Tribes, biases and media

One of the most depressing features of our current zeitgeist is the inability to find an objective discussion about anything. It’s like London’s Soho in the 1970s: those “massage parlours” were not for sports injuries, nor were the “models” real models. So it is with the overwhelming concentration of media power in right-wing hands in both the UK and the USA. No calm and reasoned discussion of important issues, such as Prime Ministerial integrity, or gun control is possible. Discourse degenerates rapidly into partisan excitement, and all hope of progress disappears.

It’s not as if we don’t value Conservative opinions, or think they should not be heard. The works of writers like Burke and Hobbes should be among the most treasured possessions in any library. And our experience of certain clod-witted censorious elements of the Left convinced us early that they deserve no exclusive voice. Yet the balance is currently all to one side. And in places like Hungary and Russia it has already tipped fatally against the free circulation of ideas.

Both sides cry for absolute freedom of speech. But do we give freedom of speech to a criminal, who actively talks to procure a murder, or other type of crime? Society very properly regards this as the offence of Conspiracy, and sanctions accordingly. Should absolute freedom of speech carry the right to advertise and promote brands of food that contain dangerous chemicals? In which case-why should we permit the advocacy of dangerous firearms as if they were consumer accessories? Yet try getting such lines of thought on certain media channels and see the kind of emotions that are unleashed.

Over the years we have learned to clean up the excesses of pollution in our common spaces. To regulate contaminated or dangerous foods. To release humans from the bondage of being someone else’s property. And each advance was presented as an intolerable threat to the Liberty of the companies and owners involved. The Left made the fatal mistake of abolishing free speech altogether. The question form progressives is therefore different. How do you ensure a supply of clean unpolluted information, in which an ecology of ideas form all sides may flourish?

#media control #bias #gun control #boris johnson #partygate #pollution

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