The Methods Of Suppressing Free Speech And The Methods Of Censoring Are Very Different
A female friend just lost a job for being “difficult.” As she narrated what had happened, it struck me: a difficult woman is one who asks for the things I get without having to ask for them. ~ David Frum @davidfrum
The methods of suppressing free speech and the methods of censoring are very different. Suppression of free speech tends to occur through political or legal means. Someone is thrown in jail for criticizing the government, and the police exert their power to remove the controversial content from the Internet. or having your childr/en taken into care and retained custody.
This weekend we remember the many, many thousands who were killed in the First and Second World Wars to protect this country and free speech. Many more were injured physically and mentally.
Free speech means listening to people who have opposite views to those you hold. It means trying to persuade them with rational argument that you hold the correct views.
Free speech does not mean stopping a person from speaking because you disagree with their views on a subject. ~ Robert Walters,
Much of the attention of the last 40 years has focused on individual racist behavior. However, just as individuals can act in racist ways, so can institutions.
Institutions can behave in ways that are overtly racist (i.e., specifically excluding people-of-color from services) or inherently racist (i.e., adopting policies that while not specifically directed at excluding people-of-color, nevertheless result in their exclusion).
Therefore, institutions can respond to people-of-color and whites differently. Institutional behavior can injure people-of-color; and, when it does, it is nonetheless racist in outcome if not in intent.
Banning anonymous social media accounts will do more harm than good
In practice, most people in the UK are far less free to express themselves – online or offline – than MPs, activists and journalists, often because of restrictions from their employers. For millions of public sector workers, including those in the police and NHS, there are rules against expressing political views, so that if someone wants to discuss politics online – which seems reasonable – they would need to use an anonymous account.
Where the UK leads, dictators can follow: the suggestion from Rayner and others that anonymous accounts are illegitimate allows authoritarian leaders to say the same, suppressing a channel for opposition speech.
Banning anonymous accounts is not just illiberal, it is also a failure in solidarity, and a failure to understand the real lives of those outside the political and media bubbles.
The lives of people in politics and the media are very different from those of the people they represent or the audiences they write for – and what needs tackling and in what ways will be different for both groups.
Rayner’s proposal on online anonymity is perhaps the most obvious example of where those interests can differ – but it is far from the only one.