quinta-feira, 21 de março de 2019

Opinion - In regards to ideological debates, censorship, and government influence

So I've been having this argument on Twitter for a few days now regarding the New Zealand shooting and whether or not the government of NZ is justified (morally, not legally) in banning the video, and arresting people that spread, or view, it. I presented the argument that we shouldn't let a government decide what we can or can't see, read, or hear. No matter whether or not we agreed with the morality of the content in question, we shouldn't ever let a government agency get away with censorship.

There was this one person who said that the argument against censoring the video boiled down to "I want to watch Muslims get killed". While I'm sure there are people out there like that, lord knows I've seen examples, it's no reason to dismiss my argument.

Let me also get this out of the way: I don't think anyone should be viewing the video of the shooting. I don't think anyone should be sharing the video. I haven't, nor will, see it myself. But I'm not going to pretend that people in general shouldn't be allowed to (by the government). I am 100% okay with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. taking uploads of the video down. I really am. What I am not okay with is the government of ANY country crossing that line. That, is what I am going to discuss here.

Firstly, I'd like to mention an issue I've been thinking about for the past few days. People involved in politics and political debates and arguments, online and offline, often go after people's ideologies, in order to further their own. I am one of those people, and I do think taking down arguments from my opposition, using my logic against theirs, is necessary for a functional society. However, the problem with this is that it doesn't address the root of the issue. I find no difficulty in taking down fascist and communist arguments for giving more power to the state. But why do people make these arguments in the first place?

I think it's important, especially nowadays, with what we've seen, and decades ago, in history, to find the root of these ideologies that involve high amounts of government influence on people's lives. Why is it that people tend to lean towards oppressive governments?

I don't have an answer. It's a complicated question, but one that needs to be answered, sooner, rather than later. But for anyone to answer any question, someone must first pose it. So here I am.

The reason why I believe this question to be so important is simple. Say we take down fascism and communism, but there are still people out there that have interests in a tyrannical government. They'll invent a new -ism. Fascism and communism didn't exist up until a century or so ago. They were created. But the sentiments that led to their creation have existed since the dawn of mankind. That is what we should aim to find out, and destroy.

Secondly, I would like to propose an argument against censorship that I think is correct and applicable to historical and modern day politics. If we look at events such as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, we see people protesting against the ruling political party peacefully, before being suppressed with bullets and cuffs. We can all agree that the event was a tragedy inflicted onto the population by the clearly oppressive, overreaching, overbearing, and overtly aggressive government. But why did the government find itself justified in those actions?

Let's answer that question with a series of questions. What does the police do when someone resists their laws? They attempt to arrest that person. And if that someone resists arrest? They utilize force. And if that person resists their force? They kill them. Basically, governments have the right to use deadly force even when not at the point of massacring the populace.

Every government in history that we now think of as oppressive in nature started with censorship. Germany between 1933 and 1945, Brazil between 1964 and 1985, the USSR in its lifetime with Stalin, they all used censorship to silence their oppositions. They all used laws that were put into place with the sole purpose of limiting what people can or can't say, see, or hear, for political gain.

Now, combine the government having the power to limit what people can or cannot say, with the right of the government to kill people that break laws in general. Imagine a massive amount of people breaking that law and the police having to deal with that. They can try to arrest them, but they'd get ganged up on and lose any fight they got into. Then what would they use, if allowed by their superiors? Force. And later, if they felt their lives were threatened, deadly force.

This is why we cannot, under any circumstance, give an inch to the government. They will use that inch and extend it to a mile. We see laws from 10, 15 years ago being used nowadays for censoring what people can or can't say. We see policemen more concerned with keeping the political order than keeping the peace. People getting arrested for doing things the government doesn't like, from making a tasteless joke with their dog to annoy their girlfriend, to viewing or sharing a video of a recent event.

I will now explain the reason why some people say "hate speech doesn't exist". The reason for this is that the term, hate speech, varies in definition, and countries where laws against hate speech exist have no official definition for it other than what can be derived from their legal use. Citizens are to guess what hate speech would include, and sometimes the government will agree, sometimes they won't.

What if the government decided that hate speech included dissent towards government actions? Keep in mind that every election cycle, a new person takes the presidential role. That next someone could be the next Hitler or Stalin. Take this into consideration when thinking about that hypothetical, because this is what I mean by giving an inch, and them taking a mile. They may be taking just the inch now, but who's to say the next few decades won't include a dictatorially minded leader being elected?

It's a risk I would rather not take. I would rather prevent history from repeating itself rather than toeing the line between the now and then. Even if I agreed with most people's definition of hate speech, and I don't, I would still not support arresting people for engaging in such speech.

This is why I, personally, am for a small government. I do not want the government to run my life financially, socially, or in any other way. All I want and need a non-private organization or person to do is provide a legal system that assures my rights to live, own private property, own the rights to creative material, etc. I don't want the government to tell me what people can or can't say, let alone when they don't even tell me exactly what it is they allow and disallow. What is gross offense? What is hate speech?

Basically, the right to free speech is integral to avoiding a tyranny. Let's not give into our fears and worries. Let's rise above them and avoid creating something terrible from seemingly innocuous roots. Remember, the point of terrorism is to instil fear and calamity into a society. The Christchurch shooter was victorious in taking the lives of innocent people. Don't let his actions influence our lives any more than what his victims and their families have gone through.

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