Saturday 10 December 2022

Reith lecture on free speech

draft essay to be improved one day soon.

I give up... everything. Officially; and have had a jolly good end-of-era period.

Except maybe soon writing a bit.

But nothing about my last decade in any way.

Free speech. 

The last year or so i have 'monitored' - i use that word as they are so dull, the  new wave of world famous  so called  'public intellectuals'  such as Sam Harris, both Weinsteins, Freddy of Unherd,  Douglas Murray, Glen Greenwald, Meghan Daum  - my favourite for her grown up wryness, etc.. Even the dour confused Brand .. 

I think there are three basic free speech 'issues'. Two of them aren't. Issues that is.

There is a culture of calling out issues around us: Should we? can we? In respect of the bad acts of authority, or civilian if they cross a fairly high bar line.

There is the hobby of policing words for the  melodrama of it (called in part the 'culture wars') . As all the above actors note that it has become about 'offense',  and few even understand how tyrannies use  censorship to gradually supress their opponents. And of course there are fixed firm simple laws about incitement to violence that no one ever says should be ignored.  Though there is one 'indivisible' in that respect - all the nice middle class writers were on the side of the underdogs in the 'Arab Spring' who were in reality preaching (by dint of necessity) violent insurrection.  This category also includes yes shadowbanning etc by big tech..  a problem, but perhaps the 'conservative' side will begin to deal with this in USA after Twitter has clearly been shown o have been in actual cahoots with the Democrats.

And then the other cultures focus. This may sound like heresy. I personally, for many year  reasons of my own background, was truly affected by the extraordinary courage and bravery of the protesting Iranian women sept 2022. I think it is one of the biggest geopolitical developments of my life.  And these women are simply some of the bravest humans ever - only to be admired. And of course the Iranian regime blocks free speech - certainly a basic human right. Unfortunately though  the Western and especially British commentariat endlessly harp on about supressed free speech in developing nations or other cultures including petro states or modern Islamic states.  

That sounds heretical: "unfortunately". Well i say that for two reasons: firstly it is easy virtue signalling. Easy programming. And cannot not make the speaker look good. I note that the level of programming in respect of supressed speech in other nations has increased. Secondly, if any sane person thinks for one second that anyone 'even' in UK takes the first bit of notice about a foreign state or even authority complaining, they are nuts.

The notion for example that if Spanish or Swedish mainstream lead broadcast media making a program about some basic rights violation in the UK - say the recent attention on refugee holding centres, would even be noticed by anyone in the UK is absurd. never mind the opinions of some foreign commentator having even one moment of sway.  To think that our 'brave' armchair journalists opining from the safety of some British studio can have any effect in some other jurisdiction, is almost madness. 

THE only way that people living in states where speech is repressed can benefit by our actions in the west is if they see US maintain the best most modern functional free speech systems domestically. So as to hold up OUR system to their tyrannical leaders as example of what they too seek. So that if more democratic regimes take over there may be a model to point their leaders into as democracy improves, there.

And it is MUCH harder 'programming'  to make good programs about how among the ordinary citizenry in the UK we have lost an appreciation of what free speech - calling out, for.

My comments on 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (superb rhetorician, but..)

30 Nov 2022

Reith lecture on free speech