Why do we want freedom of speech? It is a question you might think is obvious and usually, people who question this maxim of free speech are almost always deplatformed; As funny as that may seem. I will raise the question again anyway: why do we want freedom of speech? We want freedom of speech so that anyone can engage in dialogue. We want freedom of speech because we don’t want our speech restricted. We want freedom of speech to hear all ideas. We want freedom of speech so that people can express themselves without fear. We want freedom of speech because we couldn’t have conversations about freedom of speech without it. We want freedom of speech because we love our freedom.
We know why we want freedom of speech, but does this attempt at the ideal actually get us what we want? Do the consequences of adopting this rhetoric help or harm us? I think that freedom of speech is not only self-contradictory but the attempt or rhetoric at having it has been more harmful than helpful.
If people, all people, are allowed to speak freely we, of course, mean that they are heard. That a platform is not seized by the State or the public; That it is given protection. Yet who is heard? Restricting who hears what when is obviously against freedom of speech. Yet that’s exactly what any forum of debate and discussion does. What if people who shout the loudest are all that can be heard, it quickly becomes a situation in which that all the quieter voices are drowned out.
“Why not just create a separate venue then? It’s not that hard. People start their own news networks, their own channels in which to send information to. Freedom of speech is not reduced just because you weren’t allowed to speak on a particular platform. That’s just how the free marketplace of ideas works; Just because no one wants to buy into your crappy ideas doesn’t mean the market is any less free.”
Comparing it to the market was a good idea, why? Because who quantifies what a valid idea is on this Market? No one? Any idea is completely fine in this Market? What about planning to install a dictator? That’s fine? Okay, what if it was a plan to murder your mother? That doesn’t count? It is regulated then, the moment you tell me I can’t say ‘fire’ in a theatre or perhaps something more sinister is the moment you see that freedom of speech is an ideal that can actively work against the freedom of others. It may and can take away their time and their general safety. People are usually okay with giving that up. Usually, they will say that if it isn’t an immediate and present threat than it should be allowed to be said. But why draw the arbitrary line of safety at that point? And what exactly classifies as something being an immediate and present threat? The state in this instance decides the something fits that description, but why do they get to regulate the market? You know, the entity that has decided what can be said and what cannot be said? If you don’t like them and their ruling on what can be ‘freely’ said or not? Too bad.
“This is Free Speech! I promise! It all comes down to harm, doesn’t it? If some speech is harmful then it shouldn’t be spoken. It doesn’t even really count as ‘speech’ at all anyway. After all, you’re not really trying to engage in the discussion by raising a threat or by planning to install a dictator or reinstate slavery.”
Yet those are all extremely controversial. Some people might be okay with some of those statements others not. There now exists a sort of demarcation problem as to what counts as speech and what doesn’t. The argument has been made that speech must require some opinion it can’t simply be a call to action. It is an analyse. This pushes the problem as to what do we mean by speech. All this done so that people can retain the sense that they are in favour of free speech, because god forbid you be against such an orthodoxy in the ‘free’ world. A free world of which it is the authorities that define what freedom means, what speech is, and where I can buy some Fanta.
Which means we’re back at the beginning, because of authority manages what can and can’t be said explicitly and obviously, this is not free speech. When you call restricted and regulated markets ‘free’, you do the most harm to yourself and others. ‘Freedom becomes slavery’ as the saying goes; It is a form of doublethink. I would rather that we know when we are being restricted and regulated. I would rather know that I don’t have freedom of expression. I would rather know that I was in a restricted and regulated market and not a free one. Don’t tell me lies, this is not a free market of ideas.
This is a command economy.
I asked for the Authority in this economy to be decentralized. I asked for this economy to become much more similar to a free market. A free market where what is considered a threat to my freedom can be dealt with by me, by us. ‘Us’, as in, each individual person. I won’t sit around while someone wants to take my freedom away. I find the installation of a dictator in the same way I see someone threatening to rape my mother. I won’t stand for either. Why should I not use the freedom I still have to retaliate? There is no good reason. The speech I find threatening, violent, and destructive, is my concern. Purely my own. You will not have it. You will not take it. It is my property. Just as it is yours. You need only break your chains, dispel your spectres, and seize it.