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Liberals: “Free speech should be confined by state authority, if it leads to violence and hatred.”

Also liberals: “Free speech in China must not be confined by state authority, so that violence and hatred can prevail.” ☝️🤓

I think it's much more complicated than that. There are many forms of violence and it matters who the perpetrator and victim is. Violence against an disadvantaged minorities is not the same as violence against inanimate objects. The free speech also becomes problematic when treated as an absolute. Screaming 'fire' in a crowded movie theater for no reason never was and never will be protected under free speech.

Finally it comes down to who's narrative you choose to subscribe to. State powers will use every opportunity to portray dissidents as violent criminals. On the other hand, hate groups thrive on opportunities to present themselves as the underdog fighting the state for freedom on behalf of the rest of us. Context does matter.

Elvia Wilk on the protests in Hong Kong.

"My aversion to end-speak is not an aversion to sensationalism or alarmism—by all accounts this is a sensational moment! Ring the alarm! Nor am I making a plea for some kind of general optimism. There is not much reason to be optimistic. The most easily foreseeable negative outcomes are indeed the most likely ones: further encroachment of martial law, the arrival of the PLA, an official curfew, longer detention terms for the arrested, more injuries and deaths. And yet I wonder whether it’s possible for a writer in my position to acknowledge these likelihoods without describing them as inevitable, and without relying on the narrative crutch of apocalypse.

Impending apocalypse is titillating, at least from the outside. It’s the easiest story for people like me to tell. But the dogged and determined activity of the protesters—not in spite of but irrespective of the likely outcomes—demands that witnesses challenge ourselves to imagine a different way to tell the story, both now and later. A story with a different arc than “they put up a good fight but it’s doomed.” A story that gives important events their due but does not describe any moment as the turning point after which all will be lost. No news hook can explain this daily insurrection—its constancy and its lack of heroes and martyrs are the reasons it’s remarkable—and admittedly, it’s hard to tell a story about a leaderless, decentralized revolution. But the ability to stick with indeterminacy is exactly what revolution, and the revolutionary imaginary, requires."

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