The New York Times published a very important new op-ed this morning which is highly relevant to our current debates about so-called “free speech” and the rights of non-experts.
There are beautiful freedoms and ugly freedoms. The ability of someone like Donald Trump to reach a mass audience on social media is an ugly freedom. The ability of someone like Kyle Kulinski to have an unmoderated conversation with Joe Rogan on a platform that cuts out traditional gatekeepers and that dwarfs CNN and which is used to spread transphobia and misinformation which have a negative impact on marginalized communites is also an ugly freedom. In contrast, a beautiful freedom would be something like our civil rights laws which restrict freedom of association or CIA officers and experts “deprogramming” their fellow citizens with a “public health approach” to rightwing domestic extremism.
“It would seem there is a lot of “freedom” being trumpeted by state officials these days.
Within hours of becoming governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order to ban the teaching of critical race theory, explaining that the state must promote “freedom of thought.” He then moved to lift mask mandates in public schools, citing “individual liberty.” In mid-January, Florida lawmakers debated an “individual freedom” bill that would limit discussions about race and discrimination in schools and businesses.
Around the same time, conservative politicians in Georgia created a Freedom Caucus that seeks to, among other things, keep “dangerous ideology” out of schools. And, in Iowa, a Parental Freedom in Education Act would have allowed parents to prevent children from learning anything they find objectionable, inspect teachers’ curriculum and lesson plans at any time and challenge mask mandates. (The bill was rejected in the Iowa Senate.)
Each of these actions used the language of freedom to justify anti-democratic politics. These, then, are what I call “ugly freedoms”: used to block the teaching of certain ideas, diminish employees ability to have power in the workplace and undermine public health.
These are not merely misunderstood freedoms, or even just a cynical use of the language of freedom to frame bigoted policies. They manifest, instead, a particular interpretation of freedom that is not expansive, but exclusionary and coercive. …”
Extreme measures are needed to deal with these problematic ugly freedoms which are enshrined in antiquated white supremacist documents like the Constitution and its institutions.
I envision a new order in which the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, the filibuster, the Senate, the Electoral College and the Supreme Court have been blasted away by the “pro-democracy movement.” I envision empowering an all powerful class of professionals, experts and bureaucrats who live on our coasts and who have the college degrees necessary to perceive what is a beautiful freedom and an ugly freedom and what is democracy and giving those people unlimited power to make all the important decisions!