Silencing Dissent: A Blast from the (Recent) Past

I don’t usually (never, so far as I can remember) do a “Blast from the Past” with a post so recent but the issue with Alex Jones and Infowars merits attention.

For aliens who have just arrived from the Ferenda Galaxy, let me sum up.  A number of platforms, within a very short span of time between them all permanently banned Jones and Infowars from using their services.

People point out that it’s not a First Amendment issue, since they’re not the government but private services and can choose who they do business with (so long as they aren’t refusing to do a custom baked and decorated cake, I guess–don’t worry about it, Alien just arrived from the Ferenda Galaxy, just an exercise in hypocrisy of those making the current arguments).  However, it remains a very disturbing trend.

Don’t get me wrong.  Jones is a fruitcake his “commentary” laughable.  But that’s the proper approach to dealing with it:  laughter.  Yet what I’m seeing is claims like one from Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) saying that banning sites like Infowars is necessary to the “Survival of our Democracy”.

“Sites like.” They aren’t going to stop with Infowars.  No, there’s always someone who’s the “most extreme” example of whatever they want to silence.  And there’s always another target.  They’ve been setting precedents for some time and continue to use those precedents to quell any further disagreement with the Party line.   So, yeah, Jones it a fruitcake but, as H. L. Mencken said:

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws [to which I would add: corporate policies] are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

Mr. Murphy, 1984 was a cautionary tale, not a how-to.  And Newspeak, where you rewrite the language to mean something completely different, was a bad thing.

And so, this past May I wrote the following in response to a much smaller precursor of the current case:

A couple days ago I wrote about the Origins Game Fair screeching.  This is part of a larger scheme where people, almost entirely from one end of the political spectrum (or one corner if you are into two-dimensional descriptors) of attempting to silence any dissent.

You know, it’s pretty sad when fictional characters make more sense than people who at least pretend to be real human beings.  Consider, for instance, on the case of some pretty extreme examples, what Captain America had to say about actual, self-identified neo-Nazis (and not the “Everyone I don’t like is a Nazi” that’s become so popular these days) and their Jewish extremist opponents in a long-ago issue of Captain America:

“All my life I’ve had a habit of making speeches.  Some people have criticized me for it.  They may be right.  Because I cannot express with words the horror I feel at seeing what you’ve done here today.

Don’t you realize that in your attack, you’ve attacked your own freedom as well?

The Freedom that guarantees all ideas–both noble and ignoble–the expression that is imperative if our society is to survive!

[Ed:  speaking to Jewish protestor] You!  Can’t you see that in stooping to your enemy’s level–you’re being made over in his image–that you’re becoming the very thing you loathe?

[Ed:  Speaking to Neo-nazi] And You!  In your fear and ignorance you deny reality!  Rewrite history!  I wish I could take you back with me to the day we liberated Diebenwald [Ed:  Presume this is the name given to one of the death camps in the Marvel Universe]–let you smell the stomach-churning stench of death–let you see the mountain of corpses left behind by the corrupt madman and murderer you idolize!

You two aren’t interested in the truthare you?

You’re only interested in your own self-consuming hate.

Two of  a kind.

Freedom of speech means that, yes, even people who are saying vile things have a right to speak.  You don’t have to listen to them, but you do not have the right to silence them, to prevent them from assembling (so long as it’s peaceable), from renting halls or air time, or even for speaking at your campus so long as there are people at your campus who want to hear them and they fill all the rules (which should not include limitations on content) any other speaker has to fulfill.

No, speech that you disagree with is not violence.

Let me cite another fictional character, Mike Harmon from the novel Ghost (Oh!  John Ringo, No!) to kind of illustrate the idea:

“You’re not with the police?” the girl said, totally confused.

“Oh, come on,” Mike scoffed. “I know you’re an airhead, but use at least one brain cell. Do the police commonly shoot people through the leg to get information?”

“Well, they beat people up,” Ashley said, with relentlessly liberal logic.

“Did those guys beat you?” Mike asked, gesturing at the dead terrorists.

“Yes,” Ashley said, sobbing gently.

“Would you like me to shoot you through the knee so you can tell the difference?” Mike asked, puzzling over the load list.

If you think speech is violence there are only two possibilities:  you’re a complete moron (and that’s an insult to complete morons) who has never experience violence and lacks even the rudimentary ability to imagine what it’s like, or you are lying.

I know which way I bet.

Speech is not violence.  It might incite violence, and when the incitement is immediate and direct, then that might be a cause to intervene, but just saying things you despise is not.  Examples:

  • “I hate brown haired people and wish they’d all die.” Allowed to say.  You’d be an idiot and I’m allowed to mock you and say that you’re an idiot that should eat a bag of dicks and choke.
  • (Pointing, with an angry mob listening to you) “Seize that (brown haired) guy over there and beat him to death with sticks.” No, that justifies some intervention.

In most cases, the proper thing to do when somebody says things that you consider utterly outrageous, even vile, is given by another fictional character (oh, there was a historical person of that name, but this is a fictional adaptation).  Rameses from The Ten Commandments (and while Charlton Heston may have been the “star”, Yul Brynner owned that movie):

Let him speak that men may know him mad.

Because if they are really that outrageous, then the more they speak, the more they’ll be ridiculous.  And the more people will turn away from them because they are so ridiculous.  You don’t have to silence them.  They are their own worst enemies.

However, when you go out of your way to silence them, once again what’s happening can be summed up by another fictional character, Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones:

When you tear out a man’s tongue, you do not prove him a liar.  You only show the world that you fear what he might say.

So, if you’re so afraid that what they say is so much more persuasive than what you say, you need to take a long hard look not at them but at yourself.  Why do you lack confidence in your ability to defeat their words with words of your own?

Maybe the weakness is in you.

12 thoughts on “Silencing Dissent: A Blast from the (Recent) Past”

  1. I’m surprised you don’t like Alex Jones. What exactly do you think is inaccurate or unfair about what he reports? I can’t say about his super supplements he promotes, but his news is right on as far as I can tell. So, what gives?


      1. Truther as in 9/11? Or Truther as in Obama’s birth certificate? Or some other kind of Truther?
        I suppose you think Oswald shot JFK all by his lonesome, then?
        We may not know exactly who did what, but we can be sure that things have not been happening the way the Globalist media have been narrating it to us.
        So the determination of “Truth” is a free-for-all, which is probably the only way it can ever be.


        1. So the determination of “Truth” is a free-for-all

          Um, no. Making up ever-more-involved conspiracy theories, based not in any kind of factual assessment but in slogans repeated mindlessly (cf. “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.”) which don’t actually have any bearing on the issue (don’t have to melt them–jet fuel burns plenty hot enough to soften steel beams enough that they can no longer support the thousands of tons of building above them, and once they start collapsing the force of impact of the top coming down on lower floors adds peak loads far beyond the capacity of said lower floors).

          But if you rant loud enough about invisible enemies you can get some people to believe you.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. “Making up ever-more-involved conspiracy theories, based not in any kind of factual assessment but in slogans repeated mindlessly (cf. “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.”) ”

            That technical crap really has nothing to do with the TRUTH about 9/11. 9/11 is a matter of motivations and incentives and agendas, not engineering and chemistry. Jet fuel and steel beams are just red herrings that frankly I do not recall Alex Jones bringing up. The one I remember talking about jet fuel and steel beams was Rosie O’Dumbell, but I could be wrong about that because I ignore irrelevancies.

            You know how I know that 9/11 was not what we were told? Because of things like John Brennan being a communist Muslim, and James Clapper being a liar, and James Comey being a stooge. Because of things like the Patriot Act and the NSA spying on Americans for political not national security purposes.


      1. “yeah, looks like a real stable individual here”

        Hey, dummies, if you knew the TRUTH about what was REALLY going on you’d be crazy too.

        You idiots have no imagination.


          1. Not that kind of “imagination.” You’re being deliberately obtuse. What makes the jet fuel and steel thing irrelevant is that I don’t need to know a damn thing about jet fuel and steel in order to see that I’m being lied to by “authorities” all the time about everything. I do not form my opinion about 9/11 Truth based on jet fuel and steel. I do not know the truth about 9/11 anyway, all I have is suspicions and consider the truth to be a mystery except for knowing that it was not what we were all told. Just like I don’t know exactly who killed JFK, I just know that I’ve been lied to about it for all of my life.

            The people I don’t trust are the ones who try to ridicule me for not believing authority. So you convince me not to trust you or take you seriously when you use snark and snide to argue your case instead of being reasonable. It is not reasonable to just believe what we are told at face value. And if you’re going to figure out the truth you have to deal with irrelevant digressions like jet fuel and steel. You’re being stupid if you think the truth about 9/11 can be proven one way or another by jet fuel and steel.


          2. Not that kind of “imagination.”

            Right. I don’t make up the same things you do so it’s the “wrong” kind of imagination.

            Words have meanings and “imagination” has one that does not make your case stronger.

            I just know (repeated many times)

            “It isn’t the things we don’t know that hurt us, but the things we know that ain’t so.”

            Your confidence has no bearing on whether or not you are actually right. That’s where things like evidence come in. And simply saying “I just know it’s wrong” isn’t.

            It is not reasonable to just believe what we are told at face value.

            But it’s reasonable to accept what people “imagine” as the case?

            You’re being stupid

            Okay, I gave you the “you dummies” as a gimme because it followed “not stable” but you need to be very clear on the rules here: attack ideas, not people. If you can’t support your ideas with evidence and something that actually resembles logical argument then simply insulting the other side doesn’t make your case any stronger. Consider this your one and only warning. I’ve only blocked one person on this blog. Don’t be the second.

            -“these people did other bad things” is not evidence that they were part of any conspiracy regarding 9/11 (or anything else for that matter). That’s neither evidence nor logical reasoning.
            -“They used this event to pass legislation with a laundry list of things they wanted” is not evidence that they engineered the event. As Madeleine Albright said “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
            -Without the claim that the collapse of the buildings couldn’t be as described (which is where the “Jet Fuel can’t melt steel beams” comes into play) you’ve got no evidence that it didn’t happen as described, which is called “reasoning ahead of evidence” which is fancy language for “making shit up.”

            There is no case for any of this conspiracy nonsense. It’s a combination of emotion (people don’t want to accept that such seemingly small things–a dozen men with box cutters or one guy with a rifle in a building–can cause so much harm) and overactive imaginations unrestrained by the need to check against reality (conspiracies rely on the lack of evidence, simply declaring all lack of evidence for the conspiracy as evidence of a cover-up). And, of course, insulting people who don’t reach the same conclusions given the lack of actual evidence (just-so stories are not evidence) is the fall-back to cover that lack of evidence.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. Hey, dummies, if you knew the TRUTH about what was REALLY going on you’d be crazy too.

          This is an utterly sense-free statement. If you are going to make a claim that someone else is wrong and you’re right, you either have to make a sensible argument, or you may be disregarded offhand, since you have given no evidence to back it up. Not to mention the fact that if truth were actually that damaging to sanity, then no one could have conspired to create that truth without, themselves, going crazy.


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