Monday 18 January 2021

America is the biggest threat to the West but also the last redoubt of freedom of speech


For more than thirty years America has been the biggest threat to the West by exporting political correctness but also the one country in the world that has freedom of speech.

By contrast free speech in England is a memory. It is the same on the Continent, though Eastern Europe is much freer than the West. Who would have imagined it in 1989?

Amber Rudd, the Conservative Home Secretary in England, wanted to make it an offence punishable by up to 15 years in the clink to visit an extremist site on the Internet. Just think about that.

When people like Mark Zuckerberg warned that the internet lets people live in an echo chamber I dismissed this because in the old days people took left-wing or right-wing papers. But Mr. Zuckerberg and the rest are right. The left-wing and right-wing press used to disagree on some important things but agreed on very much more, while most people in England got their news from one of two or three television channels.

John Lennon said that the difference between Harold Wilson and Edward Heath may only be an inch, but it’s the inch where we want to live. Now the internet has opened up a lot more room for discussing ideas, while there remains only an inch of opinions that are acceptable in the eyes of the traditional and big social media. 

Now the rulers of the world, the owners of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube preeminent among them, are very frightened of freedom of speech and trying to limit it. The media's job has been for a long while policing what views are permitted.

Please click on this to hear a remarkable discussion by mainstream journalists in America about how the legacy media have lost control. It's short and worth it.

Experts, so called, who were convinced that Trump won in 2016 because Russia unfairly influenced the election now complain that Russian backed media are saying that the 2020 election was rigged. It would a make a dog laugh.

There is a hashtag on Twitter calling for AfD to be banned from the site. Even the German government, no slouch when it comes to arresting people for voicing their opinions, is not sure what to think. Germany protects free speech, within rather narrow parameters, in her constitution.  

But Germany's objection is that people in California are deciding whom to censor rather than panjandrums in Europe who are in the process of bringing in the EU Digital Services Act to increase existing EU restrictions on hate speech online.

In Holland a teenage boy posted on social media a polite message saying he was opposed to building a hostel for migrants in his small town. The police came round while he was out on Saturday and told his mother to get him to take the post down.

An Englishman who tweeted that he hoped a footballer who was in a coma would die was sent to prison for two months. A man who shouted out to his MP that he was a coward was convicted of offensive behaviour. A man who filmed his pet dog giving Nazi salutes and posted a video of it online was fined £800. 

America, where free speech is guaranteed, allows people from around the world to see and write things banned elsewhere, even though Facebook and Twitter do not.

Have you noticed an increasing number of people comparing misinformation to a disease? This is the influence of the Covid-19 restrictions and augurs badly for the future.

Here is 'Phil' Howard, the director of the Oxford Internet Institute, professor of sociology, information and international affairs and author of many books on disinformation

"Platforms like Parler, TheDonald, Breitbart and Anon are like petri dishes for testing out ideas, to see what sticks. If extremist influencers see that something gets traction, they ramp it up. In the language of disease, you would say these platforms act as a vector, like a germ that carries a disease into other, more public forums."
You can read more of his ideas here, if they interest you.

Poland's often maligned government, by the way, is trying to reverse the tide. I quote Spiked.

"In December, the Polish government announced that it is to enact a law prohibiting the online censorship of its citizens. As opposed to the EU, it is therefore aiming to protect freedom of speech rather than merely appropriate the means for its further regulation. And no wonder. Poland’s prospective anti-censorship law is explicitly conceived as a bulwark against the EU’s Digital Services Act as much as Big Tech censorship in general."


1 comment:

  1. Now the rulers of the world, the owners of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube preeminent among them, are very frightened of freedom of speech and trying to limit it.

    The biggest problem in the US is conservatives who cling to the idea that private corporations like Twitter should be able to do what they like because of the sacredness of private property. It's the kind of muddle-headed thinking that makes American conservatives such a problem. In practice the tech giants control public political discourse.

    Too many American conservatives still live in the 18th century.