Excellent commentary on Jo Cox’s death

From James O’Brien at LBC radio here


“Why is it on days like today that people who spent the last decade banging on about freedom of speech and being able to speak your mind without being shot down in flames suddenly think that everybody else who disagrees with them should shut up and go away?”


9 thoughts on “Excellent commentary on Jo Cox’s death

    1. You’ve changed your tune Phantom. A few days ago a murder was, according to you, an act of war. Now you’ve gone 180 and are pushing a line that no connection can be drawn between the killer and his beliefs and associations. The difference is other events in between time. The simplistic “war” rhetoric sits less comfortably now – don’t worry I don’t think we should be declaring war on anti-immigrant nationalists. However, I do think we should all be pointing out how toxic the anti-immigrant right is and saying what Jo Cox can no longer say.


      1. You really amaze me sometimes. The point is that there’s no connection at all between the actual event and the article you posted about it. Any more than there’s a connection in the article I posted. The difference is that my article was written as a hoax, whereas yours we are supposed to take seriously.


    2. Okay, the first paragraph of that linked item was filled with such dishonesty in its claims that I didn’t read further. I no longer have any interest in trying to engage such rank stupidity and disingenousness.

      More interesting, and more to the point of the item CF posted here is the actual issue of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the internet age. I usually come down pretty far on the free speech spectrum, including unpleasant and objectionable speech (ie: the old saw that sunlight is the best disinfectant). It’s a core value in democracies and in the fullness of cultural (intellectual?) expression.

      Now, having said that, I’ve lately been mulling over how that particular freedom works in the age of the internet, where conspiracies and untruths can take hold and mutate, expand, adapt and broaden their reach. It’s now possible for socially-isolated people to self-radicalize in ways that were harder before. And to find targets. And to find like-minded communities that escalate paranoia and fortify senses of fear, anger, hate, victimhood and exaggerated promises of martyrdom, heroism etc.

      Advances in modern media means that communities don’t share the same news hour, read the same newspapers, listen to the same radio stations, inhabit the same planes of reality. It’s a paradox of technology: more choice is both liberating but also restricting as people self-select into their own preferred thought/taste/belief communities without having to make space for, or encounter, or tolerate things not of their own choice. That’s a good thing (in some ways) but also a very bad thing (in a lot of other ways).

      I don’t know how to restructure this new perceptual terrain, and it would be interesting to converse with you CF, and your commenters, about the issue. In my mind, there is no doubt that closed ideological communities have definitely contributed to the festering problem of hate groups — but how to reconcile with the basic freedoms of speech and association?


      1. Note: I am aware of the irony that I didn’t read the full item Phantom posted because i could tell right away that is was not going to be something I was going to appreciate. So, am I part of the same problem? 🙂


      2. Are these crimes really all that much more frequent than they were in the days of secret anarchist societies killing two Presidents (McKinley of the USA and Carnot of France) and a Tsar (Alexander II), together with many others?

        I think there’s a baseline level of political terrorism.

        I don’t think that assuming that social media is making it more frequent is a robustly-supported conclusion.


      3. I did read all the way to the bottom of the essay, as phantom instructed, and guess what? It was a ha-ha, fooled you, I don’t mean any of this demagoguery, it is a piece of satire I wrote it in imitation of what THE EVIL LEFT is writing about us on the Right in the wake of Orlando.

        Except, you know, I have read every one of those arguments made in earnest by the Evangelical Right, most of them ON Townhall. So, yeah, as satire, it’s failboat.


  1. Well, that’s not actually the point I was addressing (link social media and increasing frequency of terror). I assume there has, and will continue to be, incidents of political assassination and politicized violence. In the 19th c, anarchists had access to books, magazines and newsletters and could communicate over distances. Rather I was asking about the updated challenge of free speech and hate speech on the internet and the paradoxical way people can be both isolated socially and connected globally. The internet and other forms of media (talk radio, TV channels that favor ideology over factual reportage etc) along with residential patterns and charter schools makes it easier to self-segregate into insular communities.

    Lots of recent mass market books talk about this sort of thing: The Big Sort (Bishop), So You’ve Been Internet Shamed (Ronson), Control and Power: Power and Paranoia in the age of Fiber Optics (Chun), and lots of research articles like this one that show a connection between internet trolls and anti-social behavior. With more outlets in which to troll, the behavior is reinforced. The internet changes the speed, connectivity and intensity (speed, volume etc) of contacts which can affect even psychologically intact healthy people in a surprisingly short time.

    I don’t think “social media” is making political terrorism happen more frequently, but I do think it is providing an avenue for people to find targets, feel emboldened, get ideas, find communities of hate etc in a way that differs from past. The immediacy of reaction and interactional intensity of like-minded communities alone changes the calculation.


    1. Of course, KR. You’re suggesting “free speech, but…” That’s what Leftists always do. Free speech, but… Self defense, but…

      Freedom for me, not so much for thee. The usual.


Comments are closed.