Daily Moral Libertarian: Dr Jordan Peterson, Free Speech is Vital but Not Enough for Good Order
Welcome to TaraElla News, where we discuss recent social and political issues from a moral libertarian viewpoint. What I am trying to do is to take a stand for this particular brand of principled classical liberalism, to help build a sphere of conversation around our ideas, and to hopefully increase the currently dismal classical liberal representation in a world otherwise too full of identity politics and fake news. By the way, I talk about a new issue every weekday, so if freedom-centered political commentary is your thing, I highly recommend subscribing to this channel.
The Moral Libertarian Ideal: Equal Moral Agency for Every Individual.
This is a second part of the response to the recent Jordan Peterson video titled 'On the Vital Necessity of Free Speech'. For those who have watched Part 1, aired on 27 August, you will know that I agreed with many points in that speech. I especially agreed with the idea that free speech is the only way in which we can think about and publicly discuss issues, and that free speech is the only way that will give rise to a good order. In other words, no free speech, no free market of ideas. And if you are a regular audience of this show, you would know how obsessed with free speech I am. The Moral Libertarian Ideal is that there should be Equal Moral Agency for every individual. Every individual should be able to live out their sincerely held moral views, on an equal basis with every other individual. Now, this necessarily includes a strong defense of free speech.
But today, I want to take this discussion further? Is a culture of free speech itself enough? Is having free speech an adequate condition to produce a healthy free market of ideas? Does free speech itself always leads to good order, as Dr Peterson said it would? This is the question I want to focus on today.
Is Free Speech Necessary? Of Course It Is.
With the far-left attempting to no-platform speakers, and in some cases, even make them suffer personal consequences like the loss of their job, free speech has become an urgent concern in recent years. And while the far-left claims that they only no-platform hateful speakers, in truth they also sometimes no-platform other speakers with ideas they don't like, including pro-life activists, men's rights activists, and even plain Donald Trump supporters. The fact is, if no-platforming is OK for some people, it becomes OK for anyone. No-platforming should thus be a no-go. There's nothing wrong with being passionate about the equality of individuals, and there's nothing wrong with wishing that people aren't discriminated against for their personal characteristics, but the way to resolve these issues is via debate in the free market of ideas.
But Is Free Speech Enough? I Don't Think So.
But even in a world where free speech itself is guaranteed, does that mean we will have a functional free market of ideas? Not necessarily. I mean, people can still form into tribes and shout at each other rather than debate respectfully. Individuals can still be too afraid to form an opinion different from their tribe, lest they be ostracized. And we should remember that this was already the condition of society before the far-left began its attacks on free speech. I mean, I learned this the hard way. I used to be on the left. Well before there were even SJWs I was ostracized by the left for some opinions on abortion and divorce, even though I tried to be respectful on both matters. Now, for the sake of balance, my friends on the right felt afraid to speak out about their support for gay marriage during the same period, so it's not just a left-wing thing. Technically there was free speech, because none of us suffered important consequences for saying what we said. But then, this does not represent the kind of free market of ideas that will give rise to a good order, because people were still socially pressured to take certain positions, not because they would lose their job, but because they would lose their friends.
Therefore, just having free speech is not enough. People need to be truly open to ideas, including those that are not usually heard in their tribe. Ideally, people won't even form into tribes at all, but if we can't get there overnight, we should at least aim for an effective free market of ideas in each social circle as a first step. To do this, I think the key is for people to truly listen to what others are saying. Cassie Jaye, director of The Red Pill movie, put it very well when she said that initially she wasn't actually listening to what her subjects were saying, but was rather using her preconceived reality to judge what she was hearing. Now, this is what a lot of people, both left-wing and right-wing, keep doing. Even people who are otherwise pro-free speech are often guilty of this. Now, it is often said that we have an echo chamber problem right now. And I think this behaviour is what gives rise to echo chambers. As a moral libertarian, I believe it is a moral imperative that we have a functioning free market of ideas, because none of us are always right, even when we believe we are. Therefore, our ideas need to be tested and refined in the free market of ideas, to get us closer to the objective truth. As Dr Peterson said, even wrong and horrible ideas need to be allowed to be discussed, so they can be corrected. For an effective free market of ideas to function, we cannot have echo chambers and their associated behaviour.
In conclusion, free speech is important. However, it is a necessary but not sufficient condition for an effective free market of ideas, the kind that will give rise to a good order, as Dr Peterson said. Instead, we need a culture where people are truly open to ideas, where people truly listen to what others have to say, no matter how unfamiliar it may sound. That's why, on this show, I will be doing my best to promote the dismantling of all echo chambers.
That's all for today. I'll be back with more moral libertarian commentary on Monday. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss it.