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We need to talk about free speech 2021-01-12 23:36:05

As with any thorny subject, it's good to undo the brambles and try to get down to the root of the issue before we start pruning indiscriminately. But we don't have the time, or maybe we just don't have the patience. Frankly, I'd say we don't really have the interest. 

When New Yorkers were asked, by a roving street reporter, what "sustains" them, the answers included the typical fixtures of modern urban life: the job, a partner/spouse, sex, Netflix, pizza, the gym, AOC, God, coffee, memes, drugs, and "the thing you use to boil water for tea". But none mentioned "free speech" even though it was precisely what had created the climate which could, in fact, sustain their varied and colorful answers.* 

Free Speech, we figure, is safe without our participation. It's locked up like the gold in Fort Knox and unassailable. Or better, it's like something written in stone, which, for the lack of stone tablets of heavenly provenance, the constitution is the next best thing. But this belief is a major act of complacency. Look at how we are now treating what used to be written in stone, and look at how money and power say more about the law than any law itself does. Free speech is nowhere near as safe as the gold in Fort Knox.  

Free Speech is much more akin to the enchanted rose in Beauty and the Beast, losing petals under a glass bell; guarded but still fragile. And with an expiration date. 

It actually has nothing to do with the law, with social media platforms, or the baying mob. Free Speech is no more than a cloak around the supremacy of Truth. Severed from Truth, Free Speech is but a worthless buzzword in a decaying plutocracy.  It is a term of convenience, at best a portmanteau for an implied neoliberal ideal that suggests it might have a price. And it does. But that price is not tech dollars and online influence, like we think it is. The price is Truth. 

Was Bernie twice robbed by his own party of the right to a presidential bid? Is a 9 year old girl, or boy, too young to transition into the opposite sex? Does the gay lifestyle carry with it more health risks? Should a woman have to bear a 9-month pregnancy to safeguard the life inside of her? Do powerful men take advantage of young women with impunity? Is it true that, out of personal interest, public officials might be colluding with foreign governments, that media organizations can manipulate public opinion, or that there was vote tampering in November's election? 

We can agree that these questions, somewhere, all have answers regardless of our politics. In fact, our politics are likely shaped by their very answers. But here's the catch: The answers have to not only withstand, but to overcome the divisive public discourse, and to emerge as truth only following a robust examination, or maybe even perpetual inquiry. That means we may not get answers in our lifetime, and that also means that without answers, all we have - if we have it at all - is a not the truth but a desire to find it and the means to do it. The means, of course, is Free Speech.   

Free Speech does not exist to assert, but to question. 

As long as we are blind to this simple truth and we take the quest for truth outside of our desire to express ourselves freely, replacing it instead with the opinion of the mob, media, government, or Big Tech, it is no more relevant than Trump, or Twitter, will be in a decade. 


*Mayhaps a fictitous acount that, for the purpose of this post, rings true. 
Replies to We need to talk about free speech

More from Gabriel Greco

Free speech is in same category as self reliance and good health.

It's ideal to have a populace that cares about the above and exercises their rights to both, but it's an ideal. In reality many will not care about their level of self reliance and being healthy. 

I like how you point out that free speech (free thinking) is about questioning rather than assertion like most people seem to think. This is a key point many seem to miss. 

Man I tried to write about more than this on here but it's too meandering. Talking about free speech leas down too many separate rabbit holes. I think I need to wait for someone to say some concrete situation so that I have an actual topic I can pounce on because free speech as a topic os too broad and vague.
2021-01-13 17:47:57
It's one of those things where the concept, though abstract, appears straightforward on the surface, ie. "i get to say what I want, by right" but, like any other right, it comes with responsibility. That's why I went the questioning route...that's a citizen's responsibility, and using free speech in its service, and in order to uncover truth is at the heart of the noble ideal. Yelling, "Kill _(insert ethnicity)__!" is not what free speech is about, no matter how free somebody might feel to say it. 
There is something else too here, anonymity. As in, I'll say things anonymously that I wouldn't in public, and that discourse is important too I think, but that's yet another rabbit hole.  
2021-01-19 09:08:06
Use the search bar on the home page to search for my post abstraction

you don't actually need to use the search bar. lol i'm just trying to get you into the habit of using it.

That last point about how the scope of anonymity changes the leniency/imagination of speech/ideas and the usefulness/danger/necessity of such is a great conversation that needs to be had over the next decade through all mediums. Video, television, movies, essays, nonfiction books, novels, etc etc etc
2021-01-19 17:03:07