Freedom of Speech: An Insidious Monster
No religion, race, or gender incited terrorism on our cousins in New Zealand yesterday. This terrorism was fuelled by the insidious monster of indiscriminate freedom of speech. Racist politicians, laws allowing racist hate groups to gather together and the depraved voices in our media give racism legitimacy of thought and voice.
We Felt the Pain and Witnessed the Horror
Friday, 15th March 2019 was a day of heartbreak and mourning. The culmination of racist hatred, Islamophobia and bigotry festered and erupted in a terrorist attack upon Australia’s dearest neighbour, New Zealand. The terrorist, an Australian, has killed 49 people, so far and injured many more. This gunman took innocent lives and ripped other lives apart. The gunman did not discriminate. Furthermore, he exuded as much hatred for a four-year-old boy, as he did for mothers, grandmothers, fathers, uncles and brothers, as he gunned them down as they participated in silent prayer.
An insidious monster motivated this terrorist. An aggressive, insidious monster valiantly protected by loud media voices and weak and divisive leadership. This monster is Indiscriminate Freedom of Speech.
Regardless of the harm indiscriminate freedom of speech may cause; advocates believe it has true value as individual freedom. Also, advocates of freedom of speech reject the reaction of disagreement or consequence. They see these reactions as a threat to their freedom. As a result, yesterday, we witnessed the horror that is the death of innocents. Indiscriminate freedom of speech gives licence to this hatred.
Discriminate Freedom of Speech
The only thing that can kill this monster is Repressive and Discriminate Tolerance.
Repressive tolerance argues freedom of speech as underpinned by the constructs of (small l) liberalism exists to share ideas and have those ideas respected unless those ideas cause harm. Above all, Herbert Marcuse believed that even in the 1960’s that the tolerance of ideas that were harmful to society encouraged a repressive society rather than enable a progressive one.
Marcuse does not argue for complete indiscriminate tolerance, but discriminate tolerance where we tolerate ideas unless they are harmful. We should frame and set aside harmful ideas. His argument is that unless this is done, we are tolerating for the sake of being tolerant and impeding progress of the Left.
Marcuse argues that indiscriminate tolerance is indeed beneficial in many forms of debate, however “But society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence, where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here, certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed, certain behavior cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servitude.”
The Pain of an Unequal Framework
Atrocities such as the New Zealand Terror attack, rip the blind fold off the wilfully blind and not so wilfully blind. At these times racism is alive.It is bright and it is loud. We see it clearly. Even the people like me who feel we speak up enough. Who call racism out. Who condemn and shout at racists. We become hyper-aware. But … I’m not a target of racism and many reading this are not targets either. That is why at these times we are hyper-aware.
A sudden striking of hyper-awareness occurs because you do not experience racism.
We co-exist in an unequal framework. We must always bear that in mind. Particularly, as allies. Listening and reflecting upon what targets of racism say, is more important than anything we say; because people who do not experience racism; inherently reap the benefits of power within this unequal framework.
In a democratic society, democracy is not pure. Debate exists within an unequal framework. The institutions of Government and the media as two examples, have privilege and power to define what is ‘normal’ for the majority and what is not. These entities have the power to stigmatise groups of people and spoil normal identity (see Erving Goffman). They have the power to place minority groups in the place of ‘weird and unacceptable.’
Our media in Australia gives the platform of legitimacy to racist thought and voice. Australian media has predefined for a long time that racist thoughts and racist voices are an important contribution to the development of society. That we must listen to them and more importantly, debate them.
However, today, we sharply see they are wrong. Others who experience racism every day, live that the media are wrong every day with many, including “The Project’s” Waleed Aly, that they are not surprised.
The power of our media resonates here:
“Under the rule of monopolistic media–themselves the mere instruments of economic and political power–a mentality is created for which right and wrong, true and false are predefined wherever they affect the vital interests of the society.” (Marcuse)
Tweets such as these speak volumes.
Indiscriminate Freedom of Speech Kills
Layers and layers of racist behaviours, actions and words are repeated every single day. In particular, racism is amplified by politicians and the media. In addition, our laws enable racism. The forceful arguments from the conservative, libertarian and nationalists platforms, that indiscriminate freedom of speech is vital for a just and fair society is now killing people. People are dying, literally, to satisfy the ego-driven desire for inane and depraved racists thoughts to be heard.
Indiscriminate Freedom of Speech, kills.
Weak political leadership trying to score political points dog whistling to racists for votes, kills people.
Politicians overtly inciting a negative stereotype and stigmatising an entire group of people, by wearing a burka, over-inflating statistics or suggesting eugenics through DNA testing, kills people.
Our laws that allow racists to congregate en masse targeting Muslims and our laws that allow hate groups to recruit and radicalise others to share their messages of hate and anger, kills people.
Our laws that keep Asylum Seekers imprisoned in indefinite detention; laws that enforce no investigation or redress or control measures when Asylum Seekers are murdered or suicide, kills people.
Our Media, who give paid breakfast airtime to racists; who invite them on dancing shows to build a profile for the purpose of assisting that racist individual to secure a political foothold, kills people.
Our Media, who adopt the stance of a stunned mullet, unable to muster up one difficult question to challenge extremist views, who welcome racists on their shows to amplify their platforms, who glorify and salivate and selfie-take with international “celebrity” racists, kills people.
Targets of racism always know this. Begging for it to stop fell on deaf ears because indiscriminate freedom of speech was more important.
Discriminate tolerance (Marcuse) is framing and setting aside the ideas that should not be tolerated in a debate towards progress. We already do this as a society. We do not have complete indiscriminate tolerance, as those ideas will harm society. Our national security legislation is one example. Another example is Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act which makes hate speech unlawful.
However, those who sit on the right wing and the extreme right, the Conservative-Liberals, Nationalists and the Libertarians argue for complete indiscriminate tolerance. They argue that unless they can be completely indiscriminate, this impedes their freedom of speech, even if that speech is harmful. They want the section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, destroyed.
However, at times like this, when blood is spilled in senseless, hate-filled murderous terror attack; we beg for discriminate freedom of speech. We are conveniently discriminate of free speech. A search of “Do Not Share” on Twitter returns hundreds of tweets of:
“Do Not Share the terrorist’s video or manifesto, because it contributes to terrorism”
The tweet below is a compelling argument for discriminate freedom of speech.
This must be a turning point.
In particular, First Nations people also experience this discrimination.
In Australia, there is an ingrained system of stigmatisation and discrimination that First Nations people experience. The countless stories told by Indigenous people of deaths in custody, wrongful incarceration, abhorrent treatment in incarceration, mortality rates, racially discriminatory ’employment’ programs, access to health and education, under-funding of Indigenous services, poverty and every day casual racial discrimination….the list goes on.
In particular, let us never forget, the darling of the racist set, Pauline Hanson, (who also brought us the depraved, disgusting, gutter trash, hateful, racist mindset of Fraser Anning, now condemned internationally); started her tirade of racism against First Nations people and Asian people.
Last week Pauline Hanson and Mark Latham brought back attacks on Indigenous people with unashamed overt racism. They want people to vote next week in the NSW election for DNA testing of First Nations People.
If you have learned anything from the terrorist attack yesterday, you must use your voice to condemn this and put One Nation LAST.
A New Era
Today we wake up to a new day. Yesterday we saw the growing outcry of no longer accepting hateful voices.
Bill Shorten – All Eyes Are On You
After the New Zealand Terrorist attack, it is evident that every single politician who does not show democratic leadership to unite us and instead plays to the politics of fear and division will soon learn the transactional cost at the ballot box in May. We will no longer tolerate divisive politicians.
Furthermore, many suggest that Bill Shorten will become our next Prime Minister. Bill Shorten stands out head and shoulders as a leader who does seek to unite us. The current Government has a sordid history of politics of fear and division, particularly the Prime Minister. It is clear that Bill Shorten will be the next Prime Minister of Australia.
Bill Shorten, you have a huge responsibility ahead of you. Huge. You need to lead the way and be the voice that will be the emotional contagion to drive the eradication of stigmatisation, discrimination and racist culture in this country.
Bill Shorten – All eyes are on you.
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LNP, One Nation, Anning, Bernardi and others cut from the same tainted cloth all have fanned the flames of this murderous racist psychosis. Blood be on their hands.
This terrorism was fuelled by the deliberate intentional insidious monster of indiscriminate freedom of speech for party political partisan advantage at the knowing, considered acceptable, cost to society at large.
Racist politicians, endless public dog whistling, along with laws allowing, enabling, encouraging & facilitating, racist hate groups to gather together, and the depraved voices in our corporate media in partnership with said parties, to give racism legitimacy of thought and voice.
Major party political leaders & prominent senior party members, not just backbencher nobodies, enabling socially acceptable credibilty & ‘tolerance’ for right wing extremists to operate & recruit publicly, and all solely for calculated partisan political advantage, and be damned any human cost as a consequence.
Why has our sad sorry excuse for a PM not yet directed the Minister for Immigration, Coleman, to revoke his overturning of the banning of entry to Australia, right wing neo-nazi extremist Islamophobic hatemonger Milo Yiannopoulos. Why have you not acted Morrison ? You can shove your false empty platitudes, M8.
Hm, do recall smiling group happy snaps with Janet Albrechtsen from Murdochs the UnAustralian and National Party staffer(?) all over Milo like a hot rash. Revolting.
Lotsa public Coalition hand-wringing and disingenuous insincere expressions of empathy on public display, yet Milo is not banned, and still welcomed and approved for entry into Australia, by the Coalition government, even now ?!
Never so much about Freedom of Speech but the perversion of it by psychotic nihilist fascists.
Perspective ? Or with callous indifference failing badly at excusing & downplaying the human cost of right wing extremism in our own backyard.
All whilst the shock has yet to even begin to pass at the blood spilt & lives lost … a political agenda ?
I so agree Trish.
Freedom boy Tim Wilson recently interceded to override the Immigration Department’s advice to not grant Milo Yiannopolous a visa. He is set to arrive for an anti-Islam (and no doubt anti-feminist) speaking tour before the election. This leech still owes the Victorian police $50,000 for the security they had to provide last time he came to spread his hatred.
Wilson has posted on facebook “Once again, Fraser Anning’s comments are contemptible and unworthy of the office he accidentally holds. They are despicable and unworthy of a Senator for Queensland. He should withdraw them and apologise.”
My response: “Yet you interceded to demand Milo Yiannopolous be given a visa, against the advice of the Immigration department, to come and spread his vile, ill-informed hatred. Do you not understand the consequences of your support for hate speech? This isn’t some Young Liberals shindig where childish dilettantes say you can’t tell me what to do. You are a grownup now Tim. Start acting like one. Understand this isn’t some political game. Your campaign against what you call political correctness and for the right of people to stir up hatred and division costs people’s lives. Yiannopolous still owes the Victorian police $50,000. He should be locked up for not paying his bills should he set foot in this country. Your support for him is duly noted. It says a lot about you.”
Yiannoplous posted on facebook…
“Whatever you think about her, Candace Owens had nothing to do with what happened in New Zealand. People aren’t radicalized by their own side. They get pushed to the far-Right BY THE LEFT, not by others on the Right.
Everyone on the Right in public life is constantly rejecting ethnonationalism and violence. I, for instance, have spent my entire career denouncing political violence. Candace has never been especially controversial and has never had many far-Right fans. She gets less popular the further Right you go.
Likewise, the violence directly inspired by grassroots Right-wing media figures comes from Antifa, not our supporters. Attacks like this happen because the establishment panders to and mollycoddles extremist Leftism and barbaric, alien religious cultures. Not when someone dares to point it out.”
My response: “You’ve got nothing we want. You’ve got nothing we need. Stay away from Australia. Go sponge on someone else you silly little man.”
Sky is provided to politicians for free.
“The part that gets missed for people outside Canberra … is when you are in Parliament House, our side of politics spends their whole time in their offices with Sky News playing in the background, and you are watching colleagues going head-to-head with Labor on policy, but once it gets to 6pm, it goes from panel-style shows to commentary shows.
“Look that’s [Sky’s] business model, it isn’t sour grapes, they are entitled to do this, they are trying to go the Fox News, US-style controversial rightwing shake-it-up … and a lot of my colleagues take what they say as gospel.”
“That’s the power of the Canberra bubble, the fact that [Sky] commentators, in the isolation of your office, can whip people up into a frenzy.” Laundy says those broadcasters have no impact on public consciousness in Australia at all, but “the impact they have is in the mind of the politician whilst in Canberra – and that’s something we need to break”.
Laundy is wrong there. These fools DO have an impact on a very small but dangerous fraction of the public consciousness.
Simply the best piece of writing from you.
I am still so shattered by yesterday’s events I can’t string any thoughts together, you have not only expressed the horror but placed it in context, from your opening paragraph:
To calling out our weasel of a PM, weak and hypocritical excuse for a man that he is.
Yes, Bill Shorten has an Everest to climb WHEN he becomes PM, surely this event is the final revelation of the racists who presume to lead us and the LNP will be voted out for many, many years.
Ironic that Morrison has been trying to confect a “Tampa” upon which to manipulate the voters … be careful what you wish for Scott Morrison …
So, Sarah (Liberal, House of Reps, Corangamite electorate), you will then also as a matter of principle, ‘Honourably’ resign, and demand all current Coalition Senators, and the directing & approving Attorney-General, Christian Porter, who unanimously voted in the Senate in October last year, in support of One Notions motion :
“It is Okay to be White!” ?
Nah, didn’t think so … so what worth is your disingenuous entirely self-serving empty condemnation & deliberate misdirection, hm ?
Indeed, Morrison has been stalling for time, happy clapping & a hopin’ & a prayin’ for an event to save ’em.
Well, his happy clapping & prayers have indeed been answered with an event … though with likely profound personally damaging consequences for him and the Coalition he was ‘not‘ hopin’ fer.
So disappointed to see the hashtag ShameAustralia on American tweets when talking about Anning’s comments.
His comments have received massive publicity in America. And now they think he speaks for all of us.
Agree with Diannaart that this is Trish Corry’s best piece of writing…Thank you, Trish. I also agree with Alcibiades’s spot-on comments….
a brilliant exposition on the present ethos or zeitgeist in Oz today. It reflects so much of what is happening more widely.
I have been looking at the matter of climate change and the weird obsessions of the deniers.
So much garbage from false ideologies, misinformation and plain ignorance.
Thank you for your accurate and heartfelt summary, Trish. Inspirational.
I looked at his facebook page. You would be horrified with the number of people supporting Anning’s ignorance.
The world knows what we do to asylum seekers. The world knows what we do to our First People. The world knows that the highest ranking Catholic in the land has been convicted of the oral rape of a child. The world knows about our deliberately unco-operative stance at climate conferences.
It is hard not to feel some sort of collective shame that we have allowed our country to descend so far.
And they all acted so surprised! Racially motivated attacks are not that uncommon, even in Australia and New Zealand.
Witness the sickening spectacle of the hypocrites expressing shock and horror at another entirely predictable event as though their stirring up resentment against minorities has no bearing on reality.
Its what i have always said, total freedom of speech gives rise to shit like this. Words can hurt just as much as a bullet. People like Lenolyium ( can never spell his name right) need to be put in their place. Principles are only a good guide but when taken to extremes are equally as dangerous as physical violence.
I never hurt anyone but ten of my followers started a war. Who me? No way, i have no control over others, i didnt know he was a nutter. You know what i’m talking about, we have heard it often enough.
What is freedom if it is completely f*cked up? Thanks Trish
Freedom of speech is one thing but like all things, words can have consequences.
I’ve read similar and much worse comments on social media than the shooter promotes and his documented notions are comparatively much tamer than those of Anders Brievik, and Alan Jones’ rant amplified the severity of the Cronulla riot is but one example of careless media influence.
The willingness of politicians and right-wing commentators to stir-up and then cash-in on divisive sentiment makes some feel empowered.
About a decade ago when a previous African Gang scare campaign was underway in Victoria, an Indian was mistakenly murdered by two white men acting out of hatred toward Africans.
The only difference between most hater-speakers and Tarrant is that unlike those keyboard warriors, he was prepared to “walk the walk”, probably believing he had support in all the right places.
Anning’s blaming of the victims is no surprise to me and One Nation has been strangely quiet about the matter. Their idea of putting cameras in Mosques would have made the live-stream of the atrocity irrelevant.
Just saw Anning get egged on the news. Whilst i am not generally in favour of violent reactions, this time i think his humiliation is apt. I want that guys autograph. Now Anning has an idea about what its like to be on the other side. If you are that stupid to join a neo nazi white supremasist group, you got it coming.
andy56, it will give him even more self justification for his claim to victimhood.
Can you imagine the screaming about being a “victim” from him and his little thug mate Erikson if a, gasp, custard pie had been used.
Yiannopolous’ visa has been cancelled. Pity it took an atrocity to make them think about that.
Hang on, Kaye Lee. They stopped Milo. Then they stopped the stopping. Now, they’ve stopped their stopping of the stopping…
I’ll wait until Monday and see whether somebody has suggested that Milo should be allowed in and to stop him is just giving in to somebody and we should never give in to people… Unless they have a large audience who can lose you votes…
Um, so our PM, Mr Brick Wall, who personally determines who comes to this country(sorta), except by plane(predominantly), had one of the holes in his wall filled in by revoking Milos visa by BorderFarce, on multiple issues under ‘Character Grounds'(& a 50k debt).
Then the brick was removed at Morrisons & Immigration Minister Colemans direction, upon receipt of a heartfelt petition by that upstanding IPA defender of ‘Free Speech & Incitement’, Timmy Wilson (FIGJAM man of Honour & Principles) ?
Hence revoking the revokation, by re-instating Milos visa. Because free speech(?) mumble inaudible mumble, and the crucial need to maintain the government core policies on fear, division, dog-whistling & incitement ?
Now the brick is back in the wall, by revoking, the revocation of the revocation of Milos original visa ?
Um, ’cause good government for & on behalf of ‘the people‘ starts today !?
Nah, not buyin’ what their sellin’, been burnt too many times before.
Draken, i think when he understands that he has walked into the firing line, the attitude will change. One thing to preach and speak to this small group of maladjusts, another to realise you made your self a target. Another egging or a couple of ripe tomatoes could just tip this snowflake.
Poor Scott Morrison got wedged. Wedged by a murderous, low IQ, feeling sorry for himself, Australian bastard. Watched Morrison giving his statement about the tragedy and he seemed to be smiling. Now we know he just loves the sound of his own voice and any chance to give an opinion on any and all matters, but was it that or was he pleased about something? Wedged also by a humane (female in this case) prime minister showing inclusiveness and compassion in juxtaposition to what we have come to expect from Morrison. And suddenly the Liberal PM and Liberal premier just had to go to the Lakemba Mosque to show concern for these ‘others’, must have been difficult for those Liberals.
Great piece Trish.
One point, though… free speech is a dangerous issue. I think it’s easier to see it in terms of tolerance. We should be intolerant of intolerance. Free speech is much more difficult to define, and any attempt to abridge it without clear guideposts becomes worrisome because speaking about homosexuality can be seen by some as harmful; criticising the government can be seen by the government as harmful; antivaxxers see vaccines as harmful; flat-earthers see talk of a spherical planet as harmful; all religions see atheism (and each other) as harmful. See what I mean? It is much better to use intolerance of intolerance as the yardstick for abridging speech. We must not tolerate intolerance.
Currently, intolerant racists and religious pricks cynically use our tolerance against us. Tolerance is a wonderful thing, but we should never tolerate intolerance. (I’d better stop… if I use that word one more time it’ll feel like it loses all meaning.)
Milo Yiannopolous should be allowed into the country, then immediately imprisoned until he pays what he owes, and then immediately deported. That nasty little shit coming here to stir up trouble! The nerve!
….. To my mind there’s … ” freedom of speech ” …. and … ” Freedom TO speak “………The former allows indiscriminate / irresponsible utterance of words ( and phrases ) … whilst … The Latter introduces Personal Responsibility reflecting the Integrity of the person uttering the words !
Nice words ozibody.
Good points have you made … for some reason I am channeling Yoda. None of which detracts from Corry’s article. Pulling that together at that point in time … easy not.
Would love to see MY arrive here and promptly jailed until the next plane back to the nation which spawned him. Because tolerance is not to be used as an excuse … thinking along lines of “he’s just a naughty boy”. Nah, he’s a little shit.
Did I misread Corry on repressive tolerance though?
Along with a number of sources googled since reading this, I am comfortable in my interpretation of repressive tolerance as being a reversal of Trish’s understanding of the concept, but accept that there is more to the article than just a one-dimensional read of her comments and accept that her own employ may represent a creative reversal of its own for the purposes of her thread starter.
A letter to a friend . . . : https://freefall852.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/letter-to-a-friend/
Miriam, yes, you are right. Here is the excerpt from my article which explains Marcuse is about repressive tolerance, part of that is recognition of the harm indiscriminate freedom of speech has and calls for discriminate freedom of speech.
** Repressive tolerance argues freedom of speech as underpinned by the constructs of (small l) liberalism exists to share ideas and have those ideas respected unless those ideas cause harm. Above all, Herbert Marcuse believed that even in the 1960’s that the tolerance of ideas that were harmful to society encouraged a repressive society rather than enable a progressive one.
Marcuse does not argue for complete indiscriminate tolerance, but discriminate tolerance where we tolerate ideas unless they are harmful. We should frame and set aside harmful ideas. His argument is that unless this is done, we are tolerating for the sake of being tolerant and impeding progress of the Left. **
I think tolerating for the sake of being tolerant of people like Hanson, Anning, interviewing right wing hate preachers and normalising them, is a huge part of our problem.
We don’t have indiscriminate freedom of speech when it upsets right wing politicians or commentators. We don’t have indiscriminate freedom of speech if a radical Islamist was recruiting on a street corner. Why have indiscriminate freedom of speech when it stigmatises a group to the point that some believe those people should be slaughtered?
We have enough ugly history in the world to tell us the damage this has already done. I’m glad Shorten has come out and made some bold statements about no longer tolerating hate speech.
I normally watch Bolt for the counter view, but I couldn’t stomach his crying about the left now being divisive because they are speaking up against the right in droves. I shut it off after a minute in.
Freedom of speech has to be “indiscriminate”, otherwise it is no longer free. Speech is no longer free when others can outlaw subject content considered by them to be unsuitable. Such a path leads to The Dark Ages. If such an approach had been in place these past 50 years we would have no nuclear arms control, homosexuality and gender diversity would be locked in closets and prisons, racial inequality would have strengthened in countries now changed and abortion … In their day, these issues were unlawful and highly emotive. Many were imprisoned for speaking so radically. Had there been subject control or other limitations, many social advances would have stagnated.
To have the freedom to say what is right we need the freedom to say what is wrong.