Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How Free Is Your Free Speech?

Angry of Mayfair is currently in the USA and has been watching the Alan Jones "died of shame" melodrama from somewhere with a guaranteed right to free speech. 

The ugly exposure of Jones' cruel remarks at a Young Liberals smug-fest led to a horrified reaction and public backlash, an internet campaign and self-pitying claims of cyber-bullying by the offender. Now Jones and his defenders are 'outraged' by a satirical TV show and it's lampoons. It's a sad, but predictable, attempt at muddying the waters, because there are some facts about free speech that Jones and his ilk don't want you to think about (and they apply to every right-wing shock jock).

The first is this: When Alan Jones talks it isn't for free.

Alan Jones isn't employing free speech. He gets PAID to pour his divisive, misogynist, xenophobic, fear-mongering, dog-whistle politics into the ether. This isn't happening by chance, there's a great deal of profit to be had, both by his radio station and the companies who line up to advertise on it. This is about money. This is hate-speech for money, and lots of it. So let's be clear about how this works. 

Jones' appeal is simple. He's the lazy-thinking, public bar loudmouth who reduces every problem to one of them b@stards versus us good blokes. There are no problems that can't be reduced to a coin-toss of us decent, hard-working, struggle-street Aussies and our trickle-down millionaire exemplars of greed versus them. 

'Them' of course can be anyone different from us: Queue-jumping illegal-immigrant boat-scum, gangs of teenage ethnic dole bludgers who refuse to fit in; scary, angry Muslims who might be terrorists; castrating bitches who never shut up about equal pay and rape and abortion; socialist politicians who want to steal your money and raise your taxes; tree-hugging greenies who want to raise your taxes and steal your money, the list goes on.

The list goes on, but they all have one thing in common. They all demand that you think beyond your own short-term interest, that you show some consideration for another point of view, that you spare a thought for others. They threaten your right to be petty, greedy, self-absorbed and mentally lazy. Far better to just react viscerally and emotionally, to be one of us. Nice safe comfortable us.

The drunker you get the more sense he makes.

The point of this is that when you react with the knee-jerk greed-fear-hatred of the hind-brain you are easily suggestible. When your fear buttons are pushed you are far more likely to (a) lash out at the nearest, weakest target put in front of you, and (b) grab hungrily at what your greed response is presented with before the scary thing steals it from you.

When your emotions rule thinking goes by the board, and you"ll buy the next comforting lie and the next, and, of course, you'll buy the product that's put in front of you. Not immediately, of course, but soon, and the more you listen the more you believe, the better it feels to be one of us, to want the Mercedes Benz that shows us just how strong, brave and successful we are.

The profits from this fear-mongering, hate-mongering, greed-mongering retardathon are in the millions. That's not free speech under any rational definition. 

Real free speech is when 100,000 people use their laptops and iPads to say that they won't be part of the system that pays this pig a fortune to peddle his ignorant, right-wing, hatred and fear designed to keep people dumb, ill-informed, and reacting with emotion, buying with emotion.

Jones calls it cyber-bullying. It's not. 
It's free speech in action. 
Free, unpaid, private citizens speaking out. 

Free speech is the right of the unpaid, non-professional, private citizen to say NO to the paid propaganda of corporate greed, nationalist war-mongering and ugly, hate-spewing demagogues. 

We choose, as a society, to extend that right to journalists and news organizations so that we can guarantee that the truth gets told. That the public record is based on facts, not the spin of misogynist bully-boys.

That's the democracy of the 21st century. For the first time we have the technology to make immediate personal democratic opinion a player in the world. That frightens some people. "Mob rule" they cry as they cling to their comforting prophets of profit and complacency. The only rational response is to get involved, to think, to consider, to see another's point of view. Who knows, it may make the world a better place.

No comments: