'Is freedom of speech just the freedom to lie?' asks James O’Brien

30 November 2022, 13:48 | Updated: 30 November 2022, 13:55

James asks 'is freedom of speech just the freedom to lie?'

In light of Elon Musk’s push for “free speech” on Twitter, James O’Brien asks his listeners what that really means.

James O’Brien tore into the phrase “freedom of speech”, commenting on the onslaught of “misinformation” and lies online.

“So is freedom of speech in the hands of a certain brand of right-winger just freedom to lie?” he began.

“I think that when people talk about freedom of speech they are talking about freedom to lie.”

In a swipe at xenophobes, James pointed to the example of racism, calling it “a massive” but “intoxicating lie”.

James insisted: “To claim that you are somehow inherently better or worse than somebody else because of the amount of melanin in your skin is clearly a lie.”

READ MORE: James O’Brien: ID cards cannot fix the ‘bottomless pit’ of xenophobia

He drew on the 2021 Census results revealing a decline in the number of people in this country identifying as “White British”.

James said that news had “prompted various people to clutch their pearls and behave as if that’s a matter of national importance, rather than merely a reflection of reality, a reflection of changing demographics”.

“They honestly believe that there’s some sort of existential threat to themselves or how they see themselves because they might have a brown neighbour”, he added.

In an ironic exposure of the contradiction, James pointed out: “Of course, they’ve also got a brown Prime Minister.

“But because racism is a lie they often don't join the dots, and they rarely recognise that if you're going to be racist then it applies to all brown people including the brown Home Secretary whose quasi-racist approach to refugees or immigration is something that you’d ordinarily cheer to the rafters!”

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Elon Musk has lifted the policy on “COVID misinformation” which James added is also a “massive lie”.

James said freedom of speech “remains entirely and exclusively in the gift of governments” as they can “decide what you can and can’t do, often but not exclusively about the government itself”.

“What can you say about the government itself?” he asked listeners, referring to messages in his inbox calling for him to be “taken off air” because of how he has spoken about some politicians, including Boris Johnson.

“‘He shouldn’t be allowed to say this stuff!’ you might text as I tell you the truth about the depravity of the most appalling man ever to occupy Downing Street in history - never mind in living memory”, he jabbed.

“I would put it to you that when people like Elon Musk - and those who seem to admire him - talk about freedom of speech, they are talking about two very distinct things.

“They are talking about freedom to lie and they're talking about freedom to say things without consequences”, he said, before bringing up Kanye West’s return to Twitter in spite of his recent controversial tweets.

James' final question came: “Freedom of speech is under threat, they say....how?”

James O'Brien dissects the meaning of 'freedom of speech'

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