I have just updated the blog header, and also the About page, to remove the references to my interest in freedom of speech online. Old posts on the subject will remain, but I have no plans to post more on this subject.
I grew up in times in which you could express pretty much any political or religious opinion that you pleased, so long as it wasn’t indecent or calculated to insult those who were with. A man full of wine might express himself particularly strongly; and the worst he might hear would be “It’s a free country”. When the internet came along, people like ourselves found ourselves able to say whatever we wished to people anywhere in the world. There was much abuse; but nothing worse than trolling.
Those days are gone. In the US the constitution still offers much protection from legal action, but extra-legal intimidation is rampant, designed to deprive political opponents of the means to feed their families. In the UK police forces boast how they scan social media for opinions, and the same US-style intimidation is also in effect here. On the continent prosecutions for opinion have never ceased, as the political elite increasingly grow out of touch with their peoples. These are sad times.
Increasingly I see a trend whereby the powerful deny free speech to their political opponents. I see companies being advised to Google for job candidates, in case they are “unsafe”. Those who still dare to protest are almost all of one political complexion, and that not the one in power. To protest is increasingly presented, cynically, as a party statement.
Bluntly, free speech, of the kind that we all remember from 15 years ago, has vanished. Prudent people must comport themselves accordingly.
Let us hope for better days.