The recent brouhaha over Faceook hiring and implementing “fact-checkers” and also blocking mechanisms against suspected “fake news” has many people in an uproar. Such people believe that the basis of this “fact-checking” is not real fact-checking, but partisan views and whether certain ideas agree with or offend them. It would be subjective, not objective. Because of it, freedom of speech in the country is endangered. Thus, there is basis for challenging this obstruction of people’s ability to broadcast their views.
Let me digress a bit, as I started writing this article about another question. It was on the debate over whether one has to sacrifice freedom for security and well-being. It comes up when people discuss the Drug War, Duterte, martial law, family and more. We have all these people claiming Duterte is clamping on freedoms, with comparisons to dictator Ferdinand Marcos flying over. So the argument goes like, Pro-Duterte – sacrifice freedom for security. Anti-Duterte – freedom is important to sacrifice everything for. They even insist that it should be one or the other, no in-betweens.
Perhaps people focus on that this kind of tradeoff because life is full of tradeoffs anyway. You can’t have everything. You can’t eat the cake and still have it at the same time. You want the fastest turnaround and highest quality at the same time at work, but very often, this proves very difficult, if not impossible. You want to buy cheap products because you’re saving, but the quality will not be the highest. One character from a Japanese TV show I watched said, if you really want something, be prepared to trade something of equal value for it. Thus, some people believe tradeoffs are inevitable in society.
But is there really a tradeoff between freedom and security?
No, freedoms are not being sacrificed. Baggage is just being thrown out. This baggage includes beliefs that people assume to be “freedoms,” but are not. For example, harassment of people disagreeing with them is seen as a freedom. They throw derogatory remarks and insults at people, but when faced with the same, they will cry that they’re being oppressed. They may even complain that having a different opinion is bullying them.
Sure, you may come upon a website or someone’s opinion that claims Hitler or Pol Pot were OK. But shutting them down or insulting them is the wrong thing to do. Their mere existence is not a threat to your freedom, even though it makes you feel so. You have the freedom to filter it out or answer it. But never to shut it down. “Annoying opinions” have the right to air (and often, they’re attacked even if they were not meant to annoy!).
Some will mention Singapore. What about its laws against annoying opinions? No, it’s not against annoying opinions, it’s against encouraging violence and lawlessness – which the “disente opposition” are actually doing. They’re lucky they’re not in Singapore.
As Benign0 had stated earlier, what “disentes” they really want is impunity. They want freedom to do wrong, and make it look right. This is likely why some protesters insist that drug users are doing no wrong; they probably want anything they do considered not wrong. They want their extrajudicial desires to be law (while claiming the the other side, i.e. Duterte side, is the the extrajudicial one), and anyone with differing opinions or lifestyles be shut down. Such irony: they decry something that is a threat, but in order to shut down that threat, they want to suppress the freedom of speech of that “threat.” They want control over others, which is not a right, but they make efforts to make the reverse look true.
I define freedom as absence of hindrance; don’t we all hate hindrances. Also, if we want no hindrance, it’s best to not be a hindrance to others. For example, if you want to be pro-Aquino, don’t be a hindrance to others preferring to be pro-Marcos. And don’t hinder others from being pro-neither (which is better). That is fairness and tolerance. That can also bring about the right balance of both freedom and security. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, if you don’t like to see a neighbor’s Neo-Nazi or right-wing views, you can block them from your feed, or if offline, just ignore them. The excuse of “but I cannot ignore them,” is just plain laziness.
Freedom also isn’t license to do everything we want (such as attack, bully or shut down someone) and get away with it. We can’t be free from the consequences of our actions, which is responsibility. Freedom from responsibility is not freedom, but fantasy. So those who want to shut down the opinions need to be be served the appropriate consequences.
Freedom of speech in the Philippines is actually under threat by people who call themselves “disente,” but are anything but. They are the real threats because of their hypocrisy and abuse. They, the likes of whom include Juana Change pictured above, pretend to be the “good guys,” but are the actual dictators. For example, such “disentes” rage at Larry Gadon for flashing the finger at protesters, but they’re OK with Juana doing the same thing, true to their classic double standard. They want to have rights, but want to take it away from others oppose them or have different ideas. They’re not making a choice between freedom and security, but are taking away both. In fact, choosing between freedom and security/well-being might actually be a false dichotomy being presented by the “disente.”
If such people keep on abusing freedom of speech, then they are the ones endangering their own freedom. They deserve continued challenge from opponents and dissenters, and the presence of such is the real sign of freedom being alive and well in this country. Thus, the role we have as ordinary citizens is to continue to be active and issue opinions, while being careful when going about it. If we check facts, we don’t do it in the way the “disente” do. And opposing them is not giving up freedom for security or anything like that. Breaking their control over any medium for an individual to broadcast their views is having both freedom and security.