Oh, right, it’s just “leaning”, it’s not Real™ suppression of speech. Give me a fucking break…
You seem to confusing my point. The fact he’s leaning against people while still Prez rather than taking a hint to ignore daily stuff that isn’t his portfolio (or at very least making neutral statements regarding social issues) proves the point about suppression/chilling of speech. It’s that he’s getting around the legalities by saying stuff in retort to the actions of others proves the free speech absolutist maxim doesn’t work when social norms work against them. You can’t have free speech as long as you have hierarchical institutions from which people can and will speak without violating a single law regarding the actions of others in kind. There’s no way to have free speech under capitalism or really any other hierarchical society.
This probably goes in the Daily Trump Idiocy thread, but fits here too.
I’ll admit I skimmed somewhat, so sorry if this issue has already been raised in this thread, but something I see missing from the free speech discussion is what we think free speech will accomplish for us and whether it does, in fact, accomplish that. Do people believe in it for its own sake? Do people think it is going to lead to good results for society? What good results are we expecting from it? There are these discussions about whether free speech is good with abstract arguments, but what about setting out what benefits we think free speech gives and then examining evidence from the world to see if free speech does, in fact, result in those good things happening?
I don’t think strong defense of free speech above other rights does good, and in fact I think it does harm. I think the US, the country with the strongest legal concept of free speech, is more of a police state than Canada, continental Europe, or Scandinavia, and I think the strong defense of free speech has been a cause of that, rather than a mitigating factor against it.
On an even more narrow level, I don’t think that the constitutional protections in the US (or in Canada) even work. You can argue around in circles about the sequence of events, but a woman has been found guilty in a US court for laughing at the attorney general. Equal protection under the law is clearly not taken remotely seriously, whether that’s because the judiciary is racist, innumerate, cowardly or ignorant.
I understand that people who believe in the importance of free speech would say that free speech is fundamental because it helps us protect those other rights. I would like concrete examples of how this has worked. All free countries were once not free. All free countries became free countries despite not having fundamental freedoms. Apartheid ended despite Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment. The civil rights movement continued despite FBI blackmail of MLK. In countries that outlaw music people make underground clubs where they play music at risk to their own safety and freedom. Fighting oppression requires struggle and sacrifice every single time and will always mean risking being attacked by the government you are struggling against.
I also understand that people argue that one of the first things dictators do is restrict free speech because it is a threat to them. That, to me, gives dictators a lot of credit for being good smart people with good ideas. I would say that dictators restrict free speech because they are petty people with fragile egos.
I don’t think free speech actually accomplishes any of the things that strong free speech proponents say it accomplishes. We do thought experiments like, “If you say other people can’t say X, that means when the government changes, they’ll say other people can’t say Y!” But in reality having a body of case law that balances free speech against other goods probably makes it harder rather than easier to put in harmful or arbitrary restrictions. Good laws make it harder to implement bad laws, not easier. It’s that kind of lack of reference back to how things actually work in the real world that I think infects the whole discussion.
While speaking of the real world, on the “best answer to bad speech is more speech” all I can do is quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for ya?” Did speech manage to answer Trump’s lies and stop a sexist, racist, narcissist from taking the white house and filling it with white supremacists? If speech stopping the government of Quebec from banning niqab-wearing women from buses? The number of people who will be genuinely swayed by argument is vanishingly small (when was the last time you were in an argument with someone who said, “Oh, wait, you’re right, I see my mistake now.”). According to an expert I recently saw on Samantha Bee’s show (I’m not actually appealing to person-whose-name-I-can’t-remember as an authority, just giving credit for the idea) arguing against lies can actually reinforce them because you repeat the lie. For every one person who has never heard your argument against Naziism before, and who is open to being swayed by it, there are a hundred thousand people who will be swayed to take Naziism as a valid position because they hear people debating it no matter what the content of your speech is.
That part about people having never heard your argument before is important to me. On Naziism no one is saying anything worthwhile. Not the Nazis, not the anti-Nazis. We know that Nazis are bad and why they are bad and there are no new arguments to be made about it. No one would be missing anything if no one talked about it ever again and we simply returned to a broad consensus that Nazis are bad with a small number of asshole Nazis that we had to keep telling to fuck off. Since the white supremacists came out of the shadows and started publicly arguing their points - resulting in people publicly arguing against them - they have become stronger and stronger, more and more mainstream. The real world result of arguing against white supremacy words with anti-white-surpremacy words has been the rise of white supremacy. And the free speech argument that good speech will eventually win out then becomes an argument in favour of white supremacy - it’s winning more and more, so I guess it’s right?
If I had to create a list of rights that were most important for people to actually be well off, I’d put a large number ahead of free speech. If I were drawing a Maslow’s hierarchy for political rights, free speech would go up there at the very tippy top of the pyramid as a thing that’s great to have when you have all other bases covered. I think it’s the proverbial canary for dictatorships - you should be worried when someone restricts free speech not because free speech itself is so important but because it tells you what kind of government you’ve elected. Laws that prevent fascist assholes from restricting free speech are giving a gas mask to the canary. Saving the lives of real canaries would be all well and good, but saving metaphorical ones is super duper bad.
In this case, where lawyers showed up when the school tried to say no, their lawyers are likely telling them to disavow all aspects of the event from their responsibility. The NPI has a huge history of suing to get into the door, and then suing that the event turned violent after the university failed to provide proper security. So by making it an NPI controlled event the University prevents that second wave when violence absolutely happens. This is what should happen, and the media should make it very clear the hypocrisy of a free speech event wanting the right press at the event. Blaming the university here makes no sense - there is nothing better they could do about it without wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars pried from other programs just to make Spencer’s life slightly more difficult and not stopping it.
Right now NPI is suing MSU to bring the tour up there. It’s a cycle the Phelps’ invented and the torch is now proudly held by white supremecists, and until people start combating that problem and stop blaming the Universities nothing will be done about it. The problem is, that no one wants to ever have any political advocacy that involves the rules around speech.
And again, this is only an issue on college campuses because they receive federal grants and 36 cents on the dollar making them semi-public spaces subject to a legal area being abused unconditionally.
I wonder if much could be done with a discreet miced smart phone.
Quite well, thanks for asking.
Well, I was hoping to engage in some sort of evidence-from-reality based discussion, but I suppose allowing myself to take an arguably condescending tone there doomed that. Since the entire point of my argument is that the ability to speak your mind is a very weak tool in making things better, and that people are almost always unconvinced by the content of other people’s speech, it would be weird of me to not accept that gracefully.
I’m glad you are enjoying the current outcomes of free speech.
Well, history proves you wrong.
No, it doesn’t.
It’s not that ability alone that makes things better. It can help tremendously, but it takes much more than just words to make social change.