Directed by: Loren Feldman
Produced by: Mike Cernovich
This movie is a very important reminder that freedoms must be exercised every day to maintain their value. In this case, it is the freedom of speech. Andrew Breitbart often said, "Politics is downstream from culture." The political decisions we make come from our culture. Our culture comes from our words. That is how important speech is. It shapes civilization. Freedom of speech builds civilization. Silencing of speech destroys civilization.
The film covers a wide range of topics and how free speech affects each. Topics include Religion, Science, Art, Broadcasting, Journalism, Comedy, and Universities. I'm glad how broad this film went. That shows you how integral freedom of speech is to our way of life. Rabbi Moshe Taub in the film argues that the most important invention was the Gutenberg Press. The exchange of words and ideas as well as the ability to get information to the masses transformed civilization.
I also enjoyed the argument that to counter hate speech is not through censorship. It is through unhateful speech. Let the two duel in the marketplace of ideas. You could make similar arguments about business. We combat corrupt businesses not through the censorship or regulation of business, but through the emergence of new businesses that are good. Business is just another venue in the marketplace of ideas. This is how important freedom of speech is. It impacts everything in our lives.
Another interesting topic is how comedy is impacted by being silenced. Comedy used to be about pushing boundaries and making people think. That's why guys like Richard Pryor and George Carlin are legends. They were not afraid to push the envelope. And they made people think and expand their worldview. Sadly now, comedians have to proceed with caution because of political correctness. Pushing boundaries are too triggering. I've always enjoyed the counter culture of comedy. It is very sad to see that comedy currently has lost its edge.
My only criticism of the film would be I wished some of the arguments were flushed out more. In addition, more could have been done to explain just how impactful free speech is and how the silencing of it has an impact that lasts generations.
Take for example the science piece starting at the 24th minute. We see the arguments about how experts start to become political instead of using logic and reasoning, and how the governing bodies of these scientific institutions silence criticism of prevailing views. I think this has major ramifications. The film briefly goes into how poor dietary guidelines contributed to an obesity epidemic. I think it goes beyond that. By silencing scientific discourse, we have recommended guidelines to a nation of millions that has led to a skyrocket of many autoimmune illnesses. Allergies, Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, Cancer, etc. Neuro-Immune Dysfunction Syndrome is very intriguing, and I'm glad to have learned about it.
The argument that universities are the training ground for our future leaders cannot be stressed enough. There are future leaders of the scientific community, the economic community, the foreign affairs community, etc coming from these universities. There is no doubt, the degradation of the university institution has coincided with the degradation of government institutions. The silencing of debate has led to ideology. Ideology has led to blindness and incompetence and corruption in our government. I wish this point was stressed more.
The film made some great points, and I'm probably just greedy and wanted more. Before I knew it, the movie was over, and I found myself just wanting the film to go on. Honestly, each topic discussed could have been its own film. I look forward to the next film Feldman and Cernovich make.
Some important quotes from the movie:
11:15 "Once you give authority to censor hate speech, who defines hate speech?... What might be hateful to one, might not be hateful to another"
20:15 "The danger of a government becoming poisoned, becoming corrupted, and creating an inability for free exchange of ideas, we have seen the danger within that"
39:00 "Free speech should be about getting to the essence of things"
56:15 “It has gotten to the point where comics will try to gauge whether or not what you’re saying is politically correct”
59:00 "A younger crowd can't really take an offensive joke. An older crowd will take an offensive joke."
1:00:00 "I'm offended over and over again... I'm just not a little bitch about it"
1:02:00 "It's not that they (comedians) don't like what someone else is saying, it's they don't like the fact that they can't say it"
1:06:30 "Colleges were at one time the place you went where you could do the most aggressive counter-cultural comedy. So to see how it has become the antithesis of that is really disconcerting."
1:12:30 "The greatest threat to free speech today is from universities because universities are the training ground for our future leaders"