Showing posts with label Free Speech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Free Speech. Show all posts

March 21, 2020

The Leader of The Free World, Angela Merkel Makes A Speech and She Nailed it

Angela Merkel doesn’t do drama and she doesn’t give speeches on TV. So the mere fact that the German chancellor faced the camera across a desk andspoke to the nation Wednesday evening made the gravity of the situation clear. “Es ist ernst,” she said—“This is serious”— and those three bland words had more power than a hellfire sermon. Then she pivoted from statement to plea: “Take it seriously.” Quickly, she moved on to historical context, the reason for her unprecedented impromptu appearance: “Since German unification—no, since the Second World War—no challenge to our nation has ever demanded such a degree of common and united action.” 
 Merkel made no specific announcements and called for no nationwide curfews or additional closures. Yet what gave her address its force was her tone, which was direct, honest, and searingly empathic. She laid bare not just the test we all face but also the solace that leadership can provide. Without accusations, boasts, hedges, obfuscations, dubious claims, or apocalyptic metaphors she did what a leader is supposed to do: explain the gravity of the situation and promise that the government’s help would flow to everyone who needed it. She gave full-throated thanks to front-line medical workers, assured Germans that there is no need to hoard, and paused to offer gratitude to a group of workers who rarely get recognized by heads of state on national TV: “Those who sit at supermarket cash registers or restock shelves are doing one of the hardest jobs there is right now.”
This is a war without a human enemy, and Merkel lay no blame. She asked for the sacrifice of discipline, for heroic acts of kindness. She acknowledged the paradox in calling for solidarity and apartness at the same time. She understood how painful it is that just when people desperately want to come together, families and friends have to endure separation. To Americans, Merkel’s appeals to democracy, and her sadness at having to use the full weight of her authority, come as a welcome shock. No German could listen to her calls for self-policing without recalling that she grew up in East Germany under the eye of the Stasi. “For someone like myself, for whom freedom of travel and movement were hard-won rights,” she said, “such restrictions can only be justified when they are absolutely necessary.” No American could hear that statement and fail to contrast it with our own leader’s ringing words: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

September 6, 2019

The Problem with Free Speech is that it is Also Free To Be Taken Over By The Enemy

The imageboard 8chan is now infamous as the website where the mass killers in New Zealand and El Paso shared their racist ideologies. But it didn't start that way. It began as a haven for free speech — the dark heart of the internet where you could find weird porn, graphic violence, the most morbid jokes. That’s how the founder saw it, anyway.

Fredrick Brennan created the site in 2013, when he was just 19. To understand how a person could be angry enough to create a place like 8chan, you have to understand his life. Brennan has osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital disease that makes bones curved and weak. He’s broken a bone at least 100 times and has spent most of his life in a wheelchair, finding escape on the internet — 4chan especially. 

“When I started using 4chan heavily, my whole life became about the internet,” Brennan told VICE News. “And my real life stopped mattering to me.”

Eventually he dreamed up 8chan — basically 4chan, but with even fewer rules. The site was a modest success. But then the misogynistic Gamergate movement skyrocketed its popularity.

“I looked at Gamergate very cynically,” Brennan said. “I didn’t care about the ethics. And I didn’t care about the women ... I just cared that this is bringing users to my site.”

Brennan sold the site in 2014 and moved to Manila — where he could afford in-home care — but stayed on with the company that owns it through 2018. He began denouncing his creation earlier this year after a gunman killed 51 people in two New Zealand mosques after posting a white supremacist manifesto on 8chan. 

And after the El Paso shooting in August, Brennan called for the site to be deleted forever. Trolls swept in; they tried to post his address, and sent him images of him being pushed down the stairs.

 “I didn't create online harassment,” Brennan said. “This has all been going on way before I came of age, but in a way, I kind of deserve it, don't you think?”

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