Friday, April 9, 2010

Freedom, in G Minor

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I believed in and adhered to only one thing I learned in public school, yes, a sum total of twelve years' learning. Just say no to drugs. I did. I can proudly say that I've never done drugs. Never remotely interested in drugs, thank you very much.

However, I am starting to worry that a second thing has come back from those days to cling to me. The nonsense about freedom. Freedom of speech is part of the pablum public schools serve to charm their students away from the realization that the system is morally vacuous. It sounds like a high ideal that they - and not others - espouse. But it is an ideal of the second-order - it is not metaphysics, there is no metaphysics in public school to make claims like it meaningful. Twelve-year-olds don't know that. I figured it out by about fourteen, I think. At fourteen I realized that these people had nothing to teach me, that they were morally bankrupt.

It was quite some time later when I realized that they didn't mean - perhaps they didn't even know that they didn't actually mean - what they said about freedom. In grade ten, at fifteen years of age, I guess, I remember giving the 'pro' side in the class debate on censorship. I lost. Of course I lost. These soulless minions thought that they believed in free speech. Government employees - these school teachers, mindless Cretans - these school children. I should not have lost, since none of those people actually believe in freedom of speech.

I think I do now, and that worries me.

I think I believe that, despite the possibility it presents for the dissemination of error, that speech should not be impeded. Just as it is better for ten guilty men to go free rather than one innocent man imprisoned, I think ten liars should thrive so that truth too might be free.

Hate speech, holocaust denial, pornography, lies of an historical and moral order - all - just for the sake of the Gospel's freedom.

I have contemplated this for quite some time. I think it's the better choice.

Hate speech - I don't get it. I don't even get it in its strongest form - incitement to violence. I know that there are weak-willed people and that it happens that people do violence when they are whipped up by the words of others. But is the fault with words or with the people that do the violence? I am not talking about brain-washing, of course, or subliminal manipulation. Those things should be considered crimes since I cannot protect myself against them. But if I stand on the street corner and say "kill redheads" all day long - how is that a crime?

Further, why has gangster rap never been the subject of the thought-police, but as soon as someone says anything about homosexuality there is a big problem? Rap has played a huge role in the malformation of young black minds and in incitement to violence - yes, I am not denying that there is a role of suggestion in speech. But if a rapper says, "kill the police", and I say "homosexuality is sinful" - how is the first fine, but not the second by any stretch of the imagination. Part of this is about a prior idea of society's victims. I suppose that it is being suggested that since black people are victims of society, they may say whatever they like. And since homosexuals are likewise victims they must be protected.

From my perspective, I would never say 'do violence to x, y, or z' because I know that I am accountable to God for my words - there are sins of act, word and intention - but I am not so sure that my duty to the state works out in precisely the same way. It is a sin for me to will the death of anyone, let alone to express this desire in words. But there is no law on the books - at least not yet! - that it is a crime to think about the death of someone. I hope it never becomes a crime, although it will and ought always to be considered a sin. What I am suggesting, in other words, is that something can be a sin that it is not a crime - like immodesty in dress.

Should incitement to violence be considered a crime? People always point to Nazi Germany. "If we had only locked Hitler up as soon as he opened his hate-filled mouth this would never have happened!" so they say.

People still had a choice to listen or not, to stand-up and say, that guy is stupid.

I don't trust that a government - any government - can be an infallible judge for deciding what should not be said. I would rather have a state without hate speech legislation, and put the onus on people to respond to error. If we rely on the state to tell us when to speak and what to say, then we become the passive, unthinking victims that Hitler had no problem rounding up to his cause.

I think the best thing I can do is say everything I think I should say. Love of God and neighbour should govern my words. Sure, I'm going to make mistakes, but I won't be making the mistake of failing to form the virtue of courage that will enable me to speak even when it will not be universally well-received. I cannot let the government do my thinking for me, even if this course is imprudent.

So, for my ability to speak my mind here, and even occasionally say things like homosexuality is distorted, I have to tolerate the overwhelming preponderance of sin and evil on the Internet - porn, porn, porn. I dread the direction we are moving - are we moving in this direction? after all I'm only 35, how would I know? - I dread to think that one of the costs of this technological age, an age when authority can keep a complete record of our actions and words, that we shall rather cower at the prospect of some government lackey taking exception to our words, rather than that we shall continue to hold most important, even at the cost of life and limb, the manly courage to say what you think is true.

So, this is about this blog of mine. Do I do wrong to speak about homosexuality, Islam, etc.? If I went on and on about it, I should be committing the fault of boring myself and my reader. I don't do wrong to mention it here and there, of course. I have to be a man, a Christian man, and accept courageously that my words will come back to bite me someday. But you know, I want this blog to be able to be read by just about anyone and that that person will come away a better person for it. So you won't find me here harping on any hateful - no, of course not hateful - notion, but perhaps negative or cheerless notion. I'll say it and then leave it. No, it can't all be roses and sunshine, but neither can it all be dark and dreary - we have a Christian duty to truth, but also to joy.

And so what's the title all about? I just think truth and freedom are beautiful, just like classical music.

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