I refuse to be a freedom of speech absolutist. People have called me names here, so you know already what I am. I don't need to repeat it.
A freedom of speech absolutist has given up to discriminate and to judge under the assumption that absolute freedom of speech will automagically balance out truth versus lies and provide ample possibilities to hear dissenting voices and therefore will allow anybody to make an informed judgement for himself.
You state also that the absolutism of the freedom of speech rights will guarantee that courts can't make horrible judgements of what is "true" and what is "false".
Hate propaganda is best revealed and dismantled, you say, if we allow it to flourish freely, because we believe that it will counterbalanced in a free speech society just by the mere fact that all dissenting opinions to that propaganda can flourish as well. That's the thesis of the absolutist.
I do not believe that and challenge that assumption.
I do believe that even under absolute freedom of speech rights online, the propaganda of an elite will dominate and/or be very different from popular opinion. The media including the internet will be in line with an elite opinion, which is not representative of the popular opinion, nor much more representative of or capable to decide what is "true" and what is "false".
(May be I should repeat here that any restriction to the free distribution and broadcast of speech, I could imagine to be justified, is limited to hate speech or violence speech with the intent to incite hate or the intent to violate human dignity. It has nothing to do with the freedom of speech with the intent to document proven facts of hate speech or proven facts of gross violations of human dignity. Nor has it something to do with restricting voicing dissenting opinions. Nor has it something to do with restricting rude behaviour in discussions.)
In the book "Understanding Power", the Indispensable Chomsky, he cites Thomas Jefferson as one of the greatest American Libertarians saying: "traitors in thought, but not in deed" should be punished, meaning that if you say things, which are treacherous, (he even went further and said, if you think things that are treacherous) they should be punished. And there was repression of dissident opinion at that time.
Chomsky continues saying that the media understood and understands itself having the role of counter-weight to the government or elitist opinion of the powerful. So, the media must have the absolute right to freedom of speech, be ubiquitous and obstinate to guarantee the right of the people to know and have meaningful control over the political process and the elitist opinion of the powerful.
The absolutism of your freedom of speech rights is the only tool, you believe, to guarantee you that the power of the government or other entity is counter balanced and controlled. You believe it will guarantee that all speech, popular and unpopular, will be saved from oppression and a fair representation of opinions from the general population will be generated. Does this really happen ?
Let's see. Because we have freedom of speech and no coercive government to throw us in jail, if we publish treacherous things or other trash, a responsible media still wants to represent the important issues of our social and political life as balanced as possible and as true as possible. So, in order to make sure it's balanced, we need the "point of views" from all sides. In America this means the pre-assumed points of views from both sides of the aisles, from the "left" and from the "right".
The media has also to sell its products to guarantee a living for its writers, so the more "inciting" the discussion, the more absolute and fundamentalist the difference of opinion, the better. This leads to a propaganda system of "acceptable view points" of an elite within the corporate, academic and governmental institutions, which is artificially hyped up to be sellable.
This propaganda system serves the interests of those institutions of power the same way and manufactures filtered opinions as well. Somehow cable TV news must have an inkling about this filtering process, because they constantly ask the population for their opinion via email these days in the hope to get the "popular" opinion and not the "elitist" opinion of some manufactured bipartisan consent of acceptable view points. They want to be sure that left and right, authoritarian and anarchist thought processes of the population get a voice.
Unfortunately they seem to gently overlook that they have already propagandistically messed up their viewers, so that the chances to get responses, which don't conform, is minimal. It is no surprise that most dissenting unpopular voices on TV can only be heard via a joke. TV polls reflect
the success of their manufactured consent and are unrepresentative the same way polls on K5 are.
Obviously I am out to prove that the point that absolute freedom of speech right supporter fall also under the category of promoters of elitist propaganda, who (unknowlingly or not) have an interest to manufacture consent opinions.
The issue of absolute freedom of speech rights comes up mostly within the context of two subject areas porn and NeoNazi-like hate speech propaganda of race/ethnically/religious based groups, online and/or TV.
In other subject areas we take freedom of speech for granted. No one in his right mind would support any restriction of the media to report facts of events in public life, which cover abuse of power etc. We want to be sure that we get the info we need to counterbalance the governmental power to detect potential abuse of power.
But why then would the same person, who rightfully tries to protect freedom of speech rights for the good purposes, at the same time support the distribution of material, which imposes opinion upon the viewer for the purpose of gaining financial or political power over a medium?
Who are the groups, for example, who support the idea that all around availability of porn of whatever couleur must be protected under the freedom of speech rights ? I would imagine the ones who make a profit of it.
So, the freedom of speech absolutists became a nice conspirateur of some corporate and system admin/geek interests, who need to convince the population that porn must be available and is good for your mental health. So, subtly, all people are under the propaganda shower of pseudo psychologists, who try to make us believe that without our daily potion of whatever porn a free, healthy and happy population is a thing of the past. (Side note: You will argue that porn is consumed, therefore popular consent is representative for the population, but drugs are also consumed and the trade for it a financial vehicle to gain political power).
How about hate speech ? Why support that under freedom of speech rights ? What incites hate ? What do people get upset about most ? Most probably if you put them down and insult them for any sort of identifying entity they are born or grown up with. Ethnic animosity, religous self-rightenous, pure degradation of human dignity, blatant lies gets everybody up in arms.
What serves sales better and helps to execute psychological and poliltical power than a juicy, hateful lie. To support freedom of speech rights for those purposes is generating no control over political or corporate power interests whatsoever.
The thesis is proven to not work. Interest groups hiding behind and/or using hate speech propaganda, generate fake elitist consent over an issue (that we all have to be for absolutist freedom of speech rights to protect us from evil), that itself manufactures again fake consent over the truthfulness of facts promoted on sites like Auschwitz deniers.
The battle cry of freedom of speech absolutists is as much a propaganda instrument in the interest of a small elitist group as any other absolutist ideology propaganda. The interest is to get the most inciting and arousing thing heard, read and seen. That sells books, TV series, online forums and helps you to profile yourself as intellectual and brings some money in your pockets as well. It certainly doesn't reveal the true popular opinion of any uncle Joe, nor does it help to protect from obfuscation of truth.
Of course for a group like the freedom of speech absolutists it is convenient to prove their status as an oppressed minority, hence you have desperately to find examples of "unjust" oppression of opinions. Most of the examples you give fall under the category of "editorial process" of publications of institutions, who paid you to write them. Most often the old fashioned editorial process, which is more or less lacking for online publications, was meant to assure that the media itself doesn't abuse its own power.
But apparently that power counter-balancing argument comes only into play, when it comes to control the power of government and other institutions, not when it comes to control the power of the everyday hate monger "John Doe" abusing his power as a self-proclaimed journalist to incite interest and distort facts for his own online publishing interests..
What freedom of speech absolutists deny is any form of editorial process for online speech. Therefore they enhance the possibilities of propaganda going wild. This again leads to "brainwashing under freedom effect" (chomsky's expression), which again leads to the cry for protection from "the rage and trampeling of the bewildered herd" (cited by Chomsky as a quote from Walter Lippmann), that is us people, who don't get the elitist opinion of a group of people, who have an interest in promoting hate.
Again, what happens is that also the absolutist freedom of speech protectionista will generate an unrepresentative, biased opinion of an elite group, the opposite of what they intended to..
That's why I refuse to be an freedom of speech absolutist.
[ Parent ]