I read yet another article decrying the loss of free speech, by which they seem to mean that right wingers may have to think about abusing people, or damning them to hell, before they go ahead and do it anyway… but the article misses the point.
Yes we really do need to worry about loss of free speech, but the losses being complained about are trivial and avoid reality.
We have the Federal Government harassing media organisations for reporting things they don’t like about themselves or right wing allies. And then suggesting that media are used by foreign spies, so as to make such critical media traitorous, and open to more harassment.
The government perpetually harasses and cuts back the public ABC news service because they don’t appear to like any news being critical or exposing them; if they can shut it off, they will, with screams of bias.
The government is actively hostile to animal rights activists exposing bad conditions on farms, making such activity criminal, while of course excusing those agri-businesses who cut back on decent conditions because it might lower profit.
I believe they have forbidden people in the CSIRO for speaking publicly about climate change – following the US example of shutting down talk about a really important problem they don’t want to face.
Public servants have been forbidden from even anonymously liking facebook posts critical of the government – even if these likes have nothing to do with the sacked person’s work. If you are a public servant you cannot talk.
We don’t know if this regulation will be extended to public universities or used to club people in the ABC even more.
The federal government routinely appears to revoke or delay visas for left wing activists, but this is rarely reported in the media unless they are semi-celebrities like Chelsea Manning.
The Coalition government’s (Federal and State) record on freedom of information is terrible.
Neoliberal ‘commercial in confidence’ regulations, means that much information relevant to taxpayer’s evaluation of services which have been contracted out is unavailable, and it can be a felony to release it. This helps support the corporatization of social services, and protects the unaccountable handing out of taxpayer’s money to the private sector.
The NSW government has, over the years, increased prison sentences for people protesting against mines.
We have no, or very few, protections for whistle blowers.
For example the people who revealed the Australian government security services spied on Timor in order to benefit the Woodside Corporation (which is surely a criminal act), and lower royalties paid to Timor for oil, face criminal charges and jail.
People who reveal massive corporate corruption may never get another job.
We have students being suspended for protesting against right wing speakers, as if such people deserve to be heard unopposed.
The Prime Minister has just announced that he will seek regulation of ‘Get-up’, a group funded by voters, which generally opposes his policies. No such regulation is sought of those groups who support his policies.
This is not just an Australian problem.
In the US Republicans are suggesting that protesting against fascism constitutes terrorist activities. They don’t appear to have any problems with death threats coming from fascists
The FBI is active against climate activists.
We cannot say that President Trump is welcoming of criticism and indeed seems to threaten those who criticise him regularly. Indeed free speech is not speech which criticizes him, because that is lying by definition. See an official speech
The President ignores the murder of an progressive (in Saudi Arabian terms) American based Journalist by Saudi Arabian friends, and then denies his own intelligence agencies reports which suggests his friend was responsible for organizing the murder. After all its a matter of priorities:
I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment… I’m not like a fool that says, “We don’t want to do business with them.” And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.
Snowden and Assange etc.
All of this comes about because rightwing governments want you, and everyone else, to be ignorant, and to support corporate profit taking from any challenge. Ignorance makes it easier for them to persuade you to keep supporting them.
However free speech is not simple. There are lots of situations in which free speech is not allowed: libel, defamation, national secrets, commercial in confidence etc.
We can say that with free speech there comes responsibility. If lying becomes a normal example of free speech, then maybe such speech has no meaning? And yet it is hard to tell lies from mistakes. The issue is complicated, and yet some examples, like those above, are clear…..
It is easy to favour free speech that favours the establishment, or attacks those opposed to the establishment, and attacks on established order can seem like vandalism deserving of punishment.
If you want to talk about this, then get real on the real sources of anti-free speech.