The Myth of Free Speech & Facebook’s Tarnished Happy Social Community Image

There’s no such thing as free speech, in fact the notion or concept of Freedom is pretty flaky. We are never free from anything-there’s always a concept, an idea, an action or our own conscience which keeps us bound-up and shackled-in most cases to our own internal dialectic. Free speech is an illusory concept- especially when it comes to reporting anything as any report of anything seldom conveys the truth in any objective, rational way. Free speech has become a liberal mantra when anything which causes offense is criticized or causes outrage to others. We’ve seen the destructive nature of this illusory concept, especially when it comes to bigotry and scapegoating against others. Currently in the Western media there’s been a wave of anti-Semitism against Israel, and anti-Islamism against Muslims. This has taken the form of offensive cartoons and offensive articles which degenerate and stereotype the people of these cultures and religions. More recently there were the offensive cartoons produced by a French satirical newspaper showing the radiation effects on Japanese Sumo Wrestler. It was a very poor attempt at humor and a subtle, rather insidious dig by France at Japan’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.
More recently Facebook has gained increased notoriety (perhaps to push up its share price?) by allowing further violent and offensive multi-media material to be uploaded and transferred through its service. Facebook is allowing decapitation videos and pictures to be freely transferred via its users. We may never, ever know how many authentic users Facebook has, or for that matter the real identity of those whom Facebook claim they can ‘authenticate’; nonetheless the idea that anyone would want to watch another person having their head brutally cut off is quite abhorrent to any well adjusted human being. Leaving aside Art imitating life and the special effects created by movie studios who glorify such violent acts; Facebook and any other service for that matter is simply promoting gratuitous violence under the guise of public interest, and that ever flaky notion of free speech. Given that Facebook allows children as young as 13 to use its service there should be a public outcry at this move. Warnings about graphic content are useless in the face of the prurient interests of the weak willed.
But perhaps what is more astonishing in this sorry saga is the claim by Melbourne University academic Dr. Suelette Dreyfus that “Facebook’s decision is a victory for freedom of Speech” She goes on to argue that bad things go on in the world and as such should not be hidden, and that Facebook through its social media site is simply “revealing truth” albeit it is an “ugly truth”. Dr. Dreyfus claims that social media are testing the boundaries of “free speech” through their “new coalfaces of digitally-based citizen journalism” Notwithstanding her conflicting mixed metaphors spanning from the industrial age to the present so-called digital age; such a claim makes no sense at all especially under the spurious claim of free speech.
Social media sites have an ethical and moral responsibility to censor offensive material and to promote ethics, morals and values which create cohesive societies not broken ones. Social media sites should exist to promote values which will create better communities and better lives. Instead they are becoming a haven for the dishonest and disaffected who plot, bully and work out ways of how offensive they may be to the ‘other’ whom for the most part they may have never met or may never know. Dr. Dreyfus’ opinion is sure to promote and provoke debate and that is a positive outcome I suppose. But her proclamation that “it’s a good thing Facebook has opted for freedom of speech on the issue” of allowing children as young as 13 years old (and adults for that matter) watch a man cut off a woman’s head is simply misguided and wrong.

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