Restrictions on speech versus reach

Many people in positions of authority want to restrict speech. One of the problems with trying to impose such restrictions is that ideas have reach – they have implications for issues they weren’t invented to address as explained in The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch. So even if an authority picks a subject he thinks is safe he may end up discussing an idea he wants to restrict. This story from an interview by a sex worker provides an example:

Lydia: Do you remember when you first became aware that sex work existed?

Ramona: Sort of. I have two memories I can think of. One was when I was in school, I think in reception or year one (Kindergarten) we were learning a story from the bible about a man who spent all of his money on food and — I don’t want to say the word.

Prostitute? You can say it.

Okay, I guess. He spent his money on prostitutes, and a boy asked the teacher what a prostitute was and she wouldn’t tell him.

It’s also interesting that the teacher didn’t think that a bible story would have prostitution in it when the bible is full of sex and violence. If the teacher had been raised with the idea that discussing sex and violence is bad and the bible is good then he would have to avoid learning too much about the bible to avoid facing that problem.

About conjecturesandrefutations
My name is Alan Forrester. I am interested in science and philosophy: especially David Deutsch, Ayn Rand, Karl Popper and William Godwin.

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