December 28th, 2003


Free Speech Rant

I recently discovered the existence of the liberal_fascism community, and am very disturbed by it. I'm actually acquainted (to varying degrees) with several of the people involved in it, but I cannot understand how they can support it. The community's userinfo page states that it is "NOT for those who are pro-life, conservative, and who seek to ban/censor things on religious grounds," yet declares the community's purpose as follows:
"This is a community created for those fed up with the American Civil Liberties Union, and similar organizations, who defend causes that are protected under the 1st amendment, regardless of the effect they have on society and individuals within society.

If you are tired of pornographers, child molesters, racists, homophobes, and misogynists hiding behind their right to "freedom of expression", this community is for you.

If you feel that we, as a society, have the right to dictate what is acceptable & what is not, this community is for you."
So in other words, it's a community for people who think that "causes that are protected under the first amendment" should not be allowed freedom of expression after all, unless "we as a society" decide to include it in what "we as a society" collectively "dictate" as acceptable.

HELLO!? Have you never noticed at all what kinds of decisions "we as a society" dictate when "we as a society" dictate decisions en masse? We make people like George W. Bush president! I don't fucking care if he didn't technically get "elected," he still got very nearly the largest number of votes, and "we as a society" did elect Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush who filled the Supreme Court with the people who made George W. Bush president. These are the kinds of decisions that get made when "we as a society" make decisions collectively.

One of the most important quotes I've ever come across is one I found in the book Conversations with James Baldwin (a collection of interviews with him) that I got from my college library and read during my first year of college. I later bought my own copy of the book so that I could quote from it freely on a regular basis, because there are so many important things James Baldwin said in those interviews. But one of the biggest sentences that really leapt off the page at me the first time I read it was this one from a 1961 interview: "The majority is usually - I hate to say this - wrong. There is a great confusion in this country about that. . . . Now when we talk about majorities and minorities, I always have the feeling that this country is talking about a popularity contest in which everybody works together, you know, toward some absolutely hideously material end."—James Baldwin

"Democracy" is a system designed inherently to support the ability of the majority to pass any laws they want and totally ignore the opinions of all minority groups. I am not an especially big fan of it, even though I concede that there are a few systems that can be even worse. But I am a much bigger fan of well-written constitutions which make it practically impossible for the majority to revoke the principles laid out in the constitution, no matter how badly the majority wants to revoke them. I find the first amendment to be extremely well-written.

The power to censor is inherently only ever going to be held by people who are already in power. They will use the power to censor against anyone who challenges their power. Sure, the capitalist system already favors the distribution of ideas that support those already in power - but giving those in power censorship powers only favors them even more! If you start letting the majority vote on what to censor and what not to censor, the decisions made will be made by the white heterosexual Christian majority, the middle-of-the-road Bush-Gore swing voters, and sure, they might censor some occasional really extreme racism or sexism or other right-wing politics that you would prefer to get rid of, but they will also censor anything radical on the left-wing end of the spectrum too - they will censor, essentially, anything extreme on either end of the spectrum, anything non-"middle-of-the-road." The spectrum of ideas available in society will be narrowed, the same way that the spectrum of ideas available on television is much narrower and more "middle-of-the-road" than the spectrum of idea available on the internet. The ideas that get on television are narrowed by the capitalist system's inherent catering to what sells - in other words, to the majority of people with money. The ideas available on the internet are much more varied because they have not been narrowed by the capitalist system and because, so far, the amount of censorship the internet is subject to is fairly minimal. Who among us doesn't find the internet vastly more interesting and educational than television???

Yes, I fully agree that Larry Flynt's pictures of feeding women into meat grinders are misogynistic. But I'd infinitely rather put up with those pictures' existence than have to put up with not being allowed to paint my own pictures of anything I feel like, including Larry Flynt himself being fed into a meat grinder, etc. The only people that censorship will favor are the middle-of-the road centrists who so fervently hate all ideas that disagree with their own that they would seriously like the whole world's spectrum of ideas to be limited to just the narrow spectrum available on television. And THOSE PEOPLE DISGUST ME.
  • Current Music
    The Patti Smith Group: "Broken Flag"


Everybody's already heard about that whole annoying trend of communities like newnonuglies and nonuglygays and nonuglylesbians, right? Where entire communities are devoted to people submitting photographs of each other and other people voting on whether those people are "ugly" or not, and it's just the absolute extremes of everything shallow and degrading?

Yes, okay. But now I have discovered that there's also a community called unatraktiv, where people voluntarily submit pictures of themselves and compete to try to get voted "ugly," and they apparently get very upset and offended if other people refuse to call them ugly and tell them they're too attractive to be allowed into the community.

Also, everyone in it looks like they're probably totally conventionally physically attractive if they'd just stop making weird faces at the camera. But I guess it'd hurt their feelings if I told them that.

People are just strange.
  • Current Music
    The Patti Smith Group: "Fire of Unknown Origin"