Freedom of Speech

Freedom is for humans. To be human complete with emotions and interactions and gesture, personality and our own history.

 

We should be free to mess up and get things wrong and make mistakes. Free to get it wrong and try again.

And free to think aloud and explore ideas and to change our minds

and free to use rhetoric and to quote other people and to use exaggeration and humour.

There are limits to such freedom which need to be investigated again.

Words are a way to communicate meaning - words are a means to an end and not an end in themselves, unless one is a poet, or a calligrapher, or writing formal documents that others must rely on.

 

Like everything else that humans have created, words are imperfect .... but we should be able to use them to express ourselves, to set our souls free. Words are not - or should not be - rules or machines or bars that imprison us.

We should not be judged without generosity of spirit.  Words used in conversation should be assessed differently to words used in text or tweet. Words used in private are different to opinions stated in public. And whatever standards are used, they need to be the same for everyone within a society.

"Freedom of speech means telling the truth" so says Dr Shiva Ayyadurai. I've not heard that before (July 2020). It certainly means being free to tell the truth - on further thought, however, I see that he is correct. Freedom and responsibility must always go together, otherwise society disintegrates. As a central position, freedom of speech does mean telling the truth, to avoid manipulation and deceit - otherwise speech becomes a means to power over others and tramples across their freedom to be an individual. Lies and deceit in public have many bad social consequences. Only when we explore the limits and boundaries to freedom of speech do we need to consider when white lies or concealment are better.

**** Cry the Beloved Country ****

We used to be free, and now we are not.

Various organisations and a few comments (June 2020):-

https://newdiscourses.com/

Pursuing the light of objective truth in subjective darkness. Brilliant site to understand everything 'woke'. Site includes comments and conversations.

http://academyofideas.org.uk/

This runs events and has many local groups in different cities.

www.freespeechunion.org  

The Free Speech Union is a non-partisan, mass-membership public interest body that stands up for the speech rights of its members. Established by Toby Young in 2020, based in Britain.

afaf.org.uk 

Academics For Academic Freedom - campaigns in British Universities for reasoned debate on social matters. Doesn’t seem to include awareness of the issues facing scientists.

https://campaignforfreespeech.org/

The Campaign for Free Speech (USA) stands as a vehicle to reinvigorate the nation’s understanding of free speech and freedom of the press.

 

https://www.thefire.org/

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education - mission is to defend and sustain the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty.

 

https://www.freespeechclub.com/

The Free Speech Club (Canada) was dedicated to hosting the most important and intellectually stimulating events in the world, to provide a platform to the great thinkers of our time, and inspire people in our culture to protect, sustain, and promote free speech. That was, until the University of British Columbia cancelled their event (early 2020). This is an especially nasty trend, whereby an event is planned and organised and ready to go ahead, and then cancelled by the venue on spurious grounds - leaving the organisers with many costs, much work, and no event.

 

https://heterodoxacademy.org/

Heterodox Academy (USA) is a group of nearly 4,000 educators, administrators, & graduate students who believe diverse viewpoints & open inquiry are critical to research & learning.                      

 

https://www.nas.org/                                                   

The National Association of Scholars (USA) upholds the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship.

We say: None of these sites appear to have taken on board the problems faced by scientists to in fact practise their science in accordance with the physical reality of the universe. I can’t see any awareness either that musicians actually have to make music, to be together, to train and to practise, in order to be musicians.  I have not spotted anything about the internationally famous choirs and music colleges that have simply been closed down in the last year or two.

Of course, from freedom of speech we soon get onto the subject of values. Are we allowed to say anything in any situation? Or should we? Is speaking the truth compulsory? When does doing nothing become allowing wrong-doing to flourish? When is there a social/moral/friendship duty to take a stand and how do we recognise that moment?

In the 1970s in England I often heard “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  https://www.themarysue.com/voltaire-beatrice-evelyn-hall/

 

which most people, in practice, would not agree with. In Britain we used to have a common-sense solution: say what you like but with good manners and no incitement to violence - all of which disappeared a long time ago. First there was official tolerance of incitement to violence, then what appears to be media-driven (troll-driven?)  encouragement of aggressive communication, and then inevitably a general loss of good manners.

 

The Campaign for Common Sense was established in 2020 by Mark Lehain and James Knell to try to re-establish calm debate on important topics.

https://campaigncommonsense.com/

They believe that…

…nobody has a monopoly on what is right and wrong.

…we all have far more in common than it sometimes seems.

…common sense and fair play are the best way to approach controversial issues.

…sensitive topics should be discussed frankly & calmly, without trading insults.  

 

Writing at Unherd, Mary Harrington commented"... a campaign founded on a majoritarian approach to public ethical norms can’t be this absolutely relativistic. ‘Common sense’ is always going to conclude that some views are beyond the pale. In this sense, the Campaign for Common Sense is less a ‘moderate’ version of the Free Speech Union than it is a competing paradigm: one that recognises that society as a whole contributes to determining public ethical norms, and to policing the boundaries of those norms." https://unherd.com/thepost/a-newer-better-version-of-the-free-speech-union/

The American Institute for Economic Research, as one would expect, has a strong emphasis on freedom including freedom of speech.

Jeffrey A.Tucker, writing on June 15, 2020, said this: “When governments behave ... as if freedom doesn’t matter... They punish and drive out decency, integrity, and virtue.” https://www.aier.org/

https://ipa.org.au/

The Institute of Public Affairs (Australia) is an independent, non-profit public policy think tank, dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom.

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