Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Censorship only drives evil into shadows

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for December 21, 2022)

I've realized most people don't understand freedom of speech. Not even experts.

Having freedom of speech doesn't mean you can force anyone to listen. It doesn't mean you'll escape consequences of your words. It doesn't mean anyone-- other than government-- is obligated to let you speak.

Of course, I believe corporations are an arm of government due to the cozy arrangements they share. Government puts pressure-- with implied threats of retaliation-- on corporations to ban speech government doesn't want allowed. This violates the First Amendment, which applies to what government is allowed to do.

Free speech means you have a right to falsely shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater-- politically motivated "expert" opinions aside. No one has the authority-- or the practical ability-- to keep you from shouting before you do. Government is even prohibited by the First Amendment from silencing you for "public safety".

There will be consequences, though.

You should be held accountable for any harm your speech causes. Either through some legal system shenanigans afterward or by someone present who sees the harm you are causing and acts to stop it. If someone needs to act to protect innocents from you, you have no one to blame but yourself when this turns out badly for you.

Choosing to ignore someone doesn't violate their freedom of speech in any way. I saw people get angry and cry "hypocrisy" after Elon Musk's Twitter purchase when he personally blocked them. Don't confuse someone's right to not listen to you for violating your right to speak. These are not the same. You have the right to stink, and people have the right to hold their nose in your presence.

I disagree with him banning accounts from Twitter, though. For anything. The other side of freedom of speech is the freedom to hear it. I understand the desire and the legal pressure to ban some accounts, but it still isn't the right thing to do. No one is right, or wrong, all the time.

I would always prefer to let nasty, dangerous people speak freely. I want them to feel free to expose who they really are so we'll know. This is how we can be ready to defend ourselves from them. Censoring them only drives their evil into the shadows where it can fester and grow, unexposed to the light of truth. Bad speech should be countered, not censored.

This is why I am a free-speech absolutist.

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Comply or die... Oops, I meant "and die"

Almost everyone will tell you that to reduce your chances of being murdered by a cop, obey cops quickly and completely. (Which is sometimes impossible, given the conflicting or physically impossible orders they are unintelligibly barking).

Some will tell you this, as a matter of fact, to try to keep you alive when bad guys unfortunately have the upper hand. As cops nearly always do.

A second type will tell you this as part of a dishonest narrative that cops are good guys who are just doing their job of keeping you safe, so you owe them your respect and immediate compliance.

Both admit that cops can and will kill you. This is objectively true and saying otherwise makes you look like an idiot who lives in a rotten log.

The second type is telling you a partial truth, but is letting you know he's your enemy.

This type will sometimes admit, when pressed, that immediate compliance is no guarantee because cops murder (innocent) people all the time, even when they are doing their best to comply fast enough to keep the cop from getting scared. Mistakes are made, but it's still the victim's fault because the other guy is a cop!

There's one long-time "expert" in the gun community and in gun magazines who will always take this second path-- or always did back when I paid any attention to him. He would tell you to comply (and how your compliance should be choreographed) and let the court sort it out later. (Or let your estate sort it out if the cops murder you anyway. But I doubt he would ever admit that as a possibility). 

He was always so over-the-top copsucking that I haven't paid him any attention in more than a decade-- maybe a couple of decades now. I just saw him pop up in a suggested video on YouTube. No, I'm not going to watch any video he's in. His pro-cop attitude (he's a cop or former cop) destroyed his credibility with me long, long ago. Now I hate even seeing his face.

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