A placeholder for a topic about which I don’t feel particularly excited but nonetheless need to engage with because it is an endless source of talking points with people I encounter. “Freedom of speech”. “Political correctess”. What are these things? Who has them? Will they give them back? Have any of these things gone mad? Is renaming things that sound bigoted reverse bigotry? Whither enlightenment? Whence liberalism? Where though police? Why public shaming? Wow trolling. Are you only saying that because you are in the pocket of Big Blather? Are golliwogs banned? Is that a thing? Does it matter if so?
There are lots of issues that collide in these questions, and a lot of public discourse around them and while I do not personally have a great deal of interest in the arguments that usually seem to emerge, that is not to say they are none of them important arguments.
As far as it goes, the rights-based framing that seems most prevalent feels unsatisfactory, an 18th century first-pass attempt at the important issue of open exchange of ideas. But does not feel like it gets to the nub of the issues facing contemporary online rage factories and public opinion manipulation. Also, like many rights-based arguments, it seems to produce a desire for solutions rooted in Absolute Right And Wrong, rather than the contingent negotiation that workable social norms seem to me to be.
If I did have an interest in this domain, it would be about mechanism design for new wave journalism to salvage our fragile democracies from oligarchy. In the mean time, I never get to explore that but rather find myself caught up in arguments about whether its is reverse badness to tell someone they are bad for calling people bad, or similar.
Here are some think-pieces.