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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What Is Free Speech?

A Va. newspaper published a KKK recruitment flyer on their front page.

Rational people were not happy about it.  I got into a back-and-forth with a right winger on FB, who does not understand what "free speech" means.

Right Winger: One of the sharp ends of "freedom of speech." We may not like what it allows but we much like it because we too are allowed.

Me: But - free speech does not guarantee anyone a forum, an audience, nor print space in the paper.

Here, the audience was provided, free of cost, as if it were a news item - on the front page, no less. Their disclaimer does nothing to change that.

This is not a free speech issue. It's a what-in-the-hell-is-the-matter-with-you? issue.

RW: I will have to disagree with your assumption that it does not provide an audience. That is if "free speech" is truly a right.

If someone controls the content of your "speech" on social media, or controls the results of the search engine to eliminate finding articles that you see as objectionable, do you think that we are protecting our right to free speech?

We don't think about the fact that there are two sides to free speech. The first is the spoken part. The second is the hearing part. 

The history of the KKK tells us a lot about hate and control and fear and the political system. It is our "duty" to do our own research about what others say (or print,) and then make an informed decision. 

If "free speech" is shut down (in any manner,) we have less ability to make an informed decision. I may not like how it is done or what is said (or printed,) but we need to protect every manner of free speech (sadly - even that which we viscerally disagree with.)

I took this on, point by point

Thank you for confirming that you have no idea what free speech means. Seriously, you do not comprehend this issue.

"I will have to disagree with your assumption that it does not provide an audience." 

Not only is this wrong, it makes no sense. Don't you think you are free to walk away and not listen?

"If someone controls the content of your "speech" on social media, or controls the results of the search engine to eliminate finding articles that you see as objectionable, do you think that we are protecting our right to free speech?"

No. But the question is irrelevant. Every publication controls what their content is. Search engines are devised by private companies who have no obligation to provide free anything. You are conflating free speech with a right to know, which is not guaranteed anywhere.

"We don't think about the fact that there are two sides to free speech. The first is the spoken part. The second is the hearing part."

That's not how it works. I can stand on the street corner shouting, "[Fill in a name] is a goose and he wants to shit on your lawn." People have every right to walk away, shaking their heads.

"The history of the KKK tells us a lot about hate and control and fear and the political system. It is our "duty" to do our own research about what others say (or print,) and then make an informed decision."

OK. Fair enough. Unfortunately, though, this statement has absolutely nothing to do with the topic we are discussing.

"If "free speech" is shut down (in any manner,) we have less ability to make an informed decision." 

You have no facts to back up this assertion. in fact, it has been demonstrated that people who get all their information from Fox News actually know less than people who don't watch any news. You are ignoring propaganda, which results in people have less ability to make an informed decision. 

"I may not like how it is done or what is said (or printed,) but we need to protect every manner of free speech (sadly - even that which we viscerally disagree with.)"

Not so. Free speech is not an absolute. Many types of speech are in fact crimes - libel, sedition, etc. Here is a catalogue of illegal speech.

Usually, this is where these conversations end.  We'll see if there is a continuation.

[Days later]

Nope.  That was the end of it.



2 comments:

Janice Adcock said...

False statements as truth not protected. Guess the current administration is oblivious to this. And Fox network. Fox did win a lawsuit in Florida when their lawyers argued they are entertainment not 'news'. The station had fired a couple after they refused to alter their story from the facts gathered to the desired false report.

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