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Thread: General/Opinion

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Another victory such as this and surely all is lost -- King Pyrrhus of Epirus.

How badly abused is free speech in the USA?


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Date: Sun, 20 Sep 2015 20:50:50 +1000

A recent email from a pal in Armidale poses a question about free speech.

Dan Byrnes, Armidale poet, raconteur and historian, has been having "words" with a few US conservative types ... He writes:

How badly abused is free speech in the USA? There are broader questions to be asked about how this supposed History Enthusiasts forum behaves on the Internet, such as: has free speech in the USA been thoroughly abused, where it has now become acceptable for any US-educated nutjob to express any mad opinion they like on the Internet, and not be called out for it by ... somebody? The US media are not calling this out strongly enough, although it is reporting protests about some of the views of the current GOP candidates on immigration issues, issues which have the USA in a livid condition lately. The fools of the USA need to be suffered much less gladly. It has been said idealistically (British poet P. B. Shelley) that poets and writers are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind. So let's start doing it right here, now, and start regulating free speech in the USA. Irony and sarcasm would be a good place to start, moving on to bluntness.

Australians have seen edited news footage of the recent disgraceful "debate" between eleven GOP candidates, and to call it a debate is a gross misuse of words. It was a slanging match conducted by buffoons for buffoons, reminding me of the song title by US guitarist Leo Kottke, The Bungle Party. The Republican Party has certainly bungled its selections of presidential candidates, but whether US Democrats or Independents can do any better remains to be seen. Any of these buffoons with their finger on the USA's nuclear triggers for a millisecond would be dangerous for world peace. So as a writer, I think the entire farce should be called out by somebody. The US mind has sunk very low, this should be talked about more keenly in international media at least, if not in the USA itself. But it seems as if the very people who have sunk the US mind and modes of political discourse so low, will be the very ones to cry first and loudest about "anti-Americanism" if criticism surfaces. If mainstream US media workers will not take useful action, time has come worldwide for literate webmasters, bloggers and Internet commentators to start criticising widespread abuse in the USA of free speech and to help fix cyberspace at least.

The USA has become unbearable on TV/Internet. Lies are told about the current President's birthplace, and are admittedly called out, but the fact it can happen on US network TV is ludicrous; this is simply an irresponsible, badly-managed TV industry (in Virginia a TV news journalist is murdered on camera, a snuff movie for breakfast). The time has come for US TV to be better-regulated: it has chased ratings into snakepits of evil. Some circles have thought that the USA with its rampant gun-culture should be leading "world globalisation", also ludicrous. As the 2008 global financial crisis showed, the USA cannot properly manage a single street in New York, Wall Street, let alone the world. On this forum we have too many US loudmouths floating their personal aircraft carriers through cyberspace, swaggering, blustering, angry, bombastic as The Donald, fantasising about world-domination. I asked one such loudmouth if he didn't find funding his personal aircraft carrier a bit expensive, and he said "No", as if the question was normal, not perceiving the level of sarcasm being used.

This only makes it worse - many US-educated loudmouths and nutjobs can't perceive sarcasm and irony from international observers as a warning about acceptable limits being exceeded on an international Internet forum. The entire world now needs to tell the USA where and what the limits are about the sane use of free speech. (A glance at the low-grade, troll-driven comments sections of US newspaper websites becomes depressing, but still, this problem is also international.) Here is the reason for protest: US culture has been rotted to the core by fiction, fun and politically ludicrous, ugly-stupid whimsy. Clearly, the US mind needs to become more sane, balanced. Anything less becomes more dangerous for world peace.

To which, dear reader, your blogger humbly responded that "despair is our only hope".


Disclaimer: While your humble blogger does not necessarily endorse the opinions expressed above, he can understand why some might express them.

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