“Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” – Mahatma Gandhi.
The Liberty Club is a platform where people, through our journal, social media, and events share free thoughts and hold objective debates over Science, Culture, History, Politics, Economics, and International Affairs in an effort to preserve our endangered free speech.
We live in a time where no individual could possibly make certain views known online without fear of retribution. A retribution so extreme it could easily result in loss of job, reputation, or even physical safety.
Statements such as the following are constantly repressed in the current climate:
‘I’m not entirely convinced by the aims of the Black Lives Matter organisation.’
‘Chinese intervention in Hong Kong warrants robust international action.’
‘I believe that Communism is the best way of achieving total equality.’
‘Lockdown is a violation of our basic human rights.’
‘J.K. Rowling has a right to vocalise her beliefs on sex.’
I am not necessarily supporting these statements. However, I am supporting their absolute right to be made with integrity, for the sake of our freedom of speech.
Offline a large majority of people live in socio-economic bubbles where everyone holds similar values. Social media should be our opportunity to break free of this limitation. Unfortunately, we live in a censored world and more often than not we see ‘echo chambers’ formed and reasoned debate drowned out by bold, emotional outcries.
We resolve to counteract the deafening masses who make arguments for the sake of enforcing their views rather than exchanging and building upon ideas. We endeavour to give a voice to the people who are criticised for questioning the effectiveness, consequences, and principles of movements and institutions, such as the NHS, because they are deemed good. However, there is no improvement without questioning methods. By challenging a cause, we are not opposing it: we are refusing to give up on it.
Last week, I read Bari Weiss’s resignation letter to the New York Times. Her statements that Twitter is the newspaper’s ‘ultimate editor’ and ‘stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences’ summarises how quantity of opinion is overriding quality. A critique of her letter in Forbes argued it is normal to call anyone who advocates limited government and a broad approach to race a ‘Nazi and a racist.’ I imagine this is exactly the type of narrow-thinking Weiss is protesting against.
Too often, people disguise their intolerance as tolerance – they proclaim a view that supposedly promotes equality and states anyone who opposes them, or even merely dares to question their argument, must be wrong. It is easy to repost or repeat popular mantras in the name of ‘liberalism’. Yet, it is becoming harder and harder to stand up against the crowd and announce you believe there is a different way to achieve a better, fairer world.
Across the globe, freedom of speech is at stake. Countries such as Russia, Vietnam, and China have passed laws and made restrictions that will allow them to censor the internet and prevent their citizens from accessing international content. In North America and Europe, it is the people who are censoring. As 153 signatories argued in an open letter published on the Harper’s Magazine website, there is a ‘tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.’ Clear messages are sent. If you do not promote the Black Lives Matter movement, you are racist. Those who criticise the lockdown or the NHS are disregarding lives. Capitalists are illiberal and greedy elitists who prevent equality.
There seems to be little consideration of the fact that people who disagree with a cause might not be wholly evil. Instead of appreciating and considering different opinions, thereby encouraging important discussions, challenges to mainstream views are shut down. With no debate, how can we expect grander world-thinking to flourish? How can progress be made, if we merely repeat what others have already said, rather than questioning and thus improving upon our ideas?
For the sake of freedom of thought, it is time to create a space where a diversity of topics and perspectives are earnestly welcomed and rigorously debated. Especially in University bubbles and on our social media platforms, it may seem tempting to avoid conflict rather than speaking out against conventional student and worldwide views. This Club seeks to instigate real change. We strongly encourage our members, followers, and peers to freely articulate their opinions on a wide variety of topics they have passionately researched. To that end, I would be severely disappointed if I agreed with all the articles written by our Club Members. We hope to cultivate a place where differences are celebrated and respected to pave a solution-led path towards a more tolerant world.
Rather than becoming offended by those who might disagree with our opinions, instead let us aspire to enthusiastically embrace challenges, with the aim of moulding a more objective view. Let us strive to champion free speech, rather than allowing those who cry out loudest to dictate what is and isn’t right. Let us build bridges between our ideas to create real advances in world-thinking.
One of our members has recently taken on the challenge of turning me into a Socialist in his first article. Whilst I am not sure I will be so easily swayed, I look forward to the great debates that lay ahead.
The views in this article are the author’s own, and may not reflect the opinions of The Liberty Club