My experience in politics tells me that not a lot of people truly advocate freedom of speech. Some, kind of support it, others support freedom of speech/views with which they agree and still others I have known seem to believe freedom of speech relates simply to them having a say.
The importance of genuine freedom of speech didn’t immediately dawn on me till people tried to deny me of it, and back then I probably fell into the group that only thought it related to me getting a say.
Of course, as realistically simple as the notion of freedom of speech seems, embracing it requires being a very reasonable person and in this self-interest dominated world, such seems harder and harder to find.
When taking into account the natural bias of most people, freedom of speech is often a nice idea rather than a daily reality. Sometimes it isn’t what is said, but instead what isn’t said or more likely, allowed to be heard!
As a former radio talkback host I’ll use this example – a host who screens calls so only those who agree with the host, get to air. This is more common than not, and what it does is to distort actual public opinion by denying a reply by those opposed – in a sense, such is a lie of omission and intended to change the minds of listeners by making them feel as if they are on their own in what they think.
Crushing the willingness of dissenters to speak up by making them feel isolated is a typical tactic of the media in particular and from my experience, especially the left.
Yes, isolate the enemy, make them feel alone, make them feel their view is not shared by anyone else – it’s a brave or foolish person who is willing to be the only dissenting voice – such is a dangerously effective tactic and I’ll come back to it for a closer look a little later.
From my observations through experience in politics and the media, most engaged in these areas fear freedom of speech and do all they can to inhibit it because they themselves are out of step with the majority view, and hence do not want views expressed publicly that appeal to that majority.
In many respects, such people see themselves as Elite. They set themselves up as a barrier to certain information because they believe the majority cannot make appropriate decisions. Appropriate decisions being whatever is in agreement with their view.
This ‘Elite’, see themselves as highly developed, cultured intellectuals who are best placed to make our decisions for us – they believe themselves to know something of life and human kind that we others (the majority), don’t.
The fact is this ‘Elite’, is an out of step pack of snobs who fear public opinion so they do everything possible to deny the public relevant information that would allow people to form an opinion opposite to theirs. Bottom line, they think far too much of themselves, yet are well placed to impose their will by disrupting and halting the flow of information.
I do not pretend to be an expert on matters of this kind in other nations, but such is certainly the case in our own country. From multiple observations, and people being people, I do suspect the same is true for most places, but I won’t further that notion.
The principle of freedom of speech is likely thousands of years old and certainly in relatively recent times, many would be familiar with Voltaire, who is often quoted as saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.
In reality, Voltaire didn’t say this, but it is reasonably accepted as representing his view of the importance of the right to freedom of speech/expression. For me, defending one’s Family to the death is understandable, but a right to a view you vehemently disagree with, mmmm, not quite so much.
That said, enter my point of being a reasonable person – it is only fair and practical that if one wishes to be heard, it is appropriate to reciprocate in so much as being willing to hear the views of others, regardless of how distasteful or apparently stupid you find those views.
If you’re truly an advocate of freedom of speech, that’ll mean you’re going to hear a lot of views you hate, from people you cannot stand. If you are not willing to do this, you don’t support freedom of speech and you shouldn’t expect others to listen to what you have to say.
Now there is the matter of limits, there always will be limits – there are laws inhibiting certain things from being said. Race hate laws and defamation immediately come to mind. In my opinion, truth should always be the ultimate defence for attacks on what one says, but the law doesn’t entirely see it as clearly as that.
Personally, I maintain that pretty much anything should be allowed – it is utterly wrong that something will not be heard on the basis of disagreement or political correctness. The validity of views should be judged by what is true and the capacity of one to logically argue and sustain a position.
Let people have their say and let those listening determine whether a position is reasonable and matters, or ridiculous and irrelevant, possibly even plain silly.
While in some circumstances it is appropriate to be considerate in language and how one approaches certain matters, no subject should be taboo. In fact, generally, it is so called taboo subjects that most require public exposure and debate.
The issues with which society has the most difficulty dealing with are those that stand out as absolutely demanding the application of genuine freedom of speech. However these are the very matters on which the politically correct in particular, close down the airing of differing views.
Freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse to justify social gossip or for the purposes of personal insults. It is of such significance that the use of freedom of speech should always be associated with issues of public good – if it is of consequence, then not only should it be said, it must be said.
Finally, I noted I would return to the tactic of isolating people and their views – this is perhaps the most criminal and yet effective means of stopping a widely held opinion being heard – the media does this daily, sometimes it’s just the way it goes, but very frequently, the media silencing and isolating people is considered and intentional.
In many cases of social importance, it is the majority view kept at bay and the minority position that gets approval and airtime. This is because the politically correct/left largely control the media, and those engaged in public debate (for example politicians) are in turn controlled on many issues.
A lot of politicians are out of touch with majority views and hence most subscribe to the position taken by the media, thinking that to be the general community view.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that when it comes to a lot of issues, most noticeably, social issues, there appears not to be much separating politicians on all sides.
There are of course politicians who see things the way they are, but they are largely kept in place through the party machine or fear of media retribution should they articulate a different/unapproved view.
There are always exceptions, but rare in these circumstances – still we can probably all think of a politician or two who has stood up against ‘acceptable’ opinion – they don’t get far and or, don’t last long.
How all this has come to be is something for another day.
And so, regulate the flow of information, obstruct all but ‘acceptable’ opinion and isolate any dissenting voices with slurs – radical, right wing, racist being common, and of course nutter and the numerous variations that point to one being crazy.
The result of all this control is the suppression of the most offensive thing in the world, The Truth – when done effectively, people believe the lies to be facts and themselves to be wrong or virtually on their own, alone, Isolated.
Many majority views are so suppressed you’ll only hear them mentioned in hushed tones by close Friends. Such people never get to find out more people agree with them than disagree – social media is breaking some of this grip on opinion – we need to see more of that.
You may remember it said that, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth”. Personally I like this one, “That which is heard without rebuttal is taken to be the truth”.
The bigger the lie and the higher the source, the easier it is to pull off, because normal, decent, unsuspecting people cannot comprehend such untruths could be so freely expressed, and expressed without opposition.
I hope you’ll fight the trend – have your say and allow those you despise who hold views you hate, to also have their say, then you will be a true advocate of Freedom of speech.
When you have your say, don’t hold back, don’t sugar coat it and don’t unfairly insult – you’ll be surprised how many agree with you, even if they are unwilling to do so in front of a crowd, so successful has the Isolate and Silence tactic become.