Chained speech

Simon Jenkins’ bewildering op-ed in the Guardian

Freedom of speech, like freedom of traffic, can only be defined by the curbs and regulations that make it real. The right wing seeks to curb WikiLeaks, and the left seeks to curb “hate speech”. The right wants the freedom to finance unlimited political propaganda, and the left wants the freedom of unlimited access to state secrets.

[…]

Free speech is a Hobbesian jungle. It requires a marketplace where the trade in information, ideas and opinion has a framework of rules, including rules that maintain fair and open competition. Most will be voluntary, but others need enforcement.

[…]

It is the great paradox of democracy. Free speech cannot exist without chains.

Ah, paradox. Now the curbs and regulations make sense.

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Comments

  • blr_p  On January 19, 2011 at 1:04 am

    I’m not sure what to make of that Guardian article as it tends to ramble on many subjects.

    But its what you selected that got my attention.

    The right wing seeks to curb WikiLeaks, and the left seeks to curb “hate speech”.
    Why does the right want to curb wikileaks isn’t explained.

    I’ll thrown in another one.

    Wikileaks is an attack on privacy.

    What do you make of that ?

    • Aristotle The Geek  On January 19, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      # “Why does the right want to curb wikileaks isn’t explained.”
      And neither is the left’s real interest in “hate speech.” It’s a case of genuflecting before the State vs. “hurt” sentiments.

      # “Wikileaks is an attack on privacy.”
      I would agree with it to the extent of leakage of information on individuals and companies trying to look out for their own interests. That’s why the Julius Baer affair is a bit troubling.

      Governments, and organizations, engaged in subversive and coercive activities are fair game.

  • blr_p  On January 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I would agree with it to the extent of leakage of information on individuals and companies trying to look out for their own interests. That’s why the Julius Baer affair is a bit troubling.

    Exactly, normally information gets released if a case in court is ongoing but here we have a situation where information is gratitiously leaked with no apparent benefit except to WL.

    Who gets to decide whether this information is in the public interest or not ?

    In the Julius Baer case info was stolen and then passed on to WL. So WL isn’t liable for any charges the leaker, Elmer in this case would be.

    The problem is you can only tell if info leaked is incriminating after you read it, otherwise there is no way to tell, its like a catch-22 situation.

    While discussing this subject elsewhere i came across a characterisation that puts WL in the same league as a soviet style watch your beighbour scheme. That you have no right to privacy at all and your privacy comes after the benefit of the people.

    And this is the curious position that WL finds itself in four years after its founding, initially leaking information that might be incriminating of the state but slowly and gradually moving into a much more grey territory where anything goes.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On January 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      # “The problem is you can only tell if info leaked is incriminating after you read it…”
      WL is just one of the many ways whistle blowers, or disgruntled souls, can leak information. Reputed organizations use verification and redaction, and their brains, before publishing. So someone does read. But they do think before hitting send.

      # “i came across a characterisation that puts WL in the same league as a soviet style watch your neighbour scheme…”
      As long as WL has an editorial policy in place, this should not be a problem: governments? yes. banks “owning” governments? yes. that guy down the street? no. WL and similar organizations need to take a hard look at what they want to be, a watchdog with its eyes on the powerful, or an arm of the government.

      As of now, it has not reached that stage. Unfortunately, for the average person, self-“incrimination” thanks to indiscriminate use of social media is much more likely than being a target of WL at some future date.

  • blr_p  On January 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I think its high time you joined WAB

    Could always use more PLA (people’s libertarian army) members there.

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