Banning what is not illegal is what? immoral/unethical/ stupid/ clever/ ……

We live in forbidding times.

The 20th century in a sociological sense will be looked back upon as a time when fear – and many undue fears – governed society. It is remarkable that it is so called “liberal” societies who have the greatest overabundance of legislation banning things. Authoritarian societies start with the default position that everything is forbidden unless explicitly allowed. Liberal societies pretend to start with the position that everything is allowed unless explicitly banned. And what is banned is then driven by cowardice in an atmosphere of fear. They then generate a mountain of legislation to ban what cannot be done, said, written, eaten, or worshipped. Legislation bans some from being parents and takes their children away. Dogs are not allowed to run free and people are banned from politically “incorrect” behaviour. Bakers are not allowed to reject unwelcome customers. To give offense is banned. Sellers are forced to sell to unwelcome buyers. Feelings are not allowed to be hurt. Snowflakes melt. Safe spaces are created in which the sanctimony virus is nurtured. Most so-called liberal states have become Nanny states. There is more suppression of individuality today in so-called liberal states than in many dictatorships.

If some behaviour is not banned it is clearly not illegal even if not specifically being identified as being legal. Many companies and organisations ban behaviour and actions which are not banned by legislation. They go well beyond the legislative limits of what is not allowed in law to restrict their own employees or their customers or their users. It is obvious overreach.

But is the overreach illegal? or just immoral or unethical? or just “contrary to the will of the people”.

“Don’t walk on the grass”, “Don’t eat here”, no beer at a football match, keep your dog on a leash, no loudspeakers , and so on, are some of the more innocuous examples. Of course “free speech” does not actually exist – anywhere. It is “cabined, cribbed, confined” by legislation and extra-legal sanctimony. But overreach is overreach and some of it is vicious. The social media groups such as Facebook and Twitter are cases in point. They have taken it upon themselves to become moral police. They ban posts which clearly are not in contravention of any legislation in accordance with their own view of what is acceptable. They go further and, arbitrarily and selectively, ban some people from participating.

It is in that context that Elon Musk’s comments about Twitter should be read.

“The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all. By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”

I stopped using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter some time ago. Musk’s take-over of Twitter – if it goes through – is probably the best thing that has happened to social media. But I doubt I will be returning to Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn anytime soon.


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