Monday, October 19, 2009

Freedom of Speech: Why It Is Fundamental To Your Freedom (Part 3)

Related Article:
Freedom of Speech: Why It Is Fundamental To Your Freedom (Part 1)
Freedom of Speech: Why It Is Fundamental To Your Freedom (Part 2)
Mayhem In Tehran
The Revolution Will Be Digitized

Having built a foundation, we can now turn our attention to some realities.

Free speech is a western concept, and it is entrenched in our culture. Without free speech you cannot have a functional democracy. Moreover, without a culture that embraces and understands the value of free speech, you cannot have a functional democracy. Africa is largely tribal; decisions are deferred to the "Chief" and therefore authority hardly ever goes challenged. The Middle East is governed by theocracies; they are "divinely" selected, and are viewed as the Supreme Leaders, sanctioned by God himself. There is no hope of installing successful democracies on that basis. The mere granting of suffrage is no guarantee of success. Just look at the shambles that Iraq is in. Moreover, there is the issue of national IQ. Is the electorate capable of grasping the value of free speech?

South Africa has no hope of achieving a functional democracy; firstly, it has its roots in an African culture, and secondly, it asymmetrically applies the law. Certain sections of the population can say whatever it likes without consequence, yet the white population, if it were to engage in the same speech, would be restricted by the race and ethnicity clauses in the constitution.

(Be warned, it is graphic)

Iran is another example (please view the video), where a large portion of its population recently tried to exercise its right to free speech, with deadly consequences. This is shameful, and will only lead to a country where freedom and creativity is suppressed (the whole N-bomb saga is an attempt to demonstrate to the world that they are creative and capable); where "truth" is based on rumours, falsehoods and circulated word of mouth; and where the dissenting voices at the fringes are silenced or murdered.

There is no collective wisdom, other than mainstream dogma. Change happens at the fringes. It is incumbent upon those that are in possession of knowledge, to share it with a wider audience. This can only be achieved through free speech.

Today, however, our right to free speech is under attack. Special interest groups are seeking ever more legislation, outlawing various aspects of our speech, apparently in the name of the most vulnerable. The irony, of course, is that those that seek to suppress free speech give the impression that reason and logic are not on their side, in other words their argument is not truthful.

Governments circumvent free speech in the name of efficient government and public benefit, through the establishment of agencies. The onus then gets placed on the electorate to test the constitutionality of these agencies, which costs time and large sums of money; a disgraceful practice.

I have no tolerance for those that think they have a right to not be offended. This is a distortion of democracy, and an insult to those that sacrifice their lives on a daily basis just to be heard. Offence and insult are a part of life. The idea that an open and free society can be constructed where nobody is offended, is fantastical and absurd. Do we want to live freely or not? Do we only want to engage in polite conversation? Apparently, in some quarters, it seems so. A democracy is all about shouting, screaming, opposing views and debate. Only by having these debates out in the open, do we get to understand our opponents view.

Never personalise, but have no respect for another man’s opinion.

Never be rude to the person, but be savagely rude about what that person thinks.

Finally, it is absurd that we should be looking for ways to defend various groups. Free speech is all about being tolerant of views that you find obnoxious. If you agreed with everything, well then you wouldn’t need freedom of speech would you?