When Did Free Speech Become Such a Socially Bad Thing

A person should be allowed their own opinion without being cancelled.

Sam H Arnold
Apr 14 · 6 min read
Free speech being denied
Image by 愚木混株 Cdd20 from Pixabay

Free speech is the essence of a progressive society. However, it is being threatened by the new wave of cancel culture. Cancel culture, for those that don’t know, is the process of ostracising a person for not having your view.

If liberal free thinkers do not stand up for free speech, then we will all be living in countries similar to North Korea before we know it. I am not saying this as an English person, I say this as a human living in a crumbling society.

I am a proud gay woman. I am a woman and would like to be recognised as one. A professional once asked me what my preferred pronoun was. Some might think ‘wow, what a woke person.’ I saw it as someone who presumed as a gay person I was gender fluid. If you are gender fluid, all power to you. My kids can identify whichever way they want, as long as they are happy. I wish to identify as a female. You do you and I will do me.

It isn’t popular to sit on the fence. Increasingly, free speech means agree with me or I will cancel you.

JK Rowling a recently ‘cancelled’ celebrity has experienced this with her views on transgender women. I understood what she meant, with her first explosive tweet. Whether I agreed with her or not isn’t relevant. Although, society demands that you have a view on it. You are either for Rowling or against. You are not allowed to see both sides of the argument. To attempt to see both sides means you agree with Rowling and need cancelling.

As it goes I didn’t agree with her. I thought her tweet was badly worded and provocative. At some point, an advisor should have wrestled her Twitter out of her hand, as she only made it worse. However, regardless of this, she had a right to her opinion, it is called free speech and it is what brave people have fought wars over. Funny Rowling was a big advocate of cancelling people who didn’t agree with her. Karma is a wonderful thing.

Isn’t it ironic that Twitter chooses to ban people for their views, yet does nothing to deal with the vicious trolls on the platform?

Katie Hopkins is a moron. That is my opinion. If you support her fine, that is your view and I support your right to have it. We can disagree, have a coffee, debate it, and still be friends. Should she have been banned from Twitter? No. Free speech should mean that she had a right to her ludicrous views.

Here is the thing if you don’t like what anyone says, unfollow them, don’t listen to them. Don’t follow people so you can abuse them about their views. Be Kind, how we forget.

Caroline Flack was a British celebrity who took her own life. It is suggested one of the factors which influenced this was the vile things being said about her on social media. When her friend Piers Morgan tweeted about his loss, he was abused by many individuals sporting the ‘be kind’ hashtag. Hypocrisy at its best, let us abuse a man who is sad about losing a friend, who killed herself because of abuse online.

Morgan recently lost his job on breakfast television for voicing his opinions on Meghan Markle. The keyboard warriors made it impossible for him to stay. He also refused to apologize for his views, citing his right to free speech. I didn’t agree with what he said. He worded some aspects badly, but he is a passionate man, all of us are guilty of bad verbal communication when we are upset. This passion was what made him compulsory viewing during the pandemic when he made hapless ministers answer questions on Covid. He was celebrated when people agreed with his views and cancelled when they didn‘t.

Morgan does not have his views because Markle is black, he has his views because he doesn’t like her. Not every action is because someone is prejudice against you. As a gay writer, I have never thought ‘that a publication didn’t publish my article because I am gay.’ Maybe it was because my writing was poor, maybe it wasn’t a fit for the publication. Never because I am gay.

When men hold doors open for me, I don’t refuse to go through. I thank them for their respect. A man stood up for my pregnant friend on a train once. We didn’t think he was sexist, thinking we couldn’t stand, we thanked him. The world has gone mad if you think that way.

It is no wonder that suicide rates for men are increasing. Where do they fit in the world? They are not allowed to be too macho as they are accused of toxic masculinity. Not too sensitive because they are seen as wimps. I’m not saying these don’t exist, but not every man has them.

Men are not allowed to be proud males. Words such as mankind are facing the censors because it includes the word, man. Mankind is a shortened version of humankind. Is human the next word to go? It does include the word man and is not very inclusive to aliens?

Liberalism and free speech are about the debate, opening up a conversation on issues. We respect each other, and we talk. We value the right of others to have a different opinion, and we educate others.

My best friend, a black Jamaican woman has taught me more about racism than any abusive troll on social media. She has talked about her experiences. When she came to the UK, other children would touch her to see if she was real. We have discussed the origins of certain words and why they are considered abusive.

Several months ago, I wrote an article on racism. It was badly worded and not researched well. A wonderful writer pointed this out. She didn’t shout or swear at me, she educated me. I was ignorant. If more people were like these two extraordinary women we would have a chance at beating racism.

I am not talking about vicious, outright prejudice. These people should be ejected from the planet. With less obvious forms of racism, white people need education. We are a beautiful diverse planet, and we need to walk in the shoes of others.

Equality is essential to mankind’s existence. We are one planet regardless of our differences. Free speech and education are essential to this.

Religion has been used for years as an excuse for persecution. Religion was blamed for the holocaust, wars and the treatment of minority groups. Hitler did these things and used religion as his reason, religion didn’t do this.

A religious person once told me I was a freak of nature as a gay woman, that is one person. Some of my biggest supporters and friends are religious. Not everyone is the same. One bad experience should not tar everyone with the same brush.

Before people tell me this is because I have not faced true prejudice, let me tell you. When I came out, my parents disowned me for four years and most of my friends vanished. I know prejudice, but I still believe in free speech and liberal thinking, not hate.

Finally

I will leave you with a story from the English cricket team. In the team are two Muslim players. At the end of a win celebration, the media noticed that these two members ran off the pitch as the celebratory champagne was sprayed. The media called it disgraceful evidence of bigotry not recognising their faith. As Ben Stokes explained, as a team we all respect each other’s religion and behaviors. They never asked us to refrain from popping the champagne, as we would never ask them to stand and be sprayed by alcohol. When England’s Dublin born Captain was asked if he had the ‘luck of the Irish’ for the win he replied, ‘we also had Allah on our side.’

For an exclusive world, we need to celebrate our differences, make allowances and learn from each other. We need to talk and have the experience of disagreeing with the views of others. We need to debate these opinions and agree to disagree.

For true change to occur in society, we need to take everyone on our journey of discovery rather than alienate them through the vicious abusive cancel culture.

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Sam H Arnold

Written by

Author of True Crime & History with Writing Tips thrown in occasionally. See all my writing and support my work — https://ko-fi.com/samharnold

The Bad Influence

We’re a Bad Influence because we INCITE change through inclusion, thought and creativity. We imagine a world where people can think critically, express themselves, and thumb their nose at the status quo, together.

Sam H Arnold

Written by

Author of True Crime & History with Writing Tips thrown in occasionally. See all my writing and support my work — https://ko-fi.com/samharnold

The Bad Influence

We’re a Bad Influence because we INCITE change through inclusion, thought and creativity. We imagine a world where people can think critically, express themselves, and thumb their nose at the status quo, together.

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