Sunday, 31 May 2015
Free Speech or Not
There seems to be increasing polarization between those who view freedom of speech as an absolute, unfettered necessity for free society, and those who argue that since speech can cause harm, and the job of government is to protect its citizens from harm, the government should be allowed to limit speech in some (perhaps restricted) way.
Philosophically, where do you fall on this issue?
Do you think speech is fundamentally different from other potentially harm-causing actions? Should the government ever be able to limit speech in pursuit of the greater good?
Services like Twitter and Facebook are severely blurring the line between privately-owned spaces (where they have complete control over what speech is permitted) and public forums (where they do not).
Do you think the law needs to “catch up” in how it handles these quasi-public forums?
In terms off free speech everyone works under whatever rules regarding free speech their countries have. By and large, particularly in Western countries, this means quite a lot of leeway in what one is legally able to express, but there are limits (generally) which are more strenuous than those in the United States, and obviously there are other countries where these limits are even more strenuous than that.
Personally speaking, I tend to be, both philosophically and as a political actor, a believer in the value of a robust definition of “free speech” as it applies to governments and public institutions, not just in the United States but worldwide. This belief in a robust definition of free speech means that I acknowledge that hateful, hurtful, triggering and generally awful speech must be given a place by the government in the public sphere. Racists, sexists, homophobes and other assorted bigots cannot have their soapboxes in the square removed — not just for the defensive measure of “and then the government will come for me” but because, simply, I believe in the end you acknowledge a human right to express yourself, even if that other human is wrong, or you don’t. The limits I would place on speech are pretty high and of the “imminent harm” level — exhorting a mob to violence against someone and giving them directions to their house is an example I would give as speech that crosses that line. Short of that: It’s got to be allowed by the government.
Rights are what one can do; but it’s what one should do that is equally important.
Reader Request Week 2015 #1: Free Speech Or Not
The Authors View
We have heard in the news , new Bills proposed by the Conservative Party.
We know about the tragic incidents in both Paris and recently in Texas.
Should the Government intervene and police free speech?
If so, and under what Right?
I would like to hear the views of my fellow bloggers and blog readers.