Freedom of speech: Harmful or Beneficial?

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by V-Tundra V-Tundra 1 year, 2 months ago.

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  • #5973
    V-Tundra
    V-Tundra
    Participant

    I’ll start this article by posting the following news:

    On Monday, my high school started posting papers and ads about “The dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms” (GMO’s), stating that genetically modified food was:

    -Not food at all
    -Harming for the environment
    -Cancerous
    -Betrayal to the motherland
    -A money grabber for the big, bad corporations

    Pissed off as how could a school allow such conspiracy-theory-ish bullshit, I took action by printing out my own ads, citing different sources and presenting proof of just how wrong they were, encouraging the community to do their own research and learn instead of being dragged by lies. The next day, all of my ads had been torn down. A friend of mine suggested me to sabotage these papers and I won’t lie, I have been considering it; but this could come into problem with freedom of speech: an undeniable right for people to voice their opinions, but should we allow people to give out these opinions just because of this right?

    Freedom of speech has been protecting the voices of those with opposing views, supporting a better structure of justice and democracy, but it has also protected and boosted many horrors in history. One of these examples is during the french revolution.

    During this turmoil there was a doctor named Jean-Paul Marat, a radical Jacobin who believed that the aristocrats were to blame for the downfall of France, and in his published newspaper, L’Ami du peuple (Friend of the people), Marat attacked and blamed several figures; including in one of them publishing a controversial issue where Marat threatened to do unspeakable acts against the king, the Marquis de Lafayette and the deputies of L’Assemblee nationale. Despite having L’Ami du peuple seized and changed, Marat was still given the right of freedom of speech, which lead to inspire many radical revolutionaries from his work to commit foul acts; including the September Massacres, where groups of sans-culottes broke into prisons and killed every prisoner which had been arrested for the charge of suspicion of counter-revolutionary actions.

    Another example includes a certain Austrian figure who built his own party on the ideals of discrimination, antisemitism, homophobia and racial superiority. This certain man published a book known as Mein Kampf (My Struggle which would inspire the people of Germany to join in his crusade and in doing so, unleashing the most violent and deadly conflict mankind has seen on our modern era. There had been many attempts to quell this man’s cries for war, but they had all failed, and of course, the publishing of his work and the hearings of his party were all protected by one thing: Freedom of speech.

    And this still happens today. There are many groups who speak out and seek to promote discriminatory ideals, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Westboro Baptist Church, the “Golden Sunrise” party of Greece and many other groups who get to give out these horrible opinions; which in turn could and have inspired horrible acts against different groups of people. Yet these ideas are all protected by freedom of speech, so is it good or is it bad?

    And we’re not only talking about ideals and opinions, but also groups who seek to bend facts and promote ignorance. Freedom of speech gives the right for people to voice their opinions; wouldn’t it also allow people to tell others that reality is wrong? Freedom of speech gives me the right to break into a church, demanding people in there to become atheists and saying all their religion is false. It also gives people the right to break into a school, demand people to convert to a certain religion and denying scientific evidence of phenomenons and events that contradict their beliefs. This, in turn, could spread ignorance and uncertainty; but it’s protected by freedom of speech. Is this a good thing?

    Freedom of speech has defended groups of people such as women, blacks and homosexuals to demand a better treatment and equal rights throughout history; but it has also defended antisemites, homophobes and even pseudo-feminists (Of course, we had to put them there) to right out demand murders, discriminatory laws and denial of basic human rights. My conclusion is that just like science, freedom of speech is neither good nor evil, but could be used for both purposes.

    What’s your opinion?

    "The universe is one big joke, and the joke is on us"

    #5990
    LaughingMan
    LaughingMan
    Keymaster

    They have every right to post that (mis)information, yes. HOWEVER, you and anyone else who is skeptical of these allegations have every right to post counter arguments and opposing research.

    By “your high school” do you mean that it’s either a school-sponsored outlet, like a journalism club, or (worse) staff or faculty running these papers? Now if they refuse to post your information because it violates their narrative, then it’s also violating your First-Amendment Rights while on the tax-payer dime. Unless it’s a very specific, elective course, schools should be non-political and entirely fact-based, and if a school doesn’t wish to represent an opposing political view, then it’s time to fight back.

    This is largely why my old middle school stopped subscribing to certain Liberal-leaning child-friendly ‘readers’ when they began pushing the “Kids for Kerry” campaign (ie: “tell your mom and dad why they should vote for John Kerry” blatant child manipulation).

    “A bowl is most useful when it is empty” – Lao Tzus quote w/ a steep Machiavellian Utilitarian application. Gotta upload all one’s political views on to those fresh little hard drives before they’re old enough to reason…

    Additionally, the same school forbade local religious groups from handing out free bibles on school grounds. Again, if it’s a required course, it should be non-political and fact-based.

    If it’s some cranks from your high school printing these leaflets on their free time, then there’s not much you can do except keep the counter-fliers coming. Better yet, make a website and post the URL where people will better remember it and investigate further on their own time. It’s easy to tear down a leaflet, but (luckily) it’s harder to tell people how to think in their spare time.

    As far as some of the ugliest things said under free speech, and some of the dangers that have come with it, I’d still say that regardless how cruel speech can be, CENSORSHIP is a far more dangerous mistress. It’s imperative that anyone and everyone be able not only share what’s on their minds, but more importantly for others to dissect what’s said and refute with evidence.

    A world without free speech is like science without fact-checking, peer-review, skepticism and scrutiny.

    To see a world without free speech you need only look at the oppression suffered in the Medieval world where speaking out against those in power was punishable by imprisonment and/or death. Or North Korea. Or Nazi Germany. Extreme examples, yes, but the lack of free speech is not an uncommon trait among oppressive nations.

    So I’d suggest: Fight, but fight smarter 😉 If papers can be torn down, post them within public access, but out of the reach of these censoring individuals. Those fliers with pull-tabs w/ a web URL would get things going quite nicely, as it’s easy to tear a tab and take it home to investigate later. Those going around tearing down your fliers can’t search the pockets of students for the missing tabs. And if they think they can, call up the ACLU because they’re blatantly suppressing free-thought.

    I’ll leave you with this amazing speech from John Denver when the US Government cried out for the censorship of music because: “Think of the children!!”

    *the entire 1985 PMRC Senate Hearing coverage, including Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, Frank Zappa, and John Denver is fucking amazing to watch. Musicians/Artists lay down the anti-Censorship bitchslap at Al Gore and the Senate.

    #5994
    LaughingMan
    LaughingMan
    Keymaster

    I’ll double-post to elaborate my own personal beliefs on racism, homophobia, etc covered in Freedom of Speech. They are a genuine consequence of Freedom of Speech, but it’s also a necessary stepping stone of both reason and the forward progression of a society as a whole.

    A prime example is that I was with my dad at a pistol range, and scrawled on the wall in red ink were the words “It’s called the WHITE HOUSE, nigger!” I found it an ignorant statement, and thanks to my freedom of speech, personal Meritocratic convictions, and a black marker I had handy, I was able to scribble it out.

    With total freedom of speech comes an almost cannibalistic nature of everything that’s said. It’s the same as either you tearing down anti-GMO propaganda, or someone else tearing yours down. What’s important is that during these altercations it raises valuable questions, and it gets people to investigate, and to either reaffirm beliefs or to change their minds based on the evidence discovered. There needs to be open and honest dialog to stamp out ignorance with reason and fact.

    Not to go all “Godwin’s Law” but in Nazi Germany there was a lot of propaganda about the Aryan Race being the superior race, physically and intellectually. They had their state-sponsored scientists and regulated schools for children drilling that ideology relentlessly (an ideology propagated in a nation where speaking out against ‘Ze State’ would warrant a midnight visit from the Nazi S.S.). And you know what? It only took one Jesse Owens, broadcast on world-wide television, to prove how fucked and unfounded that ideology is.

    If someone walks into a Walmart and begins soapboxing with a Nazi flag, then hopefully it a) makes people furious and b) that fury inspires people to research whether or not there’s any evidence for the soapboxer’s claims. When there is no substance to what’s said, then that idea will eventually DIE. Freedom of Speech is Darwinian, which is why when old people get on tv and go on tirades about stuff like “inter-racial relationships” and whatnot, it can be genuinely horrific by modern standards. Bad ideas and bad things can only propagate in an environment where there is no free exchange of ideas (ie: in ignorance)

    To get off Godwin’s Law, the efforts of Bill Nye during the Ken Ham Creationist debates goes to show that there needs to be open debate, and an open exchange of ideas. While Nye won the debate in the eyes of scientists and skeptics, there’s bound to be legions of those attending the debate in the Creationist Museum who can’t be swayed to reason and science fact. However, if a single person goes home to investigate and challenge their perceptions, then that’s the true beauty of Freedom of Speech.

    It’s also why I disagree with, say, the Westboro Baptist Church, but I will “defend to the death their right to say it”.

    Don’t simply ‘hide’ the offensiveness, don’t ‘gentrify’ the negatives in the public consciousness with a thin coat of paint applied by the broad brush of censorship.

    Be a Bill Nye; be a Jesse Owens.
    Challenge ideas, especially those that are offensive, and let bad ideas die.

    #6003
    V-Tundra
    V-Tundra
    Participant

    I actually read and re-read your article before taking action and I gotta say, there’s a lot of good points. So what happened was that instead of sabotaging the anti propaganda, I went to the school council to propose a public debate on the topic and my proposal was accepted. The debate’s coming on the week after the holidays and no matter who wins it, both ads will stay on the school; which I wouldn’t fully accept, but hey, freedom of speech. We’ve been preparing since yesterday everything, renting the school’s theater and spreading ads about the debate.

    Unfortunately, the ACLU has no operation in Mexico, but me and my friends checked our institution’s constitution (Instituto Politécnico Nacional or National Polytechnic Institute) and we’ve found that our ads being torn down are violating a number of articles the school has to maintain; so we’ve filed various complaints and our ads have been released as official school propaganda and the school’s gazette. In the outcome of this, I’m also taking a bit of space on my high school newspaper reporting on the whole event to gain consciousness.

    It’s also why I disagree with, say, the Westboro Baptist Church, but I will “defend to the death their right to say it”.

    Voltaire… classic.

    "The universe is one big joke, and the joke is on us"

    #6005
    Nat
    Nat
    Participant

    “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you are only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

    -Tyrion Lannister

    This quote is instantly what I think of whenever someone takes to Twitter to prove wrong the people who claim they are being marginalised or abused (we all know who they are), and end up getting blocked and their comments deleted. Freedom of speech is important… unless you’re using it to disagree with them…

    - There was a signature here... it's gone now...

    #6006
    LaughingMan
    LaughingMan
    Keymaster

    @O-Tundra: You have no idea how rediculously happy the progression of your story has made me. You turned discourse into a full on public forum and exchange of knowledge in which different sides will be represented. Additionally, kudos for investigating the laws regarding the removal of your fliers, and your success in advertising the upcoming debate. What you’re doing to civily toss a wrench into the status quo is admirable and you have my deepest respect. 🙂 Study hard, and perhaps check out some videos on similar debates, and do let us know how goes.

    “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”
    – Thomas Paine

    “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you are only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

    -Tyrion Lannister

    I fell in love with that quote the first time I heard it. Thanks for the reminder. Another great (albiet cynical) freedom of speech truth:

    “Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”
    – Winston S. Churchill

    #6019
    V-Tundra
    V-Tundra
    Participant

    Thanks a lot for the kind words, mate; I really appreciate your profound appreciation for this. I’m currently studying a lot of GMO’s, their pro’s and con’s and I’ve been reviewing different videos with debates to try and establish a successful strategy. Although I’m not allowed to record video footage of the debate (Don’t know why, I’m trying to work out so it can be recorded), I’ll try and add updates on the event and perhaps post a translated transcript of the debate.

    Happy holidays and happy new year. 🙂

    "The universe is one big joke, and the joke is on us"

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