Hate Speech

I’m all for stopping people from spreading hateful messages that attack people for their race, religion, country of origin, etc. It’s foul and harmful. But when you support laws against hate speech, you’re essentially trusting the government to make a decision about what is and isn’t okay to communicate about.

Okay, you say, maybe that’s fine. I mean, that’s a pretty simple decision, maybe it will be made correctly. And you know what, I bet in many cases it will be.

But let’s look at this generally. Do you think the government is an efficient system which makes logical decisions always? Do you think that the legal system is totally workable and always results in fair justice?

See, the problem isn’t that hate speech is good, or hate speech is bad, or whatever. The problem is rationality. You’re trusting one group which has a history of behaving irrationally in many circumstances (the government) to regulate another set of people who are irrational (racists, bigots, etc). Basically, imagine the situation was reversed, and you trusted the racists and the bigots to regulate the government. Would that make sense? I mean, some people argue that some politicians are racists and bigots, but I don’t really have a stake in that argument. What I’m saying is, take a group of people that you think are crazy or harmful, and ask yourself, “Would you trust them to say what the government can and can’t communicate about?” Okay. So now reverse it. Maybe the government isn’t as crazy as that group of people you were thinking of. It’s probably not. But do you fully trust that the government will behave rationally?

I would have no problem giving the government the power to regulate certain aspects of communication if I expected the government to always use that power rationally. But, from my perspective, the reason that we have human rights encoded into laws is that the government does not always behave rationally. I do believe that many people who work in the government are good people who have good intentions. And some parts of the government do a good job. But, historically, governments do not do a good job in the area of choosing what speech is okay and what speech is not okay. They have certain restrictions even now in the USA, but those are very limited and usually very specifically defined so that it’s hard to behave irrationally with them. Mostly, the courts uphold free speech. But even so, sometimes irrational results come even from the narrow restrictions that we have now.

But look, even if you did think that the government was rational, remember that it could change completely tomorrow. Some of you thought the previous President of the USA was bad, crazy, etc. and some of you think the current President of the USA is bad, crazy, etc. So would you trust the government that you don’t like with the power to decide what speech is okay and what speech isn’t okay? Because when you pass a law, you are giving every possible future version of the government that power.

If I had my way, it would be a crime to engage in extensive verbal harassment of another person’s race, religion, etc. in a public setting. I would expel every Nazi, racist, etc. from America and make their groups illegal, or at least create a focused re-education program that slowly dissolves their groups. Those sorts of groups are a scourge against humanity.

In fact, there are many web sites and companies where spouting Nazi or racist rhetoric would get you banned or fired. I’m fine with that—I trust those web sites and companies to make that decision. But even if I didn’t trust them or they messed up really badly and censored me inappropriately, I could go somewhere else and not experience that injustice, because I have other options. But with the government, I don’t really have other options. I can’t just “go somewhere else.” And I don’t believe that they will always make good judgments or that the legal system will always result in a fair trial. So I would never support a law that made it illegal to communicate some belief or ideal—not because I think all communication is fine (I don’t), but because I simply can’t imagine a government of Earth that would always get that right.

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Differences and Identities

One of the qualities of an insane person is the inability to differentiate things that are different–to say that two things that are actually different are instead similar or identical.

Consequently, insane people (or at least, evil people) tend to take two things that are different and say they are the same. A classic example of this is the mis-use of words in the naming of organizations or the incorrect identification of two political movements with each other. It’s also used by various groups to claim that they are in fact another group.

For example, the word “Nazi” means “National Socialism.” The Nazis were maybe extreme nationalists (though I wouldn’t say a group that murders a huge part of its own nation is truly “nationalist”), but they were definitely as far from being socialists as you could get–they were fascists. They even used to be called the “German Workers Party,” another clear attempt to incorrectly identify themselves with the then-popular Marxist movements happening throughout the world.

Most of the people that I know would now acknowledge Nazi-ism as an insane philosophy, so this is a good example of how an insane group of people will confuse the issue by using words that make them sound like they are something else.

Similar examples exist in American history. The States’ Rights Democratic Party was the official name of the group that most people now know as the “Dixiecrats,” a group most famous for attempting to stop black people from voting in the South through methods that are now not only illegal, but which people of conscience would have considered to be immoral even then. And yet, here they are calling themselves “democrats,” a word based on the concept of democracy–a concept that is basically all about voting.

The “National States Rights Party” was supposedly about states’ rights–a valid concept of Constitutional Law as expressed in the Tenth Amendment. But really the National States Rights Party was led by a person who was also a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. The only “rights” they cared about was the “right” to deny everybody other than white people their rights. It’s not even a party that supports anybody’s rights–it was explicitly about removing the rights of other people, a concept that is forbidden in almost all legal systems everywhere in the world. (That is, almost all legal systems, including the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, forbid using the concept of “rights” in order to destroy or deny the rights of others.) This isn’t reasonable, it’s evil. It’s insane. It’s also a lie–the name of the organization is not really what the organization does.

Even Communism ultimately became the opposite of what it claimed to be. Instead of being about empowering workers, communist countries became the most absolute dictatorships the world has ever seen.

One of the problems that human beings have when confronting this is that it’s very difficult to confront evil and insanity. People want to justify it. They want it to make sense when it doesn’t make sense. They don’t want to see evil or believe that it exists. So they say, “Well, I suppose those people really did just care about states’ rights and they all just went a little astray,” or something. But no, they were never about states’ rights, really. Not only weren’t they, but they did nearly-irreparable damage to the very concept of states’ rights by associating it with racism. They were harming “states’ rights,” not helping it.

Nowadays you see white supremacists use the term “alt-right” to describe themselves. But this is just evil, insane people hijacking the word “right” to mean “racism.” It doesn’t really matter to them which word they hijack. Remember that they already hijacked the word “socialism,” which is about as left as you can get. In fact, even “alternative right” could have meanings that don’t have to do with racism; it’s just been so confused by modern-day Nazis (and the media that loves to use them to sell papers and TV shows) that now the phrase means only “racist agenda.” Just more insanity from insane people.

In reality, racism isn’t political. It’s just evil, stupid, or insane.

Hurting Evil People

I love how people are like, “Oh yeah, let’s all be peaceful and respect everybody,” until something that they think is evil shows up, and then they’re like, “Oh yeah, hit that person!”

And what’s funny is that you usually think the evil person is evil because they are all like, “Oh, we want to hurt people!” So when your response is “Right, I want to hurt these evil people!” you should perhaps take a moment to reflect on how stupid that is. 

Why Politics is Such a Fraught Subject

The arena of politics is fraught for a lot of reasons.

It’s the subject of power, a subject on which humanity as a group is pretty much insane, from a historical perspective. Very few people ask themselves why they want to be in power, assuming that power is its own end and that one has “won” in life by getting to “the top.”

Because it is the subject of power, various control mechanisms (themselves mechanisms to attempt to gain power) such as manipulation (read: marketing, news, PR, agent provocateur, etc.) are used to accomplish it. This obscures the actual subject of politics (the efficient organization of large groups of people and their stuff within particular boundaries of space) and replaces it with push-button topics that are used to manipulate populaces into placing certain individuals in power, without any consideration of what power or politics actually are.

Now, having obscured the subject with emotionally-charged manipulation, a sort of definition change occurs—it makes “politics” into “emotionally-charged hot-button topics,” almost definitionally. It makes it impossible to discuss, and actually even makes the actual subject of politics (a social science which is known and does work) itself into an emotionally-charged hot-button topic.

In fact, anybody bringing up the subject of actual politics gets their position attacked more than any other supposedly “political” position, because attempting to put any sanity or actual politics into the subject goes directly counter to any attempt to manipulate populaces. That is, actual politics is not the subject of manipulation, fear, divisiveness, etc. It provides freedom to the individual and supports the group. It does not lead to autocracy, domination—these things that humanity thinks are “power.”

It’s not just autocrats that practice these attacks on people. They have educated the populace extremely thoroughly, by taking a few push-button topics and making them the basic pillars of “politics,” saying that nobody could really know anyway and it’s all just opinion, and then pushing forward from these pillars as though they were the fundamentals. The populace then accepts these new “fundamentals” as the most senior data in the subject of politics and they push these ideas themselves, because they are subjects that are emotionally important to people. It doesn’t matter whether the new “fundamentals” are right or wrong. The best ones have some truth in them–it makes them more defensible, which leads to more arguments and confusion. As long as they are not truly fundamental but you make them “fundamentals,” you can get the effect you’re going for. And that effect is to (a) make the subject impossible to resolve, leading to endless arguments, (b) make the subject so emotionally charged that nobody can think straight about it, (c) cause people to defend their positions either irrationally (since they have no basic principles to work with) or with tremendous complexity (since it’s very complex to explain a subject that has no basic principles), and (d) allow the subject to be manipulated by any person who can sufficiently establish themselves as an “authority” on the subject (something easily accomplishable with sufficient funding and marketing power).

So yes, sometimes when you talk about politics, humans react in a strange way.

Immigration

You know, once in a while I see people post about immigration into the US, or get unhappy about it, or something, and I wonder if they understand how immigration into the United States works.

Here’s a reasonable summary here of ways to legally immigrate into the US.

As you may notice, there actually is no legal way to immigrate into the US for many (or really, most) people, especially if you want to work here without already having a job when you arrive.

It’s also worth noting that it costs money to file the forms for immigration. Since Mexico is the big argument on this garbage fire of a subject (and oh yes, I realize that I’m inviting this garbage fire into my house by posting about it) let’s note that the median adult disposable income (what 50% of adults in Mexico have after they pay rent, buy food, etc.) per year is about $5000 in US dollars. Now, the schedule of fees from the US immigration department is quite complex, but from my personal experience with my wife, filing immigration forms, without anybody to help you–just the fees to the government–is about $800 to $1000 per person. So that’s not impossible for the average person living in Mexico, as long as they have no family of any kind and want to buy very little other than what they need to survive–but it’s not cheap either.

But even if they could pay (which some could) there isn’t any mechanism by which most of them could immigrate.

You might say, “Well, my ancestors immigrated somehow.” If your ancestors came here in the 1800’s, there was essentially NO immigration law. It was impossible to be an illegal immigrant. They were able to immigrate because we essentially let everybody into the country.

If you want to understand how immigration laws started, look up “Chinese Exclusion Act” in Google. It’s worth noting that it’s a law which Congress has adopted resolutions officially apologizing for. I suppose one could argue about its validity–the arguments surrounding it were similar to the arguments about Mexican immigration today, actually.

Now, given all this, you can point out that it’s still illegal to do something illegal, which is obviously true and I’d agree with. But I also think that if you’re going to make an argument about immigration into the country, you should understand how it actually works and what you are actually talking about.

Going to the Source

I find it amazing that we live in a world where it is so easy to directly hear what people are saying, to directly see places that are far away from you, and to get first-hand accounts from numerous individuals of what is happening, and yet people still choose to get filtered, edited information second-hand from organizations whose first responsibility is provide entertainment and serve their advertisers and stockholders—businesses that believe the only way to make money is by following a writing formula of shock and conflict.

As a side note to this, it still amazes me that people think there are only two sides to any question or situation, and that if one side is right the other must be wrong. No, they can both be wrong. They can be talking about something irrelevant. They could be asking the wrong questions. You can put two liars in a room and have them accuse each other of lying–neither of them have to be telling the truth just because one accuses the other of lying.

To an honest person, it is hard to imagine that somebody would form an organization that claims to be providing information but is actually focused on entertainment. But to the formers of these organizations, it is hard for them to imagine that anybody really believes them fully.

In short, I think there is a lot less conflict in the world than there is portrayed to be, but a LOT of conflict reported. That is, a lot of the conflict and things that you are angry at are actually the media channels giving you the information, even though you might have believed you were actually angry about the thing being reported. Usually if you go directly to the source, you’ll find things are a lot less dramatic than than they are represented to be.

You’re Angry Because You’re Supposed To Be

If you are angry now after the 2016 election, it is because there was a year-long news cycle that prepared one half of the country to be violently angry NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED. If you don’t think this is true, you don’t have enough friends who were on the other side of the election or have been very carefully feeding yourself only the news stories that agree with your ideas. Think about it—half the country was going to be FURIOUS no matter what. That seems odd, doesn’t it?

Who in the world would want to make SURE that half the country was violently angry about its government, no matter what? What would anybody stand to gain from that? Whatever it is, I have no interest in being manipulated in such a fashion.

If you want to attack something, figure out why somebody would want you to be so mad and attack that—not your own government. I have some ideas of what it might be, but nothing really concrete enough.

Now, as a side note, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everybody that SEDITION IS ILLEGAL.

Here’s the definition of “sedition” from the Oxford American Dictionary:

sedition, n., conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.

It is NOT protected by the First Amendment and you CAN go to jail for it. Peaceful protest, the right of assembly, all of these are fine. You are welcome to disagree with the government as much as you want, which is one of the great things about the USA. However, since you’re my friend and I care about you, I’d like to remind you that no matter how angry you are, you don’t want to call down the full force of the government on you by actually doing something illegal.