If, like me, you believe in the fundamental right of free speech, you will also have concerns about how people use that freedom. So, let’s be clear, freedom of speech, like any freedom, must always be understood in the context of man’s natural home in political society. Freedom of speech allows man to participate fully, to the greatest extent possible, in political society.
But you will have noticed, I am sure, that the campaign being waged by the mainstream media is not for freedom of speech. The MSM are arguing for media freedom from the defamation laws so that journalists and their publishers are free to say what they like, free from any financial penalty. However much we may enjoy the work of a particular journalist, it is the publisher who carries the financial burden in the event that their work is found to be defamatory. At the heart of the MSM’s campaign for media freedom is financial self-interest and a freedom from financial penalty.
The last thing the MSM seems to want is for people like you to be free to criticise their ignorance, bias, bigotry, and yes, especially their wokeness.
Journalists hold a position from which they can control the public narrative on almost any subject, especially those of political or cultural significance, giving oxygen to those claims they believe in while silencing those they oppose. Their power is not unlike that of the demos: one moment a civilised crowd, listening and conversing; in another, a roaring, screaming mob unable to accept the majority’s decision, abusing and haranguing those with whom they do not agree. That is the violence inherent in any mob-rule
The current media frenzy over Izzy Folau’s expression of religious principles is a good example of how the mob rule has overtaken a large section of the lunatic left in the MSM. Nothing offended the atheists among that class more than the idea that Folau should appeal to the people for financial assistance to fight his appeal against what most Australians consider to be a gross injustice; unless their outrage reflects their concern that a majority of Australians view his appeal favourably, despite their assertion that they speak for the majority.
Sandy Aloise on ABC News Radio asked an Anglican priest whether what Folau had said was discriminatory, thus exposing her narrow and meaningless understanding of justice. To his credit, her religious expert pointed out to her that every choice a human being makes discriminates. Given the ABC’s expressed support for the practices of the LGBTIQ minority, it is not unreasonable to assume that her choice of a religious expert was made to obtain an opinion that was favourable to the ABC gay-friendly policy. She made no attempt to foster a debate on the freedom of speech issue.
There is an implicit argument in the MSM demand for media freedom that has been expressed by Martha Gill of the lunatic left Guardian who declared that “some debates should be shut down”, a measure she insisted was not a “mark of intolerance.” She added that: “Free speech isn’t under threat. It just suits bigots and boors to suggest so.”
Her lesson about media freedom and that of the MSM can be readily summarised: “We are the judges. We will tell you when the debate is over and then you are no longer permitted to express your dissenting opinion.”
I do not want to be held to silence when the likes of Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Sandy Aloise and every other journalist whether right wing or left wing are platformed to express inane and often stupid opinions that are protected because the government decided to discriminate in favour of one group of Australians; but that is what will happen if it listens to the corporate world and protects only media freedom.
Consider this: when a mob of agitators turn up to an event, shouting slogans and holding up placards and preventing people from attending, it is not done to promote a rational exchange of opinions in the search for truth; it is done to prevent any rational discourse of the particular issue. That is the way the MSM will work, if they alone have the freedom to speak. The only views that will be heard on any program or read in any opinion piece will be those thought to be worthy by the woke elite of the MSM; the sort of wokeness that thinks the question, “Do you think gays go to hell,” reveals a profound theological understanding.
It may be that the present is really woke and that wokeness is the truth: that we have emerged into the sunlight of a post-Marxist époque with a completely new and truthful understanding of morality, politics and religion. Somehow, I can’t bring myself to believe something just because someone says it is so. Unless we are free to discuss and to evaluate opinions, not just about morality, politics and religion, but the whole value relativity implicit in ‘wokeness’, about the conflicting personal motives of those who speak, we are not free and democratic. We are slaves.
Our democracy depends for its strength on a demos whose opinions are firmly rooted in the truth of human nature and its divine origins. And Izzy Folau may just be correct. We must oppose those who would promote the false opinions of the intellectual effete who sit at high tables. We must continue to demand freedom of speech, which, if granted, even the media will enjoy.
David Long is a retired solicitor, economist and PhD candidate at Griffith University, School of Law.
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