By Lewis Brackpool
"Free Speech" by Newtown graffiti
The radical Left have no interest in preserving free speech and this will only backfire in the long run.
We've all heard of the phrase "freedom of speech". Whether it's being used in arguments in pubs, a group chat on WhatsApp, at church or even sitting around the dinner table, there unfortunately is a problem and it is much more compound than what people think; the radical left and some liberals have trivialised freedom of speech to push it into a grey area thereby resulting in distrust of the very concept of free speech. For everyone to understand what freedom of speech is let's break it down and look at the facts.
What is freedom of speech?
Freedom of speech by definition is the right to express one’s opinions publicly without governmental interference.
What is hate speech?
Hate speech by definition is speech, writing or nonverbal communication that attacks, threatens, or insults a person or group on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, colour, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability.
Now here is where the problem lies within the UK and parts of Europe on hate speech laws. It has now been extended to the point that insulting someone in real life, online, on a stage during a stand-up comedy show, on a WhatsApp group that gets reported and now even tweeting your own opinion can land you in prison or lead to a fine. It is evident that there are problems so here are some questions to ask yourself in order to better understand...
Firstly, what constitutes hate speech? Ask yourself that question, what offends you? Is it homophobic slander or is it particular racist words? Is it swear words or even blasphemy? The point of the answer is there is no objective definition on hate speech because everyone feels differently to different words, my tolerance of offensive speech is completely different to yours and vice versa.
Secondly, who decides on what speech is permissible? Now after understanding the first question (hopefully), the judge who decides on prosecuting someone for a supposed "hate speech crime" cannot possibly be impartial due to having their own biases, therefore creating an endless loop of subjectivity.
Here's where the tribal radical-left come in, claiming to be on the side of the "anti-racists" whilst simultaneously calling black people and other ethnic minorities "race traitors", "multi-racial white supremacists" and "coconuts" for daring to even think differently to left-wing ideologies. Despite these racist and unacceptable choice of words I do strongly believe they have the right to express and say their opinions and I will fight for that right even if I completely disagree.
I personally have faced abusive messages online by men and women saying that I'm in no position to talk about racial or female issues. I am by default now cast out of the conversation just because of my gender, race and sexuality. Because I am a straight white male I am therefore a racist & sexist by definition, which is ironically a racist and sexist claim to make. Nevertheless, it is part of freedom of speech and everyone has the right to voice their opinion no matter how disgusting or unethical it may be. A great patriot by the name of Voltaire once said "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" and I will forever work to protect that.
The additional problem is that the radical left are so keen to just silence one side of the argument, this is to avoid confrontation and civil discourse. The radical left is not interested in having open dialogue; the easy solution is to call anyone they disagree with a white supremacist or neo-Nazi fascist and they know it's damaging to anyone who is given these labels. Nevertheless, they have the freedom of expression to say and use these vulgar words and I would never advocate for someone to go to prison because of their radical use of language - unless it was to incite violence towards an individual. However, we already have laws in place to protect that. I would rather have their mind changed in the long run.
What is the solution?
More speech and less regulation. Why? - because letting the Government control what you say or think is one of the first steps towards an Orwellian society. Simple. I do sympathise with the concerns from the Left as when fringe groups use difficult subjects such as race, sexuality and gender to be nefarious towards minority groups. This is of course wrong by practice but necessary to be uncensored in order to be able to call out injustices otherwise they're left to manifest in echo chambers away from public light. By censoring fringe groups, far-Left/Right talking points and language, you are also censoring the subject that need to be addressed.
When you silence truths or opinions, be it a hate, fact or a distasteful comment, you should present your case to change someone’s mind instead of trying to silence the other person into submitting to your point. If not this will then breed resentfulness and hate groups, so in part the reason why neo-Nazis still exist is that of censorship from the Left creating echo chambers to where these bad ideas thrive.
The point of free speech is to have the ability to participate in uncomfortable conversations and come up with solutions to problems, because nobody has a monopoly on truth. Once the government can regulate speech, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, on speakers corner, at your dinner table or in church, they can set the foundations to regulate every part of your life.
Being an advocate of freedom of speech is too often conflated with being a defender of the moral implications of hateful rhetoric: the prominent examples being racism, homophobia and other types of bigotry (these are entirely separate issues that require separate conversations).
Hateful speech can be a problem. In the garden of Eden, bigots, racists and other moral snakes would be laughed out of existence for their nonsensical views, and this is why freedom of speech is important. Let there be light against all things morally bad for both sides of the political spectrum to see.
Remember freedom of speech is for the oppressed, not just the oppressor.