In Which I Discuss Free Speech

I’ve been thinking a bit about free speech, and how it is abused and criticised by those on the conservative and anti-social justice side of society. First, a bit of background on what got the gerbil inside my head running on its wheel.

Rosetta Project scientist Doctor Matt Taylor was being interviewed about the spacecraft that landed a probe on a comet for the first time, and made the decision to wear a shirt that kinda wasn’t the best ideamatt_taylor_esa_shirt

It raised comments about women being under-represented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, in that often women are discouraged from joining due to ‘laddish’ behaviour by men. Of course, when a man wears a man covered in half naked women it’s pretty similar to putting up pin ups at someone’s desk; it can be seen by some as objectifying.

I’m not going to get into the argument about the shirt itself, I think it’s done and dusted, but I will talk about some of the reactions I’ve seen to the criticism Dr Taylor received. One of the most ignorant responses I’ve seen turned up on my facebook feed, commenting on the irony of feminists attacking Dr Taylor and how “they told him he was asking for it dressed like that”.

To reference John Green, bullshit like this makes me a giant squid of anger


I’m sure I don’t need to say this to anyone who is reading this, but: CRITICISING SOMEONE’S CHOICE AS OFFENSIVE IS IN NO WAY EQUIVALENT TO RAPING SOMEONE! Okay, maybe I might have a Gamergater or someone who is impressionable find this blog some how, so for their benefit, I’ll repeat: CRITICISING SOMEONE’S CHOICE AS OFFENSIVE IS IN NO WAY EQUIVALENT TO RAPING SOMEONE!

I will concede that if there were any threats of physical or sexual violence leveled at Dr Taylor for his choice in shirt, that they are completely and utterly out of line, and I hope that anyone who takes it that far has to sneeze really bad, and it never really comes, but until I have an example of this given to me, from a non-sockpuppet social media account (since I know that there are those in the anti-justice are wont to use such tactics), I will assume that they do not exist.

It makes me think, what the hell are people on the Right, or in Gamergate, or in any movement that is against social justice and progression, afraid of when people criticise them for their words or actions? Do they think that there is some kind of “suede-denim secret police” are going to take them away? Do they think that the PC-police are going to put them into concentration camps, or into a re-education camp, or brainwash them until they believe in equal rights and privileges for all? Do they worry that individual people are going to infringe their right to speak their minds by telling them that they’re wrong?

I can’t think of anyone who is interested in social justice who has any belief in authoritarianism. In fact, I think the only people who have ever been dragged off to re-education camps, concentration camps, or had their right to speech infringed, in the history of man, would be minorities and those who social justice movements like feminism and the civil rights movements are supporting. I challenge anyone to come up with an example of when whites, males, heterosexuals, et al, have honestly had their rights infringed by the state or those in power (I will concede Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s regime, but frankly, when whitey steals your country, you kinda have it coming).

I want to remind every single person who uses the phrase “free speech” that this freedom applies to being protected from government interference with what you say, not to your bullshit being free from criticism, or being removed from conversations held in private arenas, or in areas controlled by an individual. I, myself, reserve the right to moderate any comments on this blog, and I will use that power to remove any discussion that offends me, or that attacks without proper argument (also spam. Fuck spam).

In fact, your right to free speech also allows me the right to call you an asshole. I like the term asshole. It’s not attacking something inherent about a person, like their sexuality, race, ability, but rather their behaviours. Douchebag is another good one.

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