If you’re a leftist who believes in free speech you aren’t homeless
Free speech is a fundamental value of the left.
In the abstract, people mostly agree that book banning is a bad thing. The Nazis did us the favor of being very clear about it and literally burning books, but there are rarely cases that are so unambiguously wrong.
In our current culture, it is more common that reading certain books may be punished rather than the books themselves being outright banned. This more subtle form of social control encourages one of the most insidious threats to freedom–the tendency in all of us to self-censor what we read, think and say.
Free speech is usually thought of in terms of either the state or private companies power to censor speech. What the Qatargate corruption scandal illustrates is that the concept itself is meaningless in a society where speech can be purchased like a suit off the rack.
In fact, genuine free speech can’t exist outside of an overall culture of free speech.
A free speech culture is one in which speech can’t be bought. It is one in which each person’s speech is given freely, without being purchased or constrained and where all speech has equal weight.
Dear Liberals or Conservatives,
When you say left, you probably aren’t actually talking about the left. Find another name. Or at least understand the difference between the woke left and the traditional left which although largely silenced does still exist.
Here is a crude guide for liberals and conservatives who want to know the difference. See the chart.
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.
As Marguerite commented to Plebity in preparation for this article: “I am really very saddened by what is happening with the left in France, because this is my political family: the universalist, secular and philosophically materialist left. And here [in France], the majority of women who are gender critical are leftist.”
It is hard to think of an area of political debate more emotionally charged than that of Israel and its relationship with the Palestinians. But it would be a step forward if there was free debate on the subject. That would open the possibility for misconceptions to be challenged rather than letting grievances fester.
The Stepford Wives was a movie that came out in 1972 and might not be very well remembered today but which nonetheless contributed a useful metaphor for describing certain aspects of our society. Briefly, the Stepford Wives were the possessed and submissive versions of their original human selves, surreptitiously transformed one by one and reappearing as empty husks of what they had once been.
On June 23, 2022, the Canadian government officially made Holocaust denialism a crime. This amendment to the Criminal Code was secretly tucked away in Bill C-19, Canada’s budget implementation act. Canadians hardly noticed it was there — we were too distracted by the budgetary provisions that we were promised would make life more affordable for us.
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