation is to expedite the decay of democracy.

So far as freedom is concerned, liberty is wholly dependent on the freedom to think and to speak. Rosa Luxemburg, a revolutionary socialist, reminded us that “freedom is always the freedom of the one who thinks differently”. To protect dissent and dissenters is the highest duty, especially when their opinions are different than ours. It is easy to defend opinion we agree with, but difficult to defend opinion we dislike, and that is precisely why we must defend them: unpopular opinion is the kind of opinion most likely to be censored, and those who think them, silenced. No one protected Rosa Luxemburg’s dissent. Her criticisms were too much for the social democrats. They ordered her tortured and murdered.

But she was exactly right. Without the freedom to dissent, to think differently, and to speak those opinions, freedom itself can never materialize. Ostracism, sanction, boycott, loss of employment, threat, coercion, violence—these are the actions of those who would enslave you if they only had the chance. And their end goal is always the same: they want you to shut up. “In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call any thing else his own”, reads Cato’s letters.

Dogma and orthodoxy whither beneath the light of free inquiry and expression. It is no strange wonder that someone like Galileo was censored for revealing truth: it would undermine the orthodoxy of the Catholic church. Free Speech is fundamental to the scientific method and spirit. That we have the ability to question even the most popular ideas is fundamental. Karl Popper illustrated how only in open societies, the notion of trial and error, the spirit of experimentation, science itself permeates throughout them. Any societal action when put to the test against its resultant criticisms, thrown to the market place of ideas, allows societies to self-correct without violence and bloodshed, to learn from its mistakes, and to progress relatively peacefully beyond darker days into welcome dawns. Constraining free speech in any manner constrains not only the expression, but also the peaceful means of altering our course in life.

Closed societies and bad ideas, on the other hand, have neither the trial and error nor the reasonable argument for them, and can only maintain their paradigms through various avenues of force and coercion, as the censorship of Galileo has proven. Censorship is their life-blood; it keeps their dogmas alive, but it ends up poisoning everything else.

edit on 14-9-2017 by LesMisanthrope because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 11:39 AM
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3.

And don’t forget about “truth” itself, a concept that is lost on many nowadays. How do we get nearer to truth if information is verboten? How do we acquire a complete picture if some of it is missing? And finally, how do you know what you know?

According to John Milton in his Areopagitica, leaving the authorities and the orthodoxy to determine truth is to undermine truth itself with falsity. In regards to Truth, to prohibit speech by force and coercion is to “misdoubt her strength”. Wherever falsity and lies and pretence have free reign, Truth is always the worthier opponent than censorship. “Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?”

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance”, wrote James Madison. Censors would rather it be the opposite. With this they can only ever furnish us the unexamined life, which, as already intimated, is a life not worth living.

They would rather chain our reason, our voices, and force us to misdoubt our own discernment. John Stuart Mill wrote that the silencing of an opinion is to rob the human race of two things: the opportunity to exchange error with truth should the opinion be right, and the opportunity to witness truth in battle with falsity should the opinion be wrong.

How condescending, how infantilizing these thieves can be. To prohibit speech is to reveal in the censor the desire to make others a slave to their orthodoxy, to deny us the right to test our own opinions against that of another, thereby hindering personal enlightenment and spiritual growth. By limiting the right to speak of one, he also limits us the right to hear it and to decide on our own accord. He sees us as children, as slaves, never worthy enough to make our own decisions.

But censors too are slaves. “You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it”, wrote Thomas Paine in his introduction to the Age of Reason.

Cont.
edit on 14-9-2017 by LesMisanthrope because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 11:41 AM
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The censorship of free speech begins with the hand wringers, the awful hate speech that makes their ears catch fire.

If we can just get them to shut up... I mean if we can just get the haters to shut up... I mean,

try not to overreact. Let the hate and hysteria roll off you like water off a ducks back.

If it all sounds like quacking theres nothing to get upset about.



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 11:59 AM
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On the tree the fruit is intact as soon as it leaves the tree, its essence rapidly dissolves and dilutes. Same with the word, the more spontaneous it is the sharper and brighter is its truth. Be it superficial or from the depths of the heart and mind, be it compassionate or seemingly harsh and unkind. One should always honour, the person who dares to speak his truth. Be it to ones likeing or not. Why? because without free speech we would be fully lost in shadow and lies for ever more. or a reply to: LesMisanthrope



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 12:06 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Censored people's are not slaves- you said it yourself, slaves make themselves. A man in chains might still retain his freedom, he becomes a slave when he resigns to his fate.

I enjoyed and learned a lot from this, Thank you. It seems more pressing to me, though, to be concerned with the self censorship that occurs, often automatically.



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 12:09 PM
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originally posted by: LucidWarrior
a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Censored people's are not slaves- you said it yourself, slaves make themselves. A man in chains might still retain his freedom, he becomes a slave when he resigns to his fate.

I enjoyed and learned a lot from this, Thank you. It seems more pressing to me, though, to be concerned with the self censorship that occurs, often automatically.


I have a lot more to add and will touch on this very topic. But if there is little interest in this thread I will be ending it here.
edit on 14-9-2017 by LesMisanthrope because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 12:10 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Unless you can physically spew poisonous venom from your mouth, freedom of speech SHOULD be absolute.

When you let different situations and circumstances dictate what constitutes free speech, you allow bias and prejudice to leak in. And when you allow bias and prejudice to leak in, you open the road to authoritarianism for those that get to dictate it.

Freedom of speech = Freedom of thought


Freedom of speech doesn't mean free from consequences either. You can still get punched in the face for saying something stupid. But you should still have the right to do so.




edit on 14-9-2017 by knowledgehunter0986 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 12:19 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope


Anything less is conditional, constrained, or otherwise unfree speech.

Swearing an oath to tell the truth in court = constraining.

People who bring civil cases for libel and slander are against the freedom to speak lies.

Perjury laws are inherently against free speech.

Teachers fired for teaching that Moses is the source for U.S. law are being persecuted by the State for freely speaking their whatever.

Countries that require "news services" disseminating foreign government generated "news" register as foreign agents are restricting press freedoms.

Generals who don't take up arms personally but order troops into battle should never be held accountable for the actions of their troops.
edit on 14-9-2017 by pthena because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 12:23 PM
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a reply to: pthena




Swearing an oath to tell the truth in court = constraining.

People who bring civil cases for libel and slander are against the freedom to speak lies.

Teachers fired for teaching that Moses is the source for U.S. law are being persecuted by the State for freely speaking their whatever.

Countries that require "news services" disseminating foreign government generated "news" register as foreign agents are restricting press freedoms.


A would-be censor in our midsts. Note how you require others to do the work you could just as easily do yourself.



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 12:33 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope


Note how you require others to do the work you could just as easily do yourself.

Please do explain.



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 12:40 PM
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a reply to: pthena




Please do explain.


What I mean is, there is a necessary authoritarianism in all would-be censors. Because you fear what may come of the spoken word, for instance a lie or propaganda, there appears a preference for sanction and criminalization from some authority, rather than trust in yours and another's abilities to overcome them on your own accord.

Observe your own appeals to authority: courts, the State, generals and so on.
edit on 14-9-2017 by LesMisanthrope because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 01:20 PM
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So, this is kind of like Eminem and the Columbine shooting which he apparently had nothing to do with ot, but they blamed him anyways because of his freedom of expression?

The right to remain silent can be a great defence, BUT...crap I see what you mean there.



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 01:26 PM
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The problem is that censorship can be delivered in very subtle ways, It would mean that each individual would have to be very certain of their choices. In the novel called "The name of the rose@, the head monk believed that humor is a sin. As he believed his view was above others, he was happy to take the lives of the sinners. Between words and action, there is often a very small space. a reply to: LesMisanthrope



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 01:52 PM
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a reply to: ancientthunder



The problem is that censorship can be delivered in very subtle ways, It would mean that each individual would have to be very certain of their choices. In the novel called "The name of the rose@, the head monk believed that humor is a sin. As he believed his view was above others, he was happy to take the lives of the sinners. Between words and action, there is often a very small space.


In my own opinion, the only duty the free speech absolutist can live up to, besides advocating on free speech's behalf, is to not censor someone else's opinion.

That task gets more and more difficult the more and more evil and ugly that opinion is. It should be noted, however, that it isn't necessarily the opinion or the language used to express it that is ugly or evil, but the thoughts we have when confronted with them.



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 02:15 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Excellent op and well written, as always.

Having read it I realise though that I am somewhat censorial by nature, much to my surprise.

I consider certain topics beyond the protections of free speech: child abuse and the encouragement thereof and propaganda with the sole aim of instigating social unrest which results in massive instability, for no other reason than the attainment of social instability among others.

Thanks for making me think. I have redefined myself slightly today.


edit on 14-9-2017 by Jonjonj because: A comma...



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 02:19 PM
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a reply to: Jonjonj

Thanks.

Although I don't think I would consider child abuse free speech. Do you mean strictly "verbal abuse"?



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 02:26 PM
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originally posted by: LesMisanthrope
a reply to: Jonjonj

Thanks.

Although I don't think I would consider child abuse free speech. Do you mean strictly "verbal abuse"?


No, I mean specifically the use of language that promotes or at least suggests that what I consider child abuse is in some way acceptable. That the barriers in place should be relaxed. That kind of thing.




posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 02:29 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope


Observe your own appeals to authority: courts, the State, generals and so on.

That happens to be the World and Nation that I live in, as opposed to some fantasy land wherein no one lies.

Courts exist to attempt to arrive at understanding what the facts of the matter may be first. Based upon those perceived facts, judgments are rendered. States and Nations establish courts and the laws upon which those courts function and render judgments.

By generals, I include organized crime bosses, insurrection leaders, and gang leaders; people generally held accountable by the courts for the orders they issue; be it murder, mayhem, extortion, money laundering, etc.



Because you fear what may come of the spoken word, for instance a lie or propaganda, there appears a preference for sanction and criminalization from some authority,

Yes there should be some authority that sanctions (holds accountable and punishes) people who sell strychnine to people while saying it is a vitamin supplement. It isn't illegal to sell strychnine. So where is the crime?



rather than trust in yours and another's abilities to overcome them on your own accord.

How exactly can I overcome a man telling my donut shop customers that my donuts are poisoned and that 18 people have already died. There he stands with a glossy paper showing photos of 18 dead people. If I cannot stop him without calling upon authority, then just exactly what do you suggest?

ETA

Disclaimer: I don't own a donut shop. That story is hypothetical. (I am self censoring my lie). I'm so bad!
edit on 14-9-2017 by pthena because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 14 2017 @ 03:43 PM
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a reply to: pthena


That happens to be the World and Nation that I live in, as opposed to some fantasy land wherein no one lies. 


That’s the sort of reasoning people used to justify slavery. It’s not a surprise to find it in the reasoning of would-be censors.


Courts exist to attempt to arrive at understanding what the facts of the matter may be first. Based upon those perceived facts, judgments are rendered. States and Nations establish courts and the laws upon which those courts function and render judgments. 

By generals, I include organized crime bosses, insurrection leaders, and gang leaders; people generally held accountable by the courts for the orders they issue; be it murder, mayhem, extortion, money laundering, etc. 


Yes. Which of those do you prefer to determine what you can and cannot say?


Yes there should be some authority that sanctions (holds accountable and punishes) people who sell strychnine to people while saying it is a vitamin supplement. It isn't illegal to sell strychnine. So where is the crime?


 The crime would be poisoning people with strychnine, maybe aggravated assault, or murder.


How exactly can I overcome a man telling my donut shop customers that my donuts are poisoned and that 18 people have already died. There he stands with a glossy paper showing photos of 18 dead people. If I cannot stop him without calling upon authority, then just exactly what do you suggest? 


We overcome speech with more speech.



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