Friday, March 13, 2015

An apology for apologists

I was reading this BBC article a few days ago on Philip Hammond, a British conservative politician, saying terror apologists must share the blame. This comes together nicely with all the recent changes in political stance that push otherwise modern democratic countries towards ideatic extremism. The UK is a prime example. After they invested immense resources into surveilling their own citizens, after they started blocking sites on the Internet, and after their media became more and more xenophobic, now they are moving towards this ... I don't even know how to call it... opinion control. In other words, you are allowed to speak your mind, but only if it is made up in a certain way. Akin to outlawing crazy people from denying the Holocaust, the political discourse is now pushing towards banning all kind of other opinions.

And I just had to write this article to say that this is completely idiotic. People do things not because they heard it somewhere, but because they have a drive to do it. If they are not sure about it, they start talking about it before they commit to action. Simple gagging a point of view - beyond being a very clear violation of the spirit of free speech - only pushes that opinion underground, where only like-minded people will engage in the conversation. Assuming you can quash an opinion just like that, through some legislative method, people who cannot discuss an idea will just implement it directly. The lone-wolf terrorist concept - one that has profusely been used by political media, but proven to be an unfounded myth - will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I remember when I was saying that outlawing types of philosophies, like the Nazi one for a classic example, is bad while other would argue using the same example to justify shutting people up. It is a bad thing that, writing these words, I feel vindicated. I shouldn't feel that way, instead I should be proven wrong. When an entire society chooses to close ears (and punish mouths) it should be for a good reason, not something that can predictably be abused later on and extended to ridiculous degrees.

One has to remember that when subscribing to some weird theory, one that is not generally accepted, people are just asking "what if?", an essential question for finding solutions for your problems, for thinking out of the box, for developing into a mature human being. If someone is asking "what if terrorism is good?" there should be a lot of people there to listen to them and argue back and forth until a conclusion is reached, one that in this case seems obvious, but still needs discussing. One could just as well ask "what if the Earth is not in the center of the universe?" - they punished people for that, too.

The principle of free speech as it is understood nowadays is less about freedom to speak and more about the principle of harm: you can say whatever you like, unless that is hurting someone. But we've exaggerated this idea so much, that everything is now considered harmful. This doesn't strengthen, but weakens us. Are we so fragile that we cannot take a few nutcases expressing their opinion? Are we children or are we adults that we must be protected from things we might hear for fear of somehow contaminating us. If you think about it, it is a ridiculous idea that an intelligent educated person would ever become a Nazi or a terrorist just because he stumbles upon some page on the Internet.

I just want to scream to these idiotic governments: "treat me like a human being, not like a mentally challenged child!". So yeah, rant over.

Just a few links from yesterday, all in the same edition of the BBC site:
EU plans new team to tackle cyber-terrorism
Access to blocked sites restored by Reporters Without Borders
UK ISPs block Pirate Bay proxy sites
Banning Tor unwise and infeasible, MPs told


Andrei Rînea said...

Excellent point! I recently commented on Facebook regarding the shooting in Paris at Charlie Hebdo magazine...

Basically I've been called as being agressor-minded and even cursed and threatened by an ex colleague that tried with violence to convince me that I'm violent.

Not because I endorsed in ANY way the terrorists' acts but because I was not 100% empathetic to the dead people. Practically if you are 92% empathetic you get called "terrorist" by some.