Until we are all treated as equals, free speech won’t be a reality.
This comment was by Connor in reference to the post – Sargon of Akkad and the Importance of Free Speech
While what you say is true in theory, you’re naïve in accepting, at face value, the belief that free speech means we all exist in a completely neutral “marketplace” (what an odious comparison) of ideas, where we all have equal power to say whatever we want and be heard.
The reality is that the public realm is a battleground where the dominant ideas have the high ground and other ideas are fighting for survival. And those dominant ideas are those which dehumanize women and people of colour, castigate LGBT+ people for even existing, and have a material effect on people which endangers their lives.
People on the bottom of the social totem pole don’t have the luxury of “agreeing to disagree” with harmful speech. They walk away from conversations/lectures shaking because they know that the person they heard doesn’t acknowledge their existence as legitimate, and would support state power being used against them to deny their freedom. When people get fed up of free speech being used to justify their continuing dehumanization, it’s only a matter of time until they act contrary to it out of sheer desperation.
So yes, defend free speech, but next time, don’t act like we’re all equals when we partake in it, ignoring the massive power imbalances which reinforce the speech of the dominant and marginalise the speech of the subordinate.
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