The myth of the free speech crisis

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The myth of the free speech crisis

#1  Postby felltoearth » Sep 04, 2019 11:56 am

The myth of the free speech crisis | World news | The Guardian
This inevitably expanded what was considered acceptable speech. The Overton window – the range of ideas deemed to be acceptable by the public – shifted as more views made their way from the peripheries to the centre of the conversation. Any objection to the airing of those views would be considered an attempt to curtail freedom of speech. Whenever I attempted to push back in my writing against what amounted to incitement against racial or religious minorities, my opponents fixated on the free speech argument, rather than the harmful ramifications of hate speech.

Interesting article. Here has been a creep of former unacceptable ideas into... popular? mainstream? discussion. By unacceptable I mean any ideas that would have formerly been a non-starter in any reasonable discussion. These ideas are, to use a great expression of a friend, given truck. I also think the criticism in the article given to Dawkins is fair. It’s been recognized for what it is here thankfully.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#2  Postby Blackadder » Sep 04, 2019 3:49 pm

I am certainly no uncritical fan of Dawkins but I don't agree with the comment about the God Delusion.

It equates "new" atheists with racism and Islamophobia, without any attempt to differentiate those who claim the right to be publicly critical of religious ideas from those who just use that as a cover for their racism and bigotry. This is is either lazy or disingenuous, and I think I can guess which of those this lady is. This is just a slightly more nuanced version of the classic Guardian tactic of shutting down criticism of Islam with an immediate jump to labelling it as Islamphobia.

Freedom of speech cuts both ways. I see many Guardian writers (including this one), happily making bigoted and sweeping generalisations about white males but getting all hand wringingly weepy when someone makes critical statements about the prevailing attitudes of British Muslims, for example. Neither of these is particularly helpful or illuminating, but a little less hypocricy from these Guardian writers would not go amiss.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#3  Postby tuco » Sep 04, 2019 4:13 pm

While I am tempted to do a search to see how many times I've seen: “Islam is not a race” on this board, I suspect it would be without consequence so I will just lol Islam is not a race! Genius.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#4  Postby felltoearth » Sep 04, 2019 4:26 pm

To be clear, the “Islam is not a race” card has been used in many places including here as a defense as to why racists remarks veiled as comments on Islam (read brown people) are not racist. Peter what’s his face, our former resident Islamophobe, comes to mind here.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#5  Postby felltoearth » Sep 04, 2019 4:30 pm

Blackadder wrote:I am certainly no uncritical fan of Dawkins but I don't agree with the comment about the God Delusion.

It equates "new" atheists with racism and Islamophobia, without any attempt to differentiate those who claim the right to be publicly critical of religious ideas from those who just use that as a cover for their racism and bigotry. This is is either lazy or disingenuous, and I think I can guess which of those this lady is. This is just a slightly more nuanced version of the classic Guardian tactic of shutting down criticism of Islam with an immediate jump to labelling it as Islamphobia.

Freedom of speech cuts both ways. I see many Guardian writers (including this one), happily making bigoted and sweeping generalisations about white males but getting all hand wringingly weepy when someone makes critical statements about the prevailing attitudes of British Muslims, for example. Neither of these is particularly helpful or illuminating, but a little less hypocricy from these Guardian writers would not go amiss.

I didn’t see it as a generalization but a comment about how open discussion about Islam often provides an entry and sometimes cover for bigoted statements about “backwards” people, to give one example. We’ve all seen it get worse than that.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#6  Postby Thommo » Sep 04, 2019 4:38 pm

felltoearth wrote:To be clear, the “Islam is not a race” card has been used in many places including here as a defense as to why racists remarks veiled as comments on Islam (read brown people) are not racist. Peter what’s his face, our former resident Islamophobe, comes to mind here.


This is 100% true. It is also 100% true that sometimes criticism of the religion of Islam gets decried as if it were racism. In that case it's the only sane response.

It's the same with the university example. It is true that there must be limits on free speech and excluding far right speakers from Britain is perfectly reasonable. This does not mean universities are not now regularly banning and blacklisting speakers who aren't far right in a way they certainly didn't do previously (at least within my lifetime). It's got as far as Peter Tatchell for goodness sake.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#7  Postby tuco » Sep 04, 2019 4:44 pm

Not it is not sane response. Sane response is: The criticism in question is not racism and is justified because of a) b) c). Islam is not a race is just .. idiotic response. I mean, oh really? I did not know its not a race. wtf
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#8  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 04, 2019 4:46 pm

It does seem one of those baseline issues where it's easy to rapidly identify the flaws in someone else, but completely fail to spot them in oneself.

I have argued before that criticism of Islam cannot be racism, because Islam is an idea, a religion, a belief system - not a set of observable heritable traits. But then you encounter people, and I think I met them first on this very forum, with whom criticism of Islam really is barely distinguishable from rank xenophobia.

Previously, we had a chap here called Peter Brown who was unable to notice that his comments supposedly critiquing Islam were basically never about the ideology, but always about the people, their motivations, their nefarious intentions, their 'coming over here and stealing our X' type diatribes.

Pushing back against that was always met with angry retorts about the myth of Islamophobia and how it's a cheap diversion intended to stifle free speech, even though no one had mentioned Islamophobia at all and were in fact saying that the problem was that he wasn't talking about Islam, but about those foreign brown people.

I have, over the years, been obliged towards a rather uncomfortably unsophisticated explanation: most people are just bloody ignorant. Not ignorant of facts, or things, places, or basic education - they can do their times tables, know the capitals of major nations, read to a decent standard, and generally operate comfortably in modern life - but ignorant of themselves, of what motivates them, and what drives their thoughts. Being ignorant of that means they also can't see how they can be wrong, so criticism of the ideas they express isn't considered or scrutinized to verify whether those ideas really do stand up to testing, instead it must be the other person who's ignorant of the things they know which, they believe, perfectly justifies their ideas.

At the end of the day, thoughts cannot be purified, people cannot be made to mentally conform. All that can really be done is to demarcate what is or isn't appropriate social conduct. Your grandad can be just as racist as he wants to be in his own head, and not one person on the planet has so much as an atom of a right to stop him; what he can't expect to do is loudly and proudly announce those racist ideas and expect no objections, no repercussions, no change in peoples' attitudes towards him or valuation of him. That, I think, is what needs to be broadcast. Yes, you can say whatever you like and it's very hard to imagine an acceptable way to stop you, but really it just makes you look like a drooling numpty that no one wants to have around them.

Rather than wrestling with the Gordian Knot of what is or isn't free speech, what is correct or political correctness quasi-fascism etc., I think the message loudly broadcast needs to be about self-control and self-responsibility. If you do X, then Y will be the outcome. Do you want Y? No? Then stop doing X. You'd think this message would have landed sometime around the age of 8, but it apparently needs to be repeatedly reinforced for some of the slower learners.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#9  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 04, 2019 4:47 pm

felltoearth wrote:To be clear, the “Islam is not a race” card has been used in many places including here as a defense as to why racists remarks veiled as comments on Islam (read brown people) are not racist. Peter what’s his face, our former resident Islamophobe, comes to mind here.


Funny how we both alighted on that particular chap.

That descent into extremism was quite painful to watch.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#10  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 04, 2019 4:48 pm

tuco wrote:Not it is not sane response. Sane response is: The criticism in question is not racism and is justified because of a) b) c). Islam is not a race is just .. idiotic response. I mean, oh really? I did not know its not a race. wtf


How typically obtuse.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#11  Postby Blackadder » Sep 04, 2019 4:49 pm

felltoearth wrote:
I didn’t see it as a generalization but a comment about how open discussion about Islam often provides an entry and sometimes cover for bigoted statements about “backwards” people, to give one example. We’ve all seen it get worse than that.


Agreed. But the answer is not to ban "open discussion" about Islam, which seems to be a common reaction at the Guardian newspaper and one which is becoming more prevalent in places like university campuses, from what I can gather. I agree that the "free speech" card is played quite cynically by right wing bigots. But I see plenty of left wing bigotry in the Guardian columns too, which is what leads me to suspect many of their writers of base hypocricy ,viz: "free speech means protecting only views that I agree with."
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#12  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 04, 2019 4:54 pm

Blackadder wrote:
felltoearth wrote:
I didn’t see it as a generalization but a comment about how open discussion about Islam often provides an entry and sometimes cover for bigoted statements about “backwards” people, to give one example. We’ve all seen it get worse than that.


Agreed. But the answer is not to ban "open discussion" about Islam, which seems to be a common reaction at the Guardian newspaper and one which is becoming more prevalent in places like university campuses, from what I can gather. I agree that the "free speech" card is played quite cynically by right wing bigots. But I see plenty of left wing bigotry in the Guardian columns too, which is what leads me to suspect many of their writers of base hypocricy ,viz: "free speech means protecting only views that I agree with."



I agree insomuch as there are 2 extreme positions on such topics, and indeed, I think they extremify (?) each other, forcing each other iteratively to ever less logical and ever more extreme positions. When you write something that contains no intent to slander, nor to justify, only to explain and unpack ideas and both sides of that spectrum call you names or get riled up... it seems to me that could well be a litmus test indicating you're quite possibly in just about the right place.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#13  Postby Thommo » Sep 04, 2019 4:55 pm

tuco wrote:Not it is not sane response. Sane response is: The criticism in question is not racism and is justified because of a) b) c). Islam is not a race is just .. idiotic response. I mean, oh really? I did not know its not a race. wtf


Cool story bro.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#14  Postby tuco » Sep 04, 2019 4:57 pm

So I am not to address you and you keep addressing me? Do you have any manners at all?

---

Anyway, from the article:

A moral right to express unpopular opinions is not a moral right to express those opinions in a way that silences the voices of others, or puts them in danger of violence. There are those who abuse free speech, who wish others harm, and who roll back efforts to ensure that all citizens are treated with respect. These are facts – and free-speech-crisis mythology is preventing us from confronting them.


I tend to agree. Wishing harm is bad. Putting someone in danger of violence, well, it's also bad, however, how to tell if certain speech puts someone in danger of violence? I admit I do not how to determine that. Practical example:

OlivierK wrote:
tuco wrote:Who decides if it's peaceful or not? That is the only thing I care about.

LGBTQ people are overrepresented as victims of real, not imaginary, violence. Folau's attitudes contribute to that. This bigotry has real, non-peaceful, consequences.

[snip]



and previous conversation.

Of course, LGBTQ people are overrepresented as victims of real, not imaginary, violence but does follow that saying, for example, hell awaits them contributes to it? Puts them in danger? Maybe it does, but how do I know? Certainly not because someone says so, makes an argument. Anything negative about LGBTQ people contributes to violence or just some kind of negative? How does this work?
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#15  Postby tuco » Sep 04, 2019 5:03 pm

Thommo wrote:
tuco wrote:Not it is not sane response. Sane response is: The criticism in question is not racism and is justified because of a) b) c). Islam is not a race is just .. idiotic response. I mean, oh really? I did not know its not a race. wtf


Cool story bro.


It does nothing to me. You know what you said was idiotic and if you dont, well, lol
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#16  Postby Thommo » Sep 04, 2019 5:06 pm

Go pick a fight with someone else, I can't be bothered with you.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#17  Postby tuco » Sep 04, 2019 5:13 pm

Pick a fight? You could respond to my argument, which is clear and of impeccable logic. However, you probably realized that not even your command of the language could get over it so you choose to .. cool story. Pick a fight lol Wanna be on the list? Just say so. No problem for me. Pick a fight wtf

---
edit: Let's play this out because I feel generous.

Person A: <insert critique Islam>
Person B: That is racist. <insert some remarks or arguments>
Person A: Islam is not a race.

How does it address the accusation of racism? It does not address the merit of the critique at all, it does not say why the critique is not racist. It merely points out the obvious. How is it sane? It's impossible to explain its sane.

edit1: and yeah you are on the list because you are too proud to ask. Fuck this bullshit.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#18  Postby felltoearth » Sep 04, 2019 5:48 pm

tuco wrote:So I am not to address you and you keep addressing me? Do you have any manners at all?

---

Anyway, from the article:

A moral right to express unpopular opinions is not a moral right to express those opinions in a way that silences the voices of others, or puts them in danger of violence. There are those who abuse free speech, who wish others harm, and who roll back efforts to ensure that all citizens are treated with respect. These are facts – and free-speech-crisis mythology is preventing us from confronting them.


I tend to agree. Wishing harm is bad. Putting someone in danger of violence, well, it's also bad, however, how to tell if certain speech puts someone in danger of violence? I admit I do not how to determine that. Practical example:

OlivierK wrote:
tuco wrote:Who decides if it's peaceful or not? That is the only thing I care about.

LGBTQ people are overrepresented as victims of real, not imaginary, violence. Folau's attitudes contribute to that. This bigotry has real, non-peaceful, consequences.

[snip]



and previous conversation.

Of course, LGBTQ people are overrepresented as victims of real, not imaginary, violence but does follow that saying, for example, hell awaits them contributes to it? Puts them in danger? Maybe it does, but how do I know? Certainly not because someone says so, makes an argument. Anything negative about LGBTQ people contributes to violence or just some kind of negative? How does this work?

This is a good start in exploring the concept of language, ideas and violence.

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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#19  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Sep 04, 2019 6:05 pm

felltoearth wrote:To be clear, the “Islam is not a race” card has been used in many places including here as a defense as to why racists remarks veiled as comments on Islam (read brown people) are not racist. Peter what’s his face, our former resident Islamophobe, comes to mind here.


He was quite something.
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Re: The myth of the free speech crisis

#20  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 04, 2019 7:19 pm

tuco wrote:So I am not to address you and you keep addressing me? Do you have any manners at all?


Get over yourself, Tuco. You're the chap who has a special list that he loudly declares that he has put people on whenever he is clearly unable to address their arguments.

You are playing juvenile games like people are supposed to work to earn your favour.

I made it simple for you: I don't give a fuck about your silly pretensions. However, I clearly never once said I wouldn't reply to your posts.

As for manners... HA!! Cool story bro.
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