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A Free Speech Rant
Entry 1973, on 2019-03-28 at 21:06:35 (Rating 4, Politics)
I have been getting involved in some fairly controversial debates recently, especially in the context of the fallout of the Christchurch mosque attack, which happened just about 2 weeks ago. Since then it seems to me that there has been a lot less acceptance for alternative opinions like mine, although I know my opinions are quite widely supported because of the numerous small examples of support I get, both on and off-line.
The fawning admiration of the sycophantic and vacuous disciples of the prime minister make it look like there is massive agreement with her opinions, and the meme launched since the attack "we are one" is being treated by many as if it is actually true instead of just some simplistic propaganda. But the reality is that we are not one. We are deeply divided, and becoming more divided since the PM started her campaign of unthinking political correctness.
It sort of annoys me when I see women wearing hijabs or other head coverings. I mean, it's not a big deal, and that is a decision they perfectly entitled to make, but the fact that it is a traditional symbol of female repression by Islam and yet it has been appropriated by some of the most rabid feminists in the country, is not only ironic, it is totally hilarious!
These people just can't wait to jump on the next politically correct bandwagon. They start off being strong feminists, yet when a better opportunity comes along that is completely forgotten in the scramble to virtue signal to everyone around them. It really is sort of sad (although not surprising) to see how little thought really goes into this stuff.
At this point I need to emphasise that I'm not minimising the seriousness of the attack. The premeditated murder of 50 people, whatever their religion or ethnic background, is horrendous, and I think we need to treat the subject of gun control, and monitoring of potential extremists seriously. But that doesn't mean I think the path we have gone down so far is the right one.
Why not? Well, as I said above, despite the slogan "we are one", we increasingly aren't. All the PM has done by taking such an extreme path is to alienate those who were on-board with a strong response but not necessarily fully committed to the supplication to Islam we have seen.
Because even though, as a rule, I like Muslims, I really don't like Islam. Our use of Islamic symbols and rituals, like the head covering and use of prayers, is totally unacceptable to me. Couldn't we just treat this mass murder as a tragedy involving people rather than Muslims? Surely this emphasis on how they were different is in direct contradiction to the "we are one" theme.
But, unlike many of my opponents, I am going to concede that there is also a case for treating the views of others seriously. Maybe using these tokens of Islam is a positive thing and emphasises that we are open to new and different ideas. That idea doesn't really work for me, because I think Islam is a quite immoral belief system, and because I think many people who follow this path are doing it for very disingenuous reasons, but I am prepared to say that it is an alternative to my view which is fully worth discussing.
If only my opponents would give equal respect to ideas contrary to theirs. For a group so apparently dedicated to love, respect, and tolerance, they seem seem to exhibit the total opposite attitudes with monotonous regularity, because I have regularly suffered quite vicious insults from these paragons of love and tolerance on many occasions, as well as being censored several times.
I have probably made hundreds of comments over the last week and at not a single point have I indulged in an ad hominem. Sure, I have questioned the PM's sincerity, but even then, I have admitted it is just an impression I get and I could be wrong. In fact, if she is totally genuine that is even more concerning in many ways!
But what is the real harm of all this, you may ask? I mean, after a few weeks we will all get over this and move on with our lives as if nothing happened, won't we? Well yes, I think we could, because despite the rhetoric that the country has been "changed forever" or has "lost its innocence" I really think the vast majority really don't care that much. This is just an impression I get, because no one has done any sort of survey on attitudes, but I think behind the noisy minority reinforcing the utter tragedy of it all, there is a vast majority who just want to forget it and get on with their lives.
In fact, I think the main cause of any long-term trauma is likely to be the politicians (especially the PM) and the news media (who really have been utterly pathetic) constantly repeating the same old material over and over, as well as presenting us with new examples of both trivial and boring nonsense with peripheral relevance to the original event.
So if we are traumatised it is because of the PM making this look worse than it really is, trying to play some sort of blame game involving parts of New Zealand society, and just generally repeating the same old catch-phrases and unsubstantiated nonsense over and over, all the while looking so sorrowful and remorseful that it's hard not to get tied up in it all.
So, is there a problem with terrorism in New Zealand? Well, no one is immune from it, because it is an international issue. The gunman in this case was from Australia, and had been radicalised in various countries overseas. Apparently he chose New Zealand because of its isolation and reputation for safety, which allowed him to have greater impact. So until this happened, it could be argued New Zealand was relatively immune from terrorist threats.
And the argument that this is a wake up call to tackle racism in New Zealand is possibly the most stupid thing the PM and her politically correct followers could ever say. The attack wasn't done by a New Zealander, and it was based more on a dislike of a religion rather than a race. In fact, the PM's call to "stamp out racism" is quite concerning, because it seems more likely this is a convenient excuse to stifle any debate around subjects not deemed to be appropriate by the left.
So any criticism of Islam might be called racism, even though there is a lot which can be legitimately criticised, and Islam is a religious and political system, not a race. But the facts seem to never get in the way when it comes to political correctness. And it seems to me that this could be very dangerous. I strongly support fee speech, including the right to criticise political, religious, etc ideas I think are harmful, but this is even worse than simply blocking that essential right.
Because, this type of censorship is usually uneven. Certain groups can say almost anything they want, but if another group says something half as bad they are criticised or even prosecuted. A recent example of this phenomenon (which already occurs, even before the new regime gets started) involves Clementine Ford, an extemist feminist whose material includes statements such as "kill all men and then kill them again" and "men r gross and rapists. kill all men".
Sure, she has received criticism for this, but she is still being invited to a writers' festival here. Imagine if I said "kill all Muslims and then kill them again" or "women r gross and whores. kill all women". Would I still be accepted into any sort of public function? I think we all know I would be lucky not to be locked up.
And even though many people signed a petition to stop her being invited to this event, I didn't. Why not? Because I think she should have that degree of free speech. These sorts of comments are made all the time and no one takes thems seriously. And even if she wasn't allowed to make those statements would it mean she wasn't thinking them? No, if anything she would be even more extreme. I prefer to know who my enemies are! A far more effective way to combat her hate speech (and in this case it really does seem to be that) would be to attend her event and ask her awkward questions. Any half competent debater should be able to make her look like an absolute fool.
So I think open debate is useful and even if that occasionally goes over the line (and remember that line is always a matter of opinion) and becomes hate speech that is still worth it.
Finally, here are some things some great people have said on this subject...
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. - George Orwell
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. - SG Tallentyre, The Friends of Voltaire (sometimes attributed to Voltaire himself)
Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. - Benjamin Franklin
Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear. - St. Catherine of Siena
This is slavery, not to speak one's thought. - Euripides
The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether itís a religious belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible. - Salman Rushdie (isn't that one particularly appropriate)
If you canít write freely and if you canít speak freely in your country, you can be sure that you are living in a very primitive country! - Mehmet Murat ildan
There is a new type of discrimination, directed at people born in a time when total freedom of speech was valued, respected, and celebrated. Now these people are labelled as bigots, and monsters, and this discrimination, advocated and promoted by social justice warriors, is as severe and negative as racism, and sexism, and in many cases, worse in its extreme. - Robert Black
The claim "hate speech is not free speech" implies "free" is a type of speech, as opposed to how speech is treated in a free society. - Michael Malice
In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive. - Jordan B Peterson (he would know)
A sacred cow, unexamined, feeds itself and produces a whole lot of bullshit. And nobody wants that, except the people who profit by selling you bullshit. Those are the people who try to tell you that examining or criticizing the sacred cow is taboo. - Oliver Markus Malloy, Bad Choices Make Good Stories - Finding Happiness in Los Angeles
It all starts with suppression of a few freedoms and before you know it, you can't speak with out permission from the authorities. And then finally you wake up and you know what? It is too late. - Allan Amanyire
If we do not believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we do not believe in it at all. - Noam Chomsky (applies to my thoughts about Clementine Ford)
You are not a real thinker if your thoughts haven't landed you in trouble yet. - Bangambiki Habyarimana
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. - United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (seems clear enough)
I just hope those who seek to deny our rights are listening. But, of course, they aren't.
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Contact: OJB, OJB@mac.com. Features: Blog, RSS Feeds, Podcasts, Feedback, Log. Modified: 03 Mar 2007. Hits: 30,213,840.