Unexamined Assumptions


On the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation Part 3: Unexamined Assumptions

In section 2 of the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation (IMMR), from section 2.14 up to section 2.51 the report examines rationales for the maintenance of free speech.  Covering 12 pages in all, Finkelstein covers various rationales for the maintenance of free speech.

  • The search for truth, also called the marketplace of ideas
  • Democratic discourse
  • Self fulfillment and autonomy
  • The fourth estate

Each of these rationales are discussed in detail with copious references to philosophers both alive and dead. They are then subject to criticism, almost as if the rationales are being examined then discarded as inadequate or flawed.

Finkelstein then proceeds to justify regulation of speech with bald assertion on his own authority and that of one Professor Stone, who made a verbal submission to the Inquiry. There is no search for historical justification from respected philosophers or revered public figures, there is no search for critics of the ideas which justify regulation of speech.

The implication is clear, at least to me. Finkelstein regards regulation of speech to be a default position, which must be disproven before his “court” rather than the reverse.  That advocates of free speech stand in the position of prosecutor, burdened with the requirement that they prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt while advocates of regulation stand in the position of the defendant, required only to create in the receptive mind of the judge the seeds of reasonable doubt. Once again, Finkelstein has shown that he is steeped in the morality of government. That he regards as normal and proper the threat and initiation of the use of force. That restraining the state from exercising the use of force requires justification rather than that it is the use of force which requires justification.

Finkelsteins unexamined assumption is this: it is freedom that must justify itself, not regulation. Am I alone in finding this deeply frightening? Is it paranoid that this strikes me as a terrible harbinger of what the future holds for the Australian community?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: