Australia looking to supress free speech
Freedom of speech is one of the most important factors of a free society. The ability to say unpopular things is essential. After all, abolition was once an unpopular thing to talk about. So was civil rights. Questioning the government regarding the Vietnam War wasn’t always a popular thing either.
In the realm of ideas, you typically have a free market. Good ideas will grown, while bad ideas die a horrible, painful death given enough time. Not always (see communism, for example), but this is how it works most of the time. Most free nations understand that. However, Australia has apparently forgotten that little tidbit:
Australian MPs have started to call for legislative powers to compel social networks to swiftly remove offensive content, after Facebook failed to act decisively to remove a page containing numerous racist stereotypes of Australian aboriginals.
Facebook initially did nothing about the page, which disappeared briefly and then resurfaced marked as “controversial humour”.
The Social Network TM made some noises about freedom of speech, which apparently allows controversial humour even if it includes hate speech. At this point in the saga Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy said he felt the page was inappropriate and should be removed.
Facebook seems to have finally done so as it became apparent the page contravened Australia’s racial discrimination laws. Controversy over the page also exploded into mainstream media. Australia’s media regulator and Racial Discrimination Commissioner are both looking into the incident.
Now, I’m not about to defend racism, or even hate speech itself. I think it’s absolutely ridulous and deserves to be trashed by anyone who can get their hands on it. It’s the sign of a warped mind in my opinion.
That said though, I can’t even come close to supporting this kind of tyranny over ideas. Yes, racism is horrible. The vast majority of people know this. However, when one can cast a certain type of speech as “hate speech,” it’s not overly difficult to see how that can be expanded. Look at how opposition to President Obama has been termed as “racism” by so many on the left, as if I needed it to be a black man for me to oppose bailouts (yes, I do understand who pushed through TARP I, but I also know how did TARP II), increased military adventurism, and the fact that Congress hasn’t passed a budget since Bush was in the White House.
Once you regulate “hate speech,” and then begin reframing things as “hate speech,” you then kill the opportunity for discussion. Take the recent mess with Chick-fil-A. Dan Cathy expressed an opinion. It’s one I happen to disagree with vehemently. However, there are those who would love to see such things cast as “hate speech” and thereby kill his right to voice his own opinion.
Here’s the thing folks. I believe Cathy is wrong. I believe that ultimately, the path of freedom will win out and somehow gays will be allowed to marry. Hopefully it’s through the state getting out of the marriage business, but it could be through other means. Regardless, I believe that a good idea will eventually win out over a bad idea. It may not, but that’s the risk we take. I can deal with that.
What I can’t deal with is the idea that in order to make our nation a good place to live, we must eliminate someone’s right to say something we don’t like. I mean, I can’t stand Justin Bieber, but that doesn’t mean we should outlaw the kid’s music.