Seeing how my first post was in strong support of freedom of speech for everyone, even an obnoxious racist misandrist, it is only natural that I follow up by criticising freedom of speech. Nah, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Gather around and listen. I’m not really renouncing freedom of speech, just one particularly ridiculous use of free speech argument.
While I heard this argument many times before, I never imagined this stupidity could go all the way up to a US congresswoman. On October 30, 2015 I was proven wrong. Watch this episode of Real Time with Bill Maher: Overtime. Maxine Waters’ answer to the very first question is what bothers me immensely.
I love free speech a lot more than your typical regressive leftist. And I’m saying this as a leftist myself, just not the regressive kind. But even I don’t think that freedom of speech is a good answer to every question. For example, if someone asks me how much is two plus two, I think four is a much better answer than freedom of speech. And if someone says that two plus two is five, and upon being corrected goes on a rant about freedom of speech, that’s just a mindboggling level of stupidity.
I don’t know why this needs to be explained to any adult, let alone a member of US congress, but here goes.
This is what freedom of speech does:
- It protects you from censorship.
- It gives you the right to speak your mind.
This is what freedom of speech does not do:
- It does not protect you from criticism.
- It does not make the content of your free speech valid.
Why do these things need to be explained to adults? Freedom of speech gives you the right to speak your mind, in all its glorious brilliance or sheer lunacy. Some people still use that right to exhibit their lunacy. And I have freedom of speech to call these people stupid.
Early on I was on board with the Black Lives Matter. And while I may have had some minor disagreements here and there, none of that was a big deal to me. But my first major disappointment with BLM was when they decided that disrupting Bernie Sanders’ rally is a very productive thing to do that will totally advance their stated goals. That’s the same Bernie Sanders who was not afraid of being arrested for civil rights.
I admit, the question asked of Maxine was quite open-ended and there were many different ways to respond. I was not blessed with the mutant superpower of mind-reading. But I will venture a guess that the questioner wasn’t really asking if BLM activists have freedom of speech. More likely, he wanted to know if in Maxine’s opinion, throwing temper tantrums at Bernie and Hillary is a very productive use of freedom of speech. But she decided to answer the easy question instead.
As a rule of thumb, when someone respond to any criticism of their opinions with the rant about right to have your own opinion and express it, you know those opinions are intellectually vacuous. “I have freedom of speech!” in response to somebody who is not suggesting censorship – that’s the battlecry of a loser whose opinion cannot be defended on any intellectual grounds. So, instead of defending the substance of the speech, they take the easy way out and defend the right to speak, even when nobody is questioning it. If Congresswoman Waters intended her rant to support Black Lives Matter movement, she failed miserably. That was a condemnation of BLM.
And of course, to top it off, she finished her rant for freedom of speech by exclaiming ‘Deal with it!’. I smell bullshit. BLM activists have to go on a murder spree to be arrested at a Democratic rally. They would rather not piss off Donald Trump, because he will deal with it.