It’s a dark winter evening, you drive home from a long day at the office. Suddenly, on an empty stretch of highway your engine starts sputtering. It dies and you roll to the side with the clutch in neutral (this is Europe). Strange, maybe the battery had a defect. When you try to open your door it gives way really fast and before you realize what happend you are strangled about 5 meter above ground in what appears to be the grip of a giant green alien. You’re eyes are close to it’s mouth. And as it starts chewing you eyebrows off you think..
You’ve been warned. Many books describe these dangerous scenarios. What happens when aliens get angry, and there are so many of them. Early conceptions where rather crude, metal people, electrified shopping carts exclaiming "Exterminate! Anihilate! Destroy!". There’s a whole body of knowledge about this called Science fiction that opens up about the risks and dangers, many stories of how the Earth was nearly destoyed, some where aliens are friendly even.
Never would anyone try to stop science fiction writers, or many others for that matter. Writing about a lot of things is ok, even about drugs, murder and prostitution. You are allowed to describe your town as in some grim parallel univers where all inhabitants are zombies, or with some superhero keeps everyone safe, or as a mechanism for testing what ‘humanity’ actually is, as a tool of experiment.
Restricting speech is something religions have always done to control behaviour
What then is this freedom of speech issue, why are there people that claim we don’t have the right to say what we want? We can say the most crazy things and somehow there’s stuff we can’t say? We can. I can predict president Obama is shot as a result of his push away from fossil fuels. I can say someone wants to shoot him. I can make a character that is a bearded recluse that has a whole raft of arguments why he needs to destroy Obama. This can be put in print, it can be published in books or online, it has many times. Day of the Jackal, pretty good description of how to shoot a president about 40 years ago. It was in theaters all over the world.
But there is clearly something going wrong in our world today. We see a los of habius corpus, there are thousands of unconvicted prisoners in China and the US, US and China. The terrorism and evesdropping laws are now so loose your free speech can put you in jail without allowing you to mention it to anybody! The UK has secret gag laws as well : You can’t speak about something, but are not allowed to tell anybody you can’t. This is a trend that accompanies the publishing of outrageous news, like banks being pardonned while having enabled drug trade, transactions with Iran during an embargo, transactions with the money they where supposed to keep safe.
We are not talking freedom of speech, but freedom to organize. Freedom to motivate. I can write about crime, make lots of money doing it, but I can not use language to organize and motivate crime. This is what wiretapping is all about, catching those words that mean action, because the action is dangerous or in our modern world, simply commercially undesired.
If you can’t organize through speech, you remain weak
Freedom to organize is a much more serious resriction on society than the mere freedom to say something. This is what affects democracy, or if you wish to be open to the manner of governance, it affects the freedom to self govern. The free speech/unfree organizing situation is well demonstrated by the cry for action regarding the dolphin slaughter in Japan. You see many tweets on how horrible it is to slaughter dolphins, but very little if none offering cash to whoever stops the slaughter. Or a rally cry to get a ship an block the fishermen. Or a cry to talk to the family of these fishermen, or to pay them, or to do anything effective. Freedom of speech yes, freedom to organize and be effective no.
You can stop hoping for justice if you can’t organize force
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange made the distinction clear : He wanted to publish stuff that would make a difference politically. This means it would change behaviour of people, some of them. Aaron Schwartz did that when he stopped SOPA, a restrictive copyright law. He was legally harrased to such a degree that he committed suicide. It was not that he spoke out, it was that his speech organized and mobilized people into behaving differently and this stopped the law.
SOPA would have made it easier to convict people who copy material that is copyrighted. It would create a deterrent for people to share and try to access information only based on the fact that someone claimed ownership. Not because someone created it and wanted to earn a living, but simply based on a territorial claim on words. "I own ‘to be or not to be’, you pay or stay away!".
Powerless movements are therapy, it teaches you a movement has no power
We should bring out the fact we are less and less free to organize. Less and less free to create power based on morality. We are more and more forced to adapt our behaviour to people that simply want us to earn their bread and butter, in an increasingly exit free culture. Our knowledge is supposed to be entertainment. You can’t improve anything unless you also improve the lives of those that control your information. Serving is a given through the control of your ability to organize independently, through control of what you can signal to others.
The irony is that the direction society is steered towards is not on the mind of those that influence it. Their concern is much more shortsighted. So your life becomes a result of forces that don’t even consider its integrity. It’s madness, like an artist sculpting a statue of life kittens and glue. It’s time to focus on self governance and local freedom, not in terms of expressiveness but in terms of results.
What to think if martians try to eat your face? First maybe "Gee, so that stuff was totally usefull!" and then maybe "Shoot, there goes my only hope of rescue…"