The Real Danger Facing Freedom Of Speech

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If we do not allow offence, we stand to lose everything that makes life special. I always believed that those who advocated for freedom of speech were virtue signalling. It was a method to attract supporters. It was a method to gather views and crowds of people that mostly agree, that to limit our forms of expression is ridiculous

Then I was muted in a video game for an apparent offensive joke. Now, that in itself is not serious. After all, this happens to thousands of gamers daily. What struck me was how it was handled and the vitriol I endured as a result.

Subsequently, I made a complete 3400-word case, where I explained and argued why this should not be allowed, that can be found here.

If you want to see the depths to which humanity can sink, read the comments that I received in response to my effort. Most would think that this sort of thing is ridiculous, but they would go further and suspend someone completely if they offended them. Now, of course, after brief research and chat with those around me, I realized that this was certainly not the majority opinion.

In a Munk debate, an international platform hosted in Canada, political correctness was deemed to be not progressive by 70% of the audience.[1] A recent pew study found that more than half of South Africans support free expression.[2] In a country, apparently obsessed with racism, where unemployment and wars are trumped in the headlines by a supposed racist utterance, only 7% of South African respondents indicated that racism is the number one issue in the Republic.[3]

These issues are therefore driven by a vocal minority, which doubles down every time they can. They stream into public forums, run around with placards and signs, creating the illusion that they represent the majority, fooling politicians and businessmen at the extent of their power. But, the reality of their influence is represented in the great push back, the anti-political correctness, electoral successes of USA’s Donald Trump, UK’s Boris Johnson, Italy’s Matteo Salvini, and Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

So, you might at this point ask: why is all this important? How will this affect me? Why should I care about gamers being banned from communications? Well to put it quite simply, as someone that has extensive knowledge of the gaming world and the technologies of programming, gaming is the future. Soon, we will no longer be referring to games, but virtual worlds. We are slowly making that leap. Traveling into areas where currencies and played time in these games are becoming more and more valuable.

And in this new world, we will be governed by these same standards. In this new world, we will no longer be debating our political stances in public forums, but in guilds and chats that are provided by these virtual worlds. And do we want these vehicles of communication regulated by these social authoritarians? Do we want to constantly feel silenced, because someone, somewhere will be potentially offended by what we could have said?

Some might say that this problem is not important for the moment and to that I will always respond, why do we have to wait for the Nazis to be outside the door before we decide to act? If stealing R1000 is wrong, then stealing 1 cent is wrong as well. Of course, there is a difference, but the true danger of allowing a so-called “small” crime is that it is relative and that it can slowly grow. When it sluggishly expands, there might come a point where we don’t know the difference between R1000 and 1 cent anymore, for through the power of habit, we had become accustomed to small increases until it reached the highest peaks we thought were previously impossible. Don’t we risk by our acquiescence, approving an idea that can become difficult to defeat in the long run? Pastor Niemöller summed it up the best when he declared:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.”[4]

Therefore, I call upon everyone, to rally to the cry of freedom of speech. To defend a racist or offensive person’s right to say what he wants to, knowing that if we do not do that, the hyenas will come for us next. Like zombies, they will not be satisfied until everyone is silenced, until they have their Robespierre moment, when their heads finally arrive on the guillotine to save them from a world they have contempt for.

Allowing freedom of expression, does not imply that you have to agree with everything said. But, limiting offensive acts, wrenches something from society that is becoming more and more palpable. If we do not allow racists, how will we best their ideas? For ideas-driven into darkness will only receive room to fester. But, more importantly, if we do not allow the bad in the world, how could we possibly revere the good? In a world more and more obsessed with equality, how will we find purpose if there is no more wars to be fought? There cannot be peace without war. There cannot be happiness without unhappiness. And so, there cannot be a true and vibrant society, if we do not allow mistakes to originate.

If we do not allow offence, we stand to lose everything that makes life special.

[1] https://munkdebates.com/debates/political-correctness

[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/12/americans-more-tolerant-of-offensive-speech-than-others-in-the-world/

[3] https://irr.org.za/media/irr-poll-shows-landexpropriation-is-based-on-the-wrong-assumptions-iol

[4] Gerlach, Wolfgang.And the Witnesses were Silent: The Confessing Church and the Jews. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2000, p. 47.