Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Silent Right

Over the last few days, poster JacquesCuze at the Slymepit has made several good points on an important theme. One:

I think that if constant internet mob actions results in constant deplorable disproportionate witch hunts that destroy people's lives in real space, that it's time to think again if free speech is truly only something between man and government and not something between man and man.

"The marketplace of ideas" does not conduct business solely in a Government Warehouse. A rich marketplace of ideas should then be able to counter ugly speech with more speech, not counter ugly speech with real world firings, career and personal destruction.

Another:

My education was horribly lacking and I don't have a great response to Popehat's and others when they cry #FREEZEPEACH to say that the First Amendment does not apply to non governmental acts of censorship.

On the one hand they are right, and on the other hand it seems to go against the grain of everything I was brought up to believe, namely that citizens supporting the speech and freedom of expression of others, including unpopular views, were the marks of a 20th century, "progressive" society.

Are there any great philosophers, lawyers, essays, videos that directly refute Popehat and the FREEZEPEACHER's claims that it's fine to counter ugly speech with calls for censorship and real world destruction?

And another:

My point with White is that when these Internet blow ups over speech flare up and result in firings and the destruction of personal lives and careers, Ken can be counted on to say:

1. It's not a first amendment issue
2. Those of you saying, duh, we know, but the real issue is ... are still wrong because there are other people who say it's a first amendment issue
3. Their ugly speech was met on the net with more speech! That's all good!
4. Yes, people were fired, careers lost, lives ruined, and yeah, the people that did that were deplorable and responses should be proportionate

But he is never able to connect 3 & 4 and realize that his 1 is used by the people in 4 to justify their bullshit and then realize the answer is that ugly speech should be met with more speech and his theory of proportionality is bullshit not because its false but because none of the incidents he writes about have ever shown any amount of proportionality and yet his hobby horse is still his 1 and 3, screaming it's not a first amendment issue and the social hate is just more speech.

Back in my days of reading progressive blogs, I was frequently dismayed by how often such narrow legalistic definitions of free speech were used to justify actions which clearly violated the spirit of the concept. I'm sure you've heard some version of it before: "Yeah, well, Thoughtcrime Jones doesn't have a Constitutional right to a career/TV show/radio show, so, too fucking bad." Technically true, but it would nonetheless be a pretty piss-poor society in which anything not specifically protected by the Constitution was subject to revocation at the hands of a vigilante mob. As Chomsky has succinctly said, even Hitler and Stalin were in favor of free speech for ideas they liked. One of the most disgusting things about the social justards — and Lord, how many things there are to choose from — is the way they've made "freezepeach" a trendy, snarky meme to justify the way they behave towards members of the out-group and the way they police their own communities for dissent. Those loopholes you gleefully exploit for temporary partisan advantage now will be used against you eventually as well; you can count on that. This Prisoner's Carnival atmosphere that has been created through social media is far more threatening to a healthy society than any stupid joke or ignorant remark made by some viral insta-celebrity.

The principle, at least in its ideal form, is intended to make sure that ideas stand or fall on their own reasonable merit, not due to the cunning and guile of political machinations. Yet it's exceedingly rare to find anyone with enough integrity to place that principle ahead of tribal loyalties. Same as it ever was, I suppose. It's too abstract of a notion for most people. Humans are social creatures with a deeply embedded instinct to monitor and regulate the behavior of others in the group. Still, it's heartening to see the occasional instance of someone rising above those censorious urges.