Against Free Speech

There is a wide discussion happening in the West these days about governments cracking down on Freedom of Speech. In the dominant liberal-democratic order, Freedom of Speech is enshrouded as a sacred principle in the corpus of society.

Without the sacrosanct Freedom of Speech, we’re told, all views are put under threat. We are, therefore, supposed to defend, the holy order of Freedom of Speech.

As you have undoubtedly noticed from the title, dear reader, I don’t agree with this characterization.

It seems to me that Freedom of Speech is not some heavenly-ordained value that we should hold as essential in all times and all places.

I’d like to make the counterargument, that this “Freedom” can play a negative role and should, therefore, be more limited to restrict the speech of fascists. We should analyze Freedom of Speech critically and be willing to abandon it in certain situations.

Freedom of Speech, for the purpose of writing a coherent text, will furthermore be defined here as “the right to say things without state intervention.” I am not including societal backlash in this definition, but I will touch on that as well.

Noam Chomsky argues that in order to call ourselves defenders of “free speech”, we must be willing to defend speech that we find most abhorrent. Chomsky used this line of argument famously to defend the publishing of a book that denied the Holocaust.

I agree with Chomsky 100% on the logic and disagree with him 100% on the conclusion.

Today, Freedom of Speech is a façade.

In the West, it is a façade behind which fascists mask their plans. The Berkeley student body appropriately erupted at the prospect of a Nazi making speeches at their university. Immediately after the protests, everyone on the political spectrum began talking about Freedom of Speech. This ought to horrify all of us.

The Nazis themselves used the opportunity to argue that their Freedom of Speech was being threatened – as though the state was silencing them.

The fact is that the state isn’t cracking down on people like the Nazi who wanted to speak at Berkeley, unfortunately. In fact, Trump himself made sure to support the poor little Nazi in his hour of need.

To understand this broader principle, we should unpack this supposedly-cherished “freedom”.

Speech is language. And Language is a system of symbols.

By advocating “free speech”, one says that all variations of these systems ought to be available. All variations should be allowed to be expressed without facing state repression.

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However, the problem is that systems of symbols propagate ideas and, following that, organizations and movements. The fascist variations on this system of symbols are completely unacceptable and ought to be suppressed. We must absolutely reject a society where Nazis and Alt-Righters spew their filth around.

We can get into Wittgenstein and the concepts that language establishes the bounds of human thought.

Or we can take a cursory look at the world. If Nazis are able to influence people with their speeches and publications, the response should not be: Let’s keep that going!

Therefore, we should ask: what is the solution?

State repression has often been successful at destroying (almost exclusively leftist) movements. In fact, the current president of the U$ is pretty consistently threatening to restrict the speech of the Left.

In light of this, state repression of the Alt-Right Nazi scum would be a welcome change.

The classical liberal argument stems from the love of negative liberties: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, etc.

Despite this, every state has limits on every one of these liberties.

In the United $tates, any speech can be censored if it might lead to “imminent lawless action.

Free speech is tailored (but not enough) in Germany, where Nazi rhetoric and symbols are illegal.

I’d support taking it even further.

When it comes to destroying Neo-Nazi groups, right-wing militias, ISIS or Al-Qaeda, these organizations should be outlawed and their ability to express their views should be completely undermined.

If Dumbass Trump started throwing fascists and Nazis in prison, I wouldn’t hesitate to stand by the effort.

I’d be happy to help, in fact!

Advocates of free speech will also argue in favor of the cherished concept of the “marketplace of ideas”.

“Let people debate and argue freely and the best ideas will float to the top!”

This presupposition of the inherent value of ideas coming from their broad acceptance is blatant silliness.

We know that time and again humans are susceptible to accepting terrible, poisonous ideas. Colonialism, slavery, genocide, and war have all been spread through mass populations.

These ideas were, of course, spread through speech and publications.

No, the marketplace of ideas functions as poorly as the marketplace of capitalism.

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Death to the Fascist Snake!

As Kelefah Sanneh argues, “These days, just about everyone claims to be on the side of free speech.

If we take Chomsky’s proposition and say that we must defend the speech we hate in order to call ourselves defenders of Freedom of Speech, then I am no defender of Freedom of Speech. I am not on the side of free speech.

In fact, you, dear reader, are probably also guilty of such a transgression of liberal values.

If, however, after reading this, you find that you’re ever the defender of Freedom of Speech, then please feel free to contribute to the legal defense of Tarek Mahanna.

Or re-post materials published by ISIS.

Or re-post Neo-Nazi articles.

Under no circumstances will I be joining you.

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The Right of Self-Defense

In the past week alone, countless acts of terror have taken place against Muslims. In Quebec, a white terrorist opened fire on worshipers and murdered six people. In Victoria, Texas, the mosque was destroyed in a clear act of arson, where the Jews of Victoria have offered their synagogue to the Muslim community in an act of generosity. And on Sunday, one of the U$ assassination squads (SEAL team 6) slaughtered multiple children in Yemen (including an 8-year-old American girl, if you happen to care about Americans more than people from Yemen).

Needless to say, we are facing an emboldened and renewed campaign of terrorism against Muslims around the world. And, of course, the encouraged (actually, insisted) response by general society is that we should not defend ourselves. Of course, I agree with Malcolm on this point. If we say that people of color, women, trans/queer people, and Muslims should defend themselves, there is an uproar that we’re “calling for violence”. I have yet to hear anyone call for violence – we’re calling for self-defense.

If we’re living in a society where Nazis can walk right into mosques and start shooting at people in prayer, then we ought to have the right to defend ourselves. As Malcolm put it: “I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self-defense; I call it intelligence.”

This applies globally as well. Saudi Arabia (along with the U$ and England) has launched one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of the century by invading and destroying one of the poorest countries in the world – Yemen. Bombs rain from the skies over Sanaa, but any attempt to arm the people of Yemen is rejected. Why? Because apparently everyone in Yemen is an agent of Iran (and, therefore, worthy of death).

This justifies assassination of all the men, women, and children of the country.

Who is to blame? Well, the obvious answer would be the bloated clown running the U$ (voted in by 62,985,105 Amerikkkans). But it isn’t that easy, of course, because we know that Obama was the one who started the assault on Yemen. While he was feeding everyone bullshit about the Arab Spring, he saw fit to murder innocent people in Yemen the “most extraordinary global terrorism campaign in history” for doing nothing more than being apart of the Arab Spring. The line can be drawn pretty clearly back to European colonialism.

In all times and places, the violence is supposed to flow down the hierarchy. The enormous empires try to dominate tiny countries in order to maintain hegemony. Anyone who tries to resist is exterminated and anyone who silently goes along with the program is kept in treachery, unless bribery is the only way to extract resources.

The Saudis go along with the program and are handsomely rewarded, whereas when Iran tried to stand up and reclaim its dignity, the West responded with terror and destruction. All the while, the media is the West has adeptly avoided talking about the invasion of Yemen. Coverage of the war might lead to pesky questions, such as the obvious: why shouldn’t the Houthis have arms?

Back in the West, terror continues mostly in the shadows.

The terrorism that takes place against Muslims is often ignored, because it doesn’t play into xenophobic, racist portrayals of groups at risk in Western society.

The first mosque I ever visited was in 2011. Almost immediately when I went downstairs I noticed black marks on the walls under the windows. When I asked people what had happened, they responded (very calmly) that someone had thrown two Molotov cocktails through the windows. This is the reality that Muslims are living with in the U$.

And the expectation is that we’re supposed to allow this reality to continue?

This is where we ought to make it clear that we will defend ourselves. There are those who call for full gun control and want to make it impossible for anyone to own guns (except the government, of course). This seems like an odd way of confronting the world as it is. Guns exist already and people have access to them already. No matter your position on gun control, it would be insanity for vulnerable people to remain unarmed as Nazis and fascists are arming themselves to the teeth.

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There is a Youtube channel run by a Sikh man named Gursant Singh. He is an American convert to Sikhism and often talks about the conditions faced by Sikhs in the U$. Let’s not forget the massacre five years ago at a gurdwara in Wisconsin, when a Alt-Right Nazi walked into the Sikh Temple and shot ten people, killing six.

Obama never even visited, despite being sure to visit other sites of mass shootings.

Gursant Singh called for all Sikhs to arm themselves and be prepared at all times. He pointed out, correctly, that Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims (due to their turbans and beards) and that they were, therefore, walking targets. This demonstrates the successful demonization of Muslims and the general ignorance of Amerikans.

Si vis pacem, para bellum. – “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

This is an old Latin adage that I endorse wholeheartedly.

“We’ll Have Big Words”: Chomsky and Žižek

Noam Chomsky’s criticism of theory:

Slavoj Žižek’s defense of theory:

Edit: If you want a good laugh, turn on the Automatic Captions for those videos and see how YouTube interprets them.

Highlights:

Chomsky: “so I had to fear the military and in the humanities snow larry criticism that apology and so on there’s a feel cold fury”

Žižek: “goolsbee is not what some people think from crazy exercising often groups and then you can adopt in a restricted area in Cuba”