Free Speech – One Each!!

Would you feel alright about a foreign power, such as Russia or China, pouring out propaganda to deliberately affect an election?

Would you be happy with a political party deliberately putting out misinformation or lies that were masquerading as truth?

Would you be happy with conspiracy theories being put out on the media and social platforms and being represented as truth?

Would you be happy with terrorist groups (white supremacists, jihadists, neo-nazis, anarchists etc.) pumping out false information and propaganda via the internet?

That is what is currently happening.

There are TV channels that are deliberately putting out misinformation and extremely biased information disguised as news.

Social media has been targeted by political parties as a means of putting out conspiracy and fake news.

Trump has been the master of fake news and conspiracy theories. He has deliberately undermined science, experts and the media while promoting and encouraging conspiracy theories.

Not only do a high percentage of his followers believe the election was stolen, they also believe that the corona virus was a hoax, QAnon is a good source of truthful information, the Deep State is controlling everything and alien lizards are running the planet. They believe democrats hold satanic rituals and drink babies blood. They believe PC is simply wrong and many of them believe the earth is not only flat but was only created 3000 years ago.

All this is defended in the name of free speech.

That opens a lot of questions.

I believe anybody should be able to discuss anything from the holocaust to Jesus, from Hitler to Pol Pot, without censure. They should be free to express their views and be challenged.

But I do not believe that anybody has the right to pump out deliberately false conspiracy as fact and that sites or news channels that deliberately try to lie and spread fake news should be shut down.

It’s a view. What do you think??

10 thoughts on “Free Speech – One Each!!

  1. I think come on Opher, get a grip, go with the flow. The election was stolen, corona virus is a hoax, QAnon is a source of truth, the Deep State is controlling everything and democrats do hold satanic rituals and drink babies blood. Goes without saying.

    However lizards! I mean that is ridiculous. Where’s David Icke when you need him.

    Fucking world’s gone mad.

  2. I’d be very careful about going down that route, Opher. Galileo said to a Catholic cardinal: “The Earth goes around the Sun, not the other way round.” The cardinal said “Fake news!” and put him under house arrest. If that cardinal hadn’t been a personal friend, Galileo would have suffered a lot worse. In Russia, biologists who said “The methods of Comrade Lysenko do not significantly improve plant yields” were dismissed, imprisoned or even executed. And how about Alfred Wegener’s “The continents are slowly drifting around the Earth?” All three statements were subsequently found to have been true.

    To express freely and to publish your opinions, even if they are wrong or unpopular, is a basic human right. Even the UN recognizes that. Here’s article 19 of the declaration of human rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” And if your opinions are actually correct, or if they move human knowledge nearer to truth, then it is those that try to suppress you that are the fakers.

    The first line of defence against fake news (and other falsehoods) is to train and cultivate your bullshit meter. But that requires critical thinking, which ought to be taught to all young people, but often isn’t. That’s the fault of the teaching profession – your profession, Opher! Also, the sheer volume of fake and misleading statements you get fed as news (both on mainstream media and Internet) means that you have to be selective about which of these statements you will bother to take on, and look into the facts as opposed to the narrative. Often, you have to say “that person or organization has lied or misled before, so I’ll simply assume this is a lie too, unless and until I see evidence to the contrary.” That’s exactly where I stand on environmentalism, by the way. Having taken the trouble to explore the “human emissions of CO2 cause catastrophic global warming” accusations, and found them seriously wanting, I’m not going to waste my time or my mental health on anything else from the same or similar sources. Unless and until I get specific, checkable evidence.

    You can also often detect fake “information” by the tone in which it is delivered. If you see someone responding to valid points, not with counter-arguments, but with ad hominems, that’s usually a sign of fake. If you see the same words being used again and again in an accusation, like “conspiracy theory” or “climate emergency,” this is also often an indicator that the user is faking, or just repeating someone else’s narrative. When you see such things, the message is probably bullshit. Indeed, it’s often the fakers that cry “fake news” loudest!

    This is a particularly big issue now, because of the sheer volume of bull put out by politicized individuals, organizations and media. I agree, it would be nice to be able to staunch the flow. But I can’t see how you could do that without throwing out the right to freedom of speech; and that would actually play right in to the hands of the fakers.

    One possibility of interest might be to require anyone, who is doing a job paid for by tax money, to keep to the highest standards of truthfulness and honesty in all their dealings with the public who paid that money; on pain of dismissal, and barring from all taxpayer funding in the future. But that, of course, would never be accepted by the establishment – it would put virtually all the politicians, and pretty much the whole of the BBC, out on their ears!

    1. Lol Neil. Free Speech is a difficult thing. I’m all for it – apart from if it is used to incite violence, promote racism or misogyny or puts forwards opinions as truths (conspiracy and fake news being reported as facts).
      The main problem is that half the population have an IQ below 100 and lack the facility to discern what is fake and what is true – and even you have a great deal of trouble discerning that – particularly if it is anything to do with the environment.
      I always taught my students to question and not believe.

  3. Opher, there are other ways to skin the cat than to restrict free speech. Inciting violence is already a crime practically everywhere – and rightly so. Promoting racism is a little more difficult – would you also forbid promoting, for example, fascism, communism, socialism, Toryism, environmentalism, male supremacy, feminism? Personally, I think the way to deal with racists is to have nothing to do with them whenever you can, and to shame them when you get the opportunity.

    Putting forward opinions as if they were truths is certainly not something that should be outlawed. We all do it! And would you regard “Jesus saves,” for example, as something that should not be said? For you, it’s an untruth. For me, it’s nonsense. You might think the person saying it is a criminal, whereas I would merely classify them as an idiot. There are other issues too, How, exactly, would you establish that a proffered opinion is a falsehood? And how would you convince a third party (like me), who might come from a quite different direction from you philosophically and politically, that it is both a false statement, and wrong to say it?

    In my opinion, it isn’t always the people with IQs under 100 who have problems distinguishing truth from lies. I’ve known lots of “country bumpkins” who had no trouble. In fact, arguably it is those who are intelligent, but not very rigorous in their thinking, who tend to believe and even to create false narratives. Politicians and professors very easily slide into this. And as for priests…

    1. My view Neil is that I’d like things in the open and discussed. People with abhorrent views – such as fascism need to have them challenged. I’m not in favour of deplatforming people.
      I think the situation regarding inciting violence and racism (including misogyny) are quite clear. They should not be tolerated.
      There is a debate to be had.
      Social media has flooded people with daft conspiracy put across as fact. You are right about intelligence but even so, a lot of people do not have the ability or knowledge to counter this torrent of misinformation. Millions now believe the earth is flat. Millions believe it is only 3000 years old. Millions disbelieve science. Millions believe that there is a Deep State run by alien lizards in cahoots with democrats who eat babies and are in a big paedophile ring.
      This is absurd. It is destabilising society and politicians like Trump have been fuelling it for their own ends. Something needs doing. What do you suggest?

      1. They’re not lizards, Opher. They are lounge lizards in expensive suits! 🙂

        As to what to do about the problem, my take is that we need to get rid of the current political system (Westphalian nation state and its derivatives) and the politicians, bureaucrats, activists, quangos etc. that it sustains. In its place, we need to create something better, that delivers objective justice to all. I’m working on it.

      2. Lol. Yes.
        What we do? We elect people who are not narcissistic psychopaths, sociopaths or greedy millionaires. A coalition of Labour and the Greens would be a big improvement.

      3. No, Opher. Whoever is to be allowed power must not have any political agenda at all. They should be concerned only for peace, honesty, the rule of law, maximum freedom for everyone (both social and economic), and objective justice for every individual.

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