trenton

What is this "free speech" game?

29 posts in this topic

This is popping up a lot nowadays and I can't quite put my finger on this. I feel like this talking point about freedom of speech is commonly used to deflect from all of the misinformation and conspiracy theories being spread by the right wing so they can whip up a culture war and obscure the truth further by hiding behind the false pretense of freedom.

This seems like a very annoying talking point to challenge because it is simplistic, dogmatic, and absolutistic. It leads to various straw mans such as "you are censoring me" "I have as much of a right to speech as you do" and other nonsensical arguments. This seems like such a stupid distraction from challenging incorrect statements. It is not about silencing you, it is about deprogramming lies. This talking point is designed to shut down reasonable counter arguments through a straw man of "attacking my rights." This is kind of like the "America first" pseudo moral argument for turning refugees away among other short sighted dogmatic positions to undermine globalization, racial equality, and more.

It is almost like a pseudo moral argument for somebody harassing you, calling you the n word, spreading slander, and inciting panic. The freedom of speech talking point is like a false front of genuine concern over censorship in order to enable explicit racism, hatred, bigotry, through falsely equating it to all forms of civil speech, thus normalizing blatant lies, hate speech, and alt right ideologies which would allow the Republican party to maintain power by pandering to these hate groups. It seems like one of those fake moral panics like critical race theory, Dr. Seuss books, trans gender pedophiles, Satanists, the commies, the illegal alien pedophiles, and more. Freedom of speech is just the most prevalent and stubborn pseudo moral panic that the Republican party is pushing. 

I can't see this game being sustainable for the Republican party because by making the hatred of its base more explicit, it will only further radicalize the popular support against them. They already struggle with the popular vote constantly, and they must pander to a hateful minority in order to keep power which can't be good for them long term, especially considering all the other unsustainable tactics they use to maintain tyranny of the minority. The idea that the left is pushing an Orwellian ideology to destroy America seems completely overblown utterly ridiculous as the Republican party desperately struggles to survive its low information, racist and bigoted base through crusading against social media and creating widespread moral panic out of thin air.

How would you try to put what conservatives are doing with this talking point into words?

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Posted (edited)

Greens try to fix the world, but end up making everything worse.

Everyone else gets annoyed at Greens.

 

And that's basically it.  That's literally the only reason anyone's talking about "free speech".  Greens have been trying to police "hurtful speech", but it's a misguided, and stupid, attempt at making the world better, and everyone's now realizing this.

Edited by thisintegrated

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When you’re allowed to say whatever you want, groups will start to agree about what should and should not be said.

We don’t have freedom of speech because we wanted to say everything. We have freedom of speech to figure out what we do not want to say.

It sounds backwards but freedom of speech is supposed to guide us towards a more conscious way of speaking- not one where we little just say anything- because we can.

We all know where that gets us. Well, not all, that’s the problem here anyways, isn’t it?

Some actually think that because we can say anything, we should and thats how we exercise our rights.

But we need to acknowledge that none of us like to hear everything and at the very least there needs to be a good contextual foundation for the words.  

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You've got it pretty much correct according to your worldview.

Conspiracy theories, misinformation, and people saying the N word aren't bugs of free speech, they're features. We don't have to whip up a culture war, we're already in the middle of one.

The problem is that there are lots of value judgments and assumptions baked into what you're saying.

I don't consider "you are censoring me" or "I have as much of a right to speech as you do" to be strawmans or non-sensical (let's talk about it)

You can't deprogram by silencing, only by engaging and having a discussion. If you label an idea as misinformation or a conspiracy theory, it doesn't matter if it's true or not, you Streisand Effect it, it gets shared even more, and more people see it and start believing it. It's happened so much that you have probably at least 10% of the population that doesn't believe anything the government or mainstream media says now. You can't repair that by continuing to ignore them.

I don't think turning away refugees is short-sighted. I think the things you've listed as "moral panics" are real threats to our society and way of life, not exaggerations or right-wing people playing it up.

You're right that it's not sustainable. It's just a matter of which direction the dam is going to burst in at this point.

Watch the coming midterms to see how much the Republicans struggle with the popular vote and how the tides are changing. It's just just "muh racists", Latinos and Blacks are turning to the Republican party en-masse.

Be careful about calling things that have worked for hundreds or thousands of years "unsustainable".

"The idea that the left is pushing an Orwellian ideology to destroy America seems completely overblown utterly ridiculous " - To you.

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Posted (edited)

Just as an addendum I guess... free speech doesn't mean that you personally have to listen to anything you don't like. You're still individually free to delete friends off Facebook or posting conspiracy theories. Block feature is standard on all social media or messaging apps if anyone is throwing slurs at you.

That stuff is all fine. I just oppose site-wide bans or algorithmic demotion, shadowbans, or things were people are effectively silenced or put into echo chambers even if they aren't officially banned. 

If you are for democracy, why do we need to silence people? Just let everyone speak and people can decide which ideas are popular and what they want. If 60% of your country voted in favor of racist policies and destroying the environment, isn't that how democracy is supposed to work? Will of the people? The only reason for censorship seems to be preventing specific ideas from becoming popular, which I find very undemocratic and manipulative.

Edited by Yarco

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Posted (edited)

The 'Free Rider' problem from philosophy can be illuminating here insofar as it highlights some of the difficulties around Freedom of Speech.

It's the same principle around the notion of to what extent should tolerant societies allow for intolerance. The difficulty being that the intolerant reap the benefits of a society that allows them to express thier own viewpoint, while they are working to undermine those benefits for other groups.

Likewise, freedom of expression is only sustainable insofar as the people exercising thier freedom of expression are willing to extend that same Right to others.  This includes not only freedom of expression on media platforms like Twitter, but also allowing people to express thier diverse cultural, gender, and sexual identities without being shamed, harassed, and threatened.

Now most societies can absorb some amount of Free-Riding, but there's always going to be a limit that will be higher or lower depending on how robust that society is.  Beyond that threshold and it starts to become an existential threat to the entire rights and freedoms of everyone in the society. Which is why it's completely justified for democracies to ban facsist political parties, to list just one instance of this.

By these metrics, it's quite easy to see that as @trenton points out, almost the entirety of rhetoric around Free Speech on the Right is being used as a Bad Faith smokescreen to roll back rights and freedoms for groups that they don't consider to be 'true' citizens in their eyes.

This is easy to see in the reactionary hysteria over things like Critical Race Theory, in attempts to get books which discuss things like racism banned from schools and libraries, and in the outcry over increased visibility for LGBT people and minorities in popular media.

'Freedom for me, not for thee' is as true for freedom of expression as it is for virtually every other freedom when espoused by the Right.

Edited by DocWatts

"The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical." - George Lakoff

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I feel like we have to treat the "free speech" crowd as like some type of religion, where no matter how much science or proof  there is, it will not satisfy them nor will they break free from their beliefs about certain things--even if those beliefs are no where grounded in reality.

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Posted (edited)

I haven't heard any good arguments from the 'free speech' side just complaining why they can't say whatever shit they want to say.

"ohh i can't share misinformation, ohh i can't shit on these people, ohh i am seriously not allowed to mislead people?" 

Yes, the regulation can be misused and overused but the question is not that if there could be a regulating system that is 100% perfect. The question is what is more beneficial overall for society, without damaging individual freedom in any significant way? Having all the idiots say whatever they want (misleading people, pumping innumerable amount of misinformation, hate speech) vs having very few amount of examples where people were regulated in an unjustified way + regulating most people in a clearly justified way.

Those people who want to have  good faith conversations , those can find their way to have it. Most of the pro free speech people want to make it look like it is impossible for them to have convos about certain topics.

For the pro speech brigade: what are the things that you can't say, that would be so valuable for you or for the world ? Or what are the valuable functions that are being lost by regulating free speech on certain sites ?

OR i could ask the reverse, what are the most negative outcomes that are coming from moderately regulating free speech on certain sites?

 

 

Edited by zurew

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2 hours ago, zurew said:

"ohh i can't share misinformation, ohh i can't shit on these people, ohh i am seriously not allowed to mislead people?" 

Who gets to determine what's misinformation or misleading though, and where do those people get their power from?

2 hours ago, zurew said:

For the pro speech brigade: what are the things that you can't say, that would be so valuable for you or for the world ? Or what are the valuable functions that are being lost by regulating free speech on certain sites ?

OR i could ask the reverse, what are the most negative outcomes that are coming from moderately regulating free speech on certain sites?

It's against the forum rules for me to tell you and I'm already on thin ice

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Just now, Yarco said:

It's against the forum rules for me to tell you and I'm already on thin ice

Tell me in a PM.

1 minute ago, Yarco said:

Who gets to determine what's misinformation or misleading though, and where do those people get their power from?

I don't have this figured totally out. I think this should be experimented with and figured out through experience. There are really clear instances where there is misinformation about certain events, where all the factual information is already known. Misleading with information is a much more tougher thing to figure out, and i don't think we could set up a system for that. The goal would be to at least agree on the factual things.

But, constantly posting conspiracy theories about events and saying stuff that can't be falsified and saying it in a manner where you don't have any evidence to support those claims and you make serious accusations about stuff, then i would say that shouldn't be allowed.

Misinformation is an information that is factually not true. When there are events that can be explained rationally using the least amount of assumptions, then we should do that.

But most of the conspiracy theorists won't do that, they will make a grand narrative, where they will cherrypick data for their claims and when you actually start to analyze their claims you can get through each and every one of their claim and you will realize that most of those are false and they are basing their theories upon a million different kind of assumptions. Unfortunately, most of the people nowadays are very prone to get trapped by these conspiracy theories and that really weakens democracy.

How can you have democracy if most of the people are misinformed and no one can agree even on what happened. Being able to start convos and debates from a factually correct ground would be massively helpful to have fruitful convos in the future and to be able to find solutions for certain problems.

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I think everyone can agree that hate speech has no place on any platform.

This one is very clear and obvious. 

In the same way that pushing an elderly person leisurely walking on the sidewalk to the ground is wrong and unacceptable, so is hate speech.

Conflating the want for free speech with the want to hate speech is missing the point.

 

Hate speech enthusiasts would not be surprised or create resistance against a platform deciding to remove their hate speech. And it's because they know very well that what they are propagating is not socially accepted. 

 

Now, what aspects beyond hate speech are so antagonizing to the anti-free speech crowd ?

You dislike that people are able to say that the Earth is flat ? 

Why do you care ?

 

There are always going to be people saying nonsense, how is censoring them solving anything ?

If anything it attracts more attention to the things that are being censored.

 

And who exactly is the authority that gets to be deemed worthy to censor things ? 

I'm sorry but no such authority exists, beyond God himself. 

 

Truth will find its way out no matter how hard you try to censor. 

Let people be able to navigate the truth for themselves.

 

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1 hour ago, a7xKingz said:

You dislike that people are able to say that the Earth is flat ? 

Why do you care ?

On 2022. 05. 22. at 1:38 AM, zurew said:

Misinformation is an information that is factually not true. When there are events that can be explained rationally using the least amount of assumptions, then we should do that.

How can you have a working democracy if most of the people are misinformed and no one can agree even on what happened. Being able to start convos and debates from a factually correct ground would be massively helpful to have fruitful convos in the future and to be able to find solutions for certain problems.

 

 

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1 hour ago, a7xKingz said:

I think everyone can agree that hate speech has no place on any platform.

This one is very clear and obvious. 

In the same way that pushing an elderly person leisurely walking on the sidewalk to the ground is wrong and unacceptable, so is hate speech.

Conflating the want for free speech with the want to hate speech is missing the point.

That's where you're wrong, friend. I want hate speech. And I am going to support a pushback against social media platforms that are trying to remove hate speech.

Any time you find yourself saying "I think everyone can agree" you should reconsider. We can never all agree on anything lol.

Don't try to soften the blow for normies by taking hate speech out of the equation and make it just about flat earthers. I want hate speech. Now try to make your argument again with it included. Free speech has to be absolute, including hate speech.

The problem is what do we define as hate speech? It's constantly changing over time. I say I want hate speech, but what I really mean is I want the ability to say things that I personally don't think should even be classified as hate speech... but which have been labeled (miscategorized) as such in modern times.

According to Brittanica, hate speech once included pornography! There are things you could say in the 90s that are considered hate speech today. Hate speech laws vary from country to country and over time. There are things I'm allowed to say in America that I'm not allowed to say in Europe. So whose definitions are we going to go by?

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1 hour ago, Yarco said:

That's where you're wrong, friend. I want hate speech. And I am going to support a pushback against social media platforms that are trying to remove hate speech.

Any time you find yourself saying "I think everyone can agree" you should reconsider. We can never all agree on anything lol.

Don't try to soften the blow for normies by taking hate speech out of the equation and make it just about flat earthers. I want hate speech. Now try to make your argument again with it included. Free speech has to be absolute, including hate speech.

The problem is what do we define as hate speech? It's constantly changing over time. I say I want hate speech, but what I really mean is I want the ability to say things that I personally don't think should even be classified as hate speech... but which have been labeled (miscategorized) as such in modern times.

According to Brittanica, hate speech once included pornography! There are things you could say in the 90s that are considered hate speech today. Hate speech laws vary from country to country and over time. There are things I'm allowed to say in America that I'm not allowed to say in Europe. So whose definitions are we going to go by?

Just because it's difficult to decide where the line should be doesn't mean there shouldn't be a line at all

If you have people organising crime or talking about genocide on your platform, then that's a serious problem

If you have people being abused racially on your platform, that's also pretty much undeniably bad

The ideal solution is to have a few different platforms that each draw the line in different places and allow you to reside wherever you feel that line is fair

Total free speech everywhere is beneficial/favourable to the most powerful groups in society, who have little to fear from absolute free speech

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I think the argument for free speech should be reframed, when you say free speech its too all encompassing so the argument should be made for why everyone should be allowed to share - misinformation, propaganda, baseless conspiracy theories, hate speech etc. For the most part people who are arguing against freedom of speech absolutist are cool with people saying whatever. So i would like to hear the argument for way potentially damaging speech should be allowed and not at least be labelled as false

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1 hour ago, something_else said:

If you have people organising crime or talking about genocide on your platform, then that's a serious problem

I agree. So I guess I'm not actually a 100% free speech absolutist. Death threats, doxxing, credible threats of physical violence are a good place to draw the line.

1 hour ago, something_else said:

The ideal solution is to have a few different platforms that each draw the line in different places and allow you to reside wherever you feel that line is fair

I'd agree with this if it worked in practice and people were allowed to make platforms with a more broad spectrum of opinions. The common saying for a long time was "if you don't like it, build your own platform". So people did... they built platforms like Parler. But then Parler was removed off the Apple and Android store, effectively making it inaccessible on 99% of mobile devices.

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12 minutes ago, Yarco said:

I'd agree with this if it worked in practice and people were allowed to make platforms with a more broad spectrum of opinions. The common saying for a long time was "if you don't like it, build your own platform". So people did... they built platforms like Parler. But then Parler was removed off the Apple and Android store, effectively making it inaccessible on 99% of mobile devices.

@Yarco What is it you would like to express that you feel you cannot on current platforms?

 

 

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This issue seems to get a lot of attention and brings a lot of controversy and division. People become very ideological when one side argues that they are "free speech absolutists" almost like a religious moral argument, a second side argues that the issue of regulating misinformation is misguided and backfires, and a third side argues that "free speech" is a stalking horse for violence, hate speech, defamation, slander, libel, and other forms of baseless conspiracy theories which are illegal.

It reminds me a little bit of the abortion debate in which people become very heated while framing the issue in drastically different ways. One side says it is about stopping murder and the other says it is about women's rights and public health. In the case of free speech, the issue is being framed as a moral dispute regarding censorship of what one side calls truth and the other side calls lies. I can see why this issue is deeply misguided if it provokes these kinds of responses, thereby amplifying the problem rather than solving it.

I'm trying to imagine a more conscious approach to this kind of discussion, but I am not seeing a way at the moment. I think the issue is that people are sitting at different levels of self awareness and are trying to bring others to that same level.

If I were to describe low consciousness, I would say that it feels light and pleasant. This pleasantness often comes from the sense that we are in control of other people's emotions and we choose to make them upset because we can. It is a little smug as we get what we want by pretending to be something we are not. A few examples include people seemingly forcing themselves to say the n word, call trans people by the incorrect name of pronoun, or taking out assumptions for granted as if everyone else should hold them. This would be something like "owning the libs" or the schadenfreude of the fact that republicans are dying of covid. If people are unwilling to see this low consciousness and evolve beyond it, then arguing becomes fruitless, controversial, and divisive.

In the case of free speech, the problem is that low consciousness is very addicting hence Tucker Carlson is the most watched news host and the daily wire is the fastest growing conservative podcast while white supremacy is on the rise with over 600 white supremacy organizations active in America today. I would say this controversy concerning free speech is perfectly designed to serve low consciousness, hence it looks so much like a stalking horse to me. It creates an alternative fact or reality that they are being oppressed and it is difficult to argue with these absolutistic positions.

Could there be a different way of framing this issue? What would higher consciousness look like In this discussion? I'm not sure of the answers at the moment, but I can see how devilry and selfishness flourishes in the framing, assumptions, hidden motives, and implicit manipulations of other people and the context of the issue.

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I would like to add one more thing about low consciousness.

In this case, low consciousness also claims that it is for the sake of truth which is being oppressed. In fact "truth" is being weaponized to hurt other people because low consciousness can get away with it. Therefore, "truth" as a false pretext of the true motive of hurting others is also falsehood. This would appear in cases like libel, slander, and calling a Trans woman a man in the name of truth.

It is difficult to argue with low consciousness when it claims falsehood is truth and truth is falsehood. This is common in free speech when conspiracy theories about the election are being spread around and causing violence.

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53 minutes ago, Yarco said:

I agree. So I guess I'm not actually a 100% free speech absolutist. Death threats, doxxing, credible threats of physical violence are a good place to draw the line.

So you would draw you own line somewhere too. That line wouldn't be exact in every instance so even in your case there would be some instances where the ban is up for debate ( if it was justified or not ). But it seems that you would be okay with a few unjustified or 'blurry' bans, because you know that drawning your line somewhere overall would do more good than bad. I assume you would be also okay with some authority figure implementing those lines and regulations ( if you are not, i am curious what other system you can offer  how it should go down and how the bans should be implemented) [when i say authority figure, i am talking about the site's owner] .

My question would be then, why do you okay with the things i mentioned above, but you are not okay with restricting the sharing of misinformation? I assume your biggest problem with it , that the term 'misinformation' in not defined and exact enough and you fear the people will be banned in an unjustified way. I think the rules should be based upon a few really clear, precise well defined principles.If anyone has counter arguments against the use of principles please share it.

Principles could be used as a system or as a tool, if you put your input into it (for example your post) you should be able to evaluate in the vast majority of the cases what the output will be (output in this case would  mean if your post is banworthy or not). Of course this is begging the question what principles should be used. It would depend on the site or on the platform, but i think using principles would be a good structural solution. I guess there are certain principles that are being implemented already, but there could be more used.  

 

I have an idea for the misinformation regulation too. If you are unsure about your post or about your article, if it contains misinformation or not, you should  put a label on your post (this would be a new mechanic that could be implemented) . If you don't put any label on your post, then the moderators will assume that you know, that if your post contains misinformation you have a high chance that you will be banned.

With that being the case, other people would be able to see the label on your post and they would either avoid it or would be reading it with caution. I know this mechanic could be weaponised just as anything else ( because you would be able to post any shit without any punishment if you label your post ) but on the other hand, it would do more good in my opinon than bad.  I would add here, that the algorithm would mostly show the posts and articles that has no label on them. With that dynamic being used everyone would be massively incentivised to post articles and posts without labels [which means that they must be factually correct]. I think that dynamic would be massively beneficial for everyone. But the implementation has its own problems with it, but i think the idea in an of itself is not that bad.

  1. It would motivate people to be more factually correct before they want to post something 
  2. Other people could consume articles and posts and information easier and in a more conscious way ( because they could see the labels)

So overall our global sensemaking would be much better.

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