Freedom and democracy under pressure
Tuesday, 14 August 2018
For some of us, it means a lot of being curious and expanding our mental horizons. We seek insights, what is called truth. Such a life of the quest requires exposure to varied thoughts and experiences. Most of the intellectual building blocks come as an accumulated insight inherited, tried and failed over hundreds of generations. It was especially possible to stand on the ancestors’ shoulders when the art of writing developed.
But new thoughts also descend. It triggers old truths, and it challenges established power relationships. Therefore, it always has the wishes and powers of the find that will introduce censorship.
The established and powerful have always had their methods. In the past, riot leaders were picked up and put them in prison or worse. You could also ban collections of more than five people. Previously, such restrictions could mean that people could not communicate. There was no phone or internet.
Now we have just got internet and social platforms on the internet. On these, people in theory can talk to anyone and so many. In free form, it is a solid opinion exchange.
But it is also threatening, for some. Ideologies can be challenged and torn apart. People can be exposed and revealed.
And it can also spread lies, propaganda, kittens. Yes, “hate speech”.
The Internet and free social media can revolutionize politics and ideology in theory. Not necessarily for the better, but possibly. But not everyone wants the ideology (s) to be destroyed. And some of them will fight.
And those who fight against the destruction of their worldview, their ideology, their religion – which may be their identity – will now naturally try to limit people’s ability to be heard and discuss on these new platforms. And while busted people were more likely to be locked and knocked (by letter and ban) or could not get to the marketplace where people gathered, they are now banned from the new places where gossip is shared and politics are created. It’s Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Apple, Google, Spotify etc.
These technology giants are so big that they can not be resisted. And the censorship does not come as a race, it starts cautiously and increases gradually. A voice is excluded here and one vote there, but it happens gradually and one by one. Those who are not banned in the first place, but who are in the gray zone, hold their breath and hope they do not happen. They can not get boycott Facebook even if the colleague was just banned. They hope the best and things get better. That no one should knock on the door of them.
We have our domestic examples. Some, like Thomas Knarvik, are banned in one set. In the US now there are bigger things going on. There’s a massive campaign made sure to remove Alex Jones and InfoWars from all the major social media.
He is being removed because of conspiracy theories and “hate speech”. But it is a matter of hate speech on social media. From left and right, for and against Islam. And even though he exaggerates and definitely lives with untrue conspiracy theories, including facts that are true, and he has been guilty of fake news, he is not alone in any way. There are many crazy people out there who are unprecedented. So why Alex Jones?
It is because he is somebody, a threat, a threat to the establishment in the United States. Millions of people know who he is and listen and read to him and InfoWars. He even interviewed Donald Trump, and undoubtedly helped him win in 2016. Perhaps Alex Jones was even decisive for the outcome on the margin.
That is why CNN and various Democrats and activists have put pressure on technology giants to unpublish Jones. He is a foul voice.
There is a lot of “hate speech”
One could say that Youtube, Facebook, etc. should remove all Muslim hate speech – and that’s enough to take off. But I do not think they should. We can not be frightened (insane) opinion polls. On the contrary. The west is just a good place because it is (or was) illuminated enough not to believe in quackalists, sulfur preachers and conspiracy theorists. Our ambition was – and should be – that they could speak freely and get dressed in the free public space.
Therefore, we should also allow Islam to be pronounced, and put it down with arguments to the extent that it is necessary. For some ideas, so stupid are given what we today know that they simply break themselves down.
This self-esteem should also acquire the establishment. Do not fear Alex Jones. If he is so mad and talking hate and conspiracy, would people in an enlightened democracy like to uncover it? All his viewers hardly buy anything he says anyway. Or are you unsure of your own claims? Does the reality begin to differ too much from what you claim about multiculturalism and globalization?
Because by putting him in the sentiment, behind the lock and strike, you have already declared your revolt against the free word, against democracy and freedom of expression. You are denying yourself the right to call you liberal.
Preventing people from speaking is totalitarian. But it is unfortunately in the direction “the establishment” now wants to take us. It happens with small but frequent steps. One assumes that technology giants have no duty to open up their commercial social platforms to anyone. They are private and can do as they please.
But everyone understands the effect of being shut down from the modern marketplace. That means knocking, ties to death, loses its democratic voice.
We are exposed to a serious attack on freedom of speech from powerful forces, and it comes from those who claim to take it in defense. They have become intolerant in the tolerance name.
A fight we must take in Norway too
Our Prime Minister has criticized Resett, and she tries to criticize Islam by calling it “religious racism.” Her culture minister, Trine Skei Grande, is still looking forward to new media such as Resett and would like to welcome any teasing from the technology giants against Norwegian counter votes. With them / us gone, her behavior in a wedding in 2008 had still not been known.
And if we do not mobilize against the increasing constraint of who and what to participate in the public arena that technology giants are now controlling, and soon, this will not be going well. The western world we love is based on (the ambition of) the free word, the free thought, the honest exchange of opinions.
Censorship is the root of democracy’s death, and to fear, frustration, insecurity and violence. So let’s do the right thing and let freedom of speech survive. And to get it, the actual technology giants must play on teams.
Like it or not, but it is.