Wednesday, May 30, 2018

When the identity of the speaker determines the permission to render certain content with speech

Does the lawfulness or availability of speech rightfully depend on the identity of the speaker? 

An eye-catching op-ed on Truth-out today titled “Speech is never free in a world of racist surveillance and repression” by William C. Anderson on Truth-out explored this idea with moral paradox, at one point saying “Depending on who the speaker is, our society dictates what speech is and isn’t acceptable.”

But the problem is that both the far right (including the alt-right) and far Left (which Truth-out seems to present) both believe this. The far Left doesn’t want people with privilege to speak – but that gets back to the “Skin in the Game” concept in the new book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb which I will review in detail soon. But the far Right does seem to want to use the idea to stop the opposition from organizing, as the article explains imprisonment of Rakem Balogun as a “black identity extremist”, and then later gets into the history of Cliven Bundy.  I think Nadine Strossen (with her recent book on hate speech and why it should be legal) would disagree with a lot of this article. 

My own incident when working as a substitute teacher (July 27, 2007 post) also illustrates this point. That gets into the murky area of "implicit content", the apparent purpose of the specific author/speaker and desired actions from readers. 

I had an odd problem today – I pulled up the Truth-out article fine on my iPhone but on a Windows computer I get an HTTP 403 error “forbidden” in Chrome, but can view it in Edge.

Truth-out is always sending out "deadline" pleas for money and implying the sky will fall – which sounds like playing victim and doesn’t sit well with me.  Yet many of the articles do have valuable journalism.

I’ll also heed an Intellectual Takeout op-ed today by Annie Holmquist, “Rejecting values and responsibility was a big mistake  Two-thirds of today’s generation believes that right and wrong are relative to the individual (and that person’s group associations or intersectionalities).
Think about it, though: the teens and young adults who make the most difference do so because they understand abstract thought, and that actions have long term consequences and possible “tail risks” for others (“skin in the game” again), and believe they should own their own choices.  It does take good parenting to pass this on, preferably two parents.  David Hogg, for example, obviously believes in absolute right and wrong, even that belief produces an end result that "liberals" want. 

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