You may speak freely in the asylum

August 24, 2017 § 102 Comments

In 1689, during the lifetime of John Locke, free speech meant that a member of parliament formally charged with a speech crime committed during a session of parliament had to be tried by parliament, not some other judicial body.

In 2017, free speech means that you can say anything hateful and false you want to about white people and Christians, pollute the community with despicable pornography, and commit blasphemy against Christ (but not against the false and violent religion of Islam). Yet stating facts about official victim groups in the most apologetic way possible can destroy your livelihood and turn you into a national pariah.

There are several features of free speech regimes worth collecting in one place.

  1. Free speech refers to a regime of restricted and censored speech.  Every reasonable person acknowledges that there have to be reasonable limits on speech.
  2. Free speech dishonestly frames the question of what restrictions there ought to be on speech as if it were a question of whether there ought to be restrictions on speech.
  3. This dishonesty in framing introduces instability into free speech regimes. There is nothing intrinsically incoherent about symbolic representations or slogans which refer to complex traditions. But free speech isn’t a complex tradition of what speech is acceptable; it is a simple anti-tradition which implies that restricting speech is wrong.  The configuration of empowered speech and restricted speech captured by the label “free speech” is thus mostly implicit and constantly changing.
  4. Free speech regimes have to police speech while pretending not to police speech. The result is that methods of censorship and enforcement are mostly unofficial, indirect, non-explicit, and generally sociopathic. People are regularly punished for having violated today’s nonexplicit unofficial standard some time in the past. Free speech regimes are thus intrinsically unfair.
  5. Because of their intrinsic unfairness and instability, free speech regimes create a progressive cascade.  Whatever you say today – even though it is permissible by today’s standards – might well destroy your life in the future, so you have to be constantly thinking ahead about the progressive pieties of tomorrow and adjusting your speech to accommodate those anticipated future standards.
  6. Because it is impossible for most people to maintain a complex lie over decades, the progressive cascade created by free speech regimes requires you to try to accommodate not just your speech but your internal thoughts to the anticipated inviolable progressive pieties of tomorrow.
  7. Because liberals generally don’t grasp the implications of their own ideas, the more conservative among a population of liberals attempt to fight the perversity created by a free speech regime with assertions of a right to free speech.

§ 102 Responses to You may speak freely in the asylum

  • Gary VanHorn says:

    Well said!

  • djz242013 says:

    Free speech is a great case study into the problems of liberalism itself.

    – Accusations of “inauthentic” free speech? Check
    – Constantly changing goal posts about what is and is not acceptable? Check.
    – Opposite-day syndrome, where free means restricted? Check.
    – Constant arguments about what free speech means, but no arguments about whether it is good? Check.
    – Carnage of human lives (and livelihoods)? Check.
    – Free speech for everyone, but not the oppressive Low Man? Check.
    – Assumption that all reasonable people agree about free speech? Check.
    – Widespread inability to step outside the mind-trap and see the incoherence of the idea? Check.
    – Use of the slogan as a method for fighting your enemies and gaining power? Check.

    etc.

  • What trips up many people who act in good faith is they don’t know the esoteric version the Left embraces. “Free speech for me is my right to attack anyone and everyone who disagrees with me. Free speech for you is the right to agree.”

    As usual, dealing with liberalism in good faith is a fool’s errand.

  • Hrodgar says:

    “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.”

    I used to think that this pretty much just referred to careless or excessive speech, gossip, and so on and so forth. And I still think that’s part of it, though it’s not something I’m particularly good at keeping in mind.

    But I wonder if it isn’t also an injunction against things like sticking a “free” in front of words where free can only be understood coherently by making it superfluous.

  • Step2 says:

    Zippy,
    The result is that methods of censorship and enforcement are mostly unofficial, indirect, non-explicit, and generally sociopathic.

    To the lextent those methods are mostly unofficial it is not any type of problem on liberalism’s own terms. I’ve yet to see any liberal claim speech cannot have economic or social consequences. Free speech is and has been understood as a legal reference to the government punishment of non-commercial speech. FYI until the 1950’s blasphemy laws written by the states were not effectively overruled by the First Amendment, although for twenty five years they were almost exclusively coercive threats since there hadn’t been a conviction since the 1920’s. So one of the many historical aspects of this debate is a state vs. federal approach to legal matters.

  • King Richard says:

    As has been pointed out by others, very well, “Free Speech” just means ‘I wish to say whatever I like without repercussion’. It also seems to mean, to many, ‘if I wish to say it, then it cannot be wrong’ ->’cannot be harmful’->’cannot be a sin’.
    Thus you have the break where men can say’Yes, of course pick up artists are sinful and of course their goals of seducing women into fornication are inherently evil, but their tools of deceit, manipulation, and other sins against justice and charity are perfectly acceptable if I use them on my wife to get what I want.’It is the same break in thought.
    ‘Of course gossip is wrong, but did you hear this out of context snippet of conversation that a reporter claims the pope uttered on an airplane?! I saw it on Facebook and forwarded it to my Trad friends’
    ‘Of course a young person who is called to a vocation must pursue it without delay, but I want my child to get a top-notch education and have a well-established career before they even LOOK AT the opposite sex’
    ‘Of course fighting words, shouting ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater, incitement, and such are restricted or flat-out criminal, but free speech is paramount and absolute!’
    ‘Of course my children must obey me, but I think the bishop is lax in his liturgy, so…’

  • Ian says:

    As a recovering classical liberal, I used to think that free speech had a meaning that was stable from say, the founding to roughly 1960, and would have meant something like the following: any sort of speech was permitted except for speech falling under the following exceptions: 1) speech intended to incite violence; 2) speech that was slanderous or libelous, as well as certain other types of falsehoods (e.g., the clichéd example of yelling “fire” in a crowded building when there is no fire); 3) speech that was obscene; 4) deliberately blasphemous speech (as opposed merely to speech arguing against the truth of Christianity or against Christian morality, which would be protected); 5) ‘Fighting words’.

    But this doesn’t really seem to fit with the historical record. For example, in the 19th century, there were laws against advocating polygamy (in response to Mormonism): for instance, there were laws prohibiting someone who believed that polygamy was acceptable (even if he didn’t practice it) from voting or from holding political office. Another example is the Comstock laws, which outlawed literature advocating contraception, abortion, etc.

    I haven’t found any evidence of people at the time opposing these laws on free speech grounds (I could be wrong, I’ve only done very cursory research). In general, it seems to have been widely accepted that these laws were perfectly compatible with the conception of free speech at the time.

  • TomD says:

    The only place I know of that practices absolute free speech is the Confessional itself. Consequences from speech by the penitent in the confessional are explicitly prohibited.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Even the Confessional doesn’t practice free speech; if the priest feels you’re wasting his time, trying to have a debate, or doing any of a number of other things for which the Confessional is an inappropriate venue he’ll quite happily kick you out.

  • Zippy says:

    Step2:

    You keep looking at a single photo instead of watching the video.

  • Zippy says:

    Ian:

    Yes, once you grasp that there is no stable conception of what constitutes free speech, it becomes a lot easier to see why that is the case and what it further implies.

    Otherwise the conservative mind just keeps swirling around the “but that isn’t the authentic meaning of free speech” bowl until everything it is trying to conserve gets flushed away.

  • Mike T says:

    I’d like to take a moment and remind us how ridiculous our enemies can be by pointing out a recent event:

    In order to appease SJW rioters, Charlottesville threw sheets of cloth on top of statues of historic figures claimed to be white supremacists.

    If this were 21st century Rome, it would be Christians tending to the wounds of our incompetent persecutors after they got mauled by their own lions.

  • Wow, really well said.

    Hrodgar above mentioned being accountable for our words and also said, “But I wonder if it isn’t also an injunction against things like sticking a “free” in front of words where free can only be understood coherently by making it superfluous.”

    I totally believe we will be held accountable for this sort of thing, too. It’s deception, trickery, manipulation, rhetoric. Witchcraft, in a manner of speaking. I’m sure there is great mercy too, communication is hard, intentions are not always malevolent or even aware of themselves, but yes that’s a good point.

  • Step2 says:

    Mike T,
    Fixed version:
    In order to appease their constituents who were disgusted by the terrorist murder in broad daylight by an American fascist, Charlottesville threw sheets of cloth on top of statues of historic traitors who were proven to be a rallying symbol for said fascists.

    It is one thing to say you want to remember history; you can do that with books and museums like everyone else. It is another thing to put traitors, still taking into account they surrendered honorably, literally on a pedestal in the public square. If you really wanted to heal the wounds of the Civil War, which Robert E. Lee apparently wished to do, you would stop picking at the cussed scab.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Step2,

    Yes, you would. So stop.

  • Mike T says:

    Step2,

    You didn’t fix anything. I noted the irony:

    1. We must remove the statues because racisss and feelz.
    2. We throw cloth on them.
    3. We now miss the irony that we’ve kinda made them look like KKK monuments.

    It is ridiculous no matter how you look at it. That’s why I am wondering if some trolling wasn’t involved in the internal discussions that lead to the decision.

  • T. Morris says:

    Mike T.:

    Meet the new iconoclasts. Same as the old iconoclasts.

  • Zippy says:

    We shall heal the rift between you and I by making sure that in the future there are none of you.

  • donnie says:

    If you really wanted to heal the wounds of the Civil War

    Do you mean those wounds that were healed over 100 years ago?

    If the men who actually risked their lives on the Gettysburg battlefield could come, 50 years later, and once again meet each other on that same field, and instead of trying to kill one another actually embraced each other, then what is our excuse?

  • King Richard says:

    Step2,
    You wrote,
    “… threw sheets of cloth on top of statues of historic traitors who were proven to be a rallying symbol for said fascists.”
    The American Founding Fathers?

  • Zippy says:

    I have to admit that throwing sheets over statues that (already) give progs apoplectic fits is rather funny. It would be funnier if they had white pointed hats with eye holes.

    Bonald had an interesting post on this recently.

  • Prisnell N. Egads says:

    I firmly believe that we should relabel what we stand for as “free political speech.” You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. You can’t tell someone to go out and murder someone else. But you should be able to say whatever you want, no matter how offensive, within the political realm.

  • Zippy says:

    Any attempt to demarcate between political speech and apolitical speech is futile. Politics is necessarily about a society’s conception of the good, and the good touches everything.

  • But you should be able to say whatever you want, no matter how offensive, within the political realm

    You can’t just cordon off some speech as political and act as if that category shouldn’t be regulated. What about agitating against anti-abortion laws? Calling for the king’s head, especially in time of war? Inciting peasant rebellions over taxes?

  • jon dough says:

    mobiusstrip.txt

    outstanding!

  • TomD says:

    But you should be able to say whatever you want, no matter how offensive, within the political realm.

    But don’t you see how the decision as to what “political speech” is would itself be “political speech” and therefore all speech would have to be “free”?

  • Mike T says:

    Our system obscures the fact that deciding what speech is protected and which isn’t is a political act by reducing everything about this to a question of legality before the courts.

  • Zippy says:

    Courts have to decide particular cases, by the nature of their task. So the delusion that authority can “leave people alone” has the practical effect of turning over all authority to the courts.

  • Step2 says:

    Mike T,
    The mistakes obscured the intent.

    Zippy,
    People anxious about white demographics should honor a distinct economy which was making whites a minority – which the slave economy objectively did.

  • Zippy says:

    Step2:

    I’m confused by your reply. The established population of my black brother Americans is also under pressure from mass immigration. I’ve blogged about it before.

    But in any case I don’t see how that makes throwing white sheets over confederate statues any less funny.

  • Mike T says:

    The mistakes obscured the intent.

    I don’t care about the intent. In fact, I am not even worked up about what they’re doing either way. I just think it’s really funny how it worked out. It’s the same kind of dark humor as the episode of South Park where Cartman has to be nice to Jews and he accidentally tells a Jewish kid with ADHD that he should be sent to a “concentration camp.”

  • True story,we had a bronze statue here of a goddess with some little boys around her, very revealing bit of victorian art, nudes. It wasn’t the religious right or the church ladies who objected to it at anytime in the past 100 years. It was actually the gender binary folks who recently pitched a fit. Apparently it was too graphic of a reminder that gender is not just a social construct, and so it was ruled oppressive and discriminatory towards those who prefer to believe gender is fluid.

    So when Zippy says, “Yet stating facts about official victim groups in the most apologetic way possible can destroy your livelihood and turn you into a national pariah,” it gets a bit scary because actually just your very existence becomes a threat to whatever victim group is currently feeling victimized. Your very existence becomes “speech.” You need not say a word. In fact, you can just stand there like a statue.

  • Zippy says:

    Ian wrote above:

    As a recovering classical liberal, I used to think that free speech had a meaning that was stable from say, the founding to roughly 1960, and would have meant something like the following: …

    Another way to describe the error basic to right-liberalism (in particular) is this: the right liberal or conservative mistakenly believes that liberal slogans refer to a stable, established, rich and complex tradition. This is the “authentic” meaning of the slogan, in their minds. Liberals living before, after, or even during the fleeting moment when the conception in mind held some sway, who see the slogan implying something else, are just power hungry liars, commies, leftists, rad-trads, fascists, or what have you.

    But the basic premise – that the slogan refers to an authentic stable complex and coherent tradition – is never called into question. It must not be called into question. It isn’t the nature of the conservative disposition to permit such questions.

    This then is one of the central paradoxes of liberalism as an historical force: the only people likely to question liberalism itself are non-traditional sociopaths, the very sort who are most likely to promote (the next iteration of) liberalism.

    When Larry Auster used to talk about “common sense” being the only permitted non-liberal principle — permitted precisely because it keeps the wheels from coming off without challenging liberalism itself – this is, in my view, what he was seeing. Of course the authentic conception of free speech is the common sense conception.

  • LarryDickson says:

    Again, I do not see the point of this post, unless it is to suggest that whoever is in power has the right to put arbitrary limits on the content of speech (enforced by the police, remember) in order to perpetuate its hold on power. This seems bad.

  • MT says:

    LarryDickson, that’s precisely what we have in reality.

  • Zippy says:

    LarryDickson:

    Again, the point of this post is to accurately describe a facet of reality.

  • Mike T says:

    IB,

    So when Zippy says, “Yet stating facts about official victim groups in the most apologetic way possible can destroy your livelihood and turn you into a national pariah,” it gets a bit scary because actually just your very existence becomes a threat to whatever victim group is currently feeling victimized. Your very existence becomes “speech.” You need not say a word. In fact, you can just stand there like a statue.

    And this is where the mainstream right does its most damage. They’ll acknowledge all of that damage and more, but a combination of their commitments to freedom and equality and fear of being called a bigot (by people who hate them already) will prevent them from ever supporting any legal restrictions on these people. In fact the majority will bristle at the notion of legally restraining these people at all.

    In one of the W4 echo chambers of late, the discussion went to mocking the alt-right for supporting Russia and often seeing Russia as a better hope for restoring Christendom than the liberal west. Such morons we are for thinking that Russia, hobbling along they may be, is probably still healthier than much of the West. Yet here’s an irony for you on the freedom side. Russia is very anti-homosexuality. You (IB) could go to work, make a joke about someone “acting like a queer” and no one is going to drag you to HR. If someone goes “dats inthenthitive…” no one is going to want to hear how big of a meany you are. If anyone faces retaliation it’ll probably be them, not you.

    In many ways, that proves the point Zippy has made about freedom being relative to our own desires and how they align with the will of the elites and society in general. If you’re a hardened liberal, America is a “freer country.” The more illiberal you are, the more likely you are to get by and be uncontroversial in Russia (still technically liberal, but nowhere near as much as we are).

  • Zippy says:

    insanitybytes22:

    … it gets a bit scary because actually just your very existence becomes a threat to whatever victim group is currently feeling victimized. Your very existence becomes “speech.” You need not say a word. In fact, you can just stand there like a statue.

    Your right to swing your fist ends the moment your fist touches my face. Your right to speak ends the moment your sound vibrations hit my eardrums. Your right to breathe ends the moment your oxidized air molecules hit my lungs. And your right to exist ends the moment your light waves impact with my retina.

    This is how the hammer of tolerance is forged in the furnace of liberty.

  • Mike T says:

    This is how the hammer of tolerance is forged in the furnace of liberty.

    It inculcates a mentality of self-defense against aggression which reinforces the rightness of the liberal’s actions. The new mantra “silence is violence” makes sense when you apply the logic of “your X ends where my Y begins” because under that standard the moment your action encroaches on their preferred space the standard says you’re wrong. And since you’re wrong, you’re liable for an ass kickin to make you stop. Or being shot or thrown into an oven or hit at point blank range with anti-aircraft weaponry (wouldn’t want to be eurocentric in limiting their murderous options).

  • Zippy says:

    Safe spaces which fill up all available space – and don’t include you – are the inevitable conclusion of “your right to X stops where my Y begins” logic.

  • Robert Brockman says:

    This seems to be a good time to bring up an old quote from the Man of Steel himself:

    “Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?”

    Now that we’ve dispensed with the notion that “freedom of speech” is a coherent concept, we should be sure to bring the hammer down hard to silence our enemies as soon as we get the power to do so. It’s quite obvious that they will do the same to us given the chance.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Not sure if serious?

    But, uh, just in case: the alternative to ‘freedom of speech’ isn’t ‘tyrannical oppression of expression’. In fact, the claim is that at their logical (and practical) ends those two are the same.

    Not believing in free speech doesn’t mean I think all speech should be highly regulated. In fact, I’m generally in favor of a fairly light touch, assuming an otherwise-stable State.

    Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t silence our enemies in this case. It may very well be the best thing to do. But that’s a governance decision, not a philosophical one.

  • Zippy says:

    Also it is possible that someone who says “our enemies” may be overestimating what we have in common.

  • Robert Brockman says:

    Silencing people who disagree with you is often a mistake: they might be right, and their voice and reasoning may give you vital insight which allows you to avoid making a serious error.

    Silencing your enemies is different. Speech in the hands of your enemies is just another weapon they can use to coordinate action against you or subvert your allies with lies. Refusing to silence your enemies is known as “unilateral disarmament”, the results of which are well established.

    The real problem is figuring out who your enemies are. This can be quite tricky.

  • Zippy says:

    Robert Brockman:

    The real problem is figuring out who your enemies are. This can be quite tricky.

    And your friends, for that matter.

  • Robert Brockman says:

    “Also it is possible that someone who says “our enemies” may be overestimating what we have in common.”

    It is possible, but not terribly likely. I would estimate that the set of people (and daemons, for that matter) who would harm you and your loved ones given the opportunity has considerable overlap with mine. I would also count any entities who seek to undermine Truth, Beauty, and Virtue in our society as enemies, and I expect you would as well.

    Naturally, as Christians, we would both accept that any enemy who sincerely repented of such ill intent would immediately cease to be one.
    The Man of Steel would, of course, silence repentant enemies anyway, just to be sure — a policy I (and presumably you) would not approve of.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Depends on what you mean by ‘silence’. “Go and sin no more” is best as a directive when the Church makes it easy to follow.

  • Sometimes silencing people is good, it actually promotes “free” speech. Constantly interrupting, blocking some lawful gathering, gossip, there is a whole host of behaviors that may be somewhat legal, but they inhibit speech,they aren’t moral, they are more aligned with bullying and “might makes right” than with “freedom.”

  • If we eliminate the notion of “free speech” from our legal system, what would the resulting system look like? Would it be a series of laws defining what type of speech is illegal and then everything else is unregulated (i.e. free)?

  • Hrodgar says:

    Perhaps it might look not unlike the legal codes of societies that existed before the notion of “free speech” became prominent. If you really want an answer, that would be where I would recommend looking.

  • Would you say free speech is possible and a good but it cannot be a government priority? In other words government can only tell its citizens what they are NOT allowed to do.

  • Zippy says:

    Every time authority acts, it both empowers and constrains. The constraint mode of authoritative acts can be ignored; but ignoring it doesn’t make it vanish.

  • Mike T says:

    Silencing people who disagree with you is often a mistake: they might be right, and their voice and reasoning may give you vital insight which allows you to avoid making a serious error.

    Silencing people who turn out to be right is almost invariably an actual injustice that justifies punishment for the one doing the suppressing, no matter how honest their intentions might have been. In discussing AGW, if anyone ever says “the science is settled” and advocates suppression of dissent, I simply ask them if they are prepared to be put to death by the state if the science self-corrects (as they and I both acknowledge it often does) and they are proved to have hurt tens of millions of people and used the state to suppress what turned out to be real science.

    The once or twice I’ve had to bring that argument to bear on someone, it staggers them because it lays out what is at stake with a lot of serious censorship. You silence competing theories with state force, you own the consequences that could have been avoided by reasoning together to find the truth.

  • Zippy says:

    insanitybytes22:

    Sometimes silencing people is good, it actually promotes “free” speech.

    Or, said perhaps more accurately, some amount of moderation/censorship improves discussion quality. Labeling this improvement in quality “freedom” is deceptive, since the resultant quality of the discussion is a product of how the discussion is constrained as much as it is a product of participants being empowered to make good contributions to the discussion.

    So once again we observe that “free speech” is an inherently dishonest phrasing, posing the question of what restrictions there ought to be on speech as if it were a question of whether there ought to be restrictions on speech.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Silencing people who turn out to be right is almost invariably an actual injustice that justifies punishment for the one doing the suppressing, no matter how honest their intentions might have been.

    That sounds like a load of utopian nonsense. It is inevitable that the exercise of authority by human beings will be imperfect. Deal with it.

  • T. Morris says:

    Zippy:

    That sounds like a load of utopian nonsense.

    It sounds like a load of utopian nonsense because it is. To pummel a quote from The Federalist writers, ‘we can’t always be sure persons do not advocate on the right side of a question for all the wrong reasons.’ And vice versa.

  • It would be dishonest if people think free speech” means “absolute free speech.”

  • Zippy says:

    If people mean restricted speech when they say “free speech”, the intrinsic dishonesty is manifest.

  • Mike T says:

    It is inevitable that the exercise of authority by human beings will be imperfect. Deal with it.

    I am willing to overlook imperfection. What I described in the full comment was not imperfection, but settling disputes with force, not an appropriate application of faith, reason and/or particular authority (ex a church council ruling on matters of doctrine). There is a time for the application of force on disputed matters and it is after the truth has been discovered, not in the discovery process.

  • Mike T says:

    settling disputes with force

    Settling disputes about truth

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    What I described in the full comment …

    You made a general statement which was ludicrous and utopian. No amount of other verbage thrown at the wall makes that particular statement less ludicrous and utopian.

    There is a time for the application of force on disputed matters and it is after the truth has been discovered, not in the discovery process.

    And then you follow up with additional utopian statements, topped off with a false dichotomy. (Hint: all exercises of authority have the potential to end up at “use of force” in the face of persistent defiance).

  • T. Morris says:

    Winston:

    It would be dishonest if people think free speech” means “absolute free speech.”

    The term “free speech” is inherently dishonest by virtue of the fact that ‘free speech’ means to virtually everyone ‘restricted speech.’ We argue about what and what not ought to be the proper restrictions on speech, and call the results “free speech.” Dumb!

  • But they also mean free speech in comparison to other societies. So it’s not intrinsically dishonest. You can of course choose to focus on the restriction if you feel like it.

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    But they also mean free speech in comparison to other societies.

    The word “free” is doing the same work as saying that our configuration of speech empowerments and restrictions is better than theirs. So the objection doesn’t work: “free speech” is still an intrinsically dishonest phrasing.

  • So “less restrictive” is not the same thing as “more free” in your estimation? It seems like you’re quibbling.

  • Zippy says:

    Saying that you approve of one set of restrictions versus a different set of restrictions doesn’t turn either set of objective restrictions into not-restrictions. Approving of laws doesn’t make them not-laws. Approving of customary constraints doesn’t make them not-constraints. Etc.

    Liberals insist on labeling their particular favored assertions of discriminating authority “freedom”, and this is always intrinsically dishonest.

  • Step2 says:

    MIke T,
    …I simply ask them if they are prepared to be put to death by the state if the science self-corrects…

    You know this stance also works against you, right? If just a few of the worst case scenarios are correct and the results of business as usual harm or displace hundreds of millions and cause the deaths of millions more, those issuing denials are legally responsible for those consequences.

  • Zippy says:

    Step2:

    Not to mention his assumption that the process of assigning cause – in either direction – is likely about as accurate as dart throwing monkeys covered in 30 feet of confirmation bias.

  • Zippy says:

    I’ve seen the insufferable preview of Al Gore’s new movie a couple of times now. In the preview he takes credit for “predicting” Hurricane Sandy.

    I don’t think the man has the faintest idea what an imbecile he is.

  • Mike T says:

    Step2,

    You know this stance also works against you, right?

    In theory, yes, but it was just a response to a position taken by a certain breed of more aggressive AGW activist who wants to criminalize “climate change denial.” So in that context (which I pointed) it is simply a warning that if you’re so confident that you are willing to authoritatively persecute people who don’t agree with the current state of “climate science” then you are sufficiently confident in your own authoritative declarations that you will fully bear the consequences if you’re wrong. And since that means people will be jailed, dispossessed of property and even possibly shot, you’re fine with paying the price under absolute full liability for what you arrogantly waded into.

  • Zippy says:

    FYI all, winstonscrooge’s repetitive comments are in moderation. If he says something new that hasn’t already been addressed many times, that exhibits at least some understanding of the substance of what has been argued here, and isn’t about feelings etc, I’ll consider letting it through.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    That may be a mistake. WS’s foil may be your strongest rhetorical position.

  • T. Morris says:

    I took a quick survey and concluded from the results that most [*]reasonable and moral people disagree with your singling out winstonscrooge for moderation of his comments.

    [*] I fudged a little on what the terms “reasonable” and “moral” mean for purposes of the survey.

  • Mike T says:

    California is trying to criminalize the act of not using an individual’s “preferred pronoun.”

    Proving once again that no matter where they start, as a community grows more radically committed to liberalism, they’ll start to come together as they get sucked into the singularity.

  • Zippy says:

    One thing we do owe to Rod Dreher is his pithy Law of Merited Impossibility:

    “That will never happen, and when it does you will deserve it!”

  • Paul J Cella says:

    I think this is excessively literal. Free Speech, far from being a mere slogan or abstraction, in fact stands for a lived tradition in America, of balancing public order with an instinct to let even the crank have his say, provided to says it peacefully.

    For instance, despite the popular fairy tale, Congress and the Adams administration reacted admirably to the French Revolution. The Alien and Sedition Acts demonstrate the balance I speak of: foreign agitators were hit with pretty severe sanctions, but Americans were largely permitted to speak in favor of the Jacobins and recommend their policies. The worst excess you can point to is a few rambunctious pamphleteers getting short jail sentences for sedition after a public trial and a robust legal defense. By contrast, in revolutionary France, dissent was a capital offense by secret trial in a revolutionary tribunal with no defense for the accused.

    Or again, despite what the Lost Cause revanchists would have you believe, Lincoln prosecuted amazingly few Copperheads and Confederate sympathizers. Peaceful advocacy of the Southern cause was indulged on the North.

    Or again, in the Cold War, it was almost always permitted to recommend Communism and argue publicly for it. Forbearance only ended with active conspiracies with the Soviets.

    The aspect of the American political tradition indicated by the phrase Free Speech is something to be grateful for, not denigrate.

  • Wood says:

    Paul J Cella,

    I think this is excessively literal

    I think, rather, it’s just being honest. Each example you provided included some degree of speech restriction. Isn’t it odd that paradigmatic cases of yours of free speech are actually examples of restricted speech? I imagine the ACLU could provide their paradigmatic cases of pornography, blasphemy, etc all of course with “common sense” restrictions.

    But isn’t the point that if speech isn’t really “free” then we should be honest about that, stop defending a falsehood, and think through the implications of why it isn’t free.

  • Paul J Cella says:

    Each example you provided included some degree of speech restriction.

    Of course. The idea that someone can say everything and anything without penalty is an absurdity. So when we talk about Free Speech, especially in an American context, we’re talking about a fairly unique tradition of letting even the weirdo or the crank speak. Historically, dissent has been met with severe and unjustified force. Ruthless, indefensible force. The Inquisition would have deployed nuclear weapons against the Moriscos if that tech had been available.

    But Americans are the exception in this and that tradition is our inheritance for which we should be grateful.

  • Zippy says:

    Noticing that “free speech” dishonestly frames “what” questions about restriction/punishment/sanction as if they were “whether” questions is a forbidden, heretical thought.

    It also happens to be true.

  • Zippy says:

    Also, the idea that liberal regimes tolerate heresy peacefully is laughable, once you’ve seen through the charade. Just have a look around.

  • Zippy says:

    Said still differently:

    Every society tolerates harmless cranks. No society tolerates viable heretical threats.

    The difference is in what constitutes heresy, not in whether or not cranks are tolerated.

  • Paul J Cella says:

    the idea that liberal regimes tolerate heresy peacefully is laughable

    I don’t know who made that claim, but it wasn’t me. I noted that perhaps the aboriginal “liberal” regime, Revolutionary France, subjected dissenters to execution without trial.

    Your point about the evasion from what to whether is fair; and it is certainly helpful to recapitulate things in terms of orthodoxy and heresy. Many liberals to operate on the unexamined assumption that their society has no orthodoxy, when in fact it has a rather rigid one.

    Nevertheless, Free Speech also refers to a particular heritage of thought, practice and argument in this country, which when studied with care is noteworthy more for its contrast with liberal regimes than its similarity. To this heritage Americans may justly refer to, say, rebuke the mindset that led Google to fire the engineer, or to denounce the campus communists who riot when dissenters come to speak.

  • Zippy says:

    There is no stable tradition of what constitutes orthodoxy, harmless crankdom, and heresy under free speech regimes. The idea that such a stable tradition exists is pure fantasy on the part of right liberals. The very notion of suppressing heretics is incompatible with the liberal principle of free speech, the whole point of which is question begging perpetual instability and rebellion.

    In practice “free speech” means that I get to use speech against you, and you are free to agree with me. That club you feel crashing into your skull is an unprincipled exception.

  • Paul J Cella says:

    In the event, liberals prove to be rather ruthless in their suppression of heretics, don’t they?

    But look, in 17th century England, heresy and treason were profoundly intertwined concepts; by the late 18th century, however, we can see the emergency of something new. Burke could argue publicly on behalf of Irish Catholics, Indians, rebellious Americans, and not lose his head. The embryo of what we now call “the loyal opposition” had appeared. And then, with the American election of 1800, which at times had the look of being the prelude to civil war, the opposition became the government, and despite all the bitterness, Jefferson could say, “we are all republicans, we are all federalists.”

    This idea of the loyal opposition (which is not the same as free speech but overlaps extensively with it) is not universal to man. It’s an artifact of particular people, achievements, arguments and practices. A tradition, even.

  • Zippy says:

    The idea of “loyal opposition” provides — has always provided — a way for progressives to keep the great mass of people with a conservative disposition — a disposition to conserve the status quo of their society — in a perpetual prison of dhimmitude.

    If you don’t believe that as a matter of theoretical reasoning, try an empirical approach. Ask yourself why conservatism has suffered nothing but a long string of relentless defeats for centuries, like a lifelong gambler who just can’t stop pulling the lever despite the fact that it has destroyed his life and family, leaving him destitute. Ask yourself why many conservatives celebrate it as a huge “victory” when a Bill Clinton style center-leftist gains the presidency. Ask yourself why these are the only kinds of “victories” that “loyal opposition” conservatism ever achieves.

    I’ll tell you why. It is because natural conservatives have been indoctrinated to believe in the myth of “loyal opposition”; while their erstwhile intramural enemies, the progressives, at least act as if they know better.

    Free speech is only for the superman, not the Low Man.

  • Paul J Cella says:

    I don’t think we should equate loyal opposition with conservatism, in part because I’m not convinced the latter has a stable definition anymore (if indeed it ever did). As you point out, much of the Right has found its champion in a Manhattan liberal and libertine; and made its peace with a particularly loathsome brand of identity politics after decades of criticizing that stuff.

    But I do think, as a matter of history, the loyal opposition, which is fairly unique to the Anglo-American political tradition, is a real achievement for human flourishing. Patriotic partisanship is one of the means by which, as Hamilton put in the Federalist, government by “deliberation and choice” might possibly replace government by “accident and force.”

    Of course, nothing is guaranteed; accident and force are always, as it were, banging at the door were deliberation and choice convene.

  • Zippy says:

    When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

  • For the ignorant among us: what does “dhimmitude” mean?

  • Zippy says:

    TimFinnegan:

    A tolerated non-threatening underclass. Christians in established Mohammedan countries are considered dhimmi.

  • Mike T says:

    Free speech is only for the superman, not the Low Man.

    I would say that as imperfect as it may be in the US, that that is not fair to apply here. Many a low man has been able to raise his middle finger to the establishment and declare that they will not chuck him into the oven along with the other enemies of progress by holding the first amendment in their face like a cross before a vampire. Irrespective of the merits of and problems with the first amendment, one must concede that it has proven quite valuable at ensuring that society is often incapable of arbitrarily trampling people out of emotional reasons.

    In fact, the cult of free speech is actually affecting social media across the board as at least both Twitter and Gab are finding that their respective embattled lowmen (SJWs and AltReichers respectively) are increasingly moving to “crapping on the carpet and calling it protected performance art” in terms of their speech, but their principles won’t let them clean up the mess.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    In fact, the cult of free speech is actually affecting social media across the board as at least both Twitter and Gab are finding that their respective embattled lowmen (SJWs and AltReichers respectively) are increasingly moving to “crapping on the carpet and calling it protected performance art” in terms of their speech, but their principles won’t let them clean up the mess.

    Is that supposed to constitute support for your defense of “free speech” in the previous paragraph of your comment? Is it supposed to be revelatory that one faction of liberals will often appeal to liberal principles as a way of neutering an opposing faction?

  • […] In America, everyone has the right to free chemistry.  Chemical acts express ideas, and the expression of ideas is protected under the first amendment. […]

  • Mike T says:

    Is that supposed to constitute support for your defense of “free speech” in the previous paragraph of your comment?

    I think it does a very good job of illustrating how a commitment to “free speech” very often does result in authorities committing to protecting insufferable lowmen who want to speak mainly so they can rhetorically defecate all over everything. There certainly are a number of cases where a commitment to free speech has protected people from suffering because their arguments are simply unpopular, but in practice “free speech” often ends up protecting people who should be jailed for damaging the common good deliberately.

  • Mike T says:

    Broadly speaking, what they are discovering is that there is a point where “freedom of speech” turns in on itself when discriminating authorities don’t tend to the garden by stopping certain types of speech and behaviors. Serious trolling is an example. You could also add the penchant of leftists to feel like they have a God-given right to physically impose themselves in places where they want to force change like storming a classroom and refusing to leave.

    The more committed you become to not regulating speech as opposed to a commitment to regulate it wisely, rationally and with minimal regard to emotional basketcases, the more you must naturally side with actors whose behavior is akin to “#$%%ing on the carpet and calling it performance art.” That ultimately ends up leaving the technical degree of freedom wide, but in actuality most people won’t engage in speech and such because they just don’t want to deal with it.

    You could take it a step further and say that gay pride parades are another good, extreme example. No one in their right mind would bring their family within a few city blocks of most of them. A discriminating authority might make it possible for those lowmen to engage in their debauched speech, but no one cares about the “equal rights” of the people who are forced to remove themselves from that.

    So yes, the low man is often protected by free speech in practice when the low man should rightfully be thrashed by the authorities.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Mike T, you seem to be using a different definition of ‘Low Man’ than Zippy. Yours appears to be based on social class; so the ‘Low Men’ for you are the ‘Low’ portion of the Low/High alliance in American politics. Zippy’s definition, on the other hand, appears to be a political category based on their relationship to those who wield power, specifically those whom those who wield power antagonize; e.g. kulaks. So Zippy’s ‘Low Man’ is low because he’s inhuman, and your ‘Low Man’ is part of the (lumpen)proletariat, or more broadly an active Fifth Column.

  • Zippy says:

    The Low Man is not an enemy or criminal class in some generic sense. He is a specific phenomenon of liberalism in particular.

    Liberalism proposes to be a neutral political referee among free and equal citizens. To be fully human simply is to be a politically free and equal person: all men are created equal, etc.

    In other words liberalism, under its own self-conception, cannot have mere enemies: fully human, respected, even honorable enemies. Liberalism (under its own self conception) just is neutral and fair rationality applied to politics.

    Anyone who existentially impedes liberalism is therefore not even fully human, fully homo sapien, rational animal. The Low Man, the oppressor-untermensch, is ultimately a clinical problem to be solved – a creature of irrational appetites, unreasoning prejudice, an unearned sense of entitlement, and tyranny. Liberalism has no human enemies: only problems in search of a Final Solution.

    And those who aren’t fully human have no rights.

  • TN Papist says:

    I am not sure if this has been brought up, but what are one’s responsibilities if a commenter posts something blasphemous or sacrilegious on his or her blog?

  • Rhetocrates says:

    I’m not a priest.

    I would at the very least carefully dissociate myself from said comment and possibly said commenter, and if in my judgment it’s not a lost case try to persuade said commenter toward a more Catholic-friendly position.

    I might also make it a clear, promulgated policy that anything egregiously blasphemous or sacrilegious will be removed as I see fit, with the caveat that just because something isn’t removed doesn’t mean I agree with it or even that I don’t find it blasphemous or sacrilegious.

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