Free speech is painful. It’s such an important right, yet it can bring serious consequences.
Being able to say whatever you want is incredibly important. But it also means you might say things that other people don’t like. Worse still, other people might say things you don’t like. Or even hate.
Free speech also gives idiots a platform to spew shocking and stupid ideas, beliefs, and stances. I’m sure some of you are thinking that about me right now (thanks!). Free speech gives everyone carte blanche to prove just how much of a numbskull they are.
As Mark Twain once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
But thankfully we live in an age where few keep their mouths shut. That’s a good thing. That’s a wonderful thing. Being free to express your ideas, even idiotic ones, is a value add to me. Why? Because without the freedom to fail, we don’t have the freedom to succeed.
A society that welcomes free speech does so, knowing that some of that speech might be vile, toxic, or inappropriate. Why do we allow it? Because we know the best way to combat evil is with good. We can confront, argue, and rebuke vile speech with good speech. By offering intelligent, meaningful, and valuable ideas as alternatives to nonsense.
The moment we begin to clamp down on “wrong speech” through the use of legislation or over-reaching rules, we lose the right to call our societies free.
Yet that is the war that is going on right now in much of the world, even in the United States.
Social media was once considered the new frontier of freedom and opportunity for citizens around the world. Once upon a time, even citizens in the Middle East were using it to express new ideas and calling for change in their societies. The Arab Spring was kickstarted thanks to the use of new mediums that could not be controlled by dictators or authoritarian regimes. The people of the Middle East enjoyed this freedom to spread the word.
That’s not the case anymore. Social networks are now the worst places to express free ideas. Somewhere along the way, those that held the gates to these networks realized the immense power they had over society. As long as they had no problem violating the trust their users gave them, they could control what you see and what you say.
From Google to Facebook to Twitter, we’ve seen social networks crack down on “unacceptable speech.” There always seems to be a one-sided nature to their actions.
Facebook is often in the hot seat for selective censoring of content. They are quick to take down posts, images, and pages that are seemingly inoffensive—but apparently upset global overlords. It’s especially upsetting when it turns out these posts are anti-ISIS, you know, the people that want to kill all of us.
A Westerner fighting in Syria with the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) has accused Facebook of repeatedly censoring her posts updating the world on her fight against the Islamic State…
She accuses Facebook of removing one of her posts with little explanation. The post contained no graphic imagery — just a photo of a fellow militiaman’s funeral with no accompanying commentary. Böhman says she also received a 30-day posting block for publishing the image…
She, and other supporters of the Syrian Kurdish militia, allege that the social media company engages in draconian censorship against them in order to appease Turkey, a country that is bitterly opposed to the Syrian & Turkish Kurdish independence movement. (Breitbart)
Now, why would Facebook wish to censor their posts and images? Why would an “open” and “free” platform feel the need to control what other’s saw from people fighting ISIS?
Could it be that Zuckerberg is really afraid of upsetting Turkey? If they don’t censor the content of Syrian users, would the entire nation of Turkey ban and block Facebook?
Perhaps. It’s not as if Erdoğan has a great track record when it comes to free speech and human rights. It could very well be the case of a large entity like Facebook having no choice but to violate their integrity and convictions, to stay open in a foreign nation.
But that doesn’t affect American users, right? Except, that it does. Social networks are international entities. Something that happens to one section of the site will affect everyone else. If you’re blocked, you’re blocked. You could be an American, posting an article you care about to your friends. Someone in the U.K. finds it offensive and reports it. You can find yourself with a 30-day slap on the wrist or worse, because according to Facebook, you’re guilty of wrongthink.
This is a growing problem with social media. Entities that thrived because they welcomed free speech are now becoming hampered by outside forces that hate it.
I truly doubt that Zuckerberg wants to monitor the comments of some 1 billion users. Even if he were a died-in-the-wool liberal, it would be against his best interests to censor people he disagrees with. It’s in a social network’s best interests to welcome all forms a speech; because that means more users!
But thanks to corporate investors, virulent political parties, and hostile government regimes, social networks find themselves in an awkward position. Either they begin censoring their users, or face penalties.
Even a free speech platform like Gab has faced pressure, having to refine their user agreement in order to protect themselves. Because in today’s day and age, free and open speech is a naïve ideal.
Where are the limits? When is free speech actually a crime? Are death threats and slurs protected? Should we regulate the unchecked flood of comments, rants, tweet storms, and hate posts—in the interest of public safety?
Again I say no. The very basis of our society is built around free speech. Capitalism is made possible because of free speech. Political movements (including the good ones) are made possible because people spoke freely. Innovations like social networks were made possible because they were built in nations that welcomed free thought, expression, and individual choice.
Yet daily social networks have to deal with problems like this.
An Israeli-born Jewish comedian in Germany daubed anti-Semitic tweets on the street outside Twitter’s headquarters in Hamburg to draw attention to the social media giant’s inaction in tackling online hate…
“The statements I reported weren’t just plain insults or jokes, but absolutely serious threats of violence, homophobia, xenophobia, or Holocaust denial,” he says in the video. “Things no one should say and no one should read. If Twitter forces me to see those things, then they’ll have to see them too.” (Breitbart)
Anti-Semitism is vile and disgusting. The kind of irrational hatred aimed at Jews historically leads to actual acts of violence and death. It tends to happen very quickly too.
It’s unacceptable, like all forms of racial hatred. But is it Twitter’s job to police this kind of speech? Twitter has had an especially bad track record of blocking and policing users for “hate speech.” They seem to be very selective about who they censor. Racist tweets against certain groups are quickly taken down, yet comments against white people, cops, and conservatives get to stay.
Perhaps it has something to do with the people calling the shots.
Free-speech advocates have worried that Twitter’s decision to work with certain activist groups to crack down on “harassment” can give those groups an unhealthy degree of influence over the platform, as they file a high volume of dubious harassment charges to silence people they don’t like. (Breitbart)
Social networks are companies, after all. And they create Terms of Service that dictate how you behave on their sites. Every website has certain guidelines to govern what goes on there. Mostly it’s about preventing things like adult content from appearing on non-pornographic sites, or to prevent the release of a user’s personal information. Basic stuff to protect their interests.
But in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, there seems to be a rise in virulent, liberal mania online. Social networks seem to be giving into the temptation to control what is seen, and more importantly, what goes viral on their sites. Should something spread that they don’t like, more often than not, they block it. Even if it doesn’t violate their TOS's in a tangible way.
This is the great problem we face. We put our trust in these sites, believing that they give us a means to communicate unhindered. Yet behind the colorful apps and interfaces, there are people. People with agendas that might not coincide with yours.
Are you a gun-loving, big truck driving, patriot? Then you have very little in common with the Silicon Valley, pressed shirt wearing techies that maintain Twitter, Facebook, and Google. You have even less in common with the nose-pierced, latte sipping New York liberals that police them. Posting conservative news stories on Facebook might not get you banned, but you’ll find that fewer people will see them.
Then there’s the double-sided hypocrisy of liberals who are advocating hate speech rules. Both online and in governments, there are people who believe that speech that is deemed hurtful or hateful should be outlawed. Most Western nations have embraced some level of hate speech punishment. Now they are coming for the United States, calling for laws that violate our most fundamental right.
Except, these people have benefitted from unfettered speech, both online and in their careers.
Comedienne Chelsea Handler has been blasted by Twitter users after suggesting that “laws” should exist in the United States to penalize people who find racism funny, despite having a history of repeatedly using race as a punchline in her own jokes. (Breitbart)
2 Chinese guys were arrested in Berlin for making nazi salutes. Wouldn't it be nice 2 have laws here for people who think racism is funny?— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) August 7, 2017
Wow, the grandstanding is so huge you can see it from space. For a left-wing, feminist, man-hating figure like Handler to call for hate speech laws is the height of hypocrisy. That fact that she was attacking comedy specifically, either proves she doesn’t understand the very art she claims to be a creator of, or she is just full of crap.
Because, anyone that remembers her very unfunny show, remembers stuff like this:
remember back on Chelsea Lately when Chuey, your mexican midget sidekick you'd constantly make "racist" jokes about, dressed like a nazi? pic.twitter.com/RxJ1Io5ixH— june (@shoe0nhead) August 9, 2017
That’s just a tip of the iceberg for the kind of comedy Handler is known for. Had it been Jerry Seinfeld calling for hate speech laws, I wouldn’t be so disgusted (though he would never do that). But for a comedian whose entire shtick has been as hateful and controversial as Handler’s, that really takes that cake.
I’ve never liked Handler’s comedy; I’ve always thought it to be tasteless, vile, and patently unfunny. But I understood the motives behind it. Comedy, at its core, is supposed to be controversial. It’s supposed to push boundaries, shock, and force you to think. If it offends, that often means it’s doing its job.
Handler understands this; she’s built a career out of being that kind of comedian. Yet now, in the “Age of Trump,” she feels the need to virtue signal like yet another mindless animal in the liberal circus.
Apparently, Handler’s never heard of one of the greatest comedians of all time.
This kind of thought poison is infiltrating social media. More and more libtards are demanding that sites like Facebook, reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, and all the rest take on the role of jackbooted Gestapo, policing your thoughts, comments, and posts. Violating your right to speak your mind.
Oh, they're fine with your 2 AM drunken selfie. But say anything that ruffles feathers, you’ll be in the dog house.
The real danger is that we let them do this. We allow these sites to berate us, scold us, kick us into the corner. Then we come crawling back, eager to please them the next time.
But social networks need us, not the over way around. And if you keep kicking a dog, it eventually bites back.