“You are the problem, not the solution”

We regularly highlight comments that have made an impression on us. Today’s comment comes from our user Howard Hill who is challenging the validity of the idea of the project.

You are the problem, not the solution. Would you like to know why ?
Because you are promoting the establishment line by talking about freedom of speech in such naive terms, as if it were something real, when it is not. Before anyone can speak freely, they must have free access to true knowledge, agreed ? Since we all know that we do not live in a world where free speech exists, otherwise this site would be absurd, it follows that free access to true knowledge does not exist. Firstly then, you are putting the cart before the horse.
The existence of your site implies that there is a problem with regard to freedom that we can solve, thus implying that humans are in control of themselves. This is an ideal, and when you ask if anyone would like to question the whole basis of your organisation, I would say yes, I do, for as long as you pretend, along with the establishment, that all we need do is work together as individuals, you will never see the true nature of the problem where free access to knowledge, and therefore freedom of speech, is concerned. So that, as it stands your espoused objective of realising true freedom of expression, is indeed entirely impossible, precisely because it is, as you almost suggest, misconceived.

A vivid exchange with several other users followed here.

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Comments (3)

Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. I have written my views in some freedom of speech blogs on the internet concerning the nature of or reason for freedom of speech.
    I am certain that many such internet sites are little more than some equivalent of black holes, sucking our mental energies into useless quagmires.
    Even so they do have their uses, for I am not making an argument in a vacuum. My argument is fully functional in the form of a work of art.

    “9/11 The Clouds” https://plus.google.com/u/0/115593826388803739707/posts/p/pub

    Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso. It was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country village in northern Spain by German and Italian warplanes.

    9/11 The Clouds is a painting by my self, Perreaoult Daniels. It was created in response to the destruction of the original World Trade Center of New York City, destroyed in the September 11 attacks of 2001

    These two works of art hold a existence and properties parallel in our experience despite our separation in time. The Spanish Republican government commissioned Picasso to create a large mural for the Spanish display at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris.
    I created 9/11 the Clouds, of my own volition, shortly after 9/11.
    I shall not go into the details of the image created by Picasso. Guernica has become a universal and powerful symbol warning humanity against the suffering and devastation of war.
    9/11 was not an event occurring between two nations at war. It was a claimed a religious war and sparked great numbers of people to anger and hatred for beliefs not of their own.
    In the buildings, people burned and out of them they fell. In the clouds descending from the Towers high overhead, thousands of burning fluttering papers fell from the sky – their destruction of no concern to anyone. And to the people who did this thing, how could they care about burning papers, when the burning bodies did not move them? Yet I knew instantly that some of those burning falling clouds of paper had to be holy books.

    9/11 The Clouds unlike like Guernica, cries a warning to humanity against the insanity of murder in the name of faith.

    For 9/11 The Clouds, I destroyed in order to create, three holy books. The end result is this Work of Art that I have chosen to Give as a gift to The American People.

    Will it Be accepted? If our government act’s in the name of free speech yes. But this can cause problems for the government.

    To not interact with this opportunity afforded by the University of Oxford, would be to deny one of the basic abilities that make us human, the ability to communicate.

    It is this ability to form complex internal mental structures in the mind, and then to translate said structures into a format that can be reconstructed mentally by others. The very fact that we can do this endows us with the freedom.

    What we know to be real or otherwise has nothing to do with the freedom of speech.

    As for the question of true knowledge, we can only know what our senses tell us and that is not the job of the state.

    • Hi Perreaoult and thank you for this thoughtful and artistic comment. Do you think art should be completely free as an instrument of expression or are there things that cannot and should not be expressed either in a particular way or at all even through art?

      • {Author: Judith Bruhn
        Hi Perreaoult and thank you for this thoughtful and artistic comment. Do you think art should be completely free as an instrument of expression or are there things that cannot and should not be expressed either in a particular way or at all even through art?}

        Art has to be completely free as an instrument of expression.

        Art is a language, expressing meaning by relating a concepted abstraction to form a intuited object of thought.

        So what does that mean? Well, if I wanted to explain to a child what big was, it would not do to simply state that big is bigger than small. I have to create for the child an analogy in language that the child can translate from experience. I might say “Daddy Big, and say it with gesture and sound.
        DADDY BIG!…baby small….
        Will the baby completely understand the concepts of relative size? I don’t think so. But the child will begin to grasp the concept and apply it to his or her environment.

        Human beings are unique in this ability to communicate concepts, regardless of absence of information. We intuit meaning, from previous experience.

        If Art is a language of intuition. It defines meaning from our experience of existence in time, empowering it with force. A force that applies symbolic signs to abstract concepts – clarifying and focusing our definitions.

        There are no concepts exempt of the artistic apparatus. We must be free to experiment with the formation of new symbolic equations. It is a basic tool in the mechanism of human language.

        That said, I have been thinking of extremes.

        Such as purposely derogatory art work that targets particular groups of people.

        Because of Race, sex, beliefs.

        Art work that used the bodies of victims, human or animal.

        All things in exist in context.

        We claim to live in a society that seeks tolerance, so in context such art work that puts to use these concepts would be doing so. Intolerance or hate speech as it would be defined would reveal it self for what it was. This would be a innate property of the art.

        Should we then say no, you can’t make this art?

        I would say that such works have a very limited shelf life. And that the definitions implied in such works are easily challenged by tolerant societies where the full force of free speech is applied.

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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