Life at № 42
Yesterday someone re-blogged the previous post on free speech vs. hate speech with a critique. The critique itself wasn’t unreasonable, although the author basically relied on the slippery slope fallacy. His position is that any curtailing of speech will inevitably lead to tyranny. That’s a fallacy because there’s nothing to justify the alleged inevitability. We “partially” regulate all manner of things; driving, drinking, smoking, who can have sex and where they can do it, nudity, language on television, which drugs people can and can’t use. We regulate when abortion can take place and even when the taking of a life is acceptable. There’s nothing that sets speech apart making it impossible to regulate; Especially if laws are carefully devised to ensure they don’t silence genuine debate.
In any event, the discussion that ensued went on to very much confirm what I had posited. The majority of the defenders of unlimited “free speech” in that discussion turned out to be promoters of defamation, fallacies and outright falsehoods. Have a look at this comment by Adriane:
Ah, the no-go zones! A fascinating concept. The no-go zone myth was the result of a Fox News report- well, a number of Fox News reports which they kept repeating over and over again. In a rare move they actually later retracted the story. Here’s an amusing take on it:
But even after the retraction and the many responses in the media discrediting the notion of no-go zones, there are people who have continued to try to make facts fit their vision of the world rather than letting the facts shape them. In that particular discussion in trying to bolster the the no-go myth, someone mentioned the ZUS (zones urbaines sensibles/sensitive urban zones) which it turns out is where the Fox News *expert* got his numbers. A ZUS is no more and no less than an urban area where a significant proportion of residents are at greater risk of unemployment and poverty. In other words, it’s the poorer neighbourhood of a town/city.
In the case of our town, for example, it’s a little section of Aussillon called La Falgalarié which is just 2.8 km from our house. So you see, just 6 minutes away from the most expensive part of town is a ZUS. A ZUS where there’s a great supermarket and a Thursday street market that attracts people from far and wide (because the prices are great and it’s a fantastic place to get spices):
La Falgalarié is also home to a cute little chateau which is a Cultural Centre that regularly hosts exhibitions and occasionally shows.
Hardly a little Iraq “no-go zone” where the police, or anyone else, is afraid to walk the streets because dangerous Muslims might attack us. No one wearing Bin-Laden t-shirts either. In fact, that would be a crime called supporting and/or justifying terrorism.
All of this is to demonstrate how in the case for a majority of the people in that discussion, the preoccupation was by no means the freedom to be able to communicate facts. That is in no way affected by hate speech laws. Their preoccupation is simply to be able to use free-speech as a cover for propaganda: The right to deceive. The right to defame.
And before I go I just want to address this notion of the alleged Muslim problem we have in Europe. Firstly there’s no denying that there are a number of issues with Islam (as with religions in general) and that there are elements within the Muslim community who use the religion as a catalyst for violence. The same was true of the conflict in Northern Ireland. That being said, France with the highest Muslim population in Europe, is hardly at risk of Sharia Law or an “Islamic takeover” of any kind. The reason is the math.
In a population of 65 million, we have an estimated 10% who are technically Muslim. I say technically because that number refers to ethnic Muslims. Of that 10%, only 33% say they’re practicing believers. But only 20% claimed they go regularly to mosque. That means we’re talking about 1.3 million people who go to mosque in a country of 65 million. And there’s no evidence whatsoever to support a claim that those 1.3 million who do go to mosque are supporters of sharia law, much less terrorism.