On the Nature and Practice of Free Speech as a Quest for Truth
On November 6, 2017, Sheldon Richman published an important article in Counterpunch entitled “Quit Worrying about Russia in Borderless World”. It dealt with the ludicrous attempt to excuse the results of the 2016 presidential elections on the grounds that we were fed too much information through the intervention of foreign powers, although really, every country on earth has a legitimate interest in the outcome of United States presidential elections. Of course, only one country has been signaled out, Israel is just fine, as is the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, even that bedrock of liberty and democracy, Saudi Arabia. The fact that virtually all the information complained of was either completely accurate, albeit inconveniently for some, or reflected our own differing perspectives, is seen by our own troll farmers, the mainstream media, as irrelevant. An antonym has been crafted as a synonym, talk about creative writing. I refer of course to the phrase “fake news”, once upon a time referred to as “free speech”.
The premise behind the utility of free and open debate, the essence of free speech, is not only that truth will win out but that truth can only be found when all alternatives are considered, espoused by those who believe in them rather than by their opponents. “Neighs” from the horse’s mouth so to speak.
That concept has, of course, been battered by the use of behaviorist designed propaganda, the kind in which our intelligence community has attained so much expertise, the kind our intelligence community has taught to our mainstream media, the kind Madison Avenue has sought to teach the world. But battered though it may be, the concept of free speech still seems, at least as of this morning, reminiscent of that battered star spangled banner flying over Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor in an age when we were much more innocent and still idealistic, albeit very, very wrong about many of our values and beliefs, values and beliefs that evolved positively as a result of free speech often deemed dangerous or heretical.
The “home of the brave and the land of the free” though is too fast becoming “the land of the craven and the cowed”, terrified at the thought of being exposed to opposing viewpoints, or even to our own perspectives spoken by others.
“Troll factories”. Any idea who invented them? We did!!! Any idea what country is most involved in structuring and organizing them, although now outsourced to lower labor-cost countries. Yep, look in the mirror, it’s us.
Now, the very worst among us, either because they’re the most cynical and unethical or because they’re the most foolish and easily manipulable, are in the process of taking down that star spangled banner (the only one we ever really had, or at least aspired to) in the name of “holier than thou” censorship, the reality being that it is being done in the name of more effective political manipulation and more efficient extraction of our common welfare to fund mansions and yachts and lives among the witty and the beautiful (albeit silicone based life forms), whether in the valley or the breasts.
Way too much like the German people in 1933, many of us our shouting our approval, this time not in the name of brown shirted storm troopers but in the name of a bitter dowager in extremely expensive but very ugly pantsuits and of her storm troopers in pink vaginal headgear accompanied by her army of hypocritical sexual predators. How much more amazingly incoherent can a movement become? “Please, give us slavery in the name of freedom, ignorance in the name of enlightenment, polarization in the name of unity, a pastiche of hypocrisy in the name of integrity, white in the name of black. Sprinkle it all in a mainstream media trough from which we can feed their leftovers, after, of course, their exotic pets have fed.” A translation from Clinton-speak DNC into trash talk, to be sure, but you get the picture, assuming it hasn’t been censored through Google or Facebook or Twitter algorithms.
Eyes tightly closed ears tightly covered mouth tightly shut, simians in training. Not bonobos of course, they’re a bit too bright for that.
And what of the rest of us?
My alma mater, OK, one of them, I have quite a few, but the Citadel is the one I most love, is permitting the appearance on campus at the invitation of a student club, Young Republicans, of the now much maligned Steven Bannon. He was not invited by the administration, which although deeply politically conservative, has been repeatedly battered by distorted media coverage and is now a bit gun shy, no, not shy of real guns which her leaders and graduates bravely face, but of the muck and sludge peddled by “censor-us please-before-we-report-something-deemed-incorrect-by-the-Identity-Politics-police” disguised as journalists. Strange to see how true the adage, “the pen is mightier than the sword” seems in this context, albeit not in a positive but rather in a perverted sense, a sullied sense, a sense dripping in betrayal. It once stood for free speech but now, well, we all know, deep down, what it has come to mean.
Truth must necessarily become irrelevant if the worst among us are to prevail, and to assure that, any chance of truth peeking through and scaring us with its bright lights must be avoided, at least according to the socioeconomic elites who so enjoy using their toys to pull our strings. And that is what we are seeing in the guise of “the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming, hide the Finlandia and the Grey Goose and the Stolichnaya”.
Of course, a real student of history might scoff at our apparent hysterical concern for preserving any semblance of truth noting that such concerns have for all too long lacked relevancy. They were lost long ago and the battle we face is not to preserve access to truth but perhaps to finally attain it.
An interesting perspective.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at www.guillermocalvo.com.