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On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two)

May 22, 2019

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: May 22, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,480

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Tim Moen is the President of the Libertarian Party of Canada. Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a Registered Psychologist and a Media Consultant. Dr. Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson is the Vice-President of Humanist Canada. David Rand is the President of Atheist Freethinkers of Canada. Dr. Rick Mehta is a Former Professor at Acadia University. They discuss: authors and speakers on freedom of expression and freedom of speech now; issues of freedom of expression and freedom of speech affecting their personal lives; and freedom of expression and freedom of speech affecting professional lives.

Keywords: David Rand, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson, Oren Amitay, Rick Mehta, Tim Moen.

On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Interviewees only answered questions in which they felt appropriate for them.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Who are authors or speakers who represent high-level thoughts on the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of speech now?

Tim Moen: I think most free speech authors and speakers today are generally pretty boring in that they aren’t saying anything new. At best they are regurgitating work of previous scholars and sometimes they are advocating for the undermining of property rights in the name of “free speech”.

I think that Jordan Peterson has said some interesting things on the importance of speech ie “Freedom of speech is freedom to engage in the processes that we use to formulate the problems in our society, to generate solutions to them and reach a consensus. It’s actually a mechanism, it’s not just another value.”

A little known author and thinker that I think is breaking new ground is Stephan Kinsella who is an IP lawyer and libertarian scholar. Kinsella makes a compelling argument that Intellectual Monopoly law is one of the most destructive violations of freedom of expression.

Dr. Oren Amitay: I consider Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro to be important voices in this regard. Given my work schedule, I do not invest any effort into remembering names of others who would be further examples.

David Rand: Djemila Benhabib, Zineb El Rhazoui, Sam Harris, Normand Baillargeon, spokespersons for the magazine Charlie Hebdo, as well as anyone who criticizes the regressive pseudo-left, sometimes called the identitarian pseudo-left or the Islamolatric pseudo-left.

Dr. Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson: In response to this question, I immediately thought of Roy Bhaskar who said that human freedom depends upon understanding the truth about reality and acting towards it. Ultimately, then science is, as he contended, about human liberation.

My life has been significantly informed by Eric Fromm who said in the now classic, Escape From Freedom, that people fear the conflicts, risks, doubts and aloneness that individual freedom implies, and that the wish to submit to an overwhelmingly strong power, a religion or a totalitarian ideology, is a function of wanting to annihilate that unwanted self and so enjoy the bliss of unthinking certainty and the shared glory of a righteous collectivity.

Dr. Rick Mehta: I think in the present time. I would be remiss if I did not say, “Jordan Peterson,” as we he was a big motivation for me and a big motivation to speak out. The big speakers, definitely, Jordan Peterson, and Janice Fiamengo was one of the pioneers in Canada. Gad Saad is one of the big name figures.

Then there are others who may not have the same fame, but are doing excellent work, e.g., Mark Mercer at St. Mary’s University who is the president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship. One person from the University of British Columbia. He is in the philosophy department.

I think many are from the philosophy department. Because it means tackling a problem from all different angles. They are in favour of free speech to allow them to do their thinking.

2. Jacobsen: How have issues around freedom of expression and freedom of speech impacted personal life for you?

Moen: I can’t think of any instances where my negative rights have been violated for expressing myself.

Amitay: My upbringing does not allow me to sit around silently as extremely manipulative, dubious, self-serving, nonsensical and/or pernicious machinations develop and flourish around us.

I have seen ostensibly “good” people and organizations become corrupted and tyrannical after having been granted even a tiny semblance of some form or perception of “power” or “authority.”

They believe (only) *they* (should) have the intelligence, wisdom, virtue, righteousness and right to determine who should be allowed to say what to whom. I have spoken out about such matters on Twitter and Facebook (my personal and professional pages), as well as in the media, on many podcasts, on my professional listserv (the Ontario Psychological Association) and in my classes–when I can show that it is relevant in some manner to the course, especially with respect to critical thinking.

Thus far, I have been suspended from Twitter on four occasions—I am still suspended—and have been banned from the OPA listserv at least four times; they have also censored my messages to the listserv, including not allowing *any* of them to make it through for the past two months.

I consequently quit the OPA in protest this month but may have to return because my only other option (the Canadian Psychological Association; I need to belong to at least one of them) does not have a referral service as the OPA does. In addition, several people have made official Complaints to my regulatory body, the College of Psychologists of Ontario, about my online conduct.

Thus far, I have suffered no sanctions from the CPO. Lastly, I have lost a number of “friends” in real life and on Facebook, but I have no time, use nor patience for such people if they cannot handle the Truth I convey.

Robertson: I marched with Women’s Liberation back in the 1960s as much for my own liberation as for equality for women. While the women wanted equal opportunity to establish careers, I wanted the equal right to not have a career.

I had watched my stepfather have the stress of being solely responsible for the family finances while attempting to satisfy society’s (and my mother’s) definition of “good provider.” He died young from a heart condition.

I wanted relationships where women were equally responsible. To some extent we have achieved that but throughout the 1990s I counselled men who had severe self-identity issues because they stayed at home raising their children while their wives were the breadwinners.

I hoped this would change in the 21st century; however, in a recent study (Robertson, 2018) I interviewed men who were still described socially as “deadbeats,” because they stay at home while their wives work.

What does all of this have to do with freedom of expression? Well, about a quarter of the people who marched with Women’s Liberation were men. Then at one meeting I attented, a series of women got up to say that some women were afraid to speak because there were men present, and they asked the men to leave. Without protest, we left.

This was repeated at meetings across North America. Since then, the discourse has been rather one-sided. Men who do speak about men’s issues are often derided, even shamed, in so-called “progressive” circles. It is time to use our freedoms to restart the dialogue.

Rand: As a secular activist, I have been subjected to social censorship (but not legal censorship by government) by anti-secular regressive pseudo-leftists, some of whom claim hypocritically to be secularists.

Mehta: Probably loss of friends in real life or in social media. But also, it is made up for by gains in friends. I think that is how it is. Your interaction with others. Your friends and neighbours.

In my own context, mostly, as a professor who had Facebook friends, especially when I started speaking out. Former students, even those who had written letters of thanks, suddenly unfriended me on Facebook as an example.

On the other hand, I gained other friends who replaced them. I probably had more gains than losses in speaking out.

3. Jacobsen: How have issues around freedom of expression and freedom of speech impacted professional life for you?

Moen: At a previous job I have been threatened with termination and ultimately took an unpaid suspension for writing an article as a concerned citizen critical of land expropriation by my Municipal government. I was a Municipal employee at the time but didn’t think I was prohibited from expressing a political opinion about my employer.

Corporate language is much more generic and careful these days for fear of accidentally offending someone. As a firefighter some degree of hazing (ie doing menial chores, taking some ribbing etc) is a rite of passage, this is now heavily frowned upon and you could face discipline.

This seems like a good idea on the surface, it limits the corporations liability and has good intentions, however when your job is to fight fires where team members safety and effectiveness depends on a high level of trust, rites of passage are often an important mechanism to establish that trust and bond with your team.

None of the examples I listed require a law to correct. I think employers are well within their rights to expect certain types of speech and not tolerate others and I wouldn’t want to see this undermined. However, this shift in culture is worrisome in that it is likely to migrate into law that compels or prohibits certain types of speech.

Amitay: Please see above (Ed. his response above, or in the previous questions.)

Robertson: I was Director of Health and Social Development for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations during the early 1980s. We did some good research on such issues as alcoholism and child welfare. I had discussed running for the NDP nomination in a provincial constituency with the Vice-Chief to whom I reported, and he supported the idea.

A month into the campaign he told me I would have to withdraw because the FSIN chief had negotiated a political deal with the Liberals promising to deliver the “Indian vote” to that party. I protested that the deal was with the federal Liberals and I was running provincially, but my boss said that did not matter. I refused to withdraw and some time later I won an unjust dismissal case against the FSIN.

At this time a lot of federal money was flowing to indigenous organizations to do research, and frankly many of the recipients just did not have the skills to deliver. So I became a private consultant.

A tribal council or FSIN bureaucrat would accept research dollars from the feds, spend half of it, then a month or two before the deadline hire my associates and I to do the work. This is how I worked my way through university to get my masters.

In attempting to deny my right to run for office due to a backroom deal, was an attempt to deny my right to political expression. One of my objectives as Vice-President of Humanist Canada is to protect the rights of people to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and to define reasonable limits to those rights.

Mehta: As I had an extended period of opposition to what I was saying, most of the academic mobbing was via email and happening behind the scenes. From an average person’s view, from the outside, they would not see as much compared to what you might see on YouTube with video footage of being recorded in class. There were some incidences in class. I have audio recordings but not video recordings of those incidents. Most of mine came from colleagues at university.

They ended up being complainants in confidential reports that were the grounds for my dismissal. There were accusations that I was creating a climate of fear. Some saying that they did not feel comfortable staying late at night working or that they had panic buttons in their offices.

One person saying there was a fear of terrorism. Although, the probability of that is low based on my conduct. Yes, there was that aspect. Another questioned my professional credentials, the recordings of my classes and every word was used against me, to say that I was not teaching psychology as an example or saying what I was saying was bogus. Or, they said I used my classroom for my personal politics.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, everyone.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Tim Moen, President, Libertarian Party of Canada; Dr. Oren Amitay, Ph.D., C.Psych., Registered Psychologist and Media Consultant; Dr. Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson, Vice-President, Humanist Canada; David Rand, President, Atheist Freethinkers of Canada; Dr. Rick Mehta, Former Professor, Psychology, Acadia University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: May 22, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two) [Online].May 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, May 22). On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, May. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (May 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):May. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. On Free Speech and Free Expression (Part Two) [Internet]. (2019, May 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/speech-expression-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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