Free Speech and Fomented Rage

Here’s the infamous Caitlin Jenner joke: “I’m going to be nice tonight. I’ve changed. Not as much as Bruce Jenner, obviously … now Caitlyn Jenner. What a year she’s had. She became a role model for trans people everywhere, showing great bravery in breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes. She didn’t do a lot for women drivers, but you can’t have everything, can you?” I cannot locate the transphobia i.e the  “emotional disgust, fear, anger or discomfort felt or expressed towards people who do not conform to society’s gender expectations” in this joke? This joke reminds us that not only is a celebrity’s life is inherently more valuable than a non-celebrity’s, but that once the media decides you’re the person for a particular trending cause, they will not call attention to your homicidal acts.  The media quite often decides for us what our reaction should be to some event before we’ve had seen and analyzed it.

Frankie BoyleI find it incredibly worrying that we no longer need to hear the actual content of the thing we’re told to be offended by. We hear of people being arrested for tweets without the tweet being reported; comics are blasted for routines that aren’t printed; newspapers hire lip-readers to find something to get offended by at the tennis and then print the resulting fuckfest as asterisks. And who decides whether we should be outraged at something we haven’t seen or heard? The press. Our seething collective Id. […] Offence is often simply an attempt to deny reality. The sheer range of opinion on this planet means you can’t be inoffensive. It’s something that can only really be aspired to within homogenous groups or authoritarian societies. Our individual maps of what is offensive and what is worthwhile are often determined by social class. . If you’re any kind of writer these days the culture seems to be saying “Please challenge and provoke me, redefine how I see the world, while I scream my head off every time I hear something I don’t like.”

-Frankie Boyle,

yupInformation is the primary commodity  in the ever expanding marketplace that is the public sphere.  Raw information much like crude oil, has to be refined so it can be used as the gasoline to give put into motion specific ideologies.  Looking at Donald Trump’s campaign for President of the United States, facts are meaningless. His campaign is built upon the dissemination of viscerally divisive ideologies. Trump has been afforded and unrelenting media coverage, which many other candidates have not been afforded. Sadly, most of us are all too familiar with the ‘never-ending media cycle: coverage leads to better performance in the polls, which leads to more coverage…

The article ‘The Problem With Journalism Is You Need an Audience‘ highlights that as constituents of the media’s audience, we bear some responsibility for the state of the news media. As a whole, we don’t want unbiased, non-sensationalist information. It has become increasingly apparent that we don’t want to accept that world we live in isn’t one homogeneous experience of reality shared by all its inhabitants. Consequently the cost of reaching out to others not living within the confines of our personal ideologies quite often is offense. Sadly, our culture has never worked through the offence to arrive at the deepest human experiences that inform the opinions whose method of delivery we take offence to.

Policing expression makes us a more fractured society. It forces bigoted behaviors to find more covert methods of expression making them subsequentially harder to address. It also impedes those who would want to participate in the conversation but do not given the trigger-happy character assassination that is quite often the consequence of fomented rage.


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