Archive for the ‘#freedomofspeech’ Tag

Taking A Knee … or Not   Leave a comment

I stopped saluting the flag about four years ago when someone I respect pointed out that it really does look like idolatry. I thought about it a while and agreed with her, so ….

I still stand, in deference to my fellow Americans and respect for veterans like my brother. I hold my hands respectfully in front of me, but I don’t speak the oath and I don’t cover my heart. I am respectful to those who respect the flag, but I’ve drawn a line on idolatry and that includes the flag. I never really cold sing the National Anthem, as I’m sure Robert Goulette and a host of other famous singers who muffed the Star-Spangled Banner can agree. I do still sing the Alaska flag song because it’s a cool song written for people who aren’t opera stars and nobody is asking me to swear allegiance to it.

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee rather than salute the flag last year, I was irritated by it not out of any respect for the flag or disagreement with free expression, but because he was protesting “white privilege” in America while earning more per year as a professional athlete than I will earn in a lifetime. I was born in poverty and that was with a father who was so white he made Casper look tanned. We may have “wealth privilege” in this country, but poverty hits all colors of skin. And, clearly, wealth is also visited upon quite a number of people of color. Is there some sort of black privilege going on with the NFL? Ever look at the starting lineup of any team? Yeah … I’m just saying.

And, Kaepernick himself has ZERO room to complain. He was raised in an upper middle-class family and went to a good college. Clearly, being half-black didn’t hurt his prospects in life. Maybe he’s pissed off at his white adoptive parents or his white biological mom because he doesn’t feel it’s acceptable to be pissed off at the black father who abandoned his bio mom when she got pregnant, but news flash, other white people didn’t do that. And, ultimately, Kaepernick  was rewarded for being a big strong, part-black athletic male with $39 million dollars over a three-year career of declining performance. While I’m sure he’d like to blame his not being called out of free agency on racism, I suspect it has more to do with stunts like his girfriend’s tweet comparing Ray Lewis, owner of the Baltimore Ravens, to a slave owner while Kaepernick was in negotiations with the team. Slaveowners don’t give you millions of dollars to run an oddly-shaped ball up and down a field and, any sane person, when compared to Simon Legree, will chose to gift some other, less contentious athlete with those millions.

Trust me, if someone had given me $39 million when I was 25 years old, I’d not have to worry about money for the rest of my life because I know a thing or two about living in poverty. I could live a nice, comfortable, middle-class existence on $39 million dollars and probably leave more than that to my heirs.

So, Kaepernick has ZERO room to complain about “white privilege”. His kneeling is about wanting attention and nothing more, from a young man who may see racism behind every bush because he’s been taught to look for it, but who has never experienced a hard day of living in his life. Notice that he didn’t do his kneeling under the presidency of Barack Obama. It’s not about racism. It’s about politics.

Now, if he’d been protesting the killing of civilians of all colors by police, then he might have had my support … I who have been quietly not participating in flag worship for nearly a half-decade now.  But as long as he’s only upset when cops kill black people, I think he’s showing his racist knickers and I’m not going to stand … or kneel … with him.

That said, President Donald Trump needs to learn to control his comments about other people’s right to free expression. Kaepernick has a right to protest. So do other NFL players. They have the same right as Trump supporters do to put their opinions out into the public square … to be challenged or supported as the case may be. That’s how freedom of speech – a cornerstone of liberty — works. I am free, even as one who declines to worship the flag, to criticize Colin Kaepernick for his motivations. He’s welcome to an opinion, but others are welcome to point out the fallacies on which his opinions rest.

 

Posted September 25, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in culture, Uncategorized

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Parchment Barrier/Paper Target   Leave a comment

Someone asked me the other day who I considered to be the biggest winner of the 2016 election. I don’t think it was Donald Trump or the people who are aligning themselves with him. I think it was freedom of speech and expression.

Alexis de Tocquevil  (Democracy in America) observed that:

Once the Americans have taken up an idea, whether it be well or ill founded, nothing is more difficult than to eradicate it from their minds.

Tocqueville might as well have been observing the United States today rather than almost 200 years ago. There are no sacred cows in America. Absolutely no one is above criticism and all issues, including politics and religion, are open for discussion. In today’s international community, the United States stands almost alone in upholding near-absolute freedom of personal expression, largely thanks to the constitutional protections provided by the First Amendment.

We take our cherished freedom to think, speak, write and express ourselves for granted. Freedom of speech must be defended if it is to remain actually free and, absent certain internalized principles, all the legal mumbo-jumbo in the world is no more than a parchment barrier and increasingly, it begins to look like a paper target.

Recent developments alarm civil libertarians because they could carry long-term negative repercussions for the United States as a free and open society.

In a global trend, people have come to expect emotional and intellectual comfort as their right. We’ve trained an entire generation that they have a right not to be offended. Are we surprised that they stopped demanding freedom of speech and started demanding to be free of the “offensive” speech of others?

Image result for image of freedom of speechGreat Britain is undergoing what one writer describes as a slow death of free speech. England’s press (but not its broadcast media) has been free of government interference since 1695, but in 2014, more than 200 UK leading cultural figures signed a declaration demanding the the UK press sign up to the Royal Charter of press regulation.  Ordinary people face jail time for callous tweeting. In British universities, student-driven campaigns have successfully shut down debates and banned pop songs, newspapers, and even philosophy clubs.

Of course, that’s on the other side of the Atlantic and the United States has the First Amendment prevent outright government regulation of the press, so we don’t need to be concerned about cultural attitudes dragging us in the same direction, right?

Don’t try to make that claim on most American campuses because the intellectual habits of debate and discussion and tolerance for the views of others has pretty much been eliminated. Trigger warnings and safe places are becoming the norm. We regularly hear of campus outrages involving a controversial speaker or perceived injustice, and the “offended” parties responding with a frenzied social media crusade or a real-world attempt to shame, bully, browbeat, censor, and punish the offender. These days, be careful that what you say doesn’t make someone feel “unsafe” because it will be the end of your career.

 

Image result for image of freedom of speechThere is a brand of millennial social justice that advocates for the destruction of intellectual honesty and open mindedness. It balkanizes groups of people, engenders hatred between groups, lies if it serves their agenda, manipulates language to provide immunity from criticism and then publicly shames anyone who even remotely dares to dissent. This ideology is today’s biggest threat to free speech and genuine tolerance because it prevails among “educated” young people today, spreading through academia.

 

In Kindly Inquisitors, Jonathan Rauch notes that these “humanitarians” who seek to prevent offense to oppressed and marginalized peoples conflate speech with physical action. That you contemplate an alternative opinion is now considered as highly offensive as if you beat someone to death for disagreeing with you.

But the frightening prospect is that these young people will grow up to rule the world we leave them. The future of a free society looks very bleak should these types become a dominant force on the political landscape.

Image result for image of freedom of speechDespite these challenges, free speech has unparalleled potential for human liberation in the Digital Age. The battle between liberty and power and the individual and the collective will continue. I believe the truth can still prevail in the marketplace of ideas if we treasure and defend the principles, practices, and institutions that make it possible.

Under no circumstances do I consider Donald Trump to be a free speech warrior, but many of the people who voted for him did so because he is political incorrect. He did not allow the speech codes of modern society to silence him in speaking of concerns that most ordinary Americans have. People who were fed up with being told “you can’t say that” voted for someone who did “say that” and, whether or not you like what was said, freedom of speech won the election.

Dear Regressives: Crackdown Is Not an Effective Way to Deal with Dissent | T.J. Brown   Leave a comment

While I know private companies have every right to do this, I still propose that they shouldn’t.

Source: Dear Regressives: Crackdown Is Not an Effective Way to Deal with Dissent | T.J. Brown

Image result for image of free speechOver the last several years, the far cultural authoritarian left – termed today as the regressive left – has been launching a militaristic online campaign against free speech; one that aims to make the web into an ideological safe space. And, as with any war, whether physical or digital, the victim count is growing more and more each day.

Today’s headline casualty? Leslie Jones.

What Actually Happened

As any competent social media user under the age of 79 knows, you never feed the trolls.Like most Millennials, I spent about 60% of the day yesterday scrolling through Twitter. Eventually, I saw it: Leslie Jones’ nudes as the number one trending topic in the United States.

Immediately, a single word popped into my head as I contemplated the motivations behind this act: Milo. For those who don’t know, in the month of July, conservative media personality Milo Yiannopoulos became the first person ever to be permanently banned from Twitter. Not “Your account is gone and you have to start all over” banned, but “You as an individual can never use this platform again” banned.

Milo has had run-ins with the Twitter police before, most notably when he had his verification badge removed after jokingly pretending to be a Buzzfeed employee. In this most recent event, Milo exchanged a single tweet with Leslie Jones as she was battling a wave of trolls online after her Ghostbusters release. Granted, his tweet was provoking and catty, per Milo’s reputation, but it was in compliance with Twitter’s terms of service.

But because Leslie continued feeding the trolls (never feed the trolls), she attracted even more harassment which caused even more of a scene for the website. This embarassed Twitter, and led to their need to make an example of this situation to prove to the world they were on the side of safe space advocates. So they banned Milo.

Deleted tweets & temporary suspensions are common, but never banning. It shocked Milo’s 300,000+ fans, including yours truly, that he was indefinitely evicted from his most domineering platform. It also made Milo into a martyr for the libertarian/conservative/classical liberal sphere of the internet. And as with any martyr, some supporters will seek revenge against their martyr’s antagonist. This would unfortunately become to be Leslie Jones.

The Regressive Left’s Role in Endangering Leslie

Remember, the outcome via free markets will always yield better results than that of central planning and authoritarian regulation.Through perhaps her own volition, Leslie made herself into a target for harassment the second she showed emotional vulnerability to her trolls. I don’t intend to victim-blame her for the disgusting, hateful criticism regarding her movie or the recent photo leak, which, again, is indefensible. But as any competent social media user under the age of 79 knows, you never feed the trolls.

That’s why the block button exists. You would think a professional comedian would be more aware of this fact than anyone, but I digress. Whether she bared conscious responsibility or not, her approach to criticism was directly correlated to the harassment she received. And in a way, it’s kind of ironic.

With her calls for rescue and intervention by Twitter, I theorize that the company and her SJW allies actually made her online experience less safe than it otherwise would have been had Twitter simply left its internal marketplace free to take its spontaneous course and allow the situation to resolve itself. Remember, the outcome via free markets will always yield better results than that of central planning and authoritarian regulation.

The regressive left claims to be interested in making the internet a safe space for minorities, but in the end, through their obsession to control speech and interaction, they made the situation ten times worse than before. They’re facilitating the rise of political conflict online. And this isn’t just limited to Milo Yiannopoulos: several additional examples have surfaced both before and after this particular event.

In 2009, Mozilla’s CEO was forced to resign after pressure surfaced from the left to oust him for his political opinions on gay marriage. Granted the CEO is no less culturally authoritarian, seeing as he contributed money to promoting a government act to ban gay marriage in California, but that’s not to say the left is any more libertarian.

Free Speech

In the end, it was a major declaration against free speech. Particularly free right-wing speech. Not the legislative writing backed by the constitution, mind you, but rather the philosophical principle backed by morals and ethics.

Backtrack to 2015, when the war on gamers was at its peak, known as #GamerGate. In the midst of trying to free this entertainment genre of problematic content, the left managed to get video games removed from shelves or outright banned. Notable examples were Dead or Alive xtreme 3 and Grand Theft Auto 5. Oh, and just so progressives can know how much of an influence they had, the misogynistic Islamic theocratic patriarchs of Saudi Arabia agree with you about combatting problematic sexual indecency. Hence their banning of Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Fast forward to “current year” to witness the onslaught of censorship in full swing, which many have had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing first hand. Multiple individual libertarian-leaning personalities and commentators have been targeted. Reputable names like Lauren Southern, Blaire White, Liberty Memes, Milo Yiannopolus, Gregory Alan Elliott, and not-so-famous names like Peyton Smith,Anarchyball, and so many other individual or collective outlets for what has been deemed “politically incorrect” commentary have been directly influenced by these censorships.

Ignoring the examples of actual physical assault, doxing threats and social media harassment (arguably sometimes more severe than that of Leslie Jones), these people have been on the receiving end of attempted censorship efforts from far-left camps like AntiFa, Intersectional Feminism, BlackLivesMatter, and so on.

This war on ideas is about to boil over.

The Free Market Has Had Enough

With fierce attack comes fierce resistance. A new generation of online pioneers are seeking to remove the monopoly on ideology the left currently holds in mainstream academia, entertainment, news, and social media. Prepared to launch swift defensive strategies when confronted with the threat of censorship. But since many of these organizations are in the ideological pocket of Big Leftism, dissenters can’t rely on conventional methods of fair internal resolutions.

As a result, we’re seeing the creation of voluntary cyber militias, prepared to defend their fellow free speech advocates during this crusade of so-called social justice. News outlets like Breitbart, Drudge, Rubin Report, and Rebel Media, as well as a frontline division of non-media individual parties, are all protecting each other, raising awareness of unfair censorship and redirecting the pressure onto the companies and their bias representatives.

While I know private companies have every right to do this, I still propose that they shouldn’t.But with black market vigilante defense comes more impassioned and negligent defensive actions – including the latest shameful example of Leslie Jones’ private photos being hacked and leaked as a humiliation attack.

None of us who support the free exchange of ideas should support this kind of silencing. But at the same time, it’s time for companies and the greater authoritarian left to realize their ideological Ecclesiocracy is not making the internet a safer place. And by failing to provide users a trustworthy avenue for impartial enforcement of regulations, they have created cells of betrayed consumers who are determined to seek justice through primarily cooperative, though unfortunately sometimes disgraceful, tactics.

Get Authoritarianism out of Social Media

If you’re really interested in making the internet a safer place for users, and a more respectful place of discourse, consider cultural liberty. We’ve seen the effects that ideological authoritarians have had on our governmental system, fighting to arbitrarily enforce what they think is right. Ask yourself, do you honestly want to see that system duplicated in one of the most populated, innovative, and arguably anarchic industries of the Information Age?

While I know private companies have every right to do this, I still propose that they shouldn’t; not only because I’m a genuine free speech absolutist, but also because I care about the safety and comfort of all individuals – even those like Leslie Jones who would be just fine with silencing me.

Posted August 26, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Liberty

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Owning Oneself   2 comments

We have relatives visiting, which is one reason I’ve been re-posting the articles of others. I love my sister-in-law and her husband. I really do. They are fun. He’s not too townie about the woods. She’s trying. The other day it was raining. I mean RAINING, so we were stuck in the house staring out at the flooding streets and that meant talking.

Alaskans don’t really do small talk and we aren’t afraid of the subjects of religion and politics. As a culture, we see nothing to get long-term upset about. We believe in airing our differences and sometimes learning from one another. You could probably tell that from my blog.

My inlaws are New Englanders who were taught to stay away from the subject of religion and politics at all costs. But they’re living in our house and Brad started the conversation, so — it turns out they’re liberals. No big. My brother is a liberal. Our daughter is (temporarily) a liberal (she’s 23). For 15 years, I worked in a social work agency where three-quarters of the staff were liberals. I talk to liberals all the time and I’m friends with most, but liberals in Alaska don’t assume that everybody thinks like them because this is a very libertarian state. So very few liberals in Alaska would ever give me this sort of fodder for my blog. The following is a synopsis of what we learned from our conversation on Saturday.

Liberals generally concede the right of every individual to his “personal liberty.” You have a “right” to freedom to think, speak, write, and engage in such personal “exchanges” as sexual activity between “consenting adults.” Liberals attempt to uphold the individual’s right to the ownership of his own body, but they deny his right to “property,” . There is a typical liberal dichotomy that upholds “human rights”, but denies a person’s right to own material objects. To Brad and I and libertarians in general, rights and property ownership are completely dependent upon one another..

Liberal socialists advocate for government ownership of all the “means of production” while upholding the “human” right of freedom of speech or press. That begs the question – How is this “human” right to be exercised if the individuals constituting the public are denied their right to ownership of property?

For example, if the government owns all the newsprint and all the printing shops, how is the right to a free press to be exercised? If the government owns all the newsprint, it also the authority to allocate that newsprint. If the government decides not to allocate newsprint to news outlets it disapproves, then someone’s “right to a free press” becomes moot. Since the government must allocate scarce newsprint in some way, the right to a free press of “subversive” anti-socialists would be of less importance than that of pro-socialists.

Similarly, if the government owns all the assembly halls and allocates those halls as it sees fit, then freedom of speech becomes moot. In Soviet Russia, the atheistic government, decided not to allocate many scarce resources to the production of matzohs, for Orthodox Jews, rendering their “freedom of religion” a mockery. In communist China (even today), you have a “right” to attend a state-sponsored church of your choosing, but there are Communist Party officers standing against the back wall making sure you don’t say or do anything that isn’t sanctioned … like declare a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The basic flaw in the liberal separation of “human rights” and “property rights” is that people are treated as abstractions. If a man has the right to self-ownership, that would include control of his life. Logically, he must also have a right to sustain his life by laboring to transform resources. Therefore, he must be able to own the ground and the resources on which he stands and which he must use. To sustain his “human right”—or his property rights in his own person—he must also have property right in the material world, in the objects which he produces. Property rights are human rights and are essential to the human rights which liberals attempt to maintain.

There are no human rights separate from property rights. The human right of free speech is simply the property right to hire an assembly hall from the owners or, better yet, to own such a hall. The human right of a free press is the property right to buy materials and then print leaflets or books and to sell them to those who are willing to buy. There is no extra “right of free speech” or free press beyond the property rights we can enumerate.

Discovering and identifying the property rights involved will resolve any apparent conflicts of rights that we might encounter.

Liberals generally concede that a person’s “right of freedom of speech” must be curbed in the name of the “public interest”. We’re all familiar with Justice Holmes’ famous dictum that no one has the right to cry “fire” falsely in a crowded theater. Holmes and his followers have used this illustration again and again to prove the supposed necessity for all rights to be relative and tentative rather than precise and absolute.

My more libertarian friends will explain that the liberals (and to a certain extent, libertarians) fall into discussing a vague “freedom of speech” rather than basing our arguments on the right of private property. So here goes my analysis of freedom of speech as a property right.

I could probably start a stampede by falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, but I wouldn’t because I’m smarter than that, but let’s say the one doing the shouting is either the owner of the theater or a paying customer. If the provocateur is the owner, he has committed fraud on his customers. He has taken their money in exchange for a promise to put on a movie or play which has not disrupted by falsely shouting “fire”. He has welshed on his contractual obligation and, in effect, stolen the money of his patrons. They own their money, which they traded for a performance, so he has violated their property rights.

If the shouter is a patron, she is violating the property right of the owner and the patrons. As a guest, he has gained access to the property on certain terms, which include an obligation not to violate the owner’s property or to disrupt the performance. His malicious act violates the property rights of the theater owner and of all the other patrons, because they bought access to the performance with their money.

The individual right to freedom of speech need not be curtailed to prevent unnecessary stampedes at the theater. The rights of the individual are still absolute; but they are property rights. The provocateur is a criminal because he has clearly and obviously violated the property rights of another person. It has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with property rights. He can still be punished for falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theater because, although he retains full right to speak as he will, property rights curtail him from depriving the owner of his right to sell a material good (a performance) and the patrons’ right to buy attendance at that performance.

Rather than building a case on a shaky concept of freedom of speech, it is far easier to figure out what is and should be legal in terms of property ownership.

Posted June 18, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Liberty, Uncategorized

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