In Scotland, you can be arrested for predefined 'hate speech' on a facebook post. In Germany, you can be jailed for 6 months for doing a Nazi salute. In Nottingham in the UK, you can be arrested for perceived misogyny.

All of these things are of course, abhorrent and nasty - but I think it's a logical truth that, allowing these ideas to be expressed is far safer than punishing those who partake in them. Why? Because bad ideas will always be exposed for what they are.

Let me give you an example. There is a white supremacist movement in the USA, with a small number of dedicated support. They sport Nazi flags, do Nazi salutes and sing repulsive songs about killing black people. They are given a platform to express their ideas - and what happens? They are largely ridiculed and never reach any kind of real power over others - because most ordinary people can see how utterly ridiculous their ideas are. Now imagine for a moment that all of this is banned and punishable. What happens to an idea, when it is driven underground, and how far does the definition of the crime go? If everyone's perception of offence is different, how can it be objectively measured? The movement would also become underground. Oppressed people have bubbling militancy, where whispers under cover instil a sense of rebellion. Pushing this kind of movement underground will only turn that militancy into fanaticism and extremism. Look at how the war on religious extremism is going here in the UK. Has it stopped yet? Nope, it's growing, and it's growing fast. It need to be exposed, accepted and given a platform so everyone can see just how crazy their ideas really are. Muslims need to feel like they, and their families are safe to expose these manics without fear of being flung into a Guantanamo bay for even whispering the words 'Allahu(PBUH) Akbar' in public.

The problem is as I see it, is that people do not like to work out difficult social issues, or think that bad ideas will hold influence over others to the point in which power can be gained - but this is just not true in democracy. The ability to think, critically has been pushed aside in favour of thinking with misguided, self-absorbing altruism. As freedom of expression is further criminalised, you get parties like the BNP and UKIP gathering popularity, as they're the only one's brazen enough to publicly express people's latent racism. Nationalist, hard-right parties know how much people can not express themselves, so imply that 'underdog' rhetoric to gain support. If people did not feel like they would be socially shunned or criminalised for saying what they think, then people can not discuss and change their minds about it. My mind is constantly shifting on many issues, because I always expose myself to ideas I have trepidation about, but I am able to form core principle around empirical truth.

Perhaps I am over simplifying the problem, yes, but the fact still remains that it is dangerously authoritarian to criminalise freedom of speech, and it's these kinds of laws that begin the snowballing into socialism, then to communism. As most people will say who have lived under these kinds of governments, the first thing to go is sense of humour. Tell me, when was the last time you heard a joke about a "Muslim, a Jew and a Christian walk into a bar..." on TV? It is an inherent western value that everything is open to ridicule through good humour. More often than not, the Muslim, the Jew and the Christian would actually find it funny by association. This 'inherited offence' from people, thinking "you can't say X, because it's Y" often overlooks the victim in favour of a public virtue signal, and it's inherently narcissistic in nature. The battleground to save freedom of speech is being fought on the internet, and in the United States right now, and many are just not seeing how fundamental it is to western culture. We're losing the battle. Where it will lead leaves me open to frightening speculation.

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