Freedom is the Solution to Hate, Not Censorship, Truth is the Solution to Hate, Censorship does not Prevent Hate
Watch Brian Holdsworth’s video commentary on censorship and dealing with hatred…
So their seems to be a growing trend of censoring and silencing ideas and people that we don’t. There have been several instances, I can think of, in which speakers and activists have been refused entry into countries because of their political beliefs and some have even been jailed for what some people would describe as behaviour that is protected by free speech rights.
And just this week Alex Jones and his InfoWars media company have been banned from almost all of their social media pages including YouTube, iTunes, and Facebook… on the same day, which if you’re wanting to reduce his influence as a conspiracy theorist, the optics of that don’t look good.
Now, I’m not a fan of Alex Jones, I don’t think I’ve ever watched one of his videos or listened to his podcast, so I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I am interested in the precedent that is being set by these Orwellian maneuvers.
I recently saw a photo of a sign at a political protest that said Fear + Ignorance = Hate and I think there’s some truth to that. And if that is true, then it would stand to reason that the best way to reduce hatred is by disrupting or removing one of those two variables.
But the measures that we’ve been seeing seem to be based on the idea that the solution to ignorance or fear is to revoke the freedom of those whose message we don’t like by either restricting their mobility or by simply locking them up.
But I’d argue that ignorance and fear are symptoms of not being free enough. It’s what happens when people are held hostage by their own limited perspective.
For example, a person who is illiterate is forced to live in a much smaller world than those of us who can learn from and share in the adventures of a Bilbo Baggins or a Huckleberry Finn… or just read a history book.
A person acts out of their ignorance isn’t abusing their freedom. They’re acting out of their captivity to ignorance. The antidote to their ignorance is to free them from that isolation through education.
And we don’t seem to be doing a very good job of that. In a recent Jimmy Kimmel segment I saw, people were asked to name a single book… and couldn’t. In another segment, they were shown a map of the world and asked to name ANY country, and everyone that made it on air failed to do so.
Now granted, that’s probably not most people, but the fact that they were able to find enough people over the course of an afternoon that couldn’t answer those questions to fill a segment is pretty scary.
So to try to summarize my point so far, I’d say that the antidote to ignorance and fear is a proper education in what is true and good.
And this correlates back to one of those sayings of Jesus that sounds nice enough, but I wonder how many of us actually get anything useful from it. He said that, “truth will set you free.” So there’s this correlation between truth and freedom. When people are less free, it’s a symptom of their estrangement from truth and ignorance, if nothing else, is a kind of slavery of the mind.
So if we want people to be less ignorant, we should be doing everything we can to liberate them with truth and freedom. Instead, we seem to be opting for less freedom.
But I know that a lot of people will immediately retort that Christianity, with all it’s rules and restrictions, is just another impediment upon freedom, so it has no place in this discussion, but it’s fairly easy to observe that rules and commandments exist to actually increase and enhance our freedom.
Take the rules of the road for example. You could complain about speed limits, right of way, and traffic lights as limitations on your freedom to do whatever you want, but what would happen if they were all removed. There would be instant gridlock everywhere and you would be saddled with a catastrophic absence of any freedom whatsoever. Measured restrictions that correlate to what is good and true actually maximize freedom.
Or take something like learning a musical instrument. If you set aside all the best practices and you were left to your own devices, you might learn a little, but you’d also develop a whole range of bad habits that would actually prevent you from growing in ability.
Attempts to circumvent the rules and disciplines that have been defined for the use of that instrument will impose limitations on your freedom to be a proper musician. If you were to observe the rules that have been outlined by theorists and instructors, you’d find your freedom to flourish as a musician would be enhanced rather than suppressed.
So I’d say that truth and freedom are what competes with ignorance and fear. But, sadly, we seem to be taking the opposite approach in combating the ingredients of hatred. And it won’t work. If conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones are trying to convince the world that their message is true and therefore dangerous to those in power, using power to suppress his message will only fan the flames of fear and suspicion.
If someone is acting out of ignorance, attacking their freedom by censoring them or arresting them won’t help because freedom is merely a symptom of truth… whatever truth they happen to still be in possession of. Instead, we should be attacking their ignorance with more truth… which will lead to more freedom. The proliferation of freedom, not the restricting of it, should be our aim.