MSM calls for “new definition of free speech”

Part of the main duty of OffGuardian is to troll through the masses of media output and try and pick up patterns. Sometimes the patterns are subtle, a gentle urging behind the paragraphs. Sometimes they’re more like a sledgehammer to the face.

This has been face-hammer week. In fact, it’s been a face-hammer year.

From “flatten the curve” to “the new normal” to “the great reset”, it’s not been hard to spot the messaging going on since the start of the “pandemic”. And that distinct lack of disguise has carried over into other topics, too.

We pointed out, a few days ago, the sudden over-use of the phrase “domestic terrorism” preparing us for what is, almost certainly, going to be a truly horrendous piece of new legislation once Biden is in office.

Well, the buzz-phrase doing the rounds in the wake of Donald Trump being banned from the internet is “the new definition of free speech”…and variations on that theme.

Firstly, and papers on both sides of the Atlantic want to be very clear about this, Donald Trump being banned simultaneously from every major social network is not in any way inhibiting his free speech.

Indeed none of the tens of thousands of people banned from twitter et al. have had their free speech infringed either. Neither have any of the proprietors – or users – of the Parler app which the tech giants bullied out of existence.

Free Speech is totally intact no matter how many people are banned or deplatformed, the media all agree on that (even the allegedly pro-free speech think tanks).

They also agree that maybe…it shouldn’t be. Maybe “free speech” is too dangerous in our modern era, and needs a “new definition”.

That’s what Ian Dunt writing in Politics.co.uk thinks, anyway, arguing it’s time to have a “grown-up debate” about free speech.

The Financial Times agrees, asking about the “limits of free-speech in the internet era”.

Thomas Edsall, in the New York Times, wonders aloud if Trump’s “lies” have made free speech a “threat to democracy”.

The Conversation, a UK-based journal often at the cutting edge of the truly terrifying ideas, has three different articles about redefining or limiting free speech, all published within 4 days of each other.

There’s Free speech is not guaranteed if it harms others, a drab piece of dishonest apologia which argues Trump wasn’t silenced, because he could make a speech which the media would cover…without also mentioning that the media has, en masse, literally refused to broadcast several of Trump’s speeches in the last couple of months.

The conclusion could have been written by an algorithm analysing The Guardian’s twitter feed:

the suggestion Trump has been censored is simply wrong. It misleads the public into believing all “free speech” claims have equal merit. They do not. We must work to ensure harmful speech is regulated in order to ensure broad participation in the public discourse that is essential to our lives — and to our democracy.

Then there’s Free speech in America: is the US approach fit for purpose in the age of social media?, a virtual carbon copy of the first, which states:

The attack on the Capitol exposed, in stark terms, the dangers of disinformation in the digital age. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the extent to which certain elements of America’s free speech tradition may no longer be fit for purpose.

And finally, my personal favourite, Why ‘free speech’ needs a new definition in the age of the internet and Trump tweets in which author Peter Ives warns of the “weaponising of free speech” and concludes:

Trump’s angry mob was not just incited by his single speech on Jan. 6, but had been fomenting for a long time online. The faith in reason held by Mill and Kant was premised on the printing press; free speech should be re-examined in the context of the internet and social media….

https://off-guardian.org/2021/01/16/a-new-definition-of-free-speech/

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.