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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/23/19

Suppressing Discussion Doesn't Solve the Problem. It is the Problem.

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Censorship Word Behind The .Do Not. Signs
Censorship Word Behind The .Do Not. Signs
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Everywhere one looks these days, the world seems to be moving away from debate on contentious subjects and toward demands that those who have unpopular opinions -- or even just ask impertinent questions -- be forcibly silenced.

"You will never hear me mention his name," prime minister Jacinda Ardern said of Brenton Tarrant, the sole suspect in two deadly attacks on mosques in Christchurch. "He may have sought notoriety but here in New Zealand we will give him nothing not even his name."

That's fine as a personal decision, I guess, but not as a top-down decision for her fellow New Zealanders. Even as Ardern spoke, police working for her government were arresting at least two people for sharing the shooter's live-streamed video of the attacks on social media.

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Across the Tasman Sea, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison is calling on the governments of G20 countries to implement measures "including appropriate filtering, detecting and removing of content by actors who encourage, normalise, recruit, facilitate or commit terrorist and violent atrocities."

Let's be clear about what Morrison, other "world leaders," and significant segments of activist communities and even the general public, are demanding (and to a frightful degree already implementing): Internet censorship.

This isn't really a new development. The mosque attacks are merely the latest incident weaponized by politicians and activists in service to a long-running campaign against public discussion and debate that requires them to make arguments and persuade instead of just bark orders and compel.

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The fictional "memory hole" of the IngSoc regime in George Orwell's 1984 stood for more than half a century as an oft-cited and wisely acknowledged warning. Now that hole is opening up beneath us for real and threatening to suck us down into a new Dark Age of "thoughtcrime" and "unpersons."

The threat is content-independent. Renaming climate change skeptics "deniers" and demanding "investigations" of them, or pressuring media to ban discussions of policy on vaccines, is just as evil as suing Alex Jones for promulgating bizarre theories about the Sandy Hook massacre.

The only appropriate response to "bad" speech -- that is, speech one disagrees with -- is "better" speech.

Attempting to shut down your opponents' ability to participate in an argument isn't itself a winning argument. Forbidding your opponents to speak to a problem doesn't solve that problem.

In fact, those tactics are tantamount to admitting that your arguments are less persuasive and that your solutions can't withstand scrutiny.

Freedom of thought and expression are primary, foundational rights. They make it possible for us to hash out issues and solve problems peaceably instead of by force. Any attempt to suppress them is itself a call for totalitarianism and the alternative to those liberties is social and political death.

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Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


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Douglas Jack

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You've made a most important social-media statement. Sycophants don't have confidence to make their arguments or logics equally with their perceived opponents. Arguments are stronger when audiences hear both sides & decide through contrasting & comparing point-by-point. Journalism college intellectual-cowards, are parroting the process of their degradation. Debate is denied at home, school, work, politics, military etc, throughout our 7-8,000 year colonial period. Weak 'strawman' arguments only give an appearance of debate. In 450 BC Socrates reacted to false war-training colonial Sophist schools & implemented 'academia' (Athens 'Garden of Academus'). Socrates & his elocution teacher Aspasia instilled 'debate' (French 'de' = 'undo' + 'bate' = 'the-fight') as a foundation for 'education' (Latin 'educare' = 'to lead-forth-from-within'), social & economic literacy as it was in 'indigenous' (L 'self-generating') Council-Process. DIALECTIC RIGHTS When there's conflict at home & worldwide, we can: 1) believe the finance-media-education military-industrial-legislative-complex, demonize the other, armour ourselves against our perceived enemies, launch pre-emptive war & create hell, 2) engage the other in formal equal-time recorded & published dialogues. Mohandas Gandhi developed 'Satyagraha' (Hindi 'truth-search') based upon simultaneous inquiry with both parties in dispute or research asking, "What are your best intentions & how can we help you fulfill these?". Gandhi, "I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice. But true non-violence is an impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness." False-flag 'Right-to-Protect' for 1000s of years keeps citizens in the dark by staging invasion & genocide. NO-WAR until we hear Both-Sides present in Equal-Time, Recorded & Published Debate. equal-time-recorded-dialogues

Submitted on Saturday, Mar 23, 2019 at 5:24:26 PM

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