Say your opinion – as long as it’s true!
Goodbye diversity of opinions? Abolition of culture and other forms of narrowing the discourse are increasing significantly, and democracy is collapsing. And the new Nouveau Squad “Say What You Think!” this grievance.
By Jörg Neubert.
Attention! Warning! This review is for a book on freedom of expression, which has been used extensively by its author. He therefore expresses his personal opinion openly, and did not take into account the feelings of others who might be disturbed by it.
Does this warning sound strange to you? Well, as you’ve probably noticed, little has been discussed lately like freedom of speech, and some see it seriously threatened by such “erotic warnings”. Journalist Thilo Spahl has a set of texts with the appropriate name: “Say what you think!(Nouveau edition), in which different authors have addressed the phenomenon of freedom of expression and its endangerment.
The book is divided into four main parts. In the first part, many writers defend freedom of expression itself. Freedom of expression is understood as a fundamental right essential to democracy. British journalist Mike Hume, for example, speaks out loud about the right to free speech for rioters and those who think differently. He argues that it was precisely these heretics who developed societies by challenging the status quo. Alexander Horn criticizes attempts by politics and social media to restrict or prevent “false opinions” as an attack on the maturity of citizens. In his opinion, these measures do not serve to protect democracy, but rather undermine it.
Consistent opinion instead of breaking thought patterns
In Part Two, the authors then focus on the diversity of opinions. So it is not so much about expressing an opinion as about being as diverse as possible in public discourse. The contribution of Sebastian Loening and Fritz Fahrenholt shows that there is a problem here. They have published two books on climate change in which they criticize disaster scenarios with great scientific accuracy without denying the underlying problem. In their article they trace in short lines how heretics they were after the first book and how the second book was completely silenced by the mainstream media. Scholarly debate was rejected from the start. Live science from controversy of opinion. But some don’t seem to understand that.
Obviously, this phenomenon is not limited to the climate debate. In his essay, which is well worth reading, teacher Robert Pinkins talks about how debates in schools are less and less about dialectical confrontation with different positions than about defending a position that has been described as “correct” from the start. Therefore Bankens constantly demands, in the context of the Enlightenment, that schools can only carry out their educational mission if they challenge such campy thinking.
In the third part, several authors address the process of opinion formation. Here, for example, author Karim Dabouz shows that the process of debate, which is considered preliminary to the formation of opinion, is taking place today less and more often. Instead, there is a system of discussions based on situations. So what matters is the suspected thought more than the argument. However, it is clear that the result has already been determined. Fact-checkers, which are becoming more and more popular, are also subject to critical analysis. True to the motto: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (German for example: “Who guards the guards?” red.) Novo editor Christoph Lovinich reproaches these fact-checkers for promoting a unified opinion rather than breaking established patterns of thought.
More than ‘Maybe I’ll be able to say it again’
In the last part of the book, the phenomenon of abolition culture is traced, which is closely related to the debate on freedom of expression. In addition to interesting interviews, Elka Bonner’s defense of artistic freedom should be mentioned in particular in this part. Using many good examples and arguments, I make it clear that it is not only the right, but the job of cabaret and satire to set boundaries and draw the attention of society to its sacred cows. Of course, by attacking them with humor.
Conclusion: a well-read general anthology, which takes up the debate on freedom of expression from several points and thus enriches it. It is especially pleasing that the authors have never slipped into the dumb “likely to be said again” in their articles, but they always justify their opinion well and consistently. Not everyone will like every article, but that’s it. If this work can help ensure that the debate on freedom of expression takes place in a more substantive way, but also in a more substantive way in the future, much will be achieved.
Thilo Spall (Editor): “Say What You Think! Freedom of Expression in Times of Abolition of Culture”, 2021, Frankfurt/Main: Novo Arguments Verlag, It can be ordered here.