If you’re a leftist who believes in free speech you aren’t homeless
Free speech is a fundamental value of the left.
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“How do you know someone is vegan?” “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!” We all know it. Animal Rights activists are annoying and pushy. They will ‘shove their beliefs down your throat’ when you are just trying to enjoy your lunch. Whether How I Met Your Mother or South Park is your show of choice, you will have seen this notorious creature represented on screen, and given the recent growth in the movement, you probably know someone in your own life who always ruins a dinner party. Maybe you, like me, are the annoying vegan.
Acts of civil disobedience often emerge out of a sense of desperation in which citizens feel they are not being heard by decision makers by other means, and so they are forced to seek alternative ways to be heard and to affect change. The very function of civil disobedience is to protest against injustice—a requirement for any democratic society, though it is often portrayed as a foolish, juvenile activity reserved for people on the lower rungs of society.
What does it mean, to ‘counter hate speech with more speech’?
Hint: it doesn’t mean 5 minutes for the Jews and 5 minutes for Hitler.
In 1971, over the course of several months, historian Gitta Sereny trudged regularly into a prison in Dusseldorf, Germany to sit across a small table from Franz Stangl, former commandant of the extermination camp Treblinka. Between April and June of that year, Sereny collected over 70 hours of interviews with Stangl who died on June 28–within hours of her last visit. For the following 18 months Sereny continued researching details of the stories Stangl had told her and to speak to people who had known him when he was in charge of killing operations at Treblinka.
Today, there is intense talk of possible use of ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons by Putin in Ukraine. A recent NYtimes headline read: ‘In Washington, Putin’s Nuclear Threats Stir Growing Alarm' and the subhead went on to say that ‘U.S. officials are gaming out responses’.
Under postmodernism many ideas that were seen as objectively true came to be seen as mere constructions of language. Foucault refers to them as ‘discourses’ that construct knowledge. Consequently, since discourses are believed to create and maintain oppression, they have to be carefully monitored and deconstructed. This is not some obscure academic issue, it is the outlook that is behind calls for laws to outlaw speech which may cause offense.
In these times, leftists who espouse free speech are like wanderers in the wilderness. The political sands may be swirling so intensely that they are unable to see clearly, but the desert is actually filled with like-minded wanderers, each mistakenly thinking they are alone.
That is why it is all the more important to discover and support a site like Redline. Redline is a blog collective in New Zealand that combines original content with a carefully chosen selection of re-posted articles.
The content on Redline reinforces a consistent editorial line centered on class, worker rights and feminism, grounded in the materialism of the traditional left and on the principle of free speech.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Kiwi Farms, it’s a step in the wrong direction to allow, and even celebrate tech oligarchs who arbitrarily decide what information should be permitted and what should be removed. This creates a dangerous precedent and assigns more power to a few people who already operate in secrecy. To put trust in the tech elite is naive at best, and dangerous at worst. It also has the unintended effect of motivating authoritarian regimes, as evidenced above, to demand other content be removed from the Internet—a move that disproportionately impacts marginalized groups and dissidents.
Free speech decisions on social networks are guided by an unknown mesh of personal predilections of tech company CEOs and their boards. They are driven by profit motive and the competition of rivals. The algorithms that enforce their censorship are based on rules that we know nothing about; we haven’t participated in their design or voted on their adoption.
Somewhere along the way, the left abandoned free speech as a fundamental value and the right has since stepped in to defend it. Leftists now lead the charge in restricting speech to protect certain sensibilities, particularly the speech of those on the right, and the right has responded in kind by protecting speech at all costs.
This marked shift has been especially noticeable in Canada where Canadians' stance on free speech is largely shaped by their political affiliation.
Free Speech is a core value of the Left
Genuine support for free speech means it must apply to speech you don’t like
Pro Free Speech Doesn't Mean Absolutist support for all speech
Blasphemy–a notion that crystallizes so many of the issues around free speech
marginalized groups benefit the most from free speech protections
If leftist values have actual moral standing they can and should stand up to scrutiny and questioning
Speech is not physical violence, it’s an alternative to violence
Successful challenges to power build on a foundation of free speech
Free thought depends on free speech: censorship leads to a culture of fear where people learn to hide their real opinions
Free Speech protection for all is inherently anti-authoritarian
Let’s hear the Arguments against free speech