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Free Speech Threats

Entry 2008, on 2019-10-23 at 21:10:29 (Rating 2, Comments)

If you follow this blog you will know that there are a few issues which I cover a lot. I mean, I don't just say the same thing over and over, because that would be boring, and this blog isn't boring, is it? But I do like to follow a few general themes and present different perspectives on them, as well as providing commentary on current relevant related issues. So the theme this time is free speech. Yeah, that again. But this time I want to discuss a few personal anecdotes which I think are representative of the underlying problem.

I make a lot of really controversial comments on social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. There are various ways these are responded to. First, there is just no response, either because it just didn't come to the attention of anyone who cared enough, or people decided to "not feed the troll". Second, I get a lot of support from people who believe in similar things to me. Third, I get minor push back and a reasonable debate on the merits of my points. And finally, I get all out aggression, with offensive language, threats of violence, and threats of legal action against me.

But so far nothing bad has ever happened to me. In fact, I have never even got a ban from any of the social media platforms even though other people I know have been given bans for what seem like less offensove comments than mine. Actually, in some ways the lack of a ban is a bit disappointing. Most internet platforms are hugely politically correct and one-sided in their condemnation of awkward opinions, so it is almost a badge of honour to have been banned at least once.

But that may change soon because a particularly pathetic individual I debated recently has threatened to report some comments I made both to Twitter and maybe even to the police. Yeah, I might get banned from Twitter and have the local goons bashing on my door (I'm being a bit dramatic there, because that is really unlikely, and I really hope the police prefer to deal with actual crime and not frivolous attempts at revenge from people who lose a debate).

At this point I should cover a few of the areas where I tend to run into trouble of this sort. These probably won't be too surprising to anyone, and include anything that isn't completely supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community, women, and Muslims. In general I'm not talking about being negative about these groups, it's more about not being overwhelmingly positive.

For example, in the past I said that Israel Folau - the Australian rugby player who dared to say his faith (fundamentalist Christian) stated that gay people (and others) will go to Hell - should be allowed to state his beliefs without repercussions. If you looked at the vicious attacks from my opponents you would think I had organised a private army to eradicate every gay person on the planet. All I had done is say let him state his opinion, then show him why he's wrong (if he is).

And when I dared to suggest that Greta Thunberg's hysterical appeal to world leaders was unlikely to be effective you would think I was the greatest climate denier on the planet, and a vicious thug who dared to criticise a young woman (or child, depending on what is convenient) because of who she is, not what she said.

And in this latest incident, I did one of the most unacceptable things possible: I dared to support someone who made an unfortunate, but not ultimately violent, comment about Muslims! I mean, I could have criticised a young, gay, Muslim, liberal woman and that would have been even worse, but Muslims do seem to be the most protected group at the moment, no doubt partly because of the Christchurch attack against them.

This person commented about an acid attack carried out against a young woman by Muslims, saying he would destroy mosques if a Muslim did that to his daughter. My comment was this: "He said that if his daughter was subject to an acid attack he would destroy mosques. Seems fair. He also said that he made that post when drunk. Big deal. Iíve seen a lot worse than that."

I was then accused of inciting violence against Muslims, but that wasn't my intention at all. To me the words "destroy mosques" seemed to imply damaging the building itself, not any people who might be there. Sure, it might be seen as somewhat insensitive after Christchurch, but I did clarify that I didn't condone violence against people. As I have said many times: I hate Islam, but I don't dislike Muslims. If that doesn't make sense think of it this way: it's like hating cancer but not hating people who have cancer.

So even my clarification wasn't enough for this pathetic individual who threatened to dob me in to the Twitter thought police, or even the real thought police. That all happened several hours ago now and I haven't suffered any repercussions yet, but I guess it takes a lot longer than that for anything to happen. Anyway, if anything does happen I will certainly report it here.

But all of this is just so unnecessary, and actually damaging to society as a whole. We should be able to discuss anything, and if we get the details wrong, or cross the line of fairness, then let's have a reasonable discussion about it, and maybe tone the rhetoric down a bit. On the other hand, a threat to report someone to a repressive authority just makes the alternative view look weaker. If it wasn't that weak, why would it be necessary to shut down the discussion using such dirty, cowardly tactics?

I really can't be bothered having to deal with the real police, so hopefully that doesn't happen, but I do hope I get a week or two ban from Twitter. Then I can report back to my controversial friends saying I have joined them in a ban. What a world we live in, when that's something to be proud of!

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