A few weeks ago, before more recent events, I wrote an article on the subject of the current struggle for free speech, which has just been published over on Mere Orthodoxy. Within it I argue that the focus of the struggle for free speech upon figures like Milo Yiannopoulos is unhelpful and that the struggle we face is far wider ranging and deeply structural than we typically appreciate. The greatest obstacles to free speech are not so much illiberal individuals as our poorly designed and compromised institutions and platforms.
It is common in discussions of freedom of speech to seek to apportion blame to particular parties who are supposedly attacking other people’s negative liberty of speech. There are occasions where such blame is largely merited. However, one of the purposes of my argument here is to discourage such a rush to judgment. What I have attempted to show is that a great many of our problems of speech arise neither from malice nor from direct opposition to freedom.
Rather, they are a product of weak institutions, of poorly designed technologies, of disordered societies, and of the unchecked power of the market. While exacerbated by various parties and individuals, they are, at their most fundamental level, systemic problems. As such, they will only properly be addressed on a systemic level. Social justice warriors, so-called Millennial ‘snowflakes’, no-platforming universities, ideologically conformist academics, and also the trolls and professional provocateurs are all merely players in a perverse game. It is upon the reforming of the game that our efforts must primarily be expended.
Read the whole piece here.