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Submitted on
April 3, 2010


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Most people view the concept of "free speech" as a static, solid basis under the democratic institution, on of the fundamental staples of the modern society.
It is said that the society's stance on free speech is what determines the level of overall freedom and happiness of people in this society.
Free speech, all in all, is some godly commandment, an absolute instance of ehm, ultimate good. It is quite ironic that the most anti-religious people rever free speech as a deity, with the same feverish zeal and total lack of doubt in it's properties.

I will go forth and say that free speech doesn't exist, and what qualifies nowadays as free speech, isn't something created in order to make every human heard.

What is free speech, first of all? It is the ability to voice an opinion, thought or demand without suffering administrative, social or legal reprecussions after the act. It is also the ability to channel/publicize this opinion through existing means and methods of mass communication.
Now let's see what we have in reality.
In reality, there is no actual pluralism and equal representation of opinions existing in the society. But that's just the flowers, the berries are to follow.
In reality, some excercises of err, "free" speech are punished with the means of law.
But that's on the governmental scale. On the private business scale, there are mechanisms existing to prevent free speech legally too. The law enable companies and business to work out their own policies considering the conduct of their employees and their expressed words, thoughts and etc.

What constitutes as "free speech" in our mundane understanding, objectively, is nothing more than a range of permitted opinions that are, though, wide enough to create an illusion of an open and democratic society.
Refer to the diagramm I made.

What I'm trying to convey, is that what we refer to as "free speech" is nothing more than a quite fluid set of rules that describe the limits of person's stance on the society in which he can, really freely - no question about it - operate. As you can see, the green zone is quite big. For most people it's more than enough because they have been raised in the environment of the green zone, and they rarely wander out of it.
To be more precise, we all live in a self-censored world, where each person choses to self-censor himself unconciously due to the specific ethnical/moral/political climate he grows and lives in. And the "free speech" exists in order to elevate the anxiety and discomfort that arises from this self-censorship. The more you are told you live in a free society, where FREEDOM is plastered all over eveything, the more you will believe it and feel comfortable, since this society teaches you to hold FREEDOM in high regard.
I need to say, that it's really efficient. Problem with old totalitarian regimes is that in the case of evident and blunt repression of thought and opinion, it's administered so harshly that it causes natural protest in the population. When you don't feel - and I emphasize "feel", because in any case, you can't check the truth - a violent and deliberate pressure and restriction of your liberty of talking shit, you do in fact think that all is okay in the Dutch freedom.
Modern totalitarian regimes - and I deem as such all existing ones except for primitive tribal societies - are a lot smarter and have learned from the mistakes. Give people a wider pool, one big enough to satisfy the movements of Joe Average, slap a "FREEDOM" badge over it - and Joe Average will gladly accept it as a pinnacle of democratic, humanistic process.

So, the difference between lack of freedom of speech and "freedom of speech" is mostly in the fact if you can or cannot see the glass wall of your personal aquarium.

The most wonderous part of today though, is of course the developement of mass media. While scholars and analytics call the internet a significant breach in the direction of creating a transparent society with real free speech, I will counter this notion with an argument that I think carries more truth and pragmatism than the endless odes to how Internet helps people spread their thoughts and watch over violations of human right and abuse of power from governments.

Internet is nothing more than a pool where you can drown any kind of harmful intent that may be present in an individuals thoughts or decisions. It's an extremely effective vent for the public opinion. White noise that is created by millions of people clogging the infospace with their tweets, comments, newsmaking and such, actually works against the real, idealistic free speech. Of course, it's really convenient. Why seek out the unstable elements and waste resources on insane people that might call for violent actions, when you can just dilute that percent of uncomfortable information in an immensely bigger amount of garbage information?

You log on onto say youtube, and see 30+ year old people, self-entitled and self-important atheists, christians, liberals, conservatives, screaming in the webcams and proving some point they deem very valuable. It surely does create an aura and feel of some kind of really open and lively process of exchange going on. Too bad that all these things are still belonging to the green zone. There's opposition and there's "opposition". While free speech permits on some basis, say, religious intolerance and debates surrounding theological controversies, it doesn't provide defence for other themes.
Of course, I'm talking about taboos and hate speech.
Point here is, that the mere existence of the "hate speech" category denies the existence of "free speech". Look at this paradox: we have free speech, but inside it we have speech that constitutes as a crime, ie, not so free at all.
It might be argued that a person translating hate speech erases himself from the defense provided by free speech when he choses to violently (though still by word) target other individuals and propagate violence/discrimination. But it's not always the case. More specifically, "hate speech" is speech that falls into the red zone of tabooed thought. It's not necessarily violent, and a lot of violence exists in the green zone too. No, the only indicator of "hate" is it touching the tabooed themes.

However, the existence of a taboo undermines the whole concept of idealistic free speech. It cuts out a significant portion of reality out of the persons worldview, covering it up and pretending it doesn't exists. Of course it's done in order to maintain the lifeblood of the practicing society.

Let's talk about Israel as a better example of this point. The state of Israel is known for it's worldwide net of watch over anti-semitism. Not to delve in nuances, let's define it like this - any anti-Israel or anti-Jewish or anti-Zionist sentiment, piece of art, publication, etc, falls under the definition of hate speech according to the JDL and other Israeli media-watch agencies, not depending on what actual content that is - if it's violent, bigoted, means of research, personal opinion, debate, anything. That is nothing more than state-imposed censorship. But why, you'd ask? Because of how the modern state of Israel was founded, anything related to that is a taboo. Particularly the fact that the surrounding islamic states never cease to question the legitimity of the country.  Israels rabid anti-semitic watch doesn't have to do with the threat of nazism or anything of the sort - it has all to do with counter-propaganda of the muslim states. If one allows the enemy to speak, it's a war half-lost. Thus, the censorship. Same with the muslim societies, that lash out on any anti-islamic thought or publication.

As we can see, the world is nothing more than a tenet of clashing censorships, each of which tries to mask itself as a freedom of speech being protected from the danger of "hate speech". So, hate-speech, in reality, is nothing more than a construct justification for the "freedom of speech" being not so free.
You ask why you can't say this? But goddamn, if you say this, you threaten other people and free speech! Gotta censor that for the good of innocents!

People often tell me: "How can you refer to and utilize your right of free speech if your ideology is against it?" Well for starters, the national-socialist ideology isn't against free speech wholly. It's just picky on who to grant with the ability to say, write and express what they think. Muchly, as you can see, as the current first-world democratic ideologies do.

I utilize my right of free speech because I see it as an instrument - not the goal. You see, one may not like to use a hammer to batter nails in a wood, he maybe would like to use a microscope - but unfortunately, the hammer works better for that particular task.
Free speech is an instrument to control people, like ANY societal concept in a nutshell - so it's only logical for people to use it.
In relation to that, a simple example of the fallacy the rabid defenders of free speech propose. While say, a democratic person can say: "Oh well, in my society, thanks to FREE SPEECH you can critisize the governemnt! If you critisized the government in Nazi Germany, you'd be put into a labour camp!". And what can I say? I can say it's quite close to the truth. But then, I can also say this: "Well in Nazi Germany you could study anthropology and publicize your findings freely according to actual medical research. If you do the same in say, EU, you'd be put into jail!"
It just illustrates the fact that any system would utilize the notion of free speech to it's favour and goals, not in some idealistic pursuit. Taboos vary, but they exist.

In the soviet times there was a good joke that I like alot and remember every time an argument about free speech arises.
An american and a soviet person meet and begin discussing which country - USA or USSR is better. The american goes:
"Well, at least WE are a progressive and free people! I can go to the Capitol, yell in front of the White House that the President is a fucking dipshit, and no one will do anything to me."
The russian guy thinks hard, then says:
"Nothing amazing, we have free speech too. I too can go on the Red Square and yell that the american President is a fucking dipshit."

In this case, what I really feel strongly about, is the fact that some people think that they have the moral right to deem their limits of free speech as the only ones possible and force them on others without any argumentation, especially on people from other countries and societies. Of course it's mostly present in americans. The american version of free speech is based on the following: "it's permitted as long as it doesn't offend/harm those who have means of getting retribution for the offence". Ah yes, notice the "those who have means of getting retribution for the offence". You can say shit about those that cannot defend themselves legaly. But not about those who can.
It's evident that such "free speech" developed as a natural means to sooth down the immensly fractured, culturally and ethnically, american society. And on american soil, this particular instrument may work. But, being a product of a specific society, the same kind of means cannot be applied to another society. And that is what our american disciples of the Free Speech Cult fail to understand.

In conclusion, a logical question arises - do I, writing this, excersize my right of free speech? No, I don't. I partially exercise my right of "free speech", but even this little essay is heavily self-censored. But why then? Well thing here is, that expression of thought isn't a human right, but a human necessity, so when you can't have the cake, you'll be sure to eat at least a candy.

Question here is, though - is that candy worth to be considered a cake, or put on a godly pedestal of mass-worship? I don't think so. I personally think that people should finally see things for what they are and accept them.
Like accept the fact that the surrogate "free speech" exists only as a method of control. That's not bad though, necessarily - the other option would be anarchy, and that's not good either.
But accepting the fact that the freedom of speech is very, very relative, is something we should do. We should stop treating it as a sacred cow, because the forces who use it, certainly don't treat it like that either.


also, anyone uses Tumblr? I was thinking about doing a blog, but I'm not sure where or how, since my last tries on blogspot were quite failsome due to lack of audience.
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Logister Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2010
I disagree with your definition of free speech.

"the ability to voice an opinion, thought or demand without suffering administrative, social or legal reprecussions after the act"

Most of that is pretty good except for the social/legal part that needs to be a bit more precise. If someone says something really stupid with no supporting argument, I reserve the right to call him a fucktard and treat him as such. If someone lies about me in a way that measurably damages my material wellbeing, I reserve the right to demand compensation from his wallet.

If these rules dont exist on a societal level as well as on an individual basis, the glue that keeps everything relatively stable begins to peel rather quickly. For example, if libel laws didn't exist it would be very difficult to maintain a functioning economy. Businessmen could lie to the the public about their competitors products, individuals could conduct overt slander campaigns against anything they found subjectively distasteful, etc.

Furthermore, if social ostracism is not an acceptable response to certain kinds of free speech, it puts the guy who receives extraterrestrial messages in his alphabet soup on the same level of credibility as a PhD. Not only is the inability to call someone on their bullshit an abrogation of freedom of speech, but it is dangerous insofar as it completely enables those who would treat facts as inconvenient speedbumps on the road to complete proliferation of stupidity.

We can argue about how these kinds of tacit regulations inhibit expression of valid points. And I agree that often times they do (Given some of my opinions on Israel they would probably consider me anti-semitic). But I consider that a small price to pay for the benefit these kinds of rules provide.

"Well for starters, the national-socialist ideology isn't against free speech wholly. It's just picky on who to grant with the ability to say, write and express what they think. Muchly, as you can see, as the current first-world democratic ideologies do."

We might, for the sake of simplicity, consider freedom of speech to exist on a continuum from 1-10 where 10 is the most free and 1 is the least free. The US is probably somewhere around 8, whereas Nazi Germany was probably about a 4. The argument that everyone self-censors does not put modern day Sweden on the same level as Stalinist Russia. If a society has a smaller "taboo" region of speech it is ranked higher on the scale. The fact that certain taboos do exist may contradict a sort of idealized freedom of speech that most Americans believe they have, but it does not refute that "freedom" of speech does exist to a greater or lesser extent.
Maloch-Reus Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2010
Interesting thoughts.

You've defined Free Speach as, 'the ability to voice an opinion, thought or demand without suffering administrative, social or legal reprecussions after the act. It is also the ability to channel/publicize this opinion through existing means and methods of mass communication.'

What then, is Speech?

Is Speech merely the ability to say anything at all or is Speech defined as what is acceptable and what is unacceptable?

For instance, would we consider libel or slander to contravene 'Free Speech' or would we consider that these things are not Speech?

When is Speech, Speech and when is it not Speech?

If I tell a lie is it Free Speech or is it a lie, something seperate and distinct from Free Speech? If I commit purgery is that an act of Free Speech or something else?

In that case Free Speech would allow anyone to say anthing 'acceptable' without constraint or retaliation. If however they were to say something 'unacceptable' would they actually be excercising Free Speech or would they be committing defamation, libel et cetera?
gunmoon Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Heh, man if you keep on coming up with such awesome journals, I might have to suggest you upload them as written deviations instead so we can favourite them!:D I seem to be in acceptance of the fact that free speech is actually an instrument of control. Then again, when it comes to politics, what isn't an instrument of control? I think that when we come to terms of what we know of our governments, I think all governemnts try to create some form of an "Aryan race". Since Aryan merely means perfect it makes sense to place that as a banner over any person in control over a large number of people. For example, Hitler's idea of an Aryan race was for all people to have blonde hair, blue eyes, white skin, "pure" German blooded people, etc. Well, let's think for a minute about what democratic governments preach to us; acceptance, tolerance, respect for all people regardless of age, sexual orientation, skin colour or ethnic background, etc. You get the idea as to where I'm coming from. What can be said here is that all government froces do indeed use freedom of speech as a means to advance their own agenda...
Septhrae-13thx-Okt-5 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2010
I really like this article, hit the lemming on the head!

While searching for info on the new "V" tv serie on tvtropes, I found this nicy.
Hypocrite: Possibly unintentional. Erica tells Tyler that he needs to "think for himself." Of course, like many real-life self-proclaimed freethinkers, what she really means by "think for yourself" is "think like me."
Belazikkal Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh what did I start with that innocuous link?

Either way, I'm personally against Hate Speech laws as a) the are VERY fuzzy and b) They impinge on said free speech.

At the same time, Free Speech (with or without inverted commas) is more a modus operandi of government and something they should uphold. Someone mentioned Free Thought as I scrolled the comments here. It goes hand in hand with that and Freedom of Press.
But this doesn't mean that private institutions, like say DevART, must have the same principles within their "borders". They must still uphold the laws that apply wherever they are situated (and dA happens to be hosted in California, which has, surprise surprise! Hate Speech laws :bleh:)

I ramble, but what I want to say is that in my little utopia-world, freedom of speech includes my/yours/everybody's right to express their hate of something as well. In a truly tolerant society, we aren't as thin-skinned as butthurt little girls and are able to take a little abuse, and maybe even hurl some back!
(Just wish I'd live up to what I preach %))
carbon-dreams Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2010
Free this. Free that. The right to this. The right to that. People irritate me.
Epee102 Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2010
This post was good food for thought but there is one thing gnawing at me:
When people (mainly previous posters) say radical thought or taboo what do you mean?
As for your mention of hate speech, i disagree, in that i think there is speech of harmful intent, though how good people are at determining what constitutes hate speech is questionable.
Overall I posit something a little diffrent:
Free speech is an artificially granted right. It is not inherited.
Hyshinara Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Here in Belgium we had some muslim group disturb a lecture on Christianity VS Islam (well, ok, it was named "Long live God, Begone with Allah", but apparently that was just a teaser title.

Anyway: the guys disturbed the lecture and forced it to stop... so in fact, they took away the lecturer's "freedom of speech", right?
The guys that did that are from Sharia4Belgium, who want to make Belgium function according to the Islamic Sharia-laws.
When protesters tried to stop them spreading propaganda about the Sharias, they legally stopped them stating "they had the freedom of speech".

So the same people who robbed some guy of his 'freedom of speech' later on use 'freedom of speech' to legally stop their opposition from doing the same...

Their website is now frozen though.
Gwan-Thewi Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2010
I think free speech is a right. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with what you say is up to them, and if they don't like what you, fuck them. They don't HAVE to like what you say. Nor are they forced to dislike it.
Taytonclait Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist

Instrument of Control all the way, baby! Give people who want to howl about something something to howl about that keeps them nice and content. Fighting and fussing about the theoretical definitions of a theoretical concept keeps people who would normally question quite occupied.

But sometimes, as in the link above, I wholeheartedly agree with this.
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