Freedom of Speech, But for Whom?

Loud defenses of the Freedom of Speech, when made by the dominant classes, usually point to their concern that the underclasses are getting too uppity. Asking not to be publicly dehumanized is CENSORSHIP. Bombing mosques & NAACP buildings and locking up people of color for resisting groupthink is DEFENDING THE NATION.

On the heels of “Unity” marches and much chest-beating regarding the “Western” value of free speech, we quickly see what this is all really about.

“A string of at least 69 arrests in France this week on the vague charge of ‘defending terrorism’ risks violating freedom of expression,” Amnesty International said in an understated press release on Friday.

It turns out most of the people arrested were people of color. How about that.

From the article: France Begins Jailing People for Ironic Comments.

“Easily Offended”

It seems rather flippant and vacuous for white men, when asked to treat people who are *not* white men as fully human, to dismiss it as “censorship” or being “too easily offended”.

To dismiss our calls for respect and security as “whining” is the height of the haughty ignorance of entitlement. Sure, you have the freedom to offend people with your racist, sexist, whatever-ist bullshit. But do not fool yourself into thinking that kicking underdogs makes you a noble defender of ART and FREEDOM and AMERICA. It just makes you offensive and bigoted.

Information Wants to Be Free

There’s a war against information being waged by the West. We Westerners love to look down at “other” countries and scoff at their censorship—it’s a sign of repression, of a backwards government or culture, of out-dated religious or cultural intolerance, it’s anti-science, anti-education, anti-truth.

We turn a blind eye to censorship in our own societies because it doesn’t fit with our narrative of superiority or exceptionalism.

Perhaps we are actually getting more censorious or repressive than we were in the past. I personally think that we are only now learning about a long-present censorship in the West due to the extraordinary efforts of certain individuals, and the pressures exerted by groups of these individuals coming together and pointing out wrongs.

Because we love censorship in the West. America tolerates a large amount of it, and it appears that Australia emulates this shining example. We tolerate it, and we deny its existence. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Our capitalist economy is supposedly based in part on an equal access to information. That’s supposed to be how consumers make their choices, based on truthful and complete information about products. That’s supposed to be how voters make their choices for who leads the government. So the benefits of misleading the people are very high.

Information wants to be free. Here are some examples of the Western struggle to obtain information in the face of governmental and corporate repression.

Australia Confiscates Passport of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange
The first government to really take action against a truly pro-democracy website, which reveals government lies, militarism, and human rights abuses perpetrated by powerful people. Australia understands the necessity of cracking down on such an unrestricted flow of “state secrets”. Because if a state needs to keep something secret from its people, you better believe whatever it is would make the people pissed, thereby challenging the people with the power and the money.

Glenn Beck Rails Against Local Input, Diversity at Radio Stations
Some activists have finally pushed the FCC into considering decisive action to break the corporate take-over of the public airwaves. Beneficiaries of corporate near-monopoly are very angry. Might local people be able to decide for themselves what issues they care to hear about, what music they care to listen to? Might marginalized groups have more access to the airwaves? THE HORROR!

The AP Discovers News Readers Like Fact-Checking
After a few intrepid outsiders began calling out mainstream media in America after it became essentially a government and corporate propaganda arm during the Bush years, some news outlets took the charges semi-seriously. Greg Sargent talks about how the AP came around to implement FACT-CHECKING into their reporting. Hilarity ensues as blatantly false statements made by powerful people are publicly called “false”.