Understanding Free Speech: Unveiling the Complexities of Negative Rights and the Impact of Pseudo-States and Cancel Culture

by | Mar 17, 2023 | Dead Drop Dialect™ | 0 comments

Understanding Free speech is fundamental and often misinterpreted as an impenetrable shield of protection from criticism or pushback. In reality, it represents a principle that ensures individuals can express their ideas and opinions without fear of censorship or punishment from the state. Grounded in Natural Law, free speech is classified as a “negative right,” safeguarding individuals from external interference. While within the public sphere, individuals may face criticism or ostracisation, these actions do not violate free speech but rather reflect the exercise of uninhibited speech, association, and expression. However, the rise of pseudo-states, such as powerful monopolies, and the phenomenon of cancel culture introduce complexities and challenges to the true essence of free speech. By comprehending these nuances and the mechanics behind them, we can better protect our natural rights and navigate these nefarious attacks on individual expression.

The concept of free speech is often misunderstood, with many people believing that by using the phrase is an impenetrable cloak of protection from which they are safe from any pushback or criticism of their views or speech. However, free speech is simply a principle that asserts that individuals should be able to express their ideas and opinions without fear of censorship, punishment, or retribution from the state. This principle relates to the relationship between the state and the individual, rather than being an immunity to criticism or pushback outside of that dichotomy.

Natural Law establishes that freedom of speech is categorised as a ‘negative right’ which means that it is an innate right possessed by the individual by virtue of his or her existence. Negative rights are often referred to as “freedom from” rights, as they protect individuals from external interference. These rights do not require any action from others, but rather protect individuals from having their rights infringed upon by others.

Beyond the purview of the state, freedom of speech becomes less of a primary concern due to the general balance of power between individuals within society. As a result, there is an inherent protection built in that averts the type of omnipotent censorship available to the state. Within the public sphere, the individual will — at worst — face criticism and ostracisation.

In the public sphere, uninhibited speech allows for a healthy exchange of ideas, where individuals are free to express their opinions and receive feedback from others. This feedback can take the form of agreement, pushback, ambivalence, or ostracisation. This exchange of ideas is crucial for establishing a consistent consensus of standards within society. The exchange of ideas and speech also enables individuals to find groups that share their values.

Freedom of association is also another negative right that allows individuals to associate or disassociate with whomever they choose, without being forced to do so. Individuals use their views and values, once vocalised or published, to inform their decisions on who they wish to associate with. Criticism and pushback on an individual’s views or speech do not violate free speech per se, it is simply an individual exercising their natural right to uninhibited speech, association, and expression.

Private organizations are interestingly amorphous when it comes to their relationship with the individual and free speech. Technically speaking, a private business resides in the public sphere and thus abides by the same conditions outlined above. However, monopolies transcend the classification conditions of the ‘public sphere’ and become akin to a pseudo-state which can inflict the same level of harm upon an individual as the state.

Monopolies can have just as much power as the state due to the lack of viable alternatives for the individual. Platforms such as Twitter constantly become topics of conversation as to whether it is the ‘public square’ and thus, should an individual be protected from being removed? With Twitter we need to consider two things; 1) we know that the state uses it as a proxy for censorship campaigns. 2) Twitter arguably has a monopoly on the product it offers and there is no other alternative out there. With these two points in mind, it is my opinion that Twitter no longer enjoyed the distinction of being an untainted private business. in addition to this, the digital landscape is giving rise to what I call ‘neo-states’ where through the increasing prevalence of digital monopolies, they hold as much power as a traditional state and thus users become ‘cyber-citizens’.

Another example of the pseudo-stateification of private business is the increasing prevalence of the state using companies such as airlines, banks, and social media platforms as a proxy for their censorship efforts. In a vacuum, your dealings with a private business are governed by a contract, if you break the agreed terms, cessation of your business relationship is the appropriate remedy, whatever form that takes. If, however, it can be proven that the state directed such policy, it would follow that this is state-sanctioned censorship.

Another phenomenon which has complex anatomy is “Cancel Culture”. At its core, it traditionally resembles much of the characteristics of the consequential outcome of competing acts of expression by individuals within the public sphere. However, its distinguishing characteristic is that it manifests as an aggressive ideological purity mechanism enforced by the collective which in turn results in an inequitable power imbalance which the aforementioned public discourse relies upon. Cancel Culure moves beyond the individuals and becomes the collective against dissidents. The phenomenon will see an individual feeling that the reaction to their expression was unfair or disproportionate which will cumulates in an extreme and coordinated effort to ostracise them as punishment. Simply put, cancel culture is the premeditated and coordinated negative reaction to an individual expression which is motivated by ideology and a desire to seek punishment as a means of control, intimidation, purification, and ultimately, conformity.

Freedom of speech is something many know by few understand. it is a multifaceted concept with varying levels of complexity. However, the underlying point is that semantically, something is only a violation when it is the stat against the individual. Despite this, there are a plethora of forces and phenomena that seek to control our natural rights and human beings and to understand how it manifests and their mechanics of them, one can effectively overcome such nefarious attacks on the individual.

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