A couple of days ago I saw a screenshot of a Facebook post by Brendan O’Neill on the consequences of free speech. I hate just simply copying someone else’s work here, but this was too important and profound not to share.
“Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.”
Everyone says it these days. Liberals say it. Libertarians say it. Guardianistas say it. Student-union reps say it as they chase off campus feminists who don’t believe Caitlyn Jenner is a real woman. Hell, the terrorists who massacred Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists probably said it. They certainly thought it. It was the foul ideological heart of their act of terror: “Here come the consequences of your freedom of speech…”
Everyone who says this is really saying, “You can say what you like, but I wouldn’t if I were you.” Which is another way of saying, “Best not say it, eh.” So let’s get this “consequences” thing straight once and for all. If the consequence of our freedom of speech is more speech – disagreement, argument, challenge, questioning – that is absolutely fine. Those consequences are good – essential in fact. They’re central to freedom of speech.
But if the consequences are being No Platformed, or expelled from polite society, or sacked, or harassed so relentlessly that you stop saying what you wanted to say, or banned from Twitter, or arrested, or jailed, or shot, then that is unacceptable. And these are the consequences that all the supposed liberals, clueless libertarians and radical Islamists who utter the words “Your free speech has consequences” are really talking about. By “consequences” they mean “punishment.” They mean, “We’ll teach you a lesson if you say that thing.” They’re making a threat. Be worried when you hear people speak of “consequences” for what we think and say.— Brendan O’Neill.
Apparently Brendan is a Marxist-turned-Libertarian journalist, writing for British online magazine Spiked Online and previously for its predecessor, Living Marxism. Not exactly the type I would typically agree with.
Except for now. Brendan is absolutely right.
Be very cautious around those demanding consequences for voicing your opinion. They are no different than the leftist totalitarians who openly oppose freedom of speech. At least you know where you stand with totalitarians – they ultimately want to take all your freedoms and rights away. Period.
But those who pretend to support freedom of speech, and believe there should be “consequences” for your speech, are a far greater danger. They are even worse. These pretenders want to lull you into a false sense of security – right before they stab you in the back for thought crimes. So don’t be fooled. Such hypocrites don’t care about freedom of speech at all – they only care about controlling you and force you into submission.
The examples are legion. Google fired James Damore – simply for having an opinion. Alex Jones from Infowars was banned from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Apple’s services. A crazed leftist lunatic shot U.S. House Representative Steve Scalise and other Republicans. Leftist student movements prevent conservative pundits from speaking at college campuses. Antifa hordes assault anyone with a dissenting opinion.
The common denominator? These companies and individuals all claim to respect freedom of speech, but stipulate that “freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.” And now you understand what that truly means.
It is simple, my friends. Freedom of speech has to be absolute or there is no freedom of speech at all. Without it, you erode all other freedoms. It is the reason why the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is ranked number 1. And why it is so important for conservatives, libertarians and constitutional purists to protect it at all costs.
Take care and until next time.