Frygt & ytringsfrihed: Et studie i frygtens diskurs og ytringsfrihedens ambivalenser

Anne Marie Eggers-Krag & Morten Bie

Student thesis: Master thesis


With the terrorist attack on the twin towers September 11th 2001, the world entered into a new reality, that among other created a new challenge for us as free, democratic societies, because the balance between liberty and security has been put to the test through an ever increasing number of laws designed to ensure both individuals and society against terrorism. Much of the legislation following the terrorist attack on September has been imposed by supranational structures, primarily the UN and the EU frameworks, by which individual countries have been subject to some, and recommended even more, legislative action. We have, in other words been challenged both internationally and nationally, through a growing number of recommendations for the development of a legal structure that should be better suited for fighting terrorism before it occurs. In the wake of the shift from deterrence, understood as a means of defense against terrorism through the promise of punishment for the committed atrocities, to prevention in forms of an increase in police measures where the urge for protection seems to be prevalent, we have embarked on a road paved with challenges to key concepts of our conception of democracy. In other words, when we try to organize our society in a way that can resist terrorism, it has a number of implications for the way we perceive and understand the world. Following increased legislation, a restriction of fundamental rights of individuals, both legally, personally and politically, seem to be the new order of the day for democracy. These restrictions change our views on concepts such as human rights, freedom of expression, the media, politics, etc. As humans, we are changed through a logic, with reference to the state of exception, which establishes new paradigms for being human, for existing in the global village -­‐ not only through the threat of terrorism against the Western democracies, but just as much through pressure on the worlds resources, whereby a displacement of people is followed by an increased regulation of national and international borders. Such a challenge to the democratic system, has led to Giorgio Agamben’s thesis of the modern political system as being in a permanent state of exception. The pressure of various crises and threats has led to a suspension of the democratic process in favor of a state where especially the legal system and the relationship between the citizen and the state is being tested. With reference to the state and its people, a teleological suspension of hard-­‐won human rights seem to have happened, in favor of extending the rule of powers in the fight against various types of crises and threats. Danish law professor Peter Høilund uses the self-­‐invented concept: The law of fear to describe not just a legal and political paradigm, but a cultural condition characterized by fear and demands for order and security. In the desire for security, we let ourselves be governed by fear, which leads to a legal culture in which the notion of an ethical order, no longer exists. Looking at the Danish society, it is our opinion that there is no basis for arguing that the law of fear has led to a teleological suspension of the legal system, with reference to a law born out of fear: In spite of examples that can be interpreted in the direction of being an expression of a fear-­‐based legislation, a general tenet of the justice system as a "victim" of legislation based on fear is, in our view, not the case. But what does seem troubling from a legal perspective is the process, or lack thereof, prior to the law, especially when we act politically in times of crisis. As we will show throughout the thesis, fear have for centuries been a part of society, first as a unifying force, since as means of management and control. A point in this context is that the rationality of fear, is increasingly articulated in relation to the individual. When fear is exposed, the authorities proactively respond on the basis of a "changed threat scenario", which ultimately has consequences for our freedom -­‐ a point in this context is that there will always be something to fear. We permanently live in a world of uncertainty where the presence of danger is an essential condition of human life. In other words, the challenge for our democratic society is, not to get carried away and compromise basic rights, we have fought so hard for throughout centuries. In this context, freedom of expression is both alpha and omega. While we as citizens must be aware that fear throughout the times has been an object of power, we are in Deleuze's control society and with Foucault's terms, still subject to some form of disciplinary matrix in which powerful interests are at stake, not only politically, but perhaps even more so from the side of capitalism. Fear has become Big Business, not just in the form of a rapidly growing security industry, but also through the subjectivity, fear produces. Based on Agamben's theory of the permanent state of exception, fear itself is seen as an ontological model of explanation for the suspension of the legal order: A shift in which the concept of homo sacer seem to have found it´s ultimate expression; the American citizen, for whom legal assistance is no longer possible, trapped as he is in a suspension between law and politics. Derived from fear, we find free expression in a mild crisis, but still with potentiality: When freedom of expression is, for example, limited in the pursuit of political correctness, it becomes an increasingly controlling mediator in the game of power. Meanwhile, the increased focus on freedom of expression helps to enlighten us, about the most basic right in our democracy. A right we must be ready to fight for, in order to keep at all times and at all costs. The goal of this thesis is, through a contemporary diagnosis, to investigate and thematize different flows in our society, including in particular: How the threat of terror, through the discourse of fear, affects our understanding of key political concepts, including the impact such changes have for the individual. Of particular interest is the analysis of what we see as ambivalences in the concept of freedom of expression.

EducationsMSc in Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages133