Does free speech matter?

nofreespeechVietnam has just passed a new law banning blogs and social media from discussing news, politics and current affairs. Henceforth, Facebook and Twitter users in Vietnam can only publish mindless posts about what they ate for breakfast and photos of their cats. So not a huge impact perhaps.

Is it important? In China (another one party communist state), the economy is booming, so do human rights and free speech matter that much?

What do you think? But before you answer I must inform you that if you give the wrong answer, you will be arrested and imprisoned without trial.

Do you think that’s acceptable? But before you answer I must remind you that if you give the wrong answer, you will be arrested and imprisoned without trial.

I recently visited Berlin, the city that was divided for 30 years by the Wall. It’s a stark reminder of the true value of freedom. In East Berlin, anyone who gave the wrong answer would be arrested and imprisoned without trial. People were so desperate to leave East Germany (yet another one party communist state) that over a hundred were shot and killed as they tried to escape over the wall. A visit to Berlin should really be essential for anyone with an interest in politics or who wonders how we can make the world a better place.

So I’ll ask you one last time. Does free speech matter?

8 responses to “Does free speech matter?

  1. I hardly think that the West comprehends free speech either, the most blatant, notable and nefarious example being the Mcarthy Trials of several decades ago in the US where intellectual freedom was the basis of persecution even in spite of the fact it was protected as a democratic right under the constitution; as is the expression of any economic system democratically agreed upon.
    It always seems convenient to vilify foreign countries and conveniently disreguard the obvious sham that your own culture perpetuates. Ingenuous self reflection is much more difficult a road than to mindlessly caricaturize others.

    • You are right about Mcarthy. We must never take any freedom for granted. You will find me on this blog constantly demanding more freedom, especially in the West, where we are blind to our lack of freedom.

  2. Science question;
    Pauling introduced the concept of electro-negativity values in 1933. What is the force operating in an atom of fluorine or oxygen to attract electrons to it in spite of the balance of protons and neutrons? I think it is electrical, and so fluorine has a net functional positive charge?
    I think this interesting because it indicates a cosmic scale functional charge asymmetry created by the dominant products of stellar fusion throughout the universe.


    • Robert, not sure if you intended to post this question here, or if I am qualified to answer it (I studied Physics, not Chemistry). Electronegativity measures the ability of neutral atoms to bind as molecules, e.g. O2, by sharing a bonding pair of electrons. The molecule formed is not electronegative, so has no functional electric charge as far as I understand. Therefore there is no large-scale charge asymmetry.

      It’s most easily understood in the simplest case – hydrogen. Here each atom is unbalanced (think of the electron as a particle orbiting a proton – at any instant the electron-proton pair looks like a dipole – although this is a crude classical model, not a quantum-mechanical one). If two hydrogen atoms form a molecule, they can “share” a pair of atoms and balance the two dipoles.

  3. I meant to say balance of protons and electrons….gheesh!

  4. I mean obviously this is an overlooked component of cosmology? And when you consider that the electric force is 39 orders of magnitude greater in magnitude than gravitation, then you quickly realize that this is an under utilized application of energy distribution in the current models.

    You do not even require two opposite electrical poles to achieve an effect, an electron is the most highly mobile component of charge, and will move in a negative charge gradient to the area of a field where the negative charge is lesser.

    If you look at the average result of stellar fusion, and then at the concentration of matter then this will result in large scale electrical charge gradients!

  5. And so the entropic minimums achieved in the stability of a galaxy may be the result of electrical rather than gravitational stabilities. And dark matter can be relegated to the existence of fictions where it truly belongs.

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