Saturday, May 14, 2011

This Guy Agrees With Me About the Phoniness of "Free Speech" as an Ideology. So He Must be Brilliant, and Correct.

(Every now and then I make acknowledgement of the fact that I am not immune from a little confirmation bias. I am a human after all. Point is, this guy and I are actually correct on the matter.)

Ok. The two pronged setup. On the one hand, I am one of those "free speech" (beyond the 1st Amendment) is bullshit, people. I think that free speech ideologues are among the silliest people in the world. Then again, as a somewhat genuine artist, in the sense I have done performing arts, and writing art, and all kinds of visual art, I get it, that life is as much if not more so a course in editing, as it is creating. We edit. We discriminate. We pass judgment. We advocate and reject. We acquire and we dispose. We are human. It's what we do, even if we are not writing a song, or trying to write a poem.

Now for the other prong, this post on this subject (one of my favorite subjects) is accidentally brought to you by some trog over at the althouse blog. I will try to say the least about that place and those people, but I read some comment there where one of the right wing morons mockingly referred to Professor Stanley Fish's book, There's no such thing as free speech ...and it's a good thing, too. And I took that as encouragement to google the professor, and found a really interesting interview, he did a while back.

Although he comes at it from a different point of departure, we basically agree on the idea, free speech is not free to start, and everyone has their limits. Everyone will eventually get to their personal gag moment, the rejection moment, and say, enough. Stop with that nasty shit. But that's not all there is to be said about it. Granted he has a well researched and thought out series of positions here on the matter. But what stuck out more was what he said about the overlap between critical race studies and free speech advocacy. Specifically he was pointing out the conflict in holding both "values." Lucky for me I reject free speech ideology and have done so for years. I reserve and treasure my right to say to people I find way too offensive, to,"Shut the fuck up with that shit." And that's the higher value. For me. Anyway, here's the professor's less trashy way of saying it:

Those who utter racist speech (as we call it) would not accept that designation. The people that we think of as racist do not wake up in the morning and say to themselves "Today I'm going to go out and spew racist speech". What they say (and it's exactly what we say) is, "Today I am going to go out and tell the truth." Once you realise that racists don't think of themselves as racists but as tellers of the truth, then you realise that hate speech or racist speech as we designate it is not an anomaly, is not a cognitive mistake, is not a correctable error, is not something that can be diagnosed and therefore cured, but is in fact the rationality and truth telling of a vision we happen to despise.

The correct response to a vision or a morality that you despise is not to try and cure it or to make its adherents sit down and read John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, that's not going to do the job. The only way to fight hate speech or racist speech is to recognize it as the speech of your enemy and what you do in response to the speech of your enemy is not prescribe a medication for it but attempt to stamp it out. So long as Critical Race Theory and others fall into the liberal universalist assumption of regarding hate speech as some kind of anomaly which could be recognized as such by everyone, they're going to lose the game. They will win the game only if they really try to win it, rather than falling in with Justice Brandeis' pronouncement that "Sunshine is the best disinfectant".

This bromide flies in the face of all recorded history which tells us that forms of speech, once they get into circulation, do not wither away in the light of day; rather they attract the attention of some hearers, and begin to circulate in a more effective way. I know that this is heresy in the liberal discourse to which we all are, in some sense, committed. But it seems to me that I must agree with the American politician and journalist, Pat Buchanan, who once said, "If you can pollute the physical environment, you can pollute the cultural and mental environment".

Professor Fish, on how to deal with racist speech. Stamp it out!

I say the rest of the interview is worth reading as well. I just love these last graphs, because yes. It does confirm my bias. And it's correct!

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