Free speech is not just another one of our freedoms, it is the foundation of freedom that all our other freedoms come from. If we can’t speak freely, then we can’t think freely.
If you have never heard an idea before, then you will not think about it. Unless you read, hear, or see a new idea it will not permeate your thinking and you will not grow from experiencing it – even if you disagree. Such is the power of new information.
It is incredibly easy to police ‘wrongthink’, particularly within certain topics. All that is required is for example to made of a person who says the ‘wrong’ thing. If they experience public and painful consequences, other people quickly learn that they must not make the same mistake. Not only will the rest of society avoid saying the ‘wrong’ thing in public, they stop thinking the ‘wrong’ thing in private.
To ‘protect’ themselves and their friends, they will contribute to the persecution of strangers that say the ‘wrong’ thing – thereby perpetuating a general attack on free speech.
In the remnants of classical education at my British Boarding School, in History class, we were explicitly told by the master that he didn’t care what our opinion was, he wanted us to show him how we could argue between two opposing points of view with academic references to support each argument.
Today, kids are taught one side of an argument but not the other. They are marked down for arguing points of view that oppose the school-approved perspective.
If kids are taught what to say and not to question things or argue opposing points of view publicly, the result is that they stop thinking about opposing points of view privately. Schools are no longer teaching kids how to think, but what to think. This is the fulfilment of the ‘Outcome Based Learning’ philosophy that was introduced to replace classical learning in the Western World after the second world war.
Politics is full of examples where this type of controlled thinking plays out in the adult world. After becoming an Australian Citizen in 2020 and learning about the wonderful history of our country, I proudly became a member of what I thought was the major conservative party in Australia: The Liberal Party.
After time spent dabbling in local politics where I was involved in successfully tackling corruption, I decided to nominate for an internal Liberal Party committee position, as I had become concerned with the direction the party was taking. They had recently rejected the application of Christian groups in South Australia on the basis that Christian values ‘didn’t align’ with the modern Liberal Party’s move away from the values of its inception. I had recently raised my concerns about the party’s moral decline with a serving state Liberal MP in Victoria. When she told me that all the party wanted to do was ‘get back into power’ and they would do anything to achieve it, I was deeply concerned!
Having nominated for the internal committee position, I was contacted by the administrator for the currently serving federal Liberal MP in my electorate. The administrator specifically asked me what I thought of the federal MP’s service. It did not impress me that the MP engaged in self-seeking rather than seeking the best for their community. A brochure had been recently sent around with the MP parading her numerous successes and virtues, while the world lay in tatters around us. At that point, I thought nothing of freely expressing my miss-givings about her. I subsequently realised that this was a polling activity to gauge my level of support for the current Liberal Party leadership…
New committee members were to be elected by vote during a local branch meeting. After the meeting, based on the accepted analysis of ‘first count indicators’ in the Australian preferential voting system, I was guaranteed a place on the committee. The next day – to my shock – the meeting and the vote were both declared invalid. Apparently, there had been some infraction of the meeting rules based on the Party Constitution. I immediately smelled a rat and contacted the Head Office to validate which article of the Constitution had been breached. I received no response. The meeting and vote were rescheduled. Feeling disillusioned, I was persuaded to nominate again.
At the rescheduled meeting, there was a line of ‘new’ people that I had never seen before down one side of the room. They had all nominated for the position. The results of the vote this time were a resounding victory for the newcomers and I barely received a single vote. Clearly, there had been some coordination behind the scenes to make sure I didn’t get on and that these ‘friends’ of the party were successful.
Rather than allow free debate about ideas that might challenge the status quo, the Liberal Party leadership has shown itself to be committed to silencing discussion by penalising those that try to speak freely. Their aversion to free speech is antithetical to the conservative ethos that the Liberal Party was founded on, which is meant to put free speech at paramount importance.
Politicians are supposed to protect free speech at all costs, not tell people what to say.
They should trust that logic and truth are inherently powerful, therefore by simply protecting free speech in the marketplace of ideas, only the genuine truth will be logically consistent enough to survive.
As more young minds are exposed to the infallible logic of truth and allowed to debate, they will demolish any illogical or bad ideas. There is no risk that if we deregulate speech, the bad ideas will grow. History shows us that bad ideas will be displaced – like darkness is displaced by light.
We find ourselves living through trying times, and we need truthful ideas more than ever. If we are to overcome the major challenges that face us, we need more truth – not less – and the liberty to openly discuss our problems.
The last thing we should be doing is silencing people that question or try to articulate opposing arguments. We should be able to learn from these arguments without being threatened. The ability to speak freely with impunity must be protected at all costs. After all, the truth is not threatened by the lie, but the lie is threatened by the truth!
Ingram Spencer, UAP Candidate for Higgins.
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