Archives For Freedom of Speech

The lessons provided this week by the unjustified social media ban of Donald Trump, along with the industry wide cancellation of Parler are dangerous precedents.

This abuse of power from Big Tech is solid proof that political favouritism exists within Silicon Valley.

Arbitrary cancellations, double standards, and selective censorship, tells their customers (and investors) that Big Tech cannot be trusted to apply their own EULA standards to their favoured side of politics; nor live out their civic responsibility in preserving the basic tenets of liberty and justice for all.

First, we have a sitting, duly elected president, booted from communication platforms without due process or factual evidence, under the extremely weak premise that he “incited violence.”

This premise IS weak because it rests on confirmation bias. An abstract quote, ripped out of context, to fit the false idea embedded in four years of manipulative propaganda from the Left, in the false belief that Donald Trump is a “Fascist, Nazi, Racist” and worse.

This was best expressed today by ACL director, Martyn Isles’ in his apt conclusion

‘[Trump] said the three words, “fight like hell” in one Tweet about opposing electoral fraud, they say he directly incited an insurrection. That is deliberately one-eyed and unfair, and clearly not his intent. He was certainly unpresidential, but you can’t ban a bloke for that.’

Second, we witnessed the public execution of a private business, when a monopoly of business competitors entertaining industrial espionage denied Parler’s right to trade, exist, create, and compete.

All seemingly for the sole purpose of squeezing more political leverage from the 2020 election, for the lifeless Democrat campaign which was only kept alive because Big Tech, and Big Media ran interference for the Democrat Left, behind the justification that they were stopping misinformation.

Then there’s the Left’s dissonance and double speak.

Those defending Twitter’s right as a private business to operate as a private business, by permanently banning the President, justify the execution of Parler, also a private business, but apparently denied the same rights and responsibilities, for refusing to comply with the well-financed, and powerful Leftist hegemony.

Further to this is the standard being communicated, which I think both sides would agree on, if the reasoning here is properly understood.

If Twitter and Facebook can decline service to customers based on private convictions or conscientious objections, Christian businesses and professionals should be LEFT ALONE TO do the same.

If the argument in defence of Twitter extends to Christian florists, bakeries, school, Churches, and NGO’s, we should now expect permission for those entities to have the full ability to politely decline to bake or service an LGBTQAAI+ wedding, or employ anyone who is not in agreement with the ethos, and values of those entities.

If Jack Dorsey’s Twitter can deny service to a customer on the grounds of “it’s a private business”, “he’s acting on” conscience and convictions, Christian businesses who offer a respectful and reasoned disagreement with SSM, the practice of homosexuality, and the rising authoritarian ideology associated with it, should by rights, also be able to do the same.

The big difference being that most of these Christian businesses aren’t power drunk entities, crushing competition by way of bearing false witness, or cancelling those they disagree with.

From the growing list of court cases against Christian businesses from LGBTQAAI+ lawfare groups, more often it’s the other way around.

Proof that for most people aligned with the Radical Left, force and duress, are now not just a way of life, but inform the implementation of fundamentalist, Cultural Marxist policies.

If worse is to come from a society divided into oppressed and oppressor by a Radical Leftist horde, it won’t be because of Donald Trump.

If worse is to come, it will because discerning voters are fed up with the Left’s “you are what we say you are”, now “fall in, line up, goose step in unison, salute or else!”

Blatant double standards, dehumanising pejoratives, self-centred politics, and hypocrisy are not conducive to “unity and healing.”

Gagging freedom of speech, hijacking private businesses, policing thought, bearing false witness, and enforcing new cultural laws; all of it is yet another reminder that for the past four years at least, the real oppressors have been masquerading as the oppressed.

It’s a zero-sum game. They know it, and the only winners are those who submit, are willing to revise history, denounce their neighbour, and renounce their faith in the One who reveals Himself in Covenant and in Christ.

If civil unrest, or God forbid, a Civil War erupts in the West, let the record show that it was the Radical Left who fired the first shot.

To quote British Theologian, John Stott:

‘Freedom is much misunderstood. Even those who talk loudest and longest about freedom have not always paused first to define what they are talking about.

A notable example is the Marxist orator who was waxing eloquent on the street corner about the freedom we would enjoy after the revolution.

“When we get freedom,” he cried, “you’ll be able to smoke cigars like that,” pointing at an opulent gentleman walking by. “I prefer my cigarettes,” shouted a heckler.

“When we get freedom,” the Marxist continued, ignoring the interruption and warning to his theme, “you’ll all be able to drive in cars like that,” pointing to a sumptuous Mercedes which was driving by.

“I prefer my bike,” shouted the heckler. And so the dialogue continued until the Marxist could bear his tormentor no longer. Turning on him, he said: “When we get freedom, you’ll do what you’re told!”


First published on Caldron Pool, 12th January, 2021.

©Rod Lampard, 2021.

Advocates for Julian Assange are calling on President Donald Trump to pardon the besieged Wikileaks founder before Assange-hating Leftists are inaugurated back into the White House in January.

The Wikileaks founder is facing extradition from Britain and over 100 years in prison for playing a role in publishing compromising Pentagon documents on [the Deep State’s – as some would argue] ‘misconduct’ during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. (Swedish rape charges brought against Assange in 2017 were dropped in 2019 due to ‘a weakening of evidence.’)

Assange is disliked by career politicians on both sides of the political aisle.

None so vengeful as The Democrats because Wikileaks published Clinton campaign emails during the 2016 election, which is said to have won Donald Trump the unwinnable election.

Meeting with Assange in February this year, Senator Andrew Wilkie and M.P George Christensen, dubbed by the ABC’s Fran Kelly as an ‘odd couple’, have been spear heading a high-level political advocacy group in favour of Assange’s release.

Wilkie, himself a “whistleblower” (knighted as such by veteran journalist, Laurie Oakes, legacy media and academia), was a Government analyst who resigned, and publicly challenged the legitimate allegations about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

For Wilkie, Assange is innocent.

The charges in the U.S are based on allegations which claim that Wikileaks endangered Americans. However, “no one has been able to point to where National Security was compromised, hurt or put a risk by Wikileaks.”

In regards to the Clintons, Wilkie said, “I don’t like Trump, and would have preferred Hillary win, but if we are to really argue that Wikileaks is a journalistic organisation, [we have to look at whether or not they] released material without fear or favour.”

Wilkie told Fran Kelly, Assange “did the right thing” by acting in the “public interest.”

Wilkie and Christensen’s 11 member, Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Friends Group was formally approved by both the Australian Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives in October 2019.

According to a February 2020 article in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘apart from Mr Christensen [the case to free Assange] has no other government members. Both the Coalition and Labor have been reluctant to voice public support for the Australian activist.’

In consideration of the gathering shadows drooling with anticipation at an approaching Biden presidency, Christensen has stepped up his advocacy for Assange by publicly asking President Donald Trump to pardon Assange.

Posting on Facebook, George Christensen upped the ante:

‘How to annoy Killary.

1. Go to www.PardonJulianAssange.com or www.georgechristensen.com.au/pardon-julian-assange

2. Send a message to Donald J. Trump

asking him to pardon Julian Assange.

3. Remember that Jeffery Epstein didn’t kill himself.

In an exclusive for Sky News, Christensen explained,

“Assange has been a target of the Democrats. You hear a lot of lefties suggesting this is Donald Trump’s war on Assange. It’s anything but. It was started under the Obama administration. Hillary Clinton hates his guts obviously for exposing who the real Hillary was. You’ve had a war on Assange by the Democrats and the Deep State ever since. Joe Biden called Assange a criminal, a high-tech terrorist. [Pardoning Assange] is one way that Donald Trump can stand up for free speech. He’s been a big fighter on that his whole presidency, and against the Cancel Culture ideology of the Left. I think this is one way he can stand up once again and show that he is that defender of freedom of speech.”

Citing well-reasoned broad concerns about voting irregularities, and evidence of electoral fraud, he added,

“…the same people who’ve wanted Trump our of office, are the same people who’ve waged war on Julian Assange. They want to lock him up to rot in a gaol cell. [Pardoning Assange] is way that Trump can ensure that free speech is protected.”

It might not be a matter of will Donald Trump pardon Julian Assange, but a matter of does he have the time to do so.

After the November election saw the Democrats take power through questionable means in four key states, Trump has had his hands full trying to preserve the Union alongside states who upheld their end of the constitution.

As noted by Fran Kelly, not everyone agrees that Assange should be acquitted on the grounds of freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

Wikileaks pioneered replacement media and were first on the field in the fight for truth against falsehood, and they’re hounded by Cancel Culture, and a political class whose wealth and dynasties are built on the backs of tax payers, smiles, lies and hi-fives.

If the hate-Trump/loves-trumps-hate, anti-Assange Democrats get their way, as four years of division, violence and threats of revolution seem to have afforded them, like a large portion of America and the free world, Trump may be Assange’s last hope in securing freedom.

You can send a resolute message to the political class and legacy media by clicking here to sign George Christensen’s petition asking for President Donald Trump to pardon Julian Assange.


First published on Caldron Pool, 14th December, 2020.

©Rod Lampard, 2020.

Technocrats at Google have silenced YouTube users and content providers, after it surrendered to an avalanche of Leftist demands for the “free speech” platform to enforce “right-think” and “right-speak” about the recent U.S election.

In early November the NBC reported that YouTube was holding firm, and staring down ‘growing criticism’ for allowing boisterous disagreement and analysis.

According to the NBC, ‘YouTube wanted to give users room for “discussion of election results,” even when that discussion is based on debunked information.’

Fast forward to December and YouTube has given in to the pressure, now determining to censure any thought, or spoken word that challenges the election result, the pure farce that is the office of “President elect,” and election fraud.

The New York Times, not without smug adulation for the ‘reversal’ noted that YouTube have decided to backflip on its steadfast decision because it wanted to stamp out ‘misleading information’ and ‘false claims.’

YouTube defended both it’s decision to hold out against criticism for so long, and for its capitulation, saying, in essence, “we’ve let people have had their say. Since a large portion of states of ‘certified their results,’ fraud or no fraud, it’s now time to move on, surrender, and acknowledge Joe Biden’s, legit or not, ascendency to the throne.” (paraphrased from the NYT)

The anti-freedom of speech about-face is a complete 180 from YouTube’s previous policy which allowed commentary on the 2016 election loss by Hilary Clinton to Donald Trump. The most notable of which was Leftist commentary, and false claims about concretely debunked Russian collusion.

With YouTube’s capitulation, Big Tech appears to be moving further towards a system of indoctrination which resembles the one used by the Chinese Communist Party, who, through the inherent Marxist culture of suspicion, with the power of mass surveillance and its Golden Shield firewall, controls how Chinese people use the internet; what citizens see, search, hear, read, or learn.

YouTube’s decision to censure the expression of dissent, analysis and information further reveals the hypocrisy and bias already entrenched in the Technocrat’s billion dollar playground.

They wanted to stop interference in the election, but played election interference for the Democrats.

They were quick to censure President Trump and block reasoned, commentary on COVID-19 treatments, but allowed the CCP’s Lijian Zhao to keep up a tweet falsely depicting an Australian soldier slicing the throat of an Afghan child.

If this image isn’t punishable under Big Tech’s Eula regarding “misleading information” or “hate speech” what is?

Zhao’s false, offensive tweet was posted in November, 30th. It’s still active, hasn’t been fact checked, or tagged. Neither has the account been suspended, and reports to Twitter about it have gone unanswered.

The lack of action taken against Lijian’s false and misleading tweet, strongly indicates that Big Tech globalists are in bed with the CCP.

And like the CCP, they’re now blocking and censuring any content which questions the ideological paradigm.

It would appear that the insidiously wealthy Technocrats of Silicon Valley don’t want you to disagree or question the narrative.

Blocking questions, analysis and opinion about the U.S election is equal to them participating in a cover-up.

It’s worth pondering:

Why would technocrats silence dissent, analysis, free and open debate, if the alleged Democrat “win” was legal?


First published on Caldron Pool, 11th December 2020.

©Rod Lampard, 2020.

Two Drag Queens are demanding that former ACL director, turned author and social commentator, Lyle Shelton hand over $20,000, an apology and agree to (or potentially have imposed on him by the courts), a permanent gag order prohibiting him from participating in open and free public debate about LGBTQAII+ ideology, specifically drag queen’s reading, preforming and teaching Children in public libraries.

According to a list of grievances filed by the complainants, Shelton allegedly made a serious of insulting slurs that “inferred” falsehoods,  “incited hate,” and “implied” misrepresentations of the individuals involved.

Shelton’s accusers referred back to examples from his blog and the Dave Pellowe show highlighting statements such as, “Drag queens are not for kids”, “Drag queens , and what they represent are not for kids”, and the truism (ironically exhibited by the belligerent, highly subjective Valkyrie and Hill lawsuit against Lyle) that “LGBTQAA+ activists are hell bent on trashing the purity and innocence of the next generation.”

In sum, under the guise of “incitement to hatred” and discrimination, Shelton has basically been accused of hurting the feelings of Johnny Valkyrie, Dwayne Hill, and therefore to entire the LGBTQAAI+ community, simply for expressing a well-reasoned opinion.

Author, and Caldron Pool contributor, Bill Muehlenberg argued that Lyle’s lawsuit is one case in a growing sea of litigation rising up against anyone who questions LGBTQAAI+ ideology and the ‘pink fascism’ behind it.

Stating,

‘This will not stop any time soon. Indeed, it will simply get worse. The more wins the activists get, the more emboldened they are to go after others. This will NOT stop until all opposition, all resistance and all criticism is finally silenced.

Their endgame has always been about the total muzzling of any and all opponents to their agenda. They will never be content until every last individual, organisation and church is forever shut down or banned from speaking out. That is always what they have been aiming for.’

Muehlenberg said that no one is safe from the ‘unrelenting homosexual juggernaut which seeks to crush everything in its path’; the downgrade of marriage, and legal execution that asserts minority rights over against hard won and fought for freedoms and individual responsibilities connected to those freedoms. Such as ‘freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience would all be under threat.’

Today, Shelton responded to a pro-free speech article discussing his case in the Sunday Mail, saying that ‘the freedom of every Australian is on trial. I will not be granting their demands. For to do so would surrender the freedom of speech of all Australians.’

Citing the recent High Court ruling in the U.K, which unwaveringly scolded prescribing puberty-blocking drugs to children under 16, he added,

‘at stake is the freedom of parents to critique and debate the demands for influence on their children coming from an aggressive rainbow political movement. I have done none nothing wrong. You and I should be allowed to think and speak about the issues that arise from placing LGBTIQA+ gender-fluid and adult entertainer role models in front of children in public libraries.’

One needs only to recall how popular lobotomies once was, and the victims left in its wake, to see how right both Lyle and Bill have been so far with their fair warnings about the irreversible damage done to society, families, and Classical Liberal freedoms through the weaponization of “rights,” and the emotional manipulation inherent in the false doctrine “love is love.”

This LGBTQAAI+ open season on Christians, and subsequent lawfare from activists with an easy buck fixed in their eyes, is another example from the Left of fascism proper.

It’s corporate sponsored imposition of new cultural laws, demands for blind allegiance, and thievery of freedoms are a destabilizing force that proves a “no” to SSM was (and still is) a “yes” to freedom, not a denial of it.


First published on Caldron Pool, 7th December, 2020.

©Rod Lampard, 2020.

In another major win against fake news, The Washington Post has settled with Covington School boy, Nick Sandmann.

The original lawsuit against WaPo was dismissed last August after a Federal judge ruled that the Washington Post hadn’t slandered Sandmann in its reporting of the infamous, so-called racist “standoff” between himself and Native American, Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Sandmann’s win, announced on Twitter yesterday, follows an ‘amendment complaint’ which was put forward in October last year. According to USA Today, upon review ‘out of 33 statements 3 required further review’, allowing ‘a portion of the lawsuit to proceed.’ The primary concern among these was that The Washington Post had jumped to conclusions, smearing Sandmann’s character by ‘conveying’ that he was ‘engaged in racist conduct.’

The settlement leaves no doubt that Sandmann and other Covington students were the victims of malicious mass media harassment. CNN, The Washington Post and other major outlets set the narrative in stone.

Take a quick read of comments left on Sandmann’s Twitter announcement. In amongst the encouragement, it’s easy to find evidence that the MSM’s “you’re a MAGA racist” tag stuck.

One anonymous user commented, ‘Why don’t you split [the] settlement with the tribal elder you disrespected?’ Another claimed, ‘Millions of us also saw exactly what you were doing, kid. Your privileged smirk was unmistakable. You should be ashamed. We saw what we saw.’

These comments were joined by  one person claiming that ‘whenever an employer looks up your name they will see that you’re an awful person. Congrats!’

With another person stating out right, ‘You’re still a white supremacist, no matter how many lawsuits you file.’

The settlements infer guilt. The nefarious, Leftist radioactive mud still being thrown at the Covington Student/s reveal a special degree of Twitter stupidity. Sandmann’s Twitter trolls have missed the fact that two major news publications have come to a settlement with Sandmann because they lied, slandered him, and know they’d lose BIG in court because of it. People still defaming him on social media, based on what the producers of fake news are admitting was fake news, isn’t courage, it’s openly asinine.

They resemble – leaped before they looked – comments from celebrities such as Kathy Griffin, who openly called for the Covington School Boys to be doxed. The MAGA hating “star’s” expletive tweet demanding that the boys be ‘named’ in order to shame them’ is yet to be deleted nor has Griffin issued a public apology.

Add to this list, former CNN host, Reza Aslan’s now deleted post from January 20th 2019, which read: “Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s?”

If someone were to collate all the slander/libel thrown Sandmann’s way on Twitter. Given his current score, Sandmann would be a trillionaire in no time. This might explain his cryptic ‘Don’t hold your breath, Jack’, tagline to Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey.

As I said in January, this settlement isn’t just a win for Nick. This is a win against the Leftist funded, political and academic establishment. Hope is seeded here. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the most well-known political prisoners the Nazis imprisoned, and executed, once said “the only fight which is lost, is that which we give up.” [i]

Nicholas’ fight is our fight. It isn’t a hill to practice “losing gracefully” on.


References:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D. cited by Bethge, E. 2000. Bonhoeffer: A Biography. Fortress Press, (p.907)

First Published on Caldron Pool, 26th July 2020.

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2020.

 

George Soros sent in a brief letter to the Financial Times, calling for the removal of Facebook’s CEO and COO, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Soros claims that Zuckerberg, who hasn’t followed Twitter in banning all political advertising, is helping Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign in a ‘kind of mutual assistance arrangement with D.T.’ Soros goes on to demand Facebook take action stating, ‘Mark Zuckerberg should be removed from control of Facebook.’

The F.T. posted a copy and paste transcript of Soros’ proposition yesterday. Notably absent from the article was the lack of an introduction, and commentary from FT staff. The transcript was also published without any screenshot, or scanned image of the actual letter, which is strange for publishers who desire to maintain a rigorous level of journalism. Not validating the source of the original letter, casts doubt on its authenticity. However, if urban legend about the power of George Soros is to be believed, it’s possible this is how he intended it, and is exactly how he wanted the letter to be presented.

This isn’t the first time Soros has gone public with his desire to see the current leadership of Facebook face the business world equivalent of a firing squad.

He penned an article for the New York Times, published on the 31st January, arguing that Zuckerberg is engaged in a quid pro quo deal with Trump. As Soros sees it: the deal involves Trump protecting Facebook from government control, and in return Zuckerberg helps get Trump re-elected in 2020.

As evidence (and it’s flimsy), Soros went back to 2016, saying that ‘Facebook provided the Trump campaign with embedded staff who helped to optimize its advertising program. (Doing what Hilary Clinton’s election team declined to do).’ According to Soros, ‘Facebook gave Trump an edge, marking the beginning of a special relationship.’ He then stated that a recent meeting between Trump and Zuckerberg, ‘raised serious questions’.

The billionaire also accused Zuckerberg of only wanting to make a profit. Claiming that under Zuckerberg’s leadership Facebook was only about ‘making money’, not caring about ‘inflammatory and false content, and failing to adequately punish those who spread false information – nor does the company warn those who are exposed to lies.’

Note that Soros never mentions Facebook’s existing fact checking mechanisms when he claims Facebook isn’t doing them. Neither does Soros provide adequate examples or definitions of the terms he’s using. Perhaps what Soros means is that Facebook isn’t fact checking and blocking content that challenges his ideology, or content that he might arbitrarily consider to be false, hateful, phobic, bigoted etc.

The whole thing reeks of desperation. It’s an anti-Trump political manoeuvre. It has little to do with Facebook, and more to do with Soros’ unresolved issues over Hilary Clinton losing what was considered to be an unlosable election. If anything raises serious questions, it’s his inquisition of Trump and Zuckerberg. When a billionaire such as Soros cries victim wisdom should prompt us to ask why. There’s no doubt Soros lost money, and a special level of power because of Clinton’s election loss.

Trump isn’t protecting Facebook, Zuckerberg is. The CEO is doing what he’s paid to do. He is acting in the best interests of his customers, and company, not power-hungry would-be overlords, who think the world owes total allegiance to them, and their ideology.

Soros’ bizarre fiat shows that Zuckerberg is on the right track. This is probably why Soros wants his head. Zuckerberg is no longer buying what Soros is selling. Take for instance, Zuckerberg’s recent defence of free speech and the reforms he’s attempted to implement. They protect Facebook from the Left’s creeping arbitrary control of free speech, by labelling all opposing viewpoints as “hate speech”. Add to this the Left’s creeping arbitrary control over who is good and who is evil.

Zuckerberg appears to be diverging from the pre-approved narrative of leftism, and their zero-sum practice of achieving political goals, which only serve the interests of those who advocate political correctness, abortion, euthanasia, open borders, the imposition of new cultural laws via the LGBT religion, policing speech, thought and undermining the Biblical Christian foundation of Western Civilisation et.al.

As a result of Zuckerberg’s pro-free speech reform, Soros has called for a mutiny at Facebook. Instead of entering into a dialogue with Zuckerberg, Soros has gone behind his back in an attempt to remove him by proxy. One should ask, how this is not another coup attempt, in line with the now proven, Russian Collision hoax, and lies surrounding the attempt to impeach Trump. Soros, it would appear, is on the war path, and is seeking to take command of what he deems to be his enemy’s central communications hub.

Soros’ arrogance in presuming to control what happens at Facebook, must be blinding him to how much his reasoning and persistent demands here, confirm what many have suspected. That a) He’s too close to the Clinton’s b) He has far too much power and reach c) He funds Leftist divisive politics. Soros deliberately trying to undermine the CEO of an independent company, potentially putting that company and its employees at risk, would be enough evidence to support this.

Ironically, regardless of whether Facebook removes its CEO and COO under Soros-fiat, what he has achieved here is the opposite of what he intended. Soros has negated his questionable accusations against Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg by exposing himself as the real villain; a divisive manipulator, stamping up and down in frustration because he and others like him didn’t get their own way in October 2016. An event that, despite the lies, false accusations and hostile, undemocratic interference, coming from Soros’ own side of politics, looks set to, thankfully, repeat itself again in October, 2020.


References:

See hyperlinks embedded within the article.

First published on Caldron Pool, 19th February, 2020.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2020.

The line between inciting hate or violence and informing others about that hate and violence is being blurred.

Facebook’s recent heavy-handed actions against Caldron Pool, and Caldron Pool contributor, Evelyn Rae, suggest that the social media platform is happy to unfairly conflate reporting or fair criticism of an event with endorsement of that event. Rae was given a 13 day ban, restricting posts from her Facebook page appearing in newsfeeds because she shared a screenshot of another person’s tweet for people to comment on. Caldron Pool experienced similar censorship after posting an article reporting on ‘Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, who had executed two Christian aid workers.’ The post was removed. Then restored on appeal, but the restrictions we left in place.

There’s a difference between advocacy and commentary.

If we apply descriptive and prescriptive linguistics to how news worthy events or commentary are presented, we can see that companies like Facebook will inevitably hurt their customer base, because they continue to blur the descriptive and the prescriptive, rather than hold them in tension.

Descriptive is freelance, risky. Prescriptive tells everyone exactly what to do and when. The failure to determine who is saying what, and why, will mean that the prescriptive parameters of speech shut down all descriptive aspects of speech and vice versa. In short, this failure kills freedom of speech and with it constitutional democracy.

Rather than being a paradox of contrasting terms, the descriptive and prescriptive can be viewed as dialectical. There is a relationship between the two. Think of it as a dynamic, dialectic linguistic muscle which moves the limbs of thought and communication forward. This relational dialectic is exemplified by feedback.

Feedback consists of both positive and negative communication. Each serves a unique purpose in evaluating information and data. Without the positive and negative, feedback is pointless. Likewise, without the descriptive process there is no freedom to communicate. Without the prescriptive process, we have no idea how to communicate.

Without the working connectivity of this relational dialectic, conflicting viewpoints have no platform. Feedback has no real role to play other than what it is allowed to be channelled into cheap echo chambers. As a result, freedom of speech either ends up adrift in a sea of discordant noise, or it becomes stuck in the paralysing quagmire of political correctness and identity politics.

We end up with what Chantal Mouffe, in The Democratic Paradox (2005), called a ‘third way’, a ‘one dimensional world’ where the ‘blurring of the frontiers between Left and Right, jeopardise the future of democracy’. This is because of an aversion to freedom of thought and freedom of speech. An aversion played out through a fear of losing, a fear of conflict, fear of people being able to discriminate and choose between two competing ideas. This would include a fear of free speech because of insecurity, and the overbearing, unachievable quest for absolute equality.

Political opponents are no longer friendly adversaries, but are pitted against each other as bitter enemies.

Constitutional Democracy ends up like a ship that’s lost its ability to move – fodder for jagged rocks; the play toy of manipulative propagandists, the progenitors of totalitarianism, and their progeny: lies, confusion and powerlessness.

There is no push and pull; no dialectic muscle to empower Mouffe’s idea of classical liberal democracy, where friendly adversaries negotiate, disagree, are diplomatic, and apply temporary compromise under the banner of unity in diversity.

According to Mouffe, the future of ‘modern democracy lies in the recognition and legitimation of conflict, along with the refusal to suppress it by imposing an authoritarian order. It’s strength lies in its ability to replace antagonism (intense dislike and deep seated hostility) with agonism (positive struggle; constructive conflict).’

For Mouffe, ‘conflict need not involve the identification of an enemy whom one wants to destroy; conflict between adversaries who may disagree can exist, but ultimately they respect one another’s right to exist.’ Bitter political enemies are ‘no longer perceived as an enemy to be destroyed, but as an ‘adversary’, that is somebody whose ideas we combat but whose right to defend those ideas we do not put into question.’ [i]

The dialectic muscle that is push and pull, allows us to hear different perspectives, formulate an opinion for ourselves, and freely communicate that opinion in a way that others can understand it. This dialectic muscle is a vital muscle for the body politic. Communication as descriptive and prescriptive dialectic, are good for constitutional democracy. They are the ingredients necessary for freedom of speech to function properly.

Social media platforms must embrace this relational dialectic by seeing that there’s a difference between describing and prescribing; the difference between commenting on events or ideas, and using those events or ideas to ‘incite violence or risk imminent harm.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg broke with the norm this week. Standing up and speaking out in favour of freedom of speech, the CEO outlined how one of his biggest challenges at Facebook was finding an answer to policing freedom of expression, while ensuring such an action doesn’t hurt freedom of expression.

Describing how difficult this is, he said “some people think our policies don’t prohibit content they think qualifies as hate, while others think what we take down should be a protected form of expression. This area is one of the hardest to get right.”

He expressed concern about ‘polarization’, saying that Facebook ‘has an important role in designing their systems to show a diversity of ideas and not encourage polarizing content.’

Zuckerberg believes that Facebook has two responsibilities in this regard: First, ‘to remove content when it could cause real danger as effectively as we can, and second, to fight to uphold as wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible — and not allow the definition of what is considered dangerous to expand beyond what is absolutely necessary.’

He said that he believed “people should be able to use our services to discuss issues they feel strongly about — from religion and immigration to foreign policy and crime. You should even be able to be critical of groups without dehumanizing them.” He also admitted that Facebook makes “enforcement mistakes” because judging who is saying what and why, “isn’t always straight-forward.”

Pointing to precedents in the United States, the Facebook CEO said, he wants to uphold broad speech rights, stating: “I know many people disagree, but, in general, I don’t think it’s right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy.”

Zuckerberg rightly stated that “while he worries about an erosion of truth, and that he doesn’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100% true.”

His quest is to leave a legacy that protects freedom of speech. In doing so he said part of the process is keeping Facebook free of fake accounts, malicious entities exploiting the platform with dubious money making scams, and removing deliberate misinformation that could lead to someone taking hazardous advice.

Part of his concern is the increasing restrictions on free speech in other countries. For example, China’s exporting of their vision of the internet, which suppresses dissent, monitors users speech and determines what kind of speech is allowed.

For me, outside his reliance on the term hate speech and polarization, Zuckerberg’s speech hit the right notes. He says a lot of the right things when it comes to putting in place protections for freedom of speech on the platform, but as with a lot of promising talk, actions speak louder than words.

I was both impressed and surprised by his stance on China, and encouraged by how he acknowledged the importance of preserving freedom of speech and its important role in a vibrant constitutional democracy.

Mennonite theologian, John Howard Yoder wrote, ‘democracy, with its judicial and constitutional processes can be essentially defined as communication.’ [ii]

The danger to constitutional democracy is the undermining of this ability to communicate freely. Free speech is let down through a failure to recognise the distinction between advocacy and commentary; the failure to acknowledge the relational push and pull dialectic of prescriptive and descriptive.

Failure to acknowledge the relational dialectic undermines free speech by emphasising prescriptive speech over the descriptive, or vice versa. This happens through the quest to control others by imposing new cultural laws on the body politic, such as anything not viewed as politically correct, being far too easily hated on, as hate speech.

We’re already see this when political groups, a lot like China’s vision for the internet, prescribe politically correct speech as the only legitimate speech. Nowhere is this more powerfully seen than in forced speech laws regarding Islam, transgenderism, or the LGBT religion in general.

The relational dialectic of push and pull has the power to preserve constitutional democracy, through agreement and disagreement. Just as tension in a muscle is necessary to ensure motion, so is the necessity to have a platform or open forum, where ideas can be aired, challenged and either adopted or reasonably rejected. All of which is built on mutual respect, not necessarily on an obligation to mutual agreement.

Zuckerberg’s concern about polarization places him in agreement with Mouffe’s argument. The preservation of constitutional democracy lies with an effort to utilise constitutional democracy’s capacity to replace antagonism (intense dislike and deep seated hostility) with agonism (positive struggle; constructive conflict).

Freedom of speech is the great relational dialectic muscle of constitutional democracy. Its push and pull gives constitutional democracy momentum. Only through its preservation, and the exercise of it, will we be able to move forward, while also preserving healthy tradition, freedom, rights and responsibilities.

 


References:

[i] Mouffe, C. 2005. The Democratic Paradox, Verso

[ii] Yoder, J.H. 1964, The Christian Witness to the State, Herald Press.

Full transcript of Mark Zuckerberg’s Speech

First published on Caldron Pool, 23rd October 2019 & also featured on The Spectator Australia, 24th October 2019.

Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019