To lie, slander and speak ill of others has been one of the evils of men since the beginning of time. History is filled with examples of horrifying stories of how the lynching mob went after philosophers, politicians and religious leaders alike.
Why are we returning to the ills of the past in modern day media structures, asks Hanne Herland in her weekly column at World Net Daily, a leading Conservative news outlet in the US.
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The fate of Jesus of Nazareth serves as an example. There seemed to be no end to the religious leaders’ willingness to mock and belittle him, have him condemned based on false allegations, subjugated him to the worst form of torture and, finally, ordered his death.
What becomes evident is that limitless free speech, defined as the right to say whatever you want to whomever you want – without moral constraints – easily becomes the means to demean, lie and defame others. It may easily used as a scare tactic with the aim to shut down opposition against your own view. In this sense, free speech “bullies” people in order to silence them.
If free speech is not morally contained, it becomes the very characteristic of an intolerant, totalitarian state ruled by the lynching mob. It represents the very opposite to a free democracy, where diversity and plurality is respected. This, sadly, seems to be the current state of affairs in much of the mainstream Western media.
When right becomes wrong and the moral codex is no longer respected, society disintegrates into a remarkable form of anarchy. The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato wrote in the Apology of Socrates, that the hatred towards Socrates was immense, because he taught the young virtues in his quest for humility and wisdom.
Socrates always pointed to the God whom he felt was leading his path and pushing him into the debates. He pointed out that his accusers condemned the truth, by stating it to be evil and unjust. They sought to radically change the definition of justice, not unlike the current Western elites’ attempt today. Socrates lived in a time much like ours, of massive mainstream media propaganda, when the truth is called a lie and criminals are hailed as heroes.
The famous philosopher, C.S. Lewis vividly spoke of the law of nature in The Case for Christianity, of morality as a universal, inner compass which guides us to do what is good and fair to others.
We refrain from stealing, as we wouldn’t like to be stolen from. This implies a sense of “do unto others what you wished they did unto you”. It is a universal moral codex that regulates the relationship between citizens in such a way that justice is served. Christianity, as we know, states that man is divided between good and evil, thus the need for a moral codex and firm laws to guide him on the right path.
As we see, free speech without moral constraints is not necessarily a good thing. Historically, it was first was introduced in the UK House of Commons in the 1600’s, as a means to ensure that speakers were not interrupted in the middle of a political argument. It did not mean that everyone was allowed to say whatever he wished, disentangled from good manners, politeness, and civility.
Today free speech has become something completely different than its original meaning. In a twisted way, “free speech” is the very weapon used to shut down free speech. In the same way, “freedom” has been redefined as the “right to agree” with the extreme-liberal elitists.
If you avert in any way from that which is considered politically-correct, you are instantly abused and demonized as someone who is “opposed to freedom”. This is a totalitarian push away from the civil liberties and respect for plurality that once defined the freedom in the West. Limitless free speech and lack of respect for others has become the ideal – rudeness is the norm and the means of coercion.
Another weakness in today’s definition of “free speech” is its sole focus on rights, not moral duties. The whole concept of morality – of politeness, kindness and respect – somehow got lost in our culture. In 1949, when freedom of expression was stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it was advocated as a human right. Article 19 of the UN, states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Yet, the UN declaration does not define the ethical limits of free expression or the required framework of manners when engaging in debates, in order to maintain the respect for one’s opponent. The UN charter eloquently speaks of rights, but remarkably less of man’s duties and obligations.
In essence, man’s rights to free expression were established, but not its corresponding obligations and duties. The UN charter failed to acknowledge that free speech is an ideal that needs to work within the framework of morality and ethical boundaries.
Rights need to correspond with duties in order to be effective. If these constraints are not addressed and clearly defined, “free speech” becomes counterproductive and a tool for the exact same repression it seeks to eradicate.
If practiced without the constraints of conscience, civility, politeness and rationality, free speech becomes the precise tool to weaken democracy and turn it into the rule of the ruthless mob. The famous French author, Alexis de Tocqueville spoke about this in Democracy in America, as he travelled America in the 1800s and worried about how easy it is for a democracy to turn totalitarian. He said that if democracy develops into a tyranny of the majority or the tyranny of the mob, it is in no way dissimilar to any form of totalitarian dictatorship.
The anxiety is the same: expressing an unpopular opinion can have frightening consequences, both in democracies and in dictatorships.
The West calls itself liberal but is in effect permeated by a small financial elite who seem to control both politicians, the media and the public sphere, with remarkable illiberal values.
The mainstream media is permeated by all kinds of techniques to suppress, subdue and silence those considered “enemies of the state,” those who have other worldviews than the extreme liberal establishment. Host of the liberal political talkshow The Rubin Report, Dave Rubin famously speaks about “the regressive Left”, a tendency that clearly has authoritarian undertones.
Buy bestselling author, Hanne Nabintu Herland’s latest book here,“The Culture War. How the West lost its greatness”.
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