Lab a2: Bullying, lying and Freedom of Speech
Bullying, lying and freedom of speech
On OboxPlanet, you can say whatever you want. Without limitations. You are free to speak your mind. You can lie, curse, and bully people. You can spread fake news and freely express your feelings towards individuals or groups of people. Why? Because there is no state, and hence no entity to enforce limitations on speech.
OboxPlanet is the ultimate free-speech-paradise.
For a lot of people, this might sound scary. Yes, someone might call you names. Yes, someone might tell you they hate you. They might spread lies about you or say horrible things about your family. Now, who would want to live in a society like that?
Let’s take a step back. Does the prevention of free expression of thought actually work? On OboxPlanet, people realized that you cannot change somebody’s mind just by prohibiting them from expressing their thoughts. If your neighbor hates you because your favorite food is strawberries, they will always hate you for that exact reason. In many cases, you can do absolutely nothing to change their minds. As long as there is no physical attach, people are thus free to share whatever crosses their minds.
Since everybody is free to express their opinions freely, people are much more skeptical when distinguishing truths from lies. And since news outlets cannot report on dirty politics (since there are no politicians around) nor take partisan stands (there are no parties), news reporting aims for the highest level of truth.
On OboxPlanet, truth sells. It’s how media outlets make their money. People learn to ask more questions and regard facts and data as the basis of every conversation. Media companies that get debunked as sharing “fake news” go bankrupt. People just change to another news outlet. It’s very easy: You lie, you die (at least economically).
Honestly though: Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to deal with all the political drama all the time? Who wants to listen to politicians anyways?
Steps for our world:
It’s easy. Free speech reigns.
On the OboxPlanet, I may say anything I want – on my property and with my property or with the permission of some other property-owner. I can lie and bully and falsely accuse others, I can do whatever I want except use physical force. Because everybody knows this, there is more skepticism and more truth in most conversations. After all, who wants to waste his time listening to liars? Newspapers and News organizations check on each other and there is a race for honesty. Plus: on OboxPlanet, there is no political sphere where it pays to lie systematically and there are no state media and pressure on private media to cover up for them.
Most people agree that it is immoral to lie, slander and bully others and for most people this makes them act accordingly. But while on earth, the state sets some limits to what anybody can say, there are no limits on planes o-box. This has consequences for those who speak and for those who listen.
As the producer of information, whether as a friend or as a news outlet, I know that the most important asset is that people believe in me. If people think I lie, why listen to me? It takes time and effort to build trust, it is very easy to lose it.
When I receive information, whether from a friend or from a news organization, I will be more or less skeptical according to how much I believe the source. If I believe or find out that some information is false, I will be skeptical about everything in the future.
This is mostly true on today’s earth with two exceptions:
Firstly, there are state laws against publicly accusing people and even against things the state considers “fake news”. These laws are well-intentioned but, as so many laws, attain the opposite. When I read or hear some outrageous accusations, in the back of my mind I think “there must be some truth to it. After all, if it were false, the accused could use the law to defend him / herself”. But this is not always true. Especially poor people have few means to fight against newspapers or social media platforms who have all kinds of lawyers and money.
Secondly, lies in politics not only have no consequences, very often they are useful for the liar. If a private producer lies, he loses credibility and I switch to the competition, problem solved. If a politician lies, very often he gets lots of news attention. I cannot switch to the competition until the next election and by that time, even if we find out he lied, it’s old news. Plus; I know that I have but one in a million votes, why should I even bother to check whether he lies? Nowadays, don’t we almost expect politicians to lie? Flat out and under oath? Political events and debates, even in parliament, often seem to degrade to a race for the most outrageous lies. And more and more often, discussions are labeled “hate speech, fake news, racism” and even formerly respected people are “cancelled” from all public discourse.
On the OboxPlanet, nobody is ever “cancelled”.
What experiences on Earth, past and present, help us understand life on the OboxPlanet?
Let us begin with some insights all of us are familiar with, even if we are not familiar with the exact wording of the quotes:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell
“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.” – Frederick Douglass
“To be silenced is an awful affliction. Silence leaves us in a state of isolation, loneliness, and vulnerability.” – Desmond Tutu
These famous quotes are powerful because they talk about freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is such a fundamental issue that even little kids can feel its importance and the frustration if it is not granted.
Where there is Freedom of speech, people can share new ideas and make progress. Freedom of speech is an important factor in the calculation of the overall freedom measurement in a society and as we point out in other connections, freedom leads to innovation and wealth while the suppression of freedom leads to stagnation or even decline. Free countries on Earth produce innovations and Nobel Prices (for whatever they are worth), dictatorships tend to produce little or nothing comparable.
It is no coincidence that Freedom of speech is the first article in the bill of rights.. But even in the US, people have tried to stop others from speaking their minds. For example, in the 1950s, some people were scared of communism and tried to stop others from talking about it. The Civil Rights Movement also faced challenges when people tried to silence them. The “woke” movement today is doing the same. Let’s hope it is also a passing fad and that at least in this respect, the Earth aims to achieve what is fully granted on the OboxPlanet and keeps the state completely out of censorship.
Now it’s your turn:
Imagine that there are no limits to what the news can print and say, how would that change your attitude? When and where would you be more critical? How would it change your acting, would you start to accuse people and spread lies?
Things we could learn and implement from the OboxPlanet:
Privatize all state media, abolish all libel and speech-restricting laws. Everything except the direct threat of physical violence is allowed.
John Stossel: Censorship Run Amok: Covid, The Lab Leak, Maasks & The Twitter Files