As Karma works its magic on Language Hat, linguists might be interested by the topic of free speech and how, despite all our fuzzy and warm intentions bred by political propaganda, it can never be honestly 'free' at all. Other blogs have written about this too and one site by Henry Hessing clarifies for us what's really going on here and the treasonous self-defeatism Language Hat is fostering in humankind:
"The fundamental basis for freedom of speech is a respect for the rational mind, which requires the freedom to weigh the evidence, to dispute and debate, without fear of coercive interference. By their reliance on violence and brute force of mob gatherings, the vandal shows contempt for the mind. It is confession of intellectual and moral bankruptcy, a confession that, for them, rational argumentation does not matter: all that matters is that their opponents are cowed into submission." (Click here for full article)Flamewars transpire on the internet 2000 times a minute and it's only getting worse as anonymity has the negative side-effect of promoting a lack of accountability to reality. Any rational person who still goes outside once in a while and smells the daisies must eventually say "Enough is enough". We have to start fighting back against the Tyranny of the Stupid. Can free speech ever be truly unlimited in practical life or is this just abstract dogma? This is easily answered by pointing to clearcut examples where people's credit card numbers and other personal data have been shared online by malicious criminals whose actions can never be undone. No one, not even Stephen Dodson would want his credit card number or pictures of his wife and kids exposed online without his consent, obviously. So if even one instance of free speech is indefensible in civilized society, then waving the "I'm a defender of free speech" flag is exposed as nothing more than a stunted, extremist ideology. A tactic perhaps to maintain a double standard.
Interestingly, Mr Stephen "Free Speech" Dodson has since erased these joke comments in the picture above while defending more abrasive jokes by commenters named Anonymous and John Emerson under the hypocritical banner of defending free speech. Apparently jokes directed towards serious cognitive disorders like Asperger's Syndrome (i.e. Michael Farris' comment: "a) Gordon is an Asperberger's kind of case who can't perceive anything beyond the surface meaning of words.") are of greater value to Dodson than other jokes without a prejudiced slant. If only Dodson were more honest with us about what logic or lack thereof lies behind Language Hat's nebulous policies on the demonstrated limitations of his inconsistent free speech doctrine.
Accepting then the limits of free speech, are we clear on what those limits are? Have we really thought through what the overblown catchphrase "free speech" really means and what value it can possibly maintain in a sea of unmoderated gibberish? With only a few specks of intelligence strewn about in this media muddle, Truth eventually becomes indistinguishable from Lie and Value becomes indistinguishable from Valuelessness. If speech loses value, the value in defending individual speech will assuredly be the next thing on death row... and then our rights in a democratic society.
Dodson also misunderstands the true purpose of his and everyone else's blog. He continues to cowardly hide behind a politics-laced statement "I'm a defender of free speech" without confronting the logical meaning of his ideology. The fact is that blogs are not here to defend everyone's free speech at all. Blogs are here to defend one's own free speech. If everyone has the power to make their own blog, then free speech needs no defending on any single blog because it is the continued collective power of many voices in unison that defends free speech by virtue of their combined existences. Why do I as a linguistics blogger need to defend your free speech on my blog if it fails to have relevance to the clear purpose of my site (i.e. linguistics) and undermines logical, knowledgeable debate by promoting a culture of fear and lies driven by trolls? Unlike Dodson, my stance on comment deletion is clearer and more objective: Comments without relevance, whether their purpose is to jet ad hominems at me and others or to exploit other logical fallacies, are deleted without such purely negative trash ever being published to infect debates with emotional irrelevancies. I remain unremorseful about this policy.
In a nutshell, this insanity exists because of a prevailing mental disorder called dogmatic relativism which sabotages individuals into feeling unentitled to uphold individual principles or to distinguish right from wrong for themselves. It seeks then to devalue individual choice, logic and speech itself. This societal impairment in reasoning that so often arises in various ways throughout history is not only of interest to linguists, psychologists and historians but to all people who value the inherent right to learn and grow in a democratic civilization that choses to defend free coherent speech while shunning persistent fools.