Free Speech Absolutism - binrc - 2024-01-26 02:53:50 - cc-by-nc-sa

Free Speech

What is an idea?

An idea is a thought or concept that is the product of mental activity. It is purely imagined and exists only within the mind. The mind is somewhat of a silo, ideas can only enter or exit through actions. Although most ideas are not wholly unique, every novel idea is created by the synthesis of known ideas. It is more likely that there are no new ideas under the sun which has been a common thought process for at least 2000-3000 years (in which I am referring to Ecclesiastes 1:9). This idea existed long before Solomon.

To propose that new and novel ideas are simply combinations and modifications of old ideas is most likely. This exists in familiar computing (where everything is either DOS or UNIX taken to absurdist limits) and in modern, cutting edge computing (where we are simulating animal neural networks using code).

I propose the following: all thought is composed of "idea atoms" which are the smallest indivisible component of thought. Of course, these "idea atoms" are actually divisible but at some point an abstracted model becomes more useful than technical correctness. Every new thought is a novel combination of "idea atoms" where there are virtually infinite possibilities.

Mark Twain spoke about "new ideas" in his autobiography:

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.

What is speech?

Speech is taking some form of action that facilitates the transference of ideas. Transfer of ideas can occur in spoken, written, visual, or symbolic media. Considering the mental silo model, there is always some nonzero signal to noise ratio that interferes with the pure transfer of ideas which adequately explains why spoken testimony becomes increasingly unreliable over time.

Any action that causes an idea to be transmitted is speech. Writing, publishing, hosting, and distributing information is facilitating speech. Pamphlets and posters, both physical and digital, qualify as speech.

Thought vs Action and harmful speech

Thoughts, as defined above, are mental structures that only exist within the mind or in an intermediary format such as books, pictures, essays, and videos. Speech is a "snapshot" of thought which is inherently inert. A thought cannot be harmful except in fictional universes where a cognitohazard exists as a purely fictional concept.

An action that harms yourself or the wider society is called a crime. Thoughts themselves cannot be a crime because nothing and no one is harmed simply by thinking something. Similarly, speech, which is an idea in transit, cannot be harmful on it's own. Only an action can be harmful.

Similarly, the "incitement to violence" restriction on speech always seems to be enforced retroactively (ie after violence has been committed by a third party) rather than a clear legal precedent for what is legal and illegal to say. This restriction seems to only be enacted as a pressure release valve for public outrage. Thoughts that influence actions should not be punished because every human has free agency and personal responsibility. To qualify as "inciting violence" the speech must cause imminent, "clear and present danger". If no imminent violence is present it is perfectly legal to advocate for violence. There are very few scenarios on the internet in which a piece of text causes imminent, clear, and present danger.

Absolutism and truth

All information should be permitted and no information should be censored. In a hypothetical world where freedom of speech is prioritized, ideas will stand on their own merits alone and fall on their own demerits alone. It seems like since the invention of the printing press that media representatives and religious and state officials have been the arbiters of truth who reject information that is deemed controversial or "harmful" to the establishment and current prevailing narrative.

Information should not be prescribed to be true or false based on the opinions of those who rule over us. Instead, we should come to our own conclusions on what is true or false based on the merits and demerits of the piece of speech or text in question.

Freedom of association and endorsement

Another interesting freedom in the US is the freedom of association. We are free, so long as we are acting in a private, to associate or refuse to associate with anyone for any reason. Mere association does not imply endorsement. Just because the hypothetical twitter user has a twitter account does not mean that he endorses all opinions made by all other twitter users. Endorsement must be explicitly stated.

Closing arguments


We are living under corporate bolshevism and you are allowing the private institutions to restrict your thoughts and words. Damn bro you must be down bad.

Community grade: 100% A+

root - 2024-01-24 22:14:42

Solid post. I think you did a good job of outlining the difference between "harmful" speech and what is actually harmful, speech tied actions with clear intent. Going off-topic but there's a good series of short stories on cognitohazards by David Langford, have you heard of them? First one is called BLIT, I believe. It's some pretty cool sci-fi, as far as the concept of a "basilisk" goes. Thought experiments like Roko's Basilisk are different, and seem fundamentally silly to me. Roko's basilisk is just Pascal's wager, but by r/atheists who are like "bro what if God was an AI, and instead of heaven we live in a simulation". Silly nonsense by people who spend way too much time online and not enough just going on walks.