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Monday 10 November 2014

UnCracked Monday: The History of the Decline of Free Speech

Today, an interesting article from the WSJ tracking the evolution (or devolution) of our society's idea of what and when it is acceptable to censor.

The long and short of it: free speech is in enormous danger in the western world, and if it is danger then all of our basic civilizational principles are in danger.  Because it's quite obvious to me that as soon as we say "yes, it's OK to silence someone's right to speak because we, who consider ourselves experts, think that he is a social harm" then what we will move to is not a social-justice utopia, but a society based on totalitarian might-makes-right.  The Pseudo-Activists had better bring a lot of guns along with them, if they want to get to be the ones who decide who should have their "voice heard" and who should be silenced forever as someone using "hate speech", because at that point (not recognizing the inalienable right of EVERYONE to say any stupid thing they want), they will have no essential justification to be able to stop anyone else (the Islamic State, for example; but much more probably the Republican Party and the Southern Baptists) to come along with MORE GUNS and decide that in fact THEY are the ones who have the the intellectual, moral, religious, racial, or other justification to decide who gets Silenced, and then proceed to brutally and viciously silence all the progressives and all their cherished demographic groups.
You'd think that any progressive with the slightest knowledge of history would realize that's pretty much how it always went, with people saying that THEY got to decide who could speak and who didn't because of their greater claim-to-authority; and that all throughout history this sort of situation always went very very badly for the minority groups.  Until, that is, Western Civilization came along with the idea of the Inalienable Right to Free Speech, and afforded a protection and voice to its minorities hitherto unrivaled in all of history or in any other culture.

So really, the progressives out there are either remarkably uneducated, or incredibly astoundingly arrogant in thinking that while everyone else who claimed for themselves the special right to decide who is rightfully deserving of speech and who isn't was a horrible monster, the progressives are actually and finally the right people and the only ones who actually deserve (because of their education and social indoctrination) to exercise that kind of power over the lives of others.  In other words, so arrogant they're blinded by privilege.

One last historical note: while the WSJ article points out that in the Rushdie Fatwa case, the (intellectual) public reacted  admirably at the time, I think it was also not just a coincidence that after that you started to have the big shift.   From what I recall, I think it was the first time I heard people, educated people that is, starting to talk about whether we're "allowed to judge" what another culture does, and especially when that other culture was "harmed" by us. This was done in very careful language of course, still insisting that the Fatwa was wrong and that of course it is wrong to put someone to death for what they write in a novel; but these days these very same people (or their heirs) would in many cases, if not yet at the point to suggest that its justifiable to put someone to death for a novel, certainly state that not only can we not judge the Ayatollahs of the world but that we should in fact condemn the Rushdies of the world; and some would go so far as to say that we not only don't have the right to judge the fanatical extremists, we have no right to try to stop them.  We have no such right, from their perspective, because they can no longer even understand the civilizational principles that could allow such a right to exist.


Currently Smoking: Italian Redbark + Image Latakia


  1. No one cares what the 4chan twerps are saying. It is the vicious things they are doing that are the problem

  2. What vicious things are those? Naughty words don't count. What acts have been committed?

    1. Doxxing and publishing personal data is also an act, and is used as part of an explicit threat. Again, not protected speech. Just asshats being vicious.

    2. I agree that intentionally violating privacy is appalling and despicable. Like when you have someone who intentionally uses a pen name and has expressed a desire not to have his real name being bandied about, and that person's ideological opponents go out of their way to use that real name as an attempt at intimidation and harassment.
      I'm sure you agree that's disgusting behaviour, right?

    3. This sounds like a very leading question, but, absent any context yes, I would agree, intentionally "outing" someone in that manner is at least a provocation, and possibly unethical.

      I am not sure it stacks up with publishing the street address of someone you disagree with, and inviting people to make good on threats of physical violence, though.

    4. Sorry, take out the possibly. Make it probably - some circumstances might change this, such as exposing a fraudster.

    5. I've had people publish my street address, and during "Consultantgate" there were people saying they'd provide alibis if someone killed me.

      But more importantly, SEVERAL of the Pseudo-activists who went after me, the same ones lying about me being a homophobe or a transphobe (among other things), went out of their way to regularly use my "real name", including in the infamous "fail forward" article, and they are praised for this doxxing (and the blatant lies about me) by their peers.

    6. So they're adding slander to the list of actions that are unethical and damaging. Offering to provide alibis for people if they commit violence is a legal issue in many ways.

      To be clear - all of this kind of behaviour, whoever it is directed at, and by whomever, is asshat behaviour. I personally do not condone it or agree with it, and I believe that it crosses the line from "speech" into criminal harassment, incitement to violence, and possible interference in justice (with respect to offering phony alibis).

      Countries that have protections of speech, have them so that people can be free to criticize their government, without being sanctioned. Not in order for individuals to threaten, bully or suppress one another.

      Once again, threats, intimidation

    7. I am not disagreeing with what you are saying, some of things they say to The RPGPundit are wrong and cross the line.

      But just to clarify, Libel is written threats, Slander is spoken threats

    8. I was wondering about that (libel vs slander). It is a fine distinction, but yes, I assume on the internet it would be libel rather than slander.

      However, probably, defamation via snapchat would more resemble slander? It is ephemeral, like speech.

  3. "Naughty words" isn't a good description of threats of extreme violence. Freedom of expression does not extend to common assault. You sir, are an apologist of the worst sort.

  4. "When they came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn't a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out."
    - Martin Niemöller

  5. @RPGPundit: Your name is easily found if you do a whois lookup on the domain name. So unless you use some kind of system for privatizing that information (which some registers do) you really have no complaint because your information is in the public domain. If someone posts that that makes them an asshole, yes but they are not guilty of any crime.

  6. He didn't say they were criminals. A lot of the doxxing of the outrage brigade wasn't hard to find. Some of it was just linking to their G+ posts. If we post online in a public forum we really don't have any right to anonymity at least legally. It's just a social norm not to out people.

  7. @KennyJohnson: He doesn't say it this time, but he has in past conversations. The reality is he hides behind his pen name so he can be the asshole he is without it affecting his real life work. If they found out about his online personality, he probably would lose jobs.

    I am not saying that posting his real information is correct, not at all. But his real information is easily found and not private like he thinks

  8. But wait, if someone takes one of the Outrage Brigade and posts their easily-found real name which is already public information, they're guilty of Harassment and stalking.
    And of course, those people aren't using their pen-names as a way to be assholes to people without it effecting their real lives, oh no, THEY have to have pen names because crazy fuckheads who will hate them for ideological reasons will STALK and HARASS them.

    But the RPGpundit? Oh no, he has no justification for that, he's just an asshole.

    You fucking hypocrite.

  9. Seriously, "wilddie", how do you even fucking show your face? It's a good thing you clearly have no actual convictions or principles; that must be the only way you can actually shamelessly come on here and say that when Zak S (or some other gamer) uses Ettin's or Wundergeek's (or some other Outrage Brigader's) publicly-findable real name he's engaging in HARASSMENT and is one of History's Greatest Monsters, but if someone doxxes me then its justifiable and I should expect no right to privacy. And that if one of Your Team has a secret identity it's because they're worried about having people who hate them try to affect their regular life, but when I do it there's no good reason.

    THIS, you stupid motherfucker, is why no one takes the Outrage Brigade seriously. Well, this and the fact that you have proven time and time again that you have ZERO PROBLEM with BLATANT LIES about people you don't like, because you just 'feel' they're bad people anyways so its ok to totally MAKE SHIT UP about them.

  10. @RPGPundit: I understand that reading comprehension is not your strong point so I will say it slowly so even YOU can understand it.

    I never fucking said it was right. I said twice it was an ASSHOLE move. It's an asshole move when they do it to you, it's an asshole move when they do it to Ettin. It's an asshole move when they do it to anyone.

    What I did say was that if you do a whois lookup on the domain ALL of your information is there for anyone to see. You posted that information when you bought the domain and anyone with even a basic knowledge of computers can find this information out. You act as if these people who post this information (who are assholes for doing it) have some secret hard to get ahold of information that they are posting. You should talk to your domain host to see if they can hide that information.

    1. That has nothing to do with what I was saying here. I'm talking about the posting of a name when the person involved has made clear that they don't want being used. The same people who said it was outrageous of Zak to refer to Ettin by his real name, or Harassment for him to use it toward certain other Outrage Brigraders, had no problem gleefully reposting and retweeting and +1ing an article that intentionally goes out of its way to use my name. That is the hypocrisy. Only they don't see it as hypocritical because they think that ANYTHING is allowed if it involves destroying the other side. They've told and repeated OUTRIGHT LIES, sometimes about nearly-criminal matters (like lying about Desborough making rape threats), they absolutely KNEW it was a lie, and kept (sometimes gleefully) repeating the lies anyways.

    2. You said and I quote " It's a good thing you clearly have no actual convictions or principles; that must be the only way you can actually shamelessly come on here and say that when Zak S (or some other gamer) uses Ettin's or Wundergeek's (or some other Outrage Brigader's) publicly-findable real name he's engaging in HARASSMENT and is one of History's Greatest Monsters, but if someone doxxes me then its justifiable and I should expect no right to privacy."

      Which is something I never said at all. You just pulled that claim purely out of your ass. Yes, those people who make up lies about you, Zak and Desborough (though I think Desborough is a despicable piece of shit) are assholes and hypocrites and should not be taken seriously.

      But again, when you have the internet and you are behind the safety of your computer anyone can be an internet tough guy. Would these people say the things they say to your face, Zak's face or Desborough's face if they were standing in front of them? Of course not. They are cowards.