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Free Will, Free Speech, and Us.

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posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 12:14 PM
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My Aunt related a story that her elderly poet friend was very recently publicly accused of being a racist by a woman who’s running for local office and banned from returning to the venue in which he was performing for using the word “thug” in his poem. He (btw, his health is conspicuously bad and he carries an oxygen tank for a disease which will eventually kill him) was very shaken, surprised, and dismayed by this accusation. Who could blame him? Denoting the word “thug” as a racial slur says more about the accuser than the accused. Of course context is key, of course racist jerks will make good use of insulting words for the targets of their contempt, but that does not mean we can eliminate insulting words from the human vocabulary or insinuate anything more than what is being communicated because we don’t like other people’s wording.

Our recent trend toward policing speech, and forcing meaning on others’ speech which was never intended by the speaker out of an entrenched mistrust of any “other,” combined with ignorance of denotation, connotation, and a break down of semantics and discourse in general reminds me of Orwell’s writing on Newspeak. Check out these excerpts from 1984, Chapter V:


"It's a beautiful thing, the Destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn't only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word, which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take ‘good,’ for instance. If you have a word like ‘good,’ what need is there for a word like ‘bad’? ‘Ungood’ will do just as well – better, because it's an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of ‘good,’ what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like ‘excellent’ and ‘splendid’ and all the rest of them? ‘Plusgood’ covers the meaning or ‘doubleplusgood’ if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already, but in the final version of Newspeak there'll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words – in reality, only one word. Don't you see the beauty of that, Winston? It was B.B.'s idea originally, of course," he added as an afterthought.



"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten."


Another quote in that same vein:

..When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.. -- Theodore Dalrymple

Defenders of free speech find themselves having to defend the most vile, indefensible speech as the end result of absolute freedom is invariably extreme.
To quote an (imo) indefensible character, Donald Rumsfeld:

“Freedom’s untidy. And free people are free to commit mistakes, and to commit crimes.” - Donald Rumsfeld, former U.S. Secretary of Defense.


Ah ha, the whole point is right there-- free people are free to commit mistakes. And we all do, don’t we? I’ve said plenty of things I regret. And I learned from many of these, the importance of listening and holding my tongue sometimes and thinking before I speak. Mistakes (our own and others') are lessons. And our reaction in the face of another person’s freedom to be an asshole is what really counts. Sure, we can all be pleasant and righteous when people are pleasant and righteous to us, but our true characters emerge when faced with unpleasantries and malevolent behavior. I think our system, of having free will, free speech, and the freedom to respond to evil in kind or with kindness is brilliant. It's a system I will most ardently fight to defend and uphold.

edit on 9-3-2019 by zosimov because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 12:44 PM
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As I recall the origins of what we now lable ''political correctness'' it was an attempt to raise consciousness about the ''commons'' and offer a higher standard of behavior in public intercourse.

However, it seems to have gone to far, way to far from small examples such as this.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 12:53 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

I'm in favor of free speech. Poets must have a variety of words to rhyme.

I am not a free speech absolutist however.
Perjury should be punished and not rewarded.

Hate speech ( words used to evoke existential anxiety( paranoia ) in yourself or other listeners ) should be recognized and discouraged either formally or informally.

The theory ( in my opinion ) of PC ( politically correct ) is an informal social attitude which precludes acceptance of hate speech, thereby rendering laws to be passed about what can or can't be said (formal restraint) unneeded.

If we destroy the informal (PC) for the sake of freedom, then we make freedom of speech less likely, because society will turn to the law for the sake of stability ( lack of outright violence ). Society as an institution has a responsibility for self sustainability.

Disclaimer: I haven't practiced philosophical type writing, so please excuse any lack of clarity.
edit on 9-3-2019 by pthena because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 12:55 PM
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a reply to: TerryMcGuire

Interesting history, thank you.

I could really be off, but it appears to me that the standards of public intercourse have gone down anyway due to a number of factors.
I still find plenty of people having fascinating conversations (lots of examples right on here!), and those are the ones I seek out and to which try my best to contribute.

I prefer people speak their minds, which definitely lets me know where to direct my time and attention, and which people have ideas I find provocative and interesting, which to try to avoid.

I really think it's worth having a discussion on how to handle the worst offenders. I believe that ignoring/lending zero credence to the most awful ideas is a good start, but what happens when it gets into really reprehensibe/disgusting territory?

Anyway thank you for the interesting back story!



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 12:56 PM
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a reply to: TerryMcGuire


As I recall the origins of what we now lable ''political correctness'' it was an attempt to raise consciousness about the ''commons'' and offer a higher standard of behavior in public intercourse.

Yes! That's it. But people changed that definition and twisted it into a pejorative word. Then people forgot the original intended function.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 12:59 PM
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a reply to: pthena

Right, you hit on precisely the most difficult question... what to do with the few who really take free speech to the most vile extreme, or who use speech to belittle and disempower or incite, or whose heads house the most evil thoughts which they freely share?

This is where our discourse around free speech should really be focused.




posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:03 PM
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a reply to: pthena

What you say is clear to me Pthena, and I agree. I think there are two kinds of speech that are being mixed lately. One is hate speech where demeaning intent is the motivator. This I think is the job of the ''commons'' or the social fabric to moderate.

But there is also the unintended negativity that can arise when words are taken as having the intent of hate when really they are just words. Finding that line, of what is intentional and what is not is where we find ourselves now. Hopefully we do not loose all social decorum in the push back to political correctness.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:08 PM
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We do not have free will or free speech. Society dictates what is acceptable will and speech and some bossy individuals or groups in society constantly abuse the system to suppress people's will and speech if it does not fit into their interpretation or beliefs.

It has been that way for a long time, Your aunt was aware of that long ago as I was. It is getting worse, some in society are trying to condemn past events where something was acceptable at the time and judging those actions against new consensus of the time. Often the person has changed along with society and no longer has that kind of thinking.

This practice of condemnation is wrong...completely wrong. sure, years ago things were different and sure, the change was necessary, but you cannot condemn someone for doing what was acceptable in society thirty years ago. If you could, then you have to do it with everything and that would lead to chaos since every person I know has skeletons in their closet.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:10 PM
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originally posted by: pthena
a reply to: TerryMcGuire


As I recall the origins of what we now lable ''political correctness'' it was an attempt to raise consciousness about the ''commons'' and offer a higher standard of behavior in public intercourse.

Yes! That's it. But people changed that definition and twisted it into a pejorative word. Then people forgot the original intended function.


Agree. What I find interesting here is not so much the ''push back'' as that should be expected from those who feel that their freedoms are being curtailed as there is the possiblity that the original point of PC was never understood as any thing other than oppression.

However what amazes me is those who push for a more empathetic social discourse who seem to as you say forgetton the original intent and now just push it as it as if they are pushing some kind of law. This is not about the law and finding perpetrators and law breakers but rather it is about, as I mentioned earlier, consciousness and raising that to the point where is needs no enforcement.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:13 PM
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a reply to: rickymouse

I do believe that our free will resides in the way(s) in which we respond to others, our environment, our own mistakes.

You are right though in that we are given a set of prescribed rules, but we even have the freedom to break those and face the consequences!

I agree wholeheartedly that condemnation of historal events is energy misspent. Using Kevin Hart's 2008 tweets against him is ridiculous!



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:16 PM
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a reply to: TerryMcGuire

I guess my point is that, with freedom, will always come those who use their freedom for evil. Thus our broken and at times horrific world. I don't think we can control that, but I do think we can teach discourse for those who respect and wish to engage in it.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:28 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

What is ok speech and what is not ok speech depends upon the context, the context of location as well as the context of time. When social standards remain the same, the context is in general pervasive and people work and speek within it. But when social context is in flux the natural adherence to social norms fluctuates as well.And boy, are we ever in flux right now.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:30 PM
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a reply to: TerryMcGuire

Interesting, keen observations.

In fact, thinking about it, speech never is free, and many great minds and beautiful souls have paid with their lives for speaking the truth.


edit on 9-3-2019 by zosimov because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:36 PM
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anyone who believes that a piece of paper and a group of people can grant you "freedom" remains a slave to the cop in their own mind, if "free speech" is 'given' it can be taken away, people have grown up on this spooky idea of "constitution" being an inherent Law, drenched in Christian morality and "commandments" the absurdity of people who will willfully follow along and blindly pledge themselves to political ideology as representative saviours is lunacy

that being said, words are meaningless, they are nothing, there is no inherent value in them, context matters, that also being said, certain words have been appropriated to mean something, even if meant in a different context, and used for centuries as a way to describe certain people

but, policing and self-policing is just submitting to a slave mentality



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:54 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

I don't think that my mind is quite adept at slinging abstract ideologies back and forth. I will go to a specific concrete area which is rife with pitfalls. It will take some time for me to write it down so, I will get back later.



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:56 PM
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a reply to: XAnarchistX

I do think that our constitution has done much for our guiding principles, particularly when contrasted to nations which don't hold the same values. I'm fairly impressed with the space wherein Americans are free to express and think for themselves. It's not perfect but what is?



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 01:58 PM
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a reply to: pthena

Even better (concrete examples). Thank you, looking forward to it!



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 02:58 PM
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once we limit which words can be said, we lost the plot. Society should be the factor that determines what is kosher to say. And if you break those rules, you are admonished, shunned, or decried by society as a whole. But to limit a person's words is wrong. I fell as if you really want to say something awful about someone, you can. it may be wrong, and that person may smash you for it, then, you knew that was an option when you said it.

This instance is a good example of why it's a bad idea. The few dictate the rules to the many, and the many didn't have a say in any of it. If that doesn't change, we are screwed. (IMHO)



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 03:01 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

"wherein Americans are free to express and think for themselves"

But are they? the constitution is an authoritative piece of paper decided by dead white colonialists before you or I had any voice of consent

you grow up being told to be subservient to the constitution and that grants you said "freedom" and yet how many times has that "Freedom" been violated?



posted on Mar, 9 2019 @ 03:02 PM
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a reply to: network dude

"I fell as if you really want to say something awful about someone, you can. it may be wrong, and that person may smash you for it, then, you knew that was an option when you said it."

an important statement




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