The freedom to say crazy things

Nicole Davidson got me thinking on free speech. Even to say crazy stuff...

Nicole Davidson got me thinking on free speech. Even to say crazy stuff…

Today has been a great day for me. Spoken to some great clients, spent some time with awesome people and my early morning was with the awesome Nicole Davidson.

It was great conversation where we discussed, debated, considered many (not so) areas of society that attract controversy and heat.

We covered everything from Feminism, to Islam, to the Catholic Church, Social Justice Warriors, Trump Supports, Black Feminism and our own experiences of living in a progressive society (such as the awesome Australia).

As a man who likes to look at both sides of any coin, consider factual evidence and allow reason to influence my thinking (as much as I can within my own biases) we spent quite a bit of time talking freedom of speech and what it means to us.

One great issue that we spoke about is limitation to freedom and speech with we hear just too much of these days. The con we often hear roughly goes like this:

– Freedom of speech is great, BUT…

Whenever I hear the BUT come out, it always get me nervous as to what is going to come after it. I have all sorts of things from you can talk about X but not Y, you cannot say anything ‘Hateful’, you shouldn’t use these words and given topics are not allowed to be talked about.

The core issue with this type of thinking is:

– Who decides what comes after the BUT?

What could be a compliment to my ears could be considered as hate speech to others and likewise – just because I don’t like something, doesn’t make it incorrect or wrong. Is it a government panel? Does a right wing Christian decide or a Socialist who wants to change the Australian flag? Either situation is scary.

It’s freedom of speech which is critical for pulling down crazy ideas that don’t make any sense. A great one is people who I think are nuts being the ‘holocaust deniers’. As a proud Christian, pro-Israel man with many Jewish friends – I cannot stand holocaust deniers. There is so much evidence to the contrary in that it’s just a crazy claim.

What makes it all interesting is that every time we silence them or make it ‘forbidden’ to be spoken about, it makes it a powerful topic. “After all why are we silencing it, it may be true!” is a common question that can come up.

I find the other one of “you cannot talk about group because they are marginalised” ironically offensive to that group. I am a man of Middle Eastern / Iranian origins and I do not need to be cuddled or protected from ideas. ¬†Iran has got some massive issues which I would love to be spoken about more.

The reality is that talking about crazy stuff can go two ways in freedom of speech:

– The crazy idea gets pulled apart, destroyed and leaves societal discussion.

– The crazy idea becomes a groundbreaking change in thinking which is great for everyone.

My thinking and reflection? It was a pleasure speaking to Nicole today and having a great discussion with her. We agreed and disagreed on many things and love it.

Make sure you enable and support freedom of speech, even if you are on the receiving end of it! I have been trolled online very badly (with anything from threats to personal attacks) and guess what? I love.

Freedom of speech man. Love it!

P.S. Thank you Nicole! Intelligent discussion. Love your work and keep it up.