The Argument for Free Speech & Against Censorship

This well-argued post by Eric Wayne puts the case for free speech and against censorship. The logic is impeccable. Censorship is a slippery slope to all kinds of ills.

Yet, is this not a polarity ‘free speech-censorship’? Can any society sit right at the free speech end of this polarity? I think not. Are there not acts and images that are just too heinous to entertain in a civilised society, particularly when exposed to impressionable minds? Does society not need to protect itself against such things? I think it does, but always with suitable checks and balances.

Anyway, read on. I like his passion!

Art & Crit by Eric Wayne

[This is a re-post of an article I wrote 3 years ago, and which sadly has become increasingly relevant, so much so that one can’t even articulate why it is relevant today without risking being censored for doing so. Censorship is no longer the bad word it used to be, or something liberals oppose on principle. Au contraire! Today, censorship is embraced as an uncontroversial tool benevolent institutions wield in order to protect the rest of us from the influence of darker forces. In the last several days, for example, major social media platforms blithely announced plans to implement sweeping censorship campaigns in the name of the righteous good. But If the presumed good includes plans to silence content that contradicts its own stances, some might question just how wholesome that goodness really is.

There’s that thing where our ends justify our means when fighting the evil opposition, hence the…

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5 thoughts on “The Argument for Free Speech & Against Censorship

    • Thanks for commenting, Anthony.
      I understand the sentiment, particularly related to the arts.
      But full free speech implies free availability of bomb making instructions, child pornography, racist propaganda, outright denial of historical facts,… Is this not ultimately just as dangerous as censorship? The question for any society is how to achieve a balance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Such stuff is freely available anyway thanks to artefacts like Telgram. Wall to wall encrypted message services. And where do you stop? What of today’s absurd political correctness and fear of offending minorities? What if the attacks by extremists on that French publication? Its the same sort of argument for the war on drugs. Heroin will screw you up but what has outlawing supply done other than fill the pockets of criminals? And as to the likes of the holocaust deniers, any historian or anyone with any degree of inquisitiveness will be able to find copies if original documentation proving the existence of extermination of jews and many others in the camps. Needless to say I am not condoning evil. Merely saying that repression has never worked for long and should be avoided.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Censorship would doubtless eventually lead to me being prevented from making my recent post on Extinction Revolution on my website. Censorship is always in the eye of the beholder. Take what is happening in Hong Kong for example. Doubtless the hideous Chinese Gerontocracy feel quite justified in what they are doing. Take the appalling liberties which have been assumed by governments the world over post 9/11 and now with the dreaded Coronavirus. Censorship is always a prelude to dictatorship. Look at whet that animal Trump has done in the US – imagine how he would like to shut his opponents up. I feel very strongly about the matter and am not meaning to appear rude at all. But I am sure you realise that!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes I get your points, but…
    I’m very suspicious of absolutes such as ‘freedom of expression’. There is no such thing as freedom without responsibility – they are a polarity, probably better than my freedom-censorship polarity.
    We protect young people from freedom of expression because they have not yet developed the capability to handle it. Here the parent is the responsible agent who protects them.
    So with wider society. We hope that each individual is morally responsible and will act as their own censor in a moral sense. They determine the balance.
    But we know that there are people who are not responsible towards the rest of us, notably terrorists and many criminals. Therefore society has to protect itself, which is where some sort of censor may come in. Obviously, the censor has to be acting in the greater interest, and there is an ever-present danger of subversion by self-serving politicians.
    Here is where society does need suitable checks and balances, which actually appear to be easier to find in countries with constitutions such as US, rather than those without, viz. UK.

    Like

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