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Political Correctness on College Campuses (Jonathan Haidt Interview Part 1)

More from Ora: Political Correctness on College Campuses (Jonathan Haidt Interview Part 1)

An Important Message on Free Speech #FreeAmosYee

The Rubin ReportJun 02 '16

"If you really are for atheists, or free thinkers, then you must be for the brave ones who mock the very institutions which would have them jailed."



Published on Ora TV on June 1, 2016:

I think at this point you probably know I'm big on this free speech thing. I'm a firm believer that you can say absolutely anything you want, period. That doesn't mean that there won't be consequences to what you say, but you have the right to say what you want. By the same token, others have the right to rebut your free speech by exercising theirs. This is how good ideas win, not by stifling bad speech, but by beating it with better ideas.

As I've mentioned many times, in America right this very moment I'm not that concerned that the government is coming for my free speech. You can pretty much say anything about the government without fear and in many cases you'll look cool for fighting the power. There are instances like Edward Snowden and the CIA leaks where it seems people are being persecuted for speech, but really those consequences are for exposing state secrets. However, what I do fear in America is that we are taking away speech from ourselves, and are doing so in a plethora of ways.

You guys know all about the safe spaces and trigger warnings on college campuses, which are designed to shield young people from speech which might scare them. Now, authors with controversial ideas are deplatformed, and speakers who dare bring up a contrarian thought are shouted down. It's not just colleges though, we also have protestors blocking roads to political rallies because they don't like what might be said before it actually is. Throw in the overuse of words like racist, bigot, homophobe, and sexist, and you have a toxic mess designed to shut down any important and honest discussion.

In other countries, the threat to free speech is much worse than we have it here. America has plenty of so-called allies who don't respect free speech in a myriad of ways. Many Islamic countries have laws against blasphemy and apostasy, meaning you can be put in jail or even killed for mocking God or leaving religion. Add the oppression of women, minorities, gays and others into the mix and you have entire societies that not only don't have freedom of speech, but are actively trying to control what their citizens think and how they act.

We often think that the most backwards countries related to free speech and these intolerant ideas are in the middle east, but often that's not the case. My guest this week is Amos Yee. Amos is a 17 year old from Singapore who is an atheist and free speech advocate. Amos shares his thoughts about government, religion and more, right here on YouTube for all the world to see. Amos got on my radar last week when I started getting dozens of tweets asking me to help him after he was arrested due to Singapore's blasphemy laws. At this very moment he is out on a $5,000 bail and awaiting trial in Singapore. He faces 5 counts of wounding the religious feelings of Muslims and one count for wounding the religious feelings of Christians. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

I've caught up on some of Amos' videos and this is a guy who pulls no punches. I've seen videos of him mocking and licking the Koran. I've seen him humping the Bible and plenty more. He's mocking others ideas with ideas of his own. He isn't calling for harm to a person or group of people, he's in fact doing the most human thing you can do, which is thinking for yourself. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali says, if you are for minorities, you must be for minorities within minorities. This is the perfect example of that. If you really are for atheists, or free thinkers, then you must be for the brave ones who mock the very institutions which would have them jailed. You can't just be for ideas when it's safe, you have to be for ideas when it's your own life on the line. Amos is not only a living example of concept, but he's also putting it all on YouTube for the world to see. If he's brave enough to do that, then the rest of us have a duty to use our free speech to amplify his message. If we're afraid to do that, then it's our speech the authoritarians will come for next.

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