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tv   Worlds Apart  RT  August 15, 2021 2:30am-3:01am EDT

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the for me ah, and welcome to all the parts in the beginning was the war and the words was with god and the word was god. this opening phrase from the gospel of john is often cited by a sizing significance of language in the abolition of the human species. but in spite of or perhaps because of the power of the word, humans have always tried to regulate. if censorship inevitable, especially in this day and age, and especially when it comes to politics. while to discuss it, i'm now joined by jonathan zimmerman, professor of history, roger cation at the university of pennsylvania. i'm also all free speech. why we should give a damn professor. it's good to talk to you. thank you very much for your time.
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thank you. it's good to be here. now let's start with, i'm sure, purposefully ad g, the title of your book. why should anyone and specifically, why should any american give a damn about free speech? well, i think the reason they should give a damn it is that every great movement for social justice, every great campaign to fight oppression in history, the 9 states was powered upon and depended upon free speech. that's really why we wrote the book to remind people about the radical uses in the radical potential of free speech. unfortunately, in my view, free speech and course the united states has now been coded as a conservative value. and i find this ridiculous and a historic and the reason we wrote the book and the reason that you should get down is that if you want to make anything better in america, you need free speech. and every campaign to do that has relied on, i think,
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not only in this part of the world, but also many americans. i see free speech as something that is in line with the abuse of the powers that be everything else is categorized as either propaganda or let's say, hey speech, how would you personally go about separating all those things? it's important to make some distinctions just because i believe in the right to free speech. doesn't mean that i agree with the whole speech. and doesn't mean i endorse it. i endorse the right, just people to say what they think. that doesn't mean i agree with what they think and often they don't. i'm sorry, often i don't. so you mentioned hate speech, hate speak is protected in the united states. what protected means is that the court said that the constitutional,
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wow speak the say he thinks i agree with that. but i also believe in raising one's voice against hateful speech. so i both believe that it will be, should be allowed. and the people of good, we'll should really their voices against it, which is itself a form of free speech. so the question is whether the state should be in the business of regulating and i don't believe it should be. so in this context, what that's 3 major referred to free of why the free to do what free to be. 3 feet regulation and control why regulation and control? because you know that many of the public for in the united states privately owned, why do you make ration? well, because i mean, the constitution says congress shall make no law of it a purchase for him. right? the constitution, the bill of rights, is directed to govern. that is,
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the 1st amendment is phrased in negative terms. it doesn't say you can say anything you want any talk. what it says if we can't pass laws, it prevent you from speaking while, but you know, you know, definitely that life is, you know, brighter and more inventive than the law. i mean, it's definitely broader than the law counselor need to be curtailed with laws being fully applied. right. and look, i think it's important to make a distinction between what the constitution says and let's just say our public spirit around free speech. so i'm not concerned right now in the united states about i, you know, i should catherine, on the part of the government to censored people. that does happen sometimes. but the biggest worry for me is that we're censoring ourselves. we find
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a way we're allowed to do. i just think it's wrong headed. so you mentioned college campuses earlier. there was a lot of censorship going on college campuses, but it's not a matter of like bad guys with baseball bats and sunglasses walking around. and you know, inhibiting people want to speak, what it is, is that i believe we blow off the culture of free speech, which is a different question. that is, we've made environments, they're not friendly to people speaking their minds. well, i actually agree with you 100 percent because when i was studying in the state back in early 2000, many of my media law professors would side. this will tear the principal. i disagree with with what you say, but i will defend your right to said to my very death and nowadays my own the university has a pretty long record of counseling speakers. why not even controversial? i mean,
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just not subscribing fully to the new ethics that they can over the american campuses. correct. i know that this is a very complex phenomenon, but, but why do you think it is so contagious? why do you think so prevalent across the entire academia which is supposed to be based on critical thinking as the very premise of its operation? well, i think there are a couple of things to remember. first of all, cancel culture, as you mentioned, is real. but i want to emphasize peer listeners, it's bi partisan, that's what makes it so strong. so if you turn on fox news, if you turn on right wing radio in this country, what you hear about or cases where less meaning people shout down conservative speakers. and that does happen. fox is right, and that's deplorable on fox won't tell you, is that republican lead state legislatures right now are trying to pass laws to prevent people from teaching about critical really, i totally agree with you. i think the american culture,
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i don't know what it's powerful is it's bipartisan. well, it's bipartisan when it comes to the media, but i ask you about the academia. academia, like, let's not put them into the same basket because i agree that journalists are also supposed to be in balance. i mean, this is the very premise of our profession, but when it comes to me, i think the standard standard is much higher. i mean, isn't it supposed to be different in that very bill? i agree with you, and this is a problem. and it is true that on our campuses, the campuses are run by professors administrators mostly come from the last, although not entirely. so it shouldn't surprise us in a sad way than on campuses when you see campus leaders or campus students lang people, it often comes from the left. but we live in a culture of it's bigger than our universities. and one of the really sad things
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that the united states right now is the same. people complain about cancer, cultural counseling, and that's really the story. i think this is zimmerman. in the previous interview, he talked about the psychology of politics, the framing of political claims in terms of psychological harm, which happened over the last 20 years or so. now i'm not sure the american politics was ever 3 of my college, i think. but this slide towards the aggressor or, and the me narrative. what do you think? prompted it because if we go back 20 years to the late 992 doors were some of the most prosperous and triumphant years in the united states. well, i think there are a couple of things that happened, but i think one of them is that we develop much more awareness about mental health and our society in our culture. which by the way, i think is lordly,
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salutary. i think it's fantastic that there's been more openness, more a we're about mental health and in some places also more funds devoting to devoted to treating it. although again, not by didn't in our political realm and unfortunate an unforeseen negative consequence, which is i think, is part of the mental health revolution. we increasingly freeze political claims inside the law. arms as the language mental health became more common. so if you disagree with something i said on this program, not to say i disagree with you, i think you're wrong because of the following problems in your evidence or logic. you say your micro grass mate, you say you triggered me. you said you heard me again in some psychological way because those are psychological terms. and i guess an enormous problems or politics
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because it's almost impossible to have a discourse on that terrain. if you were to say that i, mike regressed, you all, i can you resend responses? i'm sorry i couldn't deny dad because i can't look into your soul. so it's a cul de sac. that is, it's a way to cut off the discussion at a time when we actually need more of it. he talks about psychology, diving of politics, but i wonder if the opposite is also true because that is the bully decided thing of my college because any psychologist would tell you that there is no clear separation between a victim and abuser. and abuser is almost always to form a victim, you know, those things are all in generation. so in a way, do you think it's perhaps the mix of both them the manipulation of both psychology and politics? absolutely. i think that's a really fair point. and i think, honest,
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i will tell you that a lot of claims about micro aggressions, the trigger warnings don't really have a lot of psychological basis. and if they're not grounded in research, even the idea that we should try to insulate you from something that may be harmful . i think that will go from live because you cannot leave your life and you're going to be informed delve into each individual. and i don't even on, you know, terrain of psychology. there's a lot of evidence suggesting that not very good for you. but actually the best thing for you is to expose yourself to these things. we are afraid that will ultimately be better for your mental health. so i guess my point is this, the college of politics, it doesn't even work on psychological grounds. that is the psychology of it. as best understand the science is highly flaw, then i think it's fair to say as you do politicize. okay, well professor zimmerman, we have to take a very short break right now, but we will be back in just a few moments. stay tuned for
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me. i join me every thursday on the alex salmon show and i'll be speaking to guess in the world, the politic sport business. i'm show business. i'll see you then me the me
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ah, welcome back to all the parts but jonathan zimmerman, professor of history education at the university of pennsylvania, and also all 3 speech why you should give them professor zimmerman. before the break, we were talking about the psychology of politics and politicizing of psychology, but they would be at some other reason which i want to explore with you or your colleagues, jonathan hyde, and the regular piano from there. and now famous book, the coddling of the american mind, also address the phenomena that we are talking about now. and they suggested that it may be partially due to the collapse of the soviet union. and the americans, losing that sort of archetype will figure all of anatomy in the soviet union union, which kept them together, which kept political tribalism at bay, perhaps even provided some sort of a social glue. i wonder if this is something that's tried or whether you will look
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. i mean obviously i know john and greg and i respect their book. i think the jury is still out on that. you know that his degree to which the cold war factored into that, but they're obviously right, that the countries become radically polarized. and whether that's because we lack, you know, a comment or soviet enemy i think is an open question. but the polarization is beyond question. and i think that's the other incredibly important context here. i think the other reason that we speak is on the ropes in many places united states is because we've imagined our political opponents as moral enemies. and that's never friendly to free speech. because if you're opening premise is the person who disagree with disagrees with you. if somehow a monster. well, what's there to talk about? should you talk with the monster will of course not. you should defeat a monster. well, i think this is actually where your book provides a very interesting intersection between the domestic and the international
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discourse. because you make a very interesting point there that historically political or rather geopolitical speech has always been limited in the united states under the pretext of not aiding the enemy. and it was only around the war and you have not when open criticism or b u. s. military action was becoming publicly acceptable. i wonder though if council culture and all these other forms of gag active isn't actually it sort of exist on the same premise that an me or, or opponent the bad guys don't have the same right to the wars as we be the good guys. i think that's a really important point and i would agree with just with the, with the one important caveat, it's true that up until the more americans often weren't allowed to criticize their country during war time. but to go back to the question, the constitution,
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they weren't allowed by the state. that is the state in the form of the, you know, the military and the police actually jailed people for criticizing the country. that's not happening now. it said we're doing it yourself. right, that is, you know, there or state agents. nobody's come in the night for me because they don't like what i've said. i get the emails from people out in the world, but nobody from the state. and you know, i think that's why i say 2 things. i think 1st of all, we need to remind ourselves in america how recent that is, how recent that is that somebody like me, a newspaper columnist, haven't had to worry about criticizing the government. because for most of our history, the kinds of things i right could have got me and trouble because i criticize the state. now the danger doesn't call the state it comes from our culture. it comes from ourselves. but the person zimmerman know that i want to pick up this battle
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with you, but i find the distinction between private and say funded artificial. i have many experiences in my own line of work when i would be reporting from somewhere in libya and extremely dangerous terrain. and my reports would be due to my or view the something that is not worthy of attention compared to let's say, my american colleagues core sitting in the studio somewhere in washington and new york and pontificating about the valley is not even a stepping good on the ground, so don't you think that, you know, driving this distinction could be extremely manipulative and ultimately it does hurt free speech regardless of whether those, you know, those limitations apply to state or private surprise. here's why i think the distinction is important. in the example. you just gave look. i guess i wasn't in
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libya, i don't know if the circumstances, but i'm certainly willing to imagine that there were plenty of americans who had of their ignorance, right? dismissed, what you were say. and, and, you know, somebody else is free to say, oh no, she was actually right. and here's why. and then a 3rd person would say, no, actually it was something in between, right? that's not censorship, that's dialogue. nobody's preventing that from the state. right? we are all narrow. we are all prejudice. we are all by as human beings. ok, that's the premise of all of that. ok. and that's why we need to keep talking and we need to keep talking. all right. me the somebody from the state saying, oh no, you can't say that. but the professor with all due respect in this state is far less influential than many of the current communication or social media platforms.
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if you to decide that our conversation needs to be suppressed, simply because i get my salary from, from the rational state. it's still in my ability and your ability to, to reach the audience not only in the united states, but everywhere around the world. and again, that is a very real issue. i mean, that's a separate issue. and that issue has to do with, you know, the power of these private companies, right? that are not state agencies, right? so facebook and twitter are not government agencies. okay. be subjective to the same kind of criteria and requirements and limitations and scrutiny as the state institutions given the enormous influence and power that they hold, i understand how much power they have, right? the one my students say, well, i want the state to be regulating facebook and say ok if donald trump's the president, you told me you have trump,
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you want him regulating it. really do you trust the state much? i don't, i don't. so it seems to me, you know, the answer to bad speech is always more speed. and if you don't like what facebook is doing, you should say, so this humanity, trump, and i know that you're, you're describe yourself as beam and trump, but he is somebody who is supported by a substantial portion of your population of your fellow in and of itself. not enough to allow him any sort of platform. oh, i might be clear, i do not support twitter and facebook. cutting off donald trump. i happen to lose trump. but i don't, i believe that was why on their part. they had the right to do it. because their private company, it's the,
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please understand i'm not defending their decision to do it. i thought that they had a much better plan in place for that, which was whenever trump posted alive, would he get almost every day for them to exercise their speech and say, oh, by the way, this is a lie. and by the way, that's what they were doing. and i think that's a much better response than just to cut them all. and let me just add that when they were doing it. they also produced perhaps an advertisement many lives. and the only thing you need to look at is the change your rhetoric and narrative on the origins of call that 19 pandemic. because something that he was arguing at a year ago is now a mainstream version of events, the bite and ministration itself is investigating their origin but labeled on the lie. right. look, there were many missteps on that subject without a doubt. and there were also probably people on the left like me who dismissed this
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hon theory because it was coming from trump. and because trump had told so many lies like an a crying wolf kind of way, we just assumed this must be allies well and i think that was mistaken. but this is my point. you said now by missing, let's have an investigation or they have an investigation in china. you think? you think they're really investigating and china honestly and openly. i would say they're not. and the reason is because there's not a democracy. and because china doesn't have a constitution that guarantees the right of free, so preferences zimmerman, i'm sorry to break it to you, but that particular laboratory had any contracts with the american center for disease control. and i think it's called national how institute and i haven't seen many invest investigation into that contract on the american side. so i was
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talking about it now and we're talking about it because we have the receipt. right? that's why we're talking about it and, and nobody is going to nobody from the state is going to hurt me or interfere with me in any way because i'm discussing it. and because of the statements that i just set. and if i lived in china, that would be different. well, that's a speculation on your part, but speculation will be think, how do you read about typing in hong kong? have read that happening? a jin young. i not only read but i've been there. so i think that the way the american media, western media reporting on many things historically void of any cultural understanding. and you are somebody who spend 2 years as a peace corps volunteer. and you should know about better than anyone because many countries approaching those issues from a different cultural perspective, which is actually another question of mine. because in the united states you have
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these 2 called one is called the fuse and other one is called of activism. so, a young person speaking up to authority is always lionized, but in many other cultures, that's not the case. in the, in the east, you know, be the respect of authority to respect of the elders is purposefully cultivated. don't you think that you are perhaps under a cultural bias of ages and historical ages, not referring you know, wondering generation to everybody else is what i would say. the problem with the term culture as you're using it is it tends to it tends to draw attention to differences across societies and blind or attention to differences within the okay, that's the problem with the term culture. so the statements you made the
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generalizations about, say, a place like china or even russia and authority. i might agree with them at some level. but you know, what dissidence in those countries are right. and the people that have been ga, olga, and most old by those regimes, they are kind of rush and also they're part of that culture. there are no less chinese or no less russian for criticizing the storage. so that's the problem with the term here, right? what you end up deciding is better chinese person. this is what a real nice person is. and therefore, you know, i way or some other just it doesn't really seem like it fine. you know, we're like propagandized by the west. we're try. nice printing is so nice, people disagree with the other one and they, they can express their opinion in many different forms. i mean, especially in the crime,
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he's your communication. you can do that very easily. and let me tell you, i know the historically that when you, whenever the free speech is suppressed, it actually produces a huge, underground explosion of all sorts of these. because i mean, the more constrain it is the higher incentive and that look, it doesn't work. and, you know, in the soviet union, obviously there was this huge, some is the culture that was produced precisely by that. right. i mean there was this incredibly rich culture that was underground that actually flourished in some ways because the state was trying to suppress it. let me squeeze in one final question because in the beginning of our conversation, you said something very interesting. that free speech itself is getting encoded as a, as a conservative thing. and i don't understand why something like this wouldn't be, is problematic, because i started our conversation deciding the bible conservatively, you know,
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historically people have always appreciated the, the power of the world and the, you know, ability, there will to change things. i look it it's, i mean i, it, it's, i hear what you're saying and i can deeply object to the coding of free speech is conservative. i don't think speech is conservative. i don't think we speak is liberal. i think free speech to the horn to of the american id on the american dream, which is for us to govern ourselves. and we can't do that without free speech. we can't do it well. we can't learn from each other. we can't communicate with each other. we can't criticize the government, the government is aired. it's being coded as conservative on college campuses because college campuses are liberal. and so people that are objecting to the consensus or dismissed as conservative, it's i'm name calling, right. of course it is right and, and it's, it's
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a fast way of adding to our kind of polarization neutral incrimination. but it's, we'll, i mean, i'm a liberal democrat but i think there are plenty of people that don't know be think i'm a conservative because i care that we speak. and again, i think that's a hugely distorted and most of all in historical view. i mean, i'm a historian and i can tell you that great radicals of past all were free speech developed. they had to be, we have to leave it there. thank you very much for being with us. thank you. it was fun. thank you for watching. i hope to hear again next week. well the pardon me, the me
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ah, ah, the number i use
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