The Untenable Tension Between Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association

A Weird Dave ONT Post – making me aware, yet again, of how I have neglected the job of redoing my list of links that I like to read, so howaboutit, you lazy bum… um, ah, yes, well, anyway… Being an ONT, it’s a bunch of fun links; the leading one a reference to a “[t]he untenable tension between freedom of speech and freedom of association”.

There’s the nice, journalist way of putting it:

These are dark times for those who believe in unfettered freedom of expression. These are amazing times for those who believe in unfettered freedom of association. And these are untenable times for those who hope to balance both.

and WD’s way (with which I happen to agree):

See, my position on this is simple: Both should be near absolute (Can’t start a riot, etc…usual caveats). You want to shout the N-word in a crowded theater? Go ahead. Refuse to serve white people (or black people, or Democrats, or Christians, or anybody) at your restaurant? Knock yourself out. The market will take care of the latter and societal opprobrium (or a punch in the snoot) the former. But that’s not the world we live in.

The whole sub-post is really quite good and well argued and I just can’t help myself. So, here’s the journalist who (still) doesn’t get it:

If you create a world in which you appeal to principles and then weaponize these principles in such a way that only one side of the fight is hurt — a world in which Kevin D. Williamson is canned from the Atlantic while Sarah Jeong maintains her position at the New York Times; a world in which right-wing YouTubers are demonetized while left-wing videos skate by; a world in which conservative voices see their tweets disappear while liberal voices flourish — you encourage people to abandon their principles altogether. (That’s why conservative provocateurs tweet about following “new rules”: They see principles as a weakness, and in a total cultural war, they might not be wrong.)

And the response:

This is where I disagree. I’m not abandoning my principles, My principles are fine, as long as they apply to everybody. When they don’t, when as he says they are weaponized against one side and not the other, then we are no longer talking about a principled society. Now we’re talking game theory, specifically The Prisoner’s Dilemma.

And after a discussion of the Prisoner’s Dilemma

I’ve stated my principles above, however, if I do nothing in the name of “principle” when the other side violates them to my detriment, then pretty soon I’ll be removed from the board. The ONLY* way to move back to the principles that I want is to make the other side suffer as much as I do until they cry “Uncle”. Then we can discuss a world where we both have the freedoms that we should.

*This is the part of the argument that I never see the “Muh principles!” crowd making. OK, fine, what is your suggested course of action to bring society back to equilibrium? Seriously, game theory is nasty and dirty and no fun for anyone. Give me an alternative. I’ve never seen any of them suggest anything other than martyrdom. Martyrdom’s great-except martyrs never encourage the other side to do anything, they usually function as the butt of a joke. They only function to encourage the losing side to finally fight back. If you don’t like what I’ve proposed, suggest another course of action, one with a chance of working. I’m waiting.

And the rest of the post is very good too. I hate that I neglect to visit Ace as much as I should.

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