Choice. An endangered word and an eschewed option.

You can view this article on Medium.

Of all the issues currently under serious online debate, the issue of free speech is possibly the most contentious as its practise encompasses a broad spectrum of deep, dark rabbit holes.

Racism, sexism, genderism (if that’s not a word yet, it will be soon) and pretty much any other ‘ism’ you care to mention fall under the broad umbrella of free speech. Speech is the tool we use to express our opinions on this divisive range of topics and therefore key.

Not all words and not all speech is created equally, or so a small segment of the population would have you believe. We know all too well the price of speaking out against the current political narratives and agendas.

Lives are ruined, careers are derailed and sometimes, in extreme instances the backlash can result in death. We have lost our objectivity and suspended our sense of reality. We have forgotten our ability to choose.

Choice is one of the great freedoms enjoyed by Western society. It was achieved at no small cost. We have endured wars, sacrificed lives and for centuries fought what we considered a righteous battle to ensure we preserved this democratic right. That our children too, would one day enjoy it’s fruits.

We are now poised before a deep pit. At its base lies Choice and around the rim stands a small segment of Western society, hell bent on burying it. Beside this pit is a fresh hole that we are eagerly excavating for the newly deceased corpse of Freedom of speech.

If you are one of the grave diggers I would ask politely that you put down your shovel for a moment and think about a few things.

Freedom of Speech and Choice are interdependent concepts. The one cannot exist in any meaningful form without the other. Individuals wishing to express an opinion choose to do so. You then exercise your freedom of choice by either entertaining the opinion or ignoring it.

The key words here are Choice and IGNORE. Trying to control, suppress or subvert another individual’s right to speak their mind destroys that choice. It also removes your choice to entertain the opinion or not.

Your actions for instance on University campuses across the western world to ban certain speakers from expressing their opinions have deprived others of the choice of engaging with those opinions. Why should a vocal minority have the right to choose to do this?

Your efforts to communise democracy, to dictate thought and speech along your preferred party lines and impinge on my freedom of speech and right to choose are unacceptable.

If you’re going to remove Choice from the equation in this way, then you too, will no longer be able to benefit from it. Remember this the next time you lobby for your right to ‘choose’ your gender assignment. You cannot have it both ways. Choice doesn’t work that way. Your rights do not supersede mine.

I might stand around and watch as you carefully, intentionally and systematically set about dismantling Freedom of Speech but I’ll be damned if I let you interfere with my right to choose.

I am sure my voice is echoed by many others and unlike the high profile influencers and politicians you have managed to gag with your intimidatory ‘political’ tactics, we will not be silenced.

We have nothing to loose and everything to gain. If you mistake our silence with an unwillingness to resume the fight for this right to choose, you do so at grave risk to your causes.

Never loose sight of the fact that you are minority groups seeking to establish your identities within larger societal groups. You currently enjoy the support of the broader liberal political spectrum. You’re the flavour of the day, but we all know how fickle taste buds are, almost as fickle as politicians.

When, not if, the political focus moves away from your causes, and it will, you will be left on your own, vastly outnumbered and the enemies (for that is surely what you are creating) at your gate will be legion. They will not have forgotten their abuse at your hand or the threat to their hard won liberties.

How much better then to live and let live. To accept that choice and freedom of speech are the only acceptable set of societal tools for you to further your causes with. That open healthy discourse can and does lead to change. Change that is won through logic and reason is true lasting change.

You and I might not always agree on our views. We may choose to use alternate platforms, away from dissenting voices or we may choose to engage with dissenters to sway opinions. As long as we are able to choose.

Destroy that right and you are destroying the very thing that led you here.

If you’re still so inclined you can get back to your digging now.

Authors note.

It occurred to me after writing this that many of the people I am addressing in this article, the spade bearers, may not realise their place in the grander scheme of things or identify their actions as damaging.

To clarify, this article applies to anyone who belongs to a vocal minority group. I don’t care particularly what motivates you, be it gender, race, politics, religion or the right to wear chequered underwear on a Friday. If you feel marginalised and see everything in the media and online, wether directly related to you or not, as attacks focused entirely on discrediting or belittling you, then you’re a spade bearer. Sorry.

You can follow Robert Turner on Medium

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