It means different things to different people unfortunately, and recently, it seems that everywhere, freedom of speech is being brutally attacked in every part of the world and every way possible.
Where I Stand
Complete and uncensored freedom of speech. Anyone can say whatever the hell they want about whoever the hell they want. Nothing is banned, including insults and making fun of others, politicians, the government, religious figures and even deities. You don’t like what you hear? Don’t participate, no one is forcing you to read this or watch that. You’re being an asshole to others? Expect getting a taste of your own medicine.
May Chidiac Disaster
There is no doubt that the people and accounts that said the disgusting things about May Chidiac (regardless of whether the accounts are real or not) are horrible, stupid people. I happen to believe Chidiac is a horrible person too, but agree the stuff said was unfair and low. BUT, I also don’t believe the folks, if they are real, who said and published these, should be prosecuted or such messages or pages be banned by law.
Why? For the simple reason it would allow for further regulation and oppression of free speech, under the guise of protecting sensitivities and “dignity” and whatever big slogans tyrants and religious fundamentalists use.
Samy Gemayel’s Genius
For me, Samy Gemayel approached a similar issue in a very powerful way which I respect him greatly for. A bunch of alleged FPM users said “he must miss his brother, he should follow him already” in reference to his slain brother, Pierre Gemayel. Now, we can all agree how distasteful and hurtful that was, but instead of making a fit and filing for lawsuits, Samy reshared these comments on his page, and allowed for the public to decide for themselves that this talk was cheap and reprimand its posters. It got a LOT of feedback and support to Samy, and a lot of disdain for the original posters.
With that, Samy became the bigger person, did not obstruct or threaten to obstruct freedom of speech and got the issue the attention it deserves and the proper reaction: a public one, away from politicians, clergymen and judges.
I still can’t believe some folks are ok with the ISF getting ALL your data. Why should the most corrupt of people have access to all your communications for them to manipulate and abuse? Under no circumstance in the universe should what you say with friends/lovers/family/colleagues in private be made available en-bloc to any security forces! This is a travesty and a sad, sad occurrence in the already sad existence of Lebanon.
Reddit: Jailbait and Creepshots controversy
Reddit is the “front page of the internet”. It’s a place to share links on virtually anything and either upvote or downvote them. The more upvotes, the more it’s seen. To put it in simpler terms, all the funny stuff you guys see on 9gag, is pulled off Reddit.
I have been a redditor for over 6 years now. I’ve had over 9 different anonymous accounts and continue to change them regularly, as do most redittors. The beauty of Reddit is anonymity, which allows people to get out of their everyday selves and assume a different personality. Of course, history has shown that when you de-individuate a usually normal, kind person, they can turn into monsters. Examples such as Nazi officers committing atrocities, or the Standford Basement Prison Experiment with the guards’ abuse of the prisoners and countless other examples. V for Vendetta fans would understand best with “give a man a mask, and he’ll tell you the truth”
Reddit hosts beautiful subreddits (on specific topics) like /r/TodayILearned, or /r/Science /r/Atheism, /r/Politics, /r/Funny, /r/AdviceAnimals and 0ver 100,000 other subreddits. Even President Obama is a redditor, hosting an AMA (ask me anything) thread just last month.
Some subreddits though, are less nice. They deal with horrible, horrible topics such as dead teenager photos, creep shots of girls taken without their knowledge, and the most controversial, /r/jailbait which featured sexually suggestive photos of teens under the age of 18. This subreddit has since been banned after a LOT of controversy back then.
The redditor who helped make and moderate all those nasty racist, pedophiliac and gory subreddits was doxxed by Gawker this week. This means Gawker found out who he was, and did the worst thing you could do to an anonymous redditor: reveal to the world his name, age, address, work, and other details of his real life. This of course caused a lot of turmoil in Reddit and many subreddits now ban Gawker links.
People might ask, why the fuck would someone protect a creep and pervert like that? The answer is that Reddit is a staunchly pro-freedom of speech community. There is zero compromise or exceptions to the complete and unregulated freedom of speech under the guise of anonymity. Personally, I was glad that redditor was outed. He got a taste of his own medicine, after all, he uncovered photos and facts of people’s personal lives and revealed them to hundreds of millions of people without their consent. Why shouldn’t he be at the being-trolled end versus his usual troll position.
If he were a political or religious commentator, I would certainly be against doxxing him for reasons he might be killed or prosecuted for what he did. But in this redditor’s case, he did not break any law, he was just an asshole to humanity as a whole and sooner or later someone was gonna get back at him, which is exactly what happened and I feel he deserves it.
THEREFORE, what happened in this case is an example of another freedom of speech conundrum which resolved itself without the interference of government or church/mosque/religious folks, and THAT’s how it should be.
One of the reasons I love Obama is his remarks at the UN General Assembly last month about the gibberish of making anti-blasphemy laws by the UN, protecting the need to protect people’s right to say whatever they want, however hateful, disgusting or hurtful they might be to us.
I hope Obama wins on November 6. I wouldn’t wanna live in a world that outlaws blasphemy and makes it a criminal offense and I really hope you agree with me
Freedom of speech should never have limits or regulations even for reasons some people might see fit like dignity and other nice-sounding stuff like that. Why? Because it will inevitably be used by corrupt politicians and clergymen around the world to oppress people with different opinions. Hateful, racist and ignorant expressions need to be countered with the same kind of freedom of expression. Not through violence, nor through legislation. Sort of like a free market system for ideas, where government and church have no say, and it’s the people who decide how things go.