By Bosco – Irish Sentinel Contributor –
As we are entering a dangerous period of our history, with the promulgation of hate speech legislation, many are posing the obvious question, why now?
Since the 1970s in Ireland, there was a growing movement towards liberalisation in the public space. The liberalist attitude made monumental strides in the early 1990s. In 1995 Playboy magazine was first permitted to sell its wares on Irish shelves. Classical liberals were overjoyed with this significant event. According to classical liberals it marked a new trajectory for freedom of expression and autonomy in the Irish Republic.
In his locus classicus, ‘On Liberty’, political essayist John Stuart Mill, the doyen of classical liberalism presaged: “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose the clearer perception of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
According to Mill, blind conformity denigrated the human spirit as it represented society turning its back on progress, much like a lemming mindlessly jumping off a cliff. Mill considered that self-improvement required a “marketplace” of ideas, a place where different beliefs could freely compete with one another in an open, transparent public discourse unfettered by government censorship or some other part of society. Over time, believed Mill, falsehoods and misguided opinions would naturally be filtered out, while the best ideas would thrive and spread.
Mill very much underestimated the passivity of the public space. Mill, in his declaration assumed that the marketplace of ideas would be a setting where the great public scrutinized and objectively discerned ideas and beliefs, but his assumptions were wrong. Human beings, as we have seen during the Covid debacle, are very easily led, the public are so gullible that greedy corporations can defray billions every year on advertisements, and marketing exercises to sell their branding for way above its value in real terms. The latest fad, or fashionable accessory is an example of how the market place of ideas truly works.
In the ‘market place of ideas’, the best ideas do not win out, but rather heavily tailored ideas, and their packaging do. In a matter of decades, “society” has embraced ideas that will cause its self-destruction. Go back in time only twenty years ago and most people would laugh at the prospect of two men getting married whereas today, to reject the idea is considered a secular blasphemy demanding immediate ostracization. How can a society move away from its tradition moorings to embrace ideas that were once considered repugnant? The answer is the ‘market of place of ideas’, and how those ideas were carefully packaged such that the docile mass public would eventually chose to embrace them, and believe that such acceptance was both natural and organic ( i.e, absent any mass manipulation).
Kirk and Madsen, two homosexual activists in their book “After the ball”, discussed the tactics used to make homosexuality more acceptable to the public. Increasing the prevalence of homosexual characters on television was instrumental, framing those characters in a good light, making them into victims, and framing their opponents in a bad light, all played a role in altering public perception. The key point here is that the very arena classical liberals called for, the marketplace of ideas, became a marketplace of emotional propaganda.
Those in power or who have influence over, power, know only two well that the marketplace of ideas is NOT the arena where ideas compete and the best one win out, they know because they are beneficiaries of a manipulated marketplace. They also know that if the ‘marketplace of ideas” is prone to mass manipulation, then the status quo, the existing manipulated marketplace where the Irish population have embraced societal suicide, can also be manipulated away towards an alternative societal vista.
Unlike the classical liberals, the globalists in power, aren’t stupid. The globalists are well aware that a process that allowed them seize power, can be used to relieve them of power, that process is influence and information.
The irony here, is that many of the classical liberals, who partly orchestrated the conditions such that ‘freedom of expression’ meant unbridled propaganda could infest the public space, are, like the radical feminists, unable to close shut the door they engineered to be opened and will be imprisoned by it. However, those controlling the doors now won’t make the same mistake. Those in power will ensure complete control and not let a chink be widened and their hegemony interrupted.
The classical liberals laboured under the pretence that human beings are rational. They are not, we are largely emotional, and we can be easily deceived, evinced by the large swathes of money spent on mass manipulation, aka advertising, which sells ideas about products over the product details themselves.
The reason the hate speech is being fitted now is because those in power see the tide is subtly shifting and information causes momentum and by undermining the availability of the information the momentum ceases and the status quo protected.
In the footnote at the beginning of Chapter II of On Liberty, Mill makes a very bold statement:
“If the arguments of the present chapter are of any validity, there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered”
And this is what occurred. The liberal utopia of unbridled free speech allowed destructive ideas to migrate into the minds of the ignorant and indolent, facilitated by the billions of cash of those who sought to seize power. The liberals delusion that bad ideas will be filtered from the good ones, was a massive mistake founded upon naïve idealism, but one which will prove very costly in the end.
Liberals would have us think that liberty should exist with every subject matter so that we have “absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral or theological”. Mill claimed that the fullest liberty of expression is required to push our arguments to their logical limits, rather than the limits of social embarrassment, that such liberty of expression is necessary, he suggested, for the dignity of persons. What Mill ignored was the ability of the masses to be bought by those with deep pockets and the application of psychological tricks garnered from years of social psychological experiments on the public ( The Ashe conformity experiment, Milgram’s authority experiment, Zimbardo’s ‘Lucifer effect’ etc, all data and processes that could be tailored to established a desired outcome).
As regards the substance of what will be deemed hate? what types of speech, if any, cause harm?” The example Mill used was in reference to corn dealers: he, Mill, suggested that it is acceptable to claim that corn dealers starve the poor if such a view is expressed in print. It is not acceptable to make such statements to an angry mob, ready to explode, that has gathered outside the house of the corn dealer. The difference between the two is that the latter is an expression “such as to constitute…a positive instigation to some mischievous act,”, namely, to place the rights, and possibly the life, of the corn dealer in danger. Academic Daniel Jacobson (2000) noted that it is important to remember that Mill will not sanction limits to free speech simply because someone is harmed. For example, the corn dealer may suffer severe financial hardship if he is accused of starving the poor. Mill distinguishes between legitimate and illegitimate harm, and it is only when speech causes a direct and clear violation of rights that it can be limited. The fact that Mill does not count accusations of starving the poor as causing illegitimate harm to the rights of corn dealers suggests he wished to apply the harm principle sparingly, but here lies the conundrum, who decides what is harmful and who does it apply to?
In 2001 evangelist Harry Hammond was prosecuted for the following statements: “Jesus Gives Peace, Jesus is Alive, Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism, Jesus is Lord”. For his sins he was fined 300 pounds and made to pay 395 pounds in costs. In 2010, Harry Taylor left anti-religious cartoons in the prayer-room of Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. The airport chaplain was “insulted, offended, and alarmed” by the cartoons and called the police. Taylor was prosecuted and received a six-month suspended sentence.
Theorist Jeremy Waldron, for example, drew attention to the visual impact of hate speech through posters and signs displayed in public. Waldron argues that the harm in hate speech (the title of his book) is that it compromises the dignity of those under attack. A society, he opines, where such images proliferate makes life exceedingly difficult for those targeted by hate speech. Waldron suggests that the people engaged in hate speech are saying “[t]he time for your degradation and your exclusion by the society that presently shelters you is fast approaching”. He claims that prohibiting such messages assures all people that they are welcome members of the community. The problem with this however, is manifest. Who decides what is harmful and who is doing the harm? Posters put up on London streets during world war, warned against the peril of the “Bosch”, which no doubt caused anti German sentiment, but Britain was at war against Germany at the time. What is important here, forgotten by liberals like Waldron is the notion of context.
I would argue with some degree of certainty, that the LGBT festival Bukkake, which depicted Christ and people like Michael Collins dripping in semen, will not be considered hateful, nor will official remarks, remarks with great breadth and power, about ejecting “a backward looking sovereignty”. Of course, rhetoric dehumanising unborn children leading to their mass slaughter won’t be considered “hateful”, or the destruction of our nation, or the attack on faith and family through propaganda will be lauded, not censored.
While many liberals condemn, rightfully, the enactment of legislation that will have a chilling effect on free speech, the dye was cast a long time ago by those liberals themselves, when in their intellectual hubris believed that the public space was rational, instead of highly malleable and open to manipulation, as proven to be true. Be careful what you wish for.