Freedom of Speech is Not When Everyone Says the Same Thing

Many thanks to JLH for translating this op-ed from Junge Freiheit:

Freedom of Speech is Not When Everyone Says the Same Thing

by Laila Mirzo
August 23, 2019

Freedom of expression is probably the most contended constitutional right in the context of today’s political discourse. It is the foundation for democracy and the rule of law, and any curtailment is an indicator of a social-political imbalance. There is something rotten in a state in which everyone is of the same opinion. A lively diversity of opinion is part of pluralism. Striving for a similarity of opinion is a deceptive harmony — the first step toward enforced conformity. It is difficult to ignore that public as well as private broadcasting companies and publishing houses are playing politics with their reporting. Neutral and objective reporting of facts gives way more and more to an instructional pedagogy.

Anja Reschke, journalist and moderator of the ARD [German state TV] political magazine “Panorama” speaks plainly about the “educational task” of journalists in an interview with Swiss Television in December, 2018. Answering the question of what the media’s task is, she says: “A media landscape that is intended to educate the citizen to [become] a responsible, democracy-voting citizen or to enable the citizen to participate in elections. That is the job.” Astonished, the Swiss moderator saw a similarity to the “re-education” of German prisoners of war in Great Britain. Reschke confirmed the parallel.

Re-Education 2.0

The goal of the erstwhile program of re-educating post-war Germany to become a democratic society, and the subsequent “re-orientation” measures was the de-Nazification of the Germany population. The purpose was to break through the Germans’ deference to authority and strengthen critical and independent thinking in the citizens. So that never again should a totalitarian, inhumane ideology plunge Germany into misfortune.

The constitution, the rule of law and a pluralistic media landscape would be effective bulwarks against a new totalitarian regime. But 70 years after Hitler’s Germany, the information task of much of the Fourth Estate has become a “re-education 2.0.” From Tagesschau to Tatort[1], we are told what to think.

If the alternative to advocating a one-sided welcoming policy is ostracism, objectively dealing with political opponents becomes impossible. Ultimately, there would be no “platform for a rightist populist’s incitement.” It could, of course, be that one or another of the onlookers has a provocative thought in the “wrong” direction. If it manages to create a critical voice, a morality trial pronounces sentence.

Dictated Opinion of Political Correctness

Next follows public condemnation, and with it the death sentence of society. When dissidents are denounced by their employers or are banned from being served in local pubs, that is a proof of the bankruptcy of an allegedly tolerant society. That is how the herd capitulates to a comfortable erasure of differences in opinion, even as the waking spirit resists political correctness.

We must always be conscious that the constitution is not primarily concerned with the content of opinion, but with the freedom and right to express an opinion, to question it, to support or to reject it. It is also a virtue to be able to tolerate the opinions of others.

Finally, Friedrich Nietzsche said: “The young are most surely corrupted when they are seduced to respect conformists above dissenters.”

Note:

1.   Tagesschau — daily online news report; Tatort — popular mystery show
 

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