[-empyre-] VII: free speech and its ends

Jonathan Marshall Jonathan.Marshall at uts.edu.au
Fri Oct 12 10:58:52 EST 2012

What i think interests me about public and private divisions, and free and repressed speach is that they are often taken as binaries, while they are a continuum, and constantly argued over, and the powerful tend to determine what is what to an extent... but all is ultimately ambiguous.

thus in Australia at the moment:
A radio broadcaster made remarks about the prime ministers dead father dying of shame at the PMs actions, to a 'young liberal' party which was clearly set up to denigrate the PM and raise funds out of the denigration. Was that private speech? Yes say one side of politics, no say the other side. Was it within the bounds of free speech, Yes says one side of politics, no says another. Was it the responsibility of the broadcaster or the young liberals, or the liberal party? Generally everyone tries to blame the broadcaster or the leader of the liberal party. That the prime minister is a woman is relevant here as the broadcaster has also attacked powerful women for destroying the country, and appears to dislike her....

Later on a petition on facebook protesting the remarks persuades advertisers to remove advertising from his radio show. The broadcaster describes this as trolling and cyberbullying, and suppression of free speach, but obviously he is still talking. Is this suppression of free speech. Yes says one side of politics, no says another. 

The speaker of the house is revealed as having compared female genitalia to mussels without shells in a mobile text message to his then gay friend. Is that private? is that public. Yes says one side of politics, no says another. Is it politically relevant Yes says one side of politics, no says another. Does he have a right of free speech. Yes says one side of politics, no says another. He resigns anyway - 'suprisingly' the side of politics that believed in free speech for the radio broadcaster tries to deny the speaker his right to speak to his issue in the house. The sides are not even vaguely consistant. It is all the contest.

The Liberal leader refers to the denigration of the PMs father in his speech attacking the speaker. He is attacked for this. Afterwards he claims to have been oblivious to the reference. what is public what is private, what is relevant.... what is in the bounds of free speach?

The Primeminister makes a speech against misogyny and the leader of the opposition. The largely middle aged male political reporters in parliament, decide its not worth reporting - but a woman links to it on a newspaper website and the speech becomes hailed as important by lots of people, particularly women. Which decision was private and which was public, which supported free speech which didn't? 

If you say something and it falls dead have you spoken? If you say something not wanting it to go further and it does have you spoken or not spoken? If you refer to something someone else said is that speaking what they spoke or not?

Oh and the liberal leader reputedly mouths obscenities and insults to the prime minister constantly, and they are not part of the parliamentary record. Is that free speach or not - did he say anything or not?

and so on....


and in case you don't get some of this, in Australia 'liberal' means 'right wing'.....

From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Rob Myers [rob at robmyers.org]
Sent: Friday, 12 October 2012 4:48 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] VII: free speech and its ends

On 10/11/2012 06:38 PM, Alan Sondheim wrote:
> in both cases, people feel their areas are their 'homes,' and that
> implies one might do what one wants. Fb is a corporate state; email
> lists are TAZ (temporary autonomous zones), very different, but people
> feel comfortable in both -

Yes that's true. The difference is the source of the coercion: the state
in the former example, private individuals in the latter. They don't

Facebook is an interesting overlap, but the specific examples I have in
mind are in the UK where people are now being prosecuted for writing the
wrong thing online (and I am not using this as a euphemism for "making
threats" or "organizing riots").

I'm just reading the TAZ book...

- Rob.

empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

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