Raging Against “Free” Speech; Radical Transparency, Consent, and Freedom

Christina John
4 min readSep 5, 2020

The United States has waged open and secret imperialist wars of oppression and exploitation that have shaped current events all over the global south (one example I can elaborate on in another post). The United States has shaped the accumulation of knowledge, wealth, and power. Shaped the use of knowledge, wealth, and power. Shaped the maintenance of said accumulation and use so that there are vast gaps, such as with wealth inequality.

I currently take classes that touch on national security, workers, the economy, transfers of wealth, the expectations of lawyers to maintain systems, antiracist education, etc.

This continues after classes that questioned the intersection of taxation, democracy, and skewed representation (hint: our ruling class cares more about avoiding taxation than promoting representation; ideas to discuss eventually).

During research projects, I have also tried to make sense of when the First Amendment is used, as opposed to privacy laws (surprise, surprise, privacy concerns seem to enter judicial opinions when the “victims” are cops; when the victim of public humiliation is an alleged “criminal,” the press is free to report and create lasting records on the internet because it is supposedly in the public interest to know about all criminal activity, which I can elaborate on in another post).

In my life outside of class and research, there has been a lot happening in the world. While I can’t leave my house because of the pandemic, protesters, activists, organizers, and community groups have been fighting against white supremacy and demanding abolition of multiple systems and forces. People are screaming at the top of their lungs that BLACK LIVES MATTER. People are acting as radical agents of love. But the oppressors view the protesters as agents of terror.

This summer has had the executive branch using overt measures in an unprecedented manner (the overt part is unprecedented) against protests; and protestors are having counterterror tactics and strategies used against them, even having terror investigations opened against them. Resources here and here.

Which makes me wonder; what does this country view as terror and why? Was the War on Terror a ruse to experiment on non-citizens before using these counterterror tools against citizens? Between these questions and how the fight for Palestinian rights is often equated with terror and antisemitism, I think of these words and following questions:

Freedom of Expression? Or Freedom of Oppression?

Using the “terror” label to oppress speech and protest?

Repressing expression?

Repressing speech

that does not conform to the mainstream?

Freedom of the press or freedom to oppress?

Freedom to assemble or freedom to conform?

Is it terror when it is not mainstream?

Who decides what is mainstream?

The powerless or the powerful?

Is terrorism when the powerful feel terrorized?

Freedom of limited speech?

This may all read like an abstract, messy collage. But a big part of that is because I have not been given the arguments, language, resources, and tools to properly and coherently criticize the narratives that a redacted education provides. I am still studying, mostly by myself, all that was previously hidden from me.

In classes this week, I delved more deeply into issues of transparency. When reading Federalist Papers 47, 48, 69, and 70, our class discussed the powers of the three branches, with particular focus on the executive, and more specifically, arguments for a more powerful president. Alexander Hamilton wrote about the concept of “energy” and basically advocated for presidents to have the ability to act quickly without having to consult bodies such as congress or the public. Federalist Paper 70 has been used in recent decades by John Yoo to support executive action in the War on Terror. Basically, power and knowledge is being consolidated in fewer hands.

I have also delved into the struggle to implement and enforce international labor standards. The international bodies are toothless or run by the powerful who have more to lose than personally gain. Some sources put the responsibility on consumers, arguing that consumers should practice conscious consumerism. Yes, sure. Other sources say the responsibility lands on these international bodies. Meh, I do not like the idea of consolidated power being enforcers. Other sources say that the countries with poor labor standards are to blame. Meh on that too; yes to an extent, but huh? The Global North gets to be paternalistic after ROBBING countries for centuries and not proposing any kind of reparations?








Basically, why isn’t information more accessible? I am not talking about the ability to access information on Google, because for that, you have to know what you are looking for. Why isn’t exposure to information more accessible? Why are education systems and history curriculums run by oppressors? Why are textbooks written by oppressors? How do we expose information to the worker who is too exhausted after work to look at anything but cute puppy videos? Information that they could be exposed to if they had taken classes, like I had the privilege to, with college professors who used unredacted, declassified CIA documents as primary sources?

How do we get unredacted information? How can we move from manufactured consent and false consciousness? How do we get an unredacted education? I am tired of the powerful saying that they are victims of cancel culture (thank you to Julius The Intern for their analysis). I am tired of them saying that they don’t have to because it would infringe on their academic freedom (hello professors who use the n-word in constitutional law classes).

We need total transparency. Not one of us is consenting to anything if we do not have the knowledge to express dissent. If more of us learned about the extent of harmful practices by our government, historically and presently, I suspect the masses would not feel represented.

How do we dismantle it all?




Christina John