Free Speech is a Cultural Value

Free Speech
From XKCD

This comic is absurd but unintentionally reveals the core flaw in people who reject free speech (who may not even realize they’re doing it). I’m amazed that there are so many people who reduce it to government and laws and don’t at all consider it primarily a cultural value.

The aim for free speech is to create an environment with a trustful reputation, so over time it becomes clear that any one of us will be able to speak with each other, especially about important issues, without fear of being punished, hurt or ostracized.

The most important things to talk about are always the hardest and appear the most threatening. Talking is never violent. There is a constant danger of an insecure or fearful person resisting important conversations and avoiding conflict; that is why we focus specifically on free speech to prevent and de-escalate this issue. In one way or another, a person who wants to censor will be confronted by reality and will have to learn how to coexist, or perish. This is the ultimate truth, because censorship just hides something, it doesn’t erase something from existence. You can’t change other people’s perception or beliefs, only they can.

Influence is like water, slow, go with the flow, and responsive to what is.

Even in cases where a person is angry, spiteful, nihilistic, misanthropic in a dark toxic place, it’s important they are able to express it. So many people who are in these experiences right now are drawn to the desire and movement for censorship, distracted from the realization that they too could be self-expressive and already are. Even expressing the desire to end a conversation, drop a topic, walk away, or ultimately censor, is a form of expression. Those who call for censorship will eventually be “useful tools” and if they get what they want, they will be silenced. And since such people originated in a relatively open environment to even make their demands so loudly, the new censored environment will likely be against their needs. Repression of people being transparent, as they are, is against all human needs.

When important challenging statements are expressed through art, it’s loved by the very people who now increasingly support censorship. When expressed bluntly, it’s provocative and transparent, so will be met with resistance. But in cases where a topic is so ostracized those individuals have to hold onto that dark weight alone, they feel isolated in not realizing there are others dealing with that dark weight too, and will eventually explode and take action, expressing the most evil and corrupted form of that inner experience.

It’s a tragic irony that many of the same people who disregard this powerful cultural value, simultaneously say “art is war, art is resistance!” and supposedly encourage speaking up about THEIR OWN important issues that they claim are suppressed. But there’s yet another layer to this tragic irony- the issues people most loudly announce as suppressed are actually mainstream, as it is popular to pretend to be a victim as a strategy to get away with authoritarian power. The best of both worlds.

The underlying true desire that makes free speech a threat to them, is they want to control other people’s actions. They may not even realize the extent to which their desires are creating a fake culture, where people put on theatrical shows and monkey dances to prove their moral worthiness and conformity. Where over time the threat to autonomy and other basic human needs, the threat of ostracism, pushes people to extrinsic motivation to protect themselves. Some will rebel as their strategy, others will conform depending on personality differences and their childhood response to fear or trauma. Between these two, both lack in the courage and stability, the trust, to stand by their own convictions. In the worst cases, as intrinsic motivation is eroded and people pretend for too long, they forget what their convictions were. Their kids and grandkids slowly lose wisdom gained from past open cultures, and the society slowly kills itself off.

If you are too desperate to preserve something, you grip so tightly you smother it, and guarantee its destruction.

If someone isn’t interested in what I have to say, we discover it immediately by me being transparent. If they show me the door, especially when it’s important, I leave immediately because it’s clear I would otherwise be wasting my time. I don’t care about my reputation, especially among hostile individuals who don’t realize how much they’re creating toxic environments and taking out their own inner suffering on people who are simply different from them.

In other words, I have always been honest and transparent, and aim for the truth, because I have nothing to lose.

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