Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Further problems with freedom of speech, etc.

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After my recent text on Odd reactions around Putin and Russia / Problems with cancellations, freedom of speech, etc. ([1]), it seems that I run into examples of issues with freedom of speech everywhere, especially of the “conform or else” type.

To give some examples:

  1. Swedish blogger Gunnar Wall writes that he and others have been condemned as “farliga” (“dangerous”) och “skadliga” (“harmful”) for questioning the very dubious and widely criitcized quasi-identification* of Stig Engström as the murderer of Olaf Palme and because they “sår tvivel” (“sow doubt[s]”), which society would not need. Should we conclude that it is more important to have an undisputed “truth” than to have a debate about what the (real) truth is? That anything claimed by officials must be taken as true and beyond discussion?

    *See [2] and a number of backlinked texts for more information on my own take.

    Commenter “Michael” (not me) has a particularly insightful comment at “12 mars 2022 kl. 19:45”. A part (and approximate translation) of this long comment:

    Det tycks som om totalitära tänkesätt nästan blivit mode även i västliga demokratier. Anklagelserna mot de som åtminstone försökt […] sakligt klarlägga vad som faktiskt hände den där mordnatten […] faller tillbaka på de som yttrat dem. Att benämna fria debattörer och journalister som både “farliga” och “skadliga” är oanständigt i en demokrati. Har man invändningar eller tycker att något inte stämmer bemöter man på ett civiliserat och sakligt sätt. Absolut tilltro till staten är minst lika farlig som dess absoluta motsats.

    Translation:

    It appears that the totalitarian way of thinking has become fashionable even in Western democracies. The accusations against those who at least have tried […] to factually clarify what actually happened during the night of the murder […] condemns* the accusers. To call independent debaters and journalists “dangerous” and “harmful” is indecent in a democracy. If one has objections, or believes that something is wrong, one meets them** in a civilized and factual manner. Absolute trust in the state is at least as dangerous as the opposite.

    *Literally, “falls back on”. Think “I’m rubber; you’re glue”.

    **The “them” is arguably an interpolation. Both “them” and “meets” are slightly speculative for “bemöter”.

  2. A U.S. source claims that the DHS will target those with non-conforming opinions, specifically those with concerns over the 2020 elections and the official COVID claims. This despite the former being very legitimate and despite the latter being highly problematic. Notably, problems with COVID claims include repeated changes* to the official line and valid scientific criticisms that have not been debated with facts and arguments but attacked with “Fake news! Fake news!”.

    *That the official position changes in light of more information is not a problem; however, such changes (a) validate prior criticism, (b) clearly imply that other claims might turn out to be in need of revision or be outright faulty—and must therefore be open to criticism.

    Based on what I have seen of the U.S. in the Biden era, and often before that, this is more likely to be a bad-faith political attack on the Conservatives than a good-faith attempt at anything. (The source, Gateway Pundit, should be taken with a grain of salt in its interpretations, as it is almost as partial, in the other direction, as most of MSM. However, I have seen enough from other sources and my own observations to not give the DHS the benefit of the doubt here. Indeed, there seems to be a strong drift to mark large areas of non-Leftist opinions (!) as “domestic terrorism”.)

    This is particularly dangerous with regard to the elections, as the result, should this approach be used permanently, is that even a clearly fraudulent election, as when a Socialist dictator gains 99 percent of the votes, could not be criticized. Effectively: We have a count from the election—and that count must be accepted, no matter what irregularities, miscounting, misreporting, ballot harvesting, whatnot, took place. Democracy, my ass!

  3. Multiple sources concern how DeSantis is pushing a bill to remove opportunities for early brainwashing of children in Florida. Firstly, this bill appears to hava been grossly misrepresented by the Left as a “don’t say gay” bill. (The more absurd, as the Left is far more likely to push for the ban of words and phrases and/or to prescribe other words and phrases than the non-Left.) Secondly, extremely childish Leftists have made a point, based on this gross misrepresentation, to get into the faces of Republicans and chant “Gay! Gay! Gay!” or to perform similarly idiotic stunts.

    That reality distortion is a core strategy of the Left is nothing new, but this is an extremely illustrative example, both of the type of “we are good and tolerant; they are evil and intolerant” distortions that are so often used (and, as here, often prove the exact opposite in the process), and what type of harassment is considered legitimate or illegitimate based on who is the perpetrator and who is the victim (instead of the act and the facts)—reverse the roles and the same act might be condemned as hate speech. Violate the increasingly far-Left teachings and you will be slandered and mocked.

  4. The Daily Sceptic discusses Roger Harbin and the BBC respectively their anti-scientific take on climate change. The problems include a 2006 unilateral decision that the science would now be settled (of course, with condemnation of gainsayers as “climate deniers” or some other derogatory term) and odd terminology changes like replacing “global warming” with “global heating”.

    The latter is not only extremely misleading in its natural connotations*, but (according to the article) was brought on by a lack of warming over a prolonged time—absent what we warn of, we must warn the harder and use the more alarming words, lest our support diminishes. (Note that this well matches my observations on the Left, e.g. in that Feminists cry the louder how disadvantaged women would be the less disadvantaged they actually are—let alone when women are actually advantaged, as in e.g. my native Sweden, where public debate might create the impression of 19th-century conditions for women.)

    *Contrast e.g. “warm day/air/water” with “hot day/air/water” with an eye at the temperatures involved. Indeed, with water as a baseline, even “teppid” might be an exaggeration.

    The former, more on topic, is a splendid example of an “Official Truth” that must not be opposed—or else. This is the more sad as my own take on global warming, climate change, whatnot, has become increasingly sceptical the more I have informed myself. While I have yet to arrive at a firm conclusion, I note that there is a disturbing tendency to just shout “Climate denier! Climate denier!” instead of rationally debating the many concerns raised by various scientists and debaters—up to and including whether a warming trend or trend towards more CO2 is automatically a bad thing. (Something, which is more assumed, as another indisputable “Official Truth”, than it is explained by factual arguments.) Of course, as with COVID, this refusal to engage in scientific debate makes it the harder for us laymen to actually develop a valid opinion.

  5. A Substack interview with Eugyppius goes into related issues with an eye (mostly) on COVID.

    To just quote a portion of the first question, as it sets the scene well (and note that “random internet denizens” are increasingly prevented from speaking their minds):

    Over the last 6 years or so I’ve seen a kind of (as of yet) unidentified sclerosis creep into widely used online infrastructure; the internet as I knew it became less responsive to my questions and interests, more prone to elevating mainstream sources to satisfy query inputs, less likely to guide me to the individuals actually concerned with whatever problems I was facing. The usual channels for learning more about niche experiences like Google and YouTube became virtually useless, and I began to spend more of my time looking to people on Twitter or rustic web forums for answers, most of whom were anonymous like yourself. But this phenomenon seemed intuitively backward—random internet denizens were somehow producing more insightful commentary on pretty much every matter than highly credentialed experts and capital-heavy institutions.

    (I recommend reading the entire text.)

Finally, I point to a long discussion of both free speech and Russia–Ukraine by a Catholic archbishop. While the free-speech part probably does not add anything new relative my own writings, the Russia–Ukraine part goes through much of what amounts to the other (non-Western) side of the story in [1], which makes it a good complement to that text.

Written by michaeleriksson

March 14, 2022 at 9:52 pm

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