Journalists and commentators have expressed varying levels of concern regarding the erosion of freedom of speech online through social media, news, and commentary sites.
Most of those journalists and commentators have been utilising the term “regressive left” to refer to those who want to restrict freedom of speech online due to egalitarian reasons.
Prominent among those in the fight against the regressive left is Dave Rubin, host of The Rubin Report. A self-described “classical liberal” who believes in, “women’s rights, gay rights, a more fair tax system”,
Rubin stands to the left of the political spectrum. On his talk show, he includes guests from all political persuasions and all backgrounds who offer many different perspectives on important issues.
”I don’t pretend to have all the answers and my beliefs have evolved and probably will continue to evolve. The important thing is to discuss ideas, figure out what’s right and what’s true”, says Rubin.
He further states, “That’s the only way we can move forward together as a society”.
Another prominent voice against the regressive left is Allum Bokhari, currently a journalist for Breitbart.
Bokhari, like Rubin, stands to the left of the political spectrum.
He calls himself a, “progressive. By which I mean, I believe we should use our rapidly-improving knowledge of human nature to improve the way our society is structured and maximise freedom”.
Bokhari, like others, believes that the progressive movement has been co-opted by regressives.
“The modern progressive movement, unfortunately, isn’t really progressive at all. They are, in fact, regressive: they take their cultural cues from modern-day Mary Whitehouse’s’, their intellectual cues from 1960s social science, and their political cues from whichever group happens to be the most offended”.
The regressive left mainly consists of modern day liberals, modern day progressives, feminists, and egalitarians.
Much like the regressive right, who mainly consist of ultra-conservatives and evangelists, the regressive left have been extremely vocal for the banning of free speech online.
Both those movements support the restriction of the free exchange of ideas, opinion, and news on social media sites.
Their difference lies in the ideas and opinions of which they believe shouldn’t be discussed.
For example, the regressive right would see the elimination of any mention of atheism or atheistic philosophies from online discussion.
Meanwhile the regressive left would see any opinion which contradicts theirs banned and supressed and often do so through Twitter mobbing, hacking, and spamming.
The regressive right do this to protect their religious or political values. The left do it to protect themselves as well as others from dangerous ideas or contrary opinions that may “trigger” them or cause “micro-aggressions”.
This regressive left believes that on the internet there is a culture of harassment and threat.
Alarmingly, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are silencing or warning those who disagree with the regressive left.
Recently, Twitter unverified Breitbart journalist and editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ Twitter account, giving no reason why they’d done so.
Rubin believes that freedom of speech online should in no way be inhibited for any reason, stating. “We have to debate ideas and let the better ideas win. Everyone seems so afraid to be offended, but so what? I’d rather debate ideas any day, with anyone, than silence people.”
Bokhari has described a new wave of subculture fighting against the regressives- the Cultural Libertarians.
“People who believe in secularism, cultural libertarianism, and intellectual freedom should reclaim the word ‘progress.’ Because progress, when it comes, won’t look anything like the outdated doctrines clung to by the regressive left”, says Bokhari.
This may be the new freedom of speech conflict of our times, such as the Second World War was that of your grandfathers or great-grandfathers.
Whatever the outcome, it will be interesting to see what journalists, columnists, and commentators say on both sides of the issue that affects their daily lives.