In HBL of Fre 26.07. there was an insändare in which Nicolas von Kraemer gave his impression that the freedom to express one’s opinions freely is in our society more and more constricted by demands to be “korrekt och finkänslig”, by demands to counteract things like “hat, hot och lögner”, etcetera, while what he wants more of is “frihet”.
And certainly one can understand him: if one feels strongly about something one would wish that one could express one’s feelings loudly, strongly, and without having to be afraid that one is taken to court (or even prison) about it. Whereas it is, on the other hand, an undeniable fact that demagogy of the type which one Donald Trump is producing nowadays (or of the type which was produced by the Springer Press in Germany in (and after) 1968) has certainly its political and even criminal consequences – suddenly, people with extreme political inclinations feel encouraged, perhaps even obliged, to commit violent crimes. As also happened.
So, how to do? Certainly there are laws against hets mot folkgrupp and similar things, but if somebody sometimes is loudly and freely giving vent to, say, some racist prejudice, then few will think it adequate that such a person is taken to court for it. The question in the background is always whether there is a problem which is big and serious enough for the police and the courts to become active about it. And what some private person says once or a few times (often under the influence of some alcohol) is mostly not a big enough problem. But if the person is prominent, so that her/his sayings are reported in the media (this way reaching many, and being endowed with the authority of being the opinion of a prominent person), the problem is already big enough to, say, issue an official warning to that person, and if that does not help, even a fine. And in such a case as that of Trump one should wish that there are free media with journalists who know sufficiently much about psychology to explain in clear terms what is going on. – The trouble with this is that at least in the USA very many media outlets are not free but privately owned, with the owners being very interested in seeing Trump win elections (because it means low taxes for the owners) and also being endowed with the power to fire journalists who are expressing “non-positive” opinions. And also in Europe it has turned out in the past that privately owned media were able to brainwash not only the public but also the judges whose job it would have been to rein the demagogues in (with the result that he demagogues were free to continue unhindered).
And at present we have of course the electronic media where EVERYbody can try to get her/his opinions spread far and wide (though, at least in the beginning without the attached authority which derives from being prominent). The public debate has meanwhile woken up to the fact that here is actually a problem, and institutions like Facebook are seemingly trying to do something about it. Unluckily it seems that they are just hiring some people (who can be easily fired, and know it) who have not really been selected very carefully, give them some short introduction and then put them to the job of checking whether contributions to, e.g., Facebook should be allowed to be published, or not. My own experience with this is recent: I was writing to the Facebook group “Political Psychology” an analysis about the question why Trump’s followers are seemingly not being disturbed by his frequent lying. I was expressing myself not very aggressively (VERY much less than Trump is doing in his Tweets), but as soon as i had put that piece to Facebook I got an email from Facebook that it was against their principles so that they had taken care that only I myself could see my text. – The reader of this is invited to try and go to the Facebook group Political Psychology and look for a text titled “Types of Lies”, trying out whether s/he can see the whole text, or only its end (which goes “… mildly amused way Trump’s methods and their mental and political consequences.” – which was my recommendation how his opponents should, instead of publicly displaying outrage, explain Trump’s methods to the public).
And the method of hiring insufficiently fitting people to make in a hurry decisions the consequences of which can be very serious indeed is not only applied by parts of the media but also by banks and firms who earn their money by sending other people’s money from country to country. I am financially contributing to three different families outside Europe. Financially, i do take care that I do not bankrupt myself in the process, but all those people to whom one has to explain the intention of sending even rather small amounts, and who can, and will, blacklist one for life if one does not convince them during the one phone call they grant one, have meanwhile been costing me huge amounts of nerves. – All those troubles which one earler had reasons to blame on “the State” and its bureaucracy, which seemingly enjoys to make life difficult for the government’s subjects by the imposition of “rules”, here they come again via Free Enterprise and its habit of hiring insufficiently qualified people and keeping them in fear of losing their jobs if they should not impose “the rules” to the satisfaction of their supervisors (and never mind what the consequences may be for other people). This, as experienced, in both the business of money transfer and the control of the content of Facebook. – One MAY think control necessary, but the way how it is realized is obviously worth some (or quite a bit of) further political discussion.