Sunday, 10 June 2018

Competing Forms of Fascism - Free Speech

Afternoon - Sunday, bloody Sunday as Alan Partridge once said.

When I was a teenager I remember our address receiving some politically-motivated literature through the door. Written by a gentleman operating under the non de guerre of 'Cross of St George', this pamphlet called for some measures which we could comfortably slot into the Ultra-Nationalist or Authoritarian Populist slots on the political pyramid. It was the typical dog-whistle stuff along the lines of "Britain is full, no more immigration", "kick the Pakis out" etc. I had a look at it for my own amusement and concluded that in the unlikely event that I wanted to become some sort of racist knobhead, other racist knobheads would forbid me from joining them. Excellent.

Now one of the great appeals of this kind of politics is of course that it makes people who are nasty, dumb, lazy or all of the above feel like they are being victimised or 'picked on' in some way, feeding a sort of euphoric outrage. This is enabler and feelgood politics, liberating the bad, the mad and the sad from any sense of personal responsibility for their own actions. When I watched the English Defence League demo in Preston a few years ago this vibe of unleashed inner tyrant carried a poisonous scent around the city (Unite Against Fascism, a misleading title if I've ever seen one, brought a similar toxicity all of their own). In such a climate, just about anything is justified.

With the EDL the clue was in the title - when you're defending something, any action you take is one of defence regarding either yourself or something you hold dear (i.e. your country, your race, your culture/heritage etc). At the absolute worst it is one of retaliation and, just possibly in the case of extreme violence, over-reaction. I study the Toddler Right and its multitude of logical fallacies for a reason, so when someone says "the white race is under attack" or asks the silly rhetorical "does the white race not have a right to exist?" you can work out which inner bastard they are feeding. Of course in reality only individuals have rights - races, genders and sexual orientations don't.

Anyway, back to 'Cross of St George' - one of the unpleasant aspects when I was growing up was the extent to which family members and neighbours carried varying degrees of this mob/group mentality with them. My younger brother and me were in a non-racist minority amongst our household, while sweeping generalisations about ethnic minorities were a common adolescent experience. I even remember a couple of South African families moving nearby and complaining that Indian migrants had "stolen all the jobs in Serf Afrika because they were prepared to work harder than whites". That sounds awfully like like a cue to get off your lazy arse, not wallow in a misplaced sense of grievance.

I mention all of this because the smokescreen of 'free speech advocacy' is something commonly trotted out by the Toddler Right these days, just as liberals and progressives used to when a form of 'Conservative Political Correctness' existed. What is known as PC is not something which can be attached to a single strand of political or philosophical thought - what we're really talking about is the attempt by those in possession of the ball to impose a dominant discourse on the population (be that progressive, conservative, nationalistic, whatever). Along with education and the media, the licensing of expression, the regulation of what you can and cannot think or say, is a key component.

Of course those progressives and liberals of the past have gone on to morph into what is now the Toddler Left and we can see that their agenda was not one of a free-for-all in the crucible of ideas, but the seizure of any metaphorical boot in order for it to be placed on the other foot. Orwellian 'Hate Crimes' legislation, non-platforming of some rather tame and moderate speakers at Universities, the tarring and feathering of anybody who dares to defy conventional wisdom as a racist/sexist/homophobic etc. This very real grievance of 'free speech' was simply a legitimising vehicle, one that obscured their wider and altogether more pernicious aims. I'll return to that later.

Now it's worth asking what exactly Free Speech really is so we are on the same page, although as is the case with most modes of philosophy or thought the argument exists on two levels, the second of which should really filter out us 'crucible of ideas' junkies from those pursuing freedom of expression solely for their own side. A sensible enough definition is the right to hold and express any view of the world, right up to the point at which it starts to transmit direct lies about another person or advocate criminality against them. So (for example) merely being 'a bit of a racist' is absolutely fine (at least legally) while slander/libel or inciting "a few kickings" is absolutely not. Simples.

But then there's the next level - what else is free speech not, in addition to what I've just outlined above? Well free speech is not diplomatic immunity from challenge, criticism, ridicule or the wider social consequences of what you've said. It is not the right for your views (and by extension, your person) to be afforded respect or discussed as if they were of equal merit to all other opinions on the same topic. Nor is it the right to a speaking venue in the private sphere and/or a sympathetic audience (although on the first point universities, which operate in the public sphere, are a different situation). The saying "if everybody is free then nobody is free" is a very profound one in this instance.

The thing is...what if as a private individual I am prohibited from calling out what you've just said as irrational, illogical or dangerous then cutting you out of my life altogether? What if as the owner of a private venue I was put under some sort of obligation to give you a two hour speaking platform during peak hours - and the audience had to politely applaud your every utterance, regardless of its true value? What if, as your employer, I figured that the public airing of your mad and subversive take on current events was likely to cause friction with customers, suppliers and fellow employees, but I was forbidden from sending you up the road or at least pulling you in for a quiet word?

The short answer would have anarchic levels of freedom while I would have none.

We've seen this recently with the Toddler Right, who are some of the most hysterical and hilarious snowflakes you're ever likely to come across - "people are losing their jobs for supporting us, people are being disciplined by their employers for things they've said on Twitter" etc. Now I'd like to think that most people are for freedom of expression within the parameters I outlined earlier, but if your boss isn't one of them and chooses to have a quiet word with you about your social media ramblings then, well, I'd rather he/she didn't do that but it's really their call. If you choose to then ignore that quiet word and continue down the same road then I have to say that sympathy is limited.

This issue came up when the recently departed Eric Bristow (an out-of the page Toddler Rightist if I've ever seen one) lost his job as a Sky pundit after describing the victims of paedo soccer-monster Barry Bennell as 'not proper men' and suggested that if they had been then a spot of after-the-fact vigilantism would have been the only appropriate course of action. Idiots defending Bristow and citing 'freedom of speech' were engaging in Toddlerism of the highest order, conflating the right not to be arrested for offensive expression with others' lack of a right to think of them as a tosser, or considering whether or not to employ them anymore. Freedom has to cut both ways or neither.

With the Toddler Left very much in the driving seat in this issue, we've seen some outrageous filth peddled by its supporters, celebrity cheerleaders and even public representatives over the last decade - stuff that itself could be considered bigoted and/or intolerant in its own way. That people who would have moaned about 'oppression' and 'licensed speech' themselves 50 years ago are more than happy to rally around those on their own side spewing anti-white racism and anti-male sexism in particular is illogical and absurd but not really surprising. In reality the Toddler Left never supported free speech in the genuine sense, and the Toddler Right, the next cab off the rank, doesn't support it either.

The last two Saturdays have seen marches on Downing Street and other places by those campaigning for the 'release' of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson. Now I have no time for the man or his politics and nor am I absolutely sure he is actually in prison (he may simply have gone 'off grid' and had a narrative put together for martyrdom purposes), but let's take the story at face value. Lennon/Robinson/Charlie Chaplin/whatever was imprisoned for contempt of court, having violated a reporting ban on a particularly sensitive trial while he had a suspended sentence hanging over him. Let's be clear - if this is really what happened then fair enough and no sympathy whatsoever.

However...whether or not the judge was within legal parameters to summarily send him to prison, surely anyone possessed of an antenna would know that doing so in what could later be depicted as a showtrial was a massive political own goal? Having got him bang to rights, it makes far more sense to hold proceedings in public, allow Lennon/Robinson to contest the charges (of which he was guilty based on the camera he had on his person) and leave absolutely no doubt as to who, what, when, where and how. Whether you believe the cock-up or conspiracy theory in regard to the backlash this has created is something I'll leave up to all of you as individuals. Make up your own minds.

The point is...the very worst thing you can give those with a sinister agenda of their own is something, anything which they can later distort or choose to construe as a legitimate grievance. Anyone in that circumstance can play the victim and get away with focusing solely on what they are against, when what I really want to know is what people are for. This is the true unseen beauty of genuine free speech, an almost unrestricted free-for-all in the crucible of ideas - it removes that potential for making martyrs out of morons, deprives the idiotic on all sides of the get-out-of-jail that is the 'gagged for telling the truth' card and enables their mad ideas to melt under sunlight.

Of course free speech (especially for those who disagree with you) is uncomfortable and bloody hard work - but then most things worth having tend to be.

On a brighter note, that's me done - I'll leave you with a bit of OMD and thanks for reading.

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