As we already discussed in the previous post It’s Ok to experience consequences for your Free Speech, yeah?, the narrative of those who advocate that it is perfectly fair and justifiable for non-governmental organisation to retaliate against the free speech, enabled authoritarian regimes to suppress opposition, while maintaining the formal appearance of the existence of the free speech rights. Expectations that this practice of the use of non-governmental organisations will be limited and localized in Russia are quite naive. And confirmation of such a naivety did not delay to appear.
Russian censorship organisation Roscomnadzor send Facebook a demand to block pages that coordinate organization of the protests against the jailing for 10 years of Alexei Navalny, one of the brightest critics of the Kremlin regime of the last years. And, of course, Facebook complied: Facebook blocks Russian page supporting Navalny, Putin’s biggest critic.
Some of the free speech opponents say that the “regulations” of it are just fine. For example for commercial, decency, anti-violence reasons. However, let us not to hide behind the words. Regulations consist of two parts: guidelines, and… well… punishment measures. Doesn’t matter how skillfully and prolonged time one rotates and juggle with that term, it boils down to the retribution, retaliation and ostracism.
And by the way, the term “regulation” is going out of fashion: Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US. As the sixth circuit court of appeals upheld the firing of high school teacher Shelley Evans-Marshall who has shown her students the American Library Association’s list of “100 most frequently challenged Books” and asked them to write an essay about censorship, the court justified its decision by saying that the speech is a commodity being sold by you as an individual. And it’s perfectly right to not buy it, or throw in the dumpster, or, I presume, to throw you into a jail if somebody decides you are selling a bad/prohibited product.
And that is quite a genius way of swinging the discourse, and would have applauded to such an intellectual fit and flexibility, had not that had such a dangerous… yeah.. consequences.