Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Defense(ish) of Free Speech Part Five

So the Southfield City Council just enacted a rule that limits public communications from 5 to 3 minutes per person. Saw it coming. Part of me feels weird about not taking more of a stand against it especially considering 1.) It was the only time I ever actually spoke in front of council and 2.) I mostly agreed with an impassioned defense of free speech by Councilman Moss, especially since I share his background as an MSU Journalism grad.

Mostly it's just that I hate repeating myself. Part of what drew me to writing was that rather than the impromptu arguments I normally make I can point to a more structured incarnation of my thoughts that's lasting. You want to know what I think go here.

But I also have to admit that part of the reason why I'm staying out of this one is that while my position hasn't changed my mind has. I'm not the free speech absolutist I once was.

My Position Most of the Time
It seemed that at the table the value of speech was viewed for it's practical applications. And that as long as council was tending to those practical applications s'all good. Everybody gets a chance to address their problems. That sort of thing.

Moss on the other hand seemed to view speech more in the abstract. Valuable in and of itself. And when you go down that route which I will all speech is valuable, even the most putrid vile crap people can spew.

Oh god, the Skokie Case, which actually has me intellectually siding with Neo-Nazis. I hate Nazis! Both neo and original recipe.

Best moment on television ever. Sorry I stopped writing to re-watch that clip 20 times. I could do that all day.

I am Rory Williams, psychologically dealing with the fact that I just saved Hitler's life. Time travel is a harsh mistress.

Though a World War, and multiple genocides kind of prove me wrong I try really really really hard to believe that most people can look at various repugnant ideas and go. "No. We're not doing this. No. "

Something something about the arc of of the moral universe, which by the way is too damn long.

Anyway, part the the system that allows people to exercise their will is the ability to choose which ideas they subscribe to and in order for that to happen those ideas have to be in the aether. No one should be able to choose for anybody else the ideas they have access to.

Even if those ideas are really really offensive, annoying, disgusting, repugnant, asinine, or just plain old fashioned stupid people need to be able to choose.

Otherwise you get North Korea.


It's Not Okay
People are starting to flirt with harassment and I have strong feelings about that. I was bullied as a child. You want to see me unwittingly picking that scab read this.  It was one of those times where I was pissed but I didn't realize I was pissed until about 500 words in and by that point I was too far gone to stop. I should know better than to scratch at the wall.

Up until recently my instinct was to side with who in my mind had the least power, feeling that if the Council really really wanted to devote themselves to the task of making it stop they could. They do have a staff of lawyers.  Or to put it another way, no matter what a five-year old does if I knock them into next Tuesday I am in the wrong and have become the bully. Let it go.

But I've also recently become a fan of The Jimquisition, a webshow were Jim Sterling typically rants about what's annoying him in the game industry, and while binge watching it I came across his episode on the Phil Fish incident.

Quick recap. Phil Fish was a game developer who was developing a much anticipated indie game but reacted badly to internet trolls. In mid 2013 he decided he had enough, canceled development of the game and retired from the industry making some believe he was the kid taking his basketball home before the game ended.

Phil Fish really did react badly but Jim's take on the matter was that he had to put up with a lot before his explosion and in the end we all need to realize that it is not okay to harass public figures. That publicness does not change the fact they're also people.

In a way all of that crap is the same type of bullying I had to put up with as a kid. And I feel less and less inclined to stand in that corner.

Sometimes the Rights of the Many Outweigh the Faults of the Few
On the other... foot at the end of the day they're limiting the opportunity of the many to contribute to the town's marketplace of ideas to reign in the few. That rubs me wrong for a lot of reasons. It feels like a "This is why we can't have nice things" debate and especially with speech I disagree with that. As Moss put it "free speech is a right not a privilege" to be granted and taken a way when you no your idiot brother ticks off Mom.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Facebook Comments

Note: These Comments are from all across this blog.