It’s easy to point to the other injustices that the CCP have perpetrated as proof that their actions are evil
Have we not systematically wiped out the Natives of the Americas? Have we not tweaked the history lessons we teach our kids so that we deemphasized slavery in favor of “indentured servitude”? Do we not continue to white wash history by not acknowledging the contributions minorities had on the evolution of our country?
What I posit is that our freedoms is a joke much like how China calls itself a “Republic”.
Given the current global political climate, I am moved to speak about the inadequacies of what is being debated.
Let me lay out the current situation:
China is progressively tightening their control over what is being exposed to their citizens. This entails controlling the media as well as what they have access to. Corporations that wish to conduct business in China are either forced to censor themselves retroactively or they are proactively doing it in fear of the CCP’s retribution. Such activities are not only altering reality in China but the rest of the world as well because Corporations are no longer allowed to say one thing in China and another outside. Given the shear monetary value of China’s populace, no Corporation would willingly choose to assert the freedoms of all other countries besides China. This poses a huge problem for corporations that are essentially a crucial infrastructure to the western world.
On the flip side, we have The United States with their dominating inalienable right to freedom of speech. However, more recently this freedom of speech has been put to the test as fringe groups are using it to promote hate and violence, which results in them being censored in some way. We write this off with the often heard phrase, *”freedom of speech but not free from consequences”.* However, that quickly turns into the consequences being the removal of such freedoms (excommunication from social media platforms), which effectively is censorship. What I find funny is that liberals will justify such removal as something justifed by the conservatives: capitalism at play and that such excommunicated people are free to start their own social media platform. The irony here is that conservatives often tell liberals to pick them up by their own bootstraps, and this is exactly what the liberals are saying to those who were banned from these platforms. The reality is that we have made it extremely hard for anyone new to compete with existing players. So if liberals truly want equality for everyone, then access to platforms must also be open.
When we take a look at the results of either approach, the results seems strikingly similar. At the end of the day, there is some form of oppression. When viewed from the perspective of those who agree with the censorship, (eg. supportors of the CCP or Liberals), the censorship is seen as just. But when viewed from the ones being censored, (eg. Western corporations or the Alt-Right), it is seen as unjust. How does one reconcile these differences?
If we were to speak about the situation in China as Westerners, it’s easy to point to the other injustices that the CCP have perpetrated as proof that their actions are evil. However, to attribute the censorship of things such as whether Taiwan is an independent nation to their other acts of attrocities such as the imprisonment of millions if Uighurs is an applicable of false equivalency.
Do not get me wrong, I vehemently disapprove of almost everything the CCP is doing, however, I also disapprove of the ways with which we use to fight their (and other) corruption. I can easily point to what the US has done as comparable acts to what the CCP is currently doing. Have we not systematically wiped out the Natives of the Americas? Have we not tweaked the history lessons we teach our kids so that we deemphasized slavery in favor of “indentured servitude”? Do we not continue to white wash history by not acknowledging the contributions minorities had on the evolution of our country? Do we not currently try and make it seem like the Black Lives Matter or ANTIFA movement seem violent much like how the CCP is trying to convince us that the HK protestors are violent? So why do we stand behind the HK protestors, but we so easily ignore the voices within our country?
What I posit is that our freedoms is a joke much like how China calls itself a “Republic”. It is a bastardization of the real intention behind such terminologies. Governments like ours and other governments like China are simply two faces of the same coin. We hold steadfast on the notion of freedom-of-speech as being a just freedom and anything which opposes it is bad. However, I believe that our interpretation of such freedoms is, in itself, wrong.
I believe that the original intention behind the idea of “freedom of speech” should really be the “freedom to truth“. When we think of making something real we typically think of a physical act which requires interacting with something external to us. If we were held to task to come up with a verb which encapsulates that freedom to make real, I think the idea of “speech” does it very well (at the time). To suppress our ability to speak is tantamount to denying us from living. However, we can also speak in non-sense. We can also collectively speak in the same non-sense. Does that mean that what we speak is just? We know for a fact that our understanding of the world is limited and we increase that understanding everyday. So if we rewound time and looked at what is spoken 100 years ago and compared to what is spoken today, can we say that both are equivalent in correctness? If it is not equivalent in correctness, then can we say that what is spoken 100 years ago should be afforded the same freedoms as that which is spoken today?
This is where it becomes difficult as the issue is not just a difference in time but in understanding as well. We have people who are not doctors speaking as if they are doctors and those words are afforded the same weight as the words from doctors. We see this sort of problem in all areas and we’ve continued to debate about it (in a beat-around-the-bush sorta way) without any rigorous conclusion as to what is right and what is wrong. I believe that our inability to come to a rigorous, objective conclusion is proof that this freedom is not rigorous enough. Such freedoms that we deem inalienable must be rigorous and inherent.
This is where the idea of “freedom to truth” comes to play. We should all be entitled to truth and we should all be entitled to transmit truth. Therefore, freedom of speech is really just the freedom to speak truthfully, but we should reject speech that is not truthful. Freedom to truth would also require us to develop and maintain infrastructure and processes that not only enforces the truthfulness of what is shared, but maintain the right to share truth.
What would be required in such an infrastructure?
The immediate thing to address here is that freedom of truth should never be a mechanism to oppress speech. There is truth in the untruthful and we must allow falsehood to be spoken in order to callout what is false. Without this assurance, then the freedom itself is at risk of being abused to oppress speech.
An infrastructure that must allow truth and falsehoods to be spoken would be required to highlight what is truthful and what isn’t. However, we cannot allow humans to dictate what is truthful or what isn’t, nor can we allow an AI trained by humans to determine what is truthful or what isn’t. So how would we be able to determine truth with these restrictions?
I assert that truth isn’t what we commonly think of when we think of the word “true”; truth is not just the correctness of something (how can we really determine the correctness of something we do not already know whether it’s correct?), truth is whether something that came to being is justified to be. In other words, something is true only if we can rederive it; and to be able to rederive something, we must have knowledge of how it came to be. This inspection of truthiness can be repeated ad infinitum, where the origin of one truth must have an origin unto itself. If we cannot validate this chain of derivability, then we cannot say that such latest statement is 100% true, we can only say it’s partially true and point to the derivability (and lack thereof) as reasons why.
So for example, when we see something (eg. a news article), we must be able to tease apart the references to the material. What are the source materials? What are the sources to the source materials? etc. We must know what is an opinion from the author and what is fact. We must know how reliable the fact is based on the reliablity of the sources’ source materials.
In such a system, a person is still free to post opinions, but unless references are provided, the truthfulness of the post would be essentially zero.