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(Political/Real World) Sash's Quick Guide to Rational Discussion and Freedom of Expression?

The following is a short series of 'tips' and notes that I think are good to remember when trying to debate subjects online, especially those regarding popular and often controversial subjects such as racism, sexism, homophobia and politics. I am not working for any company or organisation, I am Sash, and I make my own opinions. The following are my own thoughts.

This piece is a derivative of the notes I made in this post, about Antifa members wearing Soviet emblems.

  • Remember to stay open-minded and do not fall victim to confirmation bias when forming opinions, especially on complex cultural, socio-economic and geopolitical subjects. There is always another, often hidden, external factor influencing even hard data (nested variables) an example of that is racial crime statistics influenced by socio-economic status caused by external variables in the original point of comparison. That external variable then has other variables affecting it that are almost impossible to pin down to a single, root cause, such as crime statistics or arrest rates.

  • DO NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING as facts without empirical evidence (but remember point 1). 'Cancel Culture' on Twitter and the misinformation pandemic on social media (especially Facebook and Twitter) by both sides of the 'political spectrum' including False-Flag attacks in order to achieve political goals is an example of how misinformation can be circulated and the lengths some parties will go to do it. Misinformation is extremely dangerous.

  • Do not tar all groups with the same brush, the expression means, just because one member of a 'group' did something bad, it doesn't mean that suddenly they all are like that. This is especially important in helping prevent the spread of misinformation.

  • Regarding Point #1, the best thing you can do, as a logical human being is to actively seek reports/stories/news/opinions and evidence that opposes your belief in the argument. Consume the information, process it, and produce rationalised arguments to counter valid points instead of ad hominem attacks and knee-jerk emotional response based on an 'us vs them' notion.

  • Do not fall victim to the Rationalisation fallacy. Accept when you are wrong and use it to your advantage by incorporating the learned knowledge into future discussions. With this in mind, remember point #1 and that subjects with no defined binary states of morality are subject to interpretation and change, 'right' and 'wrong' might not be applicable to many cases. In cases where it is, accepting and learning from one's mistake is perhaps the biggest strength a person can display.

  • Do not expect to find logical debate on Social media without wading through, knee-deep, in human ignorance beforehand. The best places to hold discussions are on privately-moderated forums specific to certain issues, or tight-knit communities with non bias moderation.

What is Hate Speech?

It is important to note a distinction between the rule of Freedom of Speech / Expression, and Hate Speech. This is a subjective and highly controversial subject because no distinct line exists, and they overlap in many cases. I have a brief description of what I consider freedom of expression and what I consider hate speech here:

Freedom of expression is the right for an individual to express their beliefs and opinions without fear of reprisal. It is not the right for an individual to sow hatred and cause offense. Negative opinions of certain groups, for example, are in my opinion, absolutely protected under Freedom of expression provided they cite valid and empirical evidence and data to backup claims made, and present de-escalatory means to deal with the issues presented.

For example, even a valid point can be veiled behind unacceptable hate speech as I will loosely provide an example here.

This is an example of, in my opinion, Freedom of Expression on criticising a controversial subject:

"Religion has some major issues with homophobia and sexism that I disagree with, and I believe it has no place in modern society. Religion needs a reform and people need to be educated that there is no innate issue with loving another of the same sex".

The following is an example of the same notion that I consider Hate Speech:

"Religious people are scum that persecute homosexuals and have no place in modern society. Society needs to get rid of them."

Freedom of Expression doesn't give you the right to be an asshole. For the majority of people willing to abuse Freedom of Expression, they know exactly what they are doing and how they can twist it to their agenda.

The biggest rule of life is to treat others with respect and kindness, you will often go much further in life by winning people over, rather than oppressing or censoring them. Both the Right and the Left of the 'political spectrum' are guilty of those fascist-traits.

The pen is infinitely mightier than the sword, but with that power, comes great responsibility. The responsibility to stay true and rational. The pen can be abused as much as the sword, and the consequences just as severe.

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