The US has made a fetish of first amendment rights. We should follow France\’s example in restricting bigotry\’s free expression
I\’m afraid it\’s the same old argument. I practice free speech, you are homophobic/racist/genderist/misogynist, they are spouting hate speech.
I\’m perfectly happy with the restrictions of libel (although perhaps not the specific English laws about it) and immediate incitement to violence.
Other than that free speech is free speech. It has to be for me as well as thee, otherwise it\’s just not free speech.
Scary stuff for an American. Here, we\’re taught from an early age to be absolutist in our defense of free speech. But increasingly, the first amendment of the US constitution is looking a lot like the second amendment: an American exception so broad and so holy that it prevents us even from thinking about how to prevent harm.
The EU, Canada, Australia, and almost every other mature democracy recognize that words can be a weapon. But we don\’t regulate weapons of any variety in this country, and our kneejerk response to even the slightest intimation of limits to speech is a Voltaire-style refusal even to consider them.
Quite, it\’s one of the great things about the US, that it is indeed absolutist about free speech.
We keep thinking that the solution to bad speech is more speech. But even in the widest and most robust network, common sense and liberal-democratic moderation are not going to win the day, and it\’s foolhardy to imagine that, say, homophobic tweets are best mitigated with gay-friendly ones.
Digital speech is new territory, and it calls for fresh thinking, not the mindless reapplication of centuries-out-of-date principles that equate a smartphone to a Gutenberg press.
Homophobia should be banned: gay friendly is just great.
What the ignorant little fool doesn\’t realise is that 70 years ago exactly the sort of laws that he\’s proposing would have worked the other way around. A law that said \”you may not say what society disagrees with\” would have banned pro-gay speech and allowed all the homophobia. Because that\’s the way society was back then.
It\’s exactly that there was indeed free speech which has allowed people, over the decades, to make their case that perhaps banning consensual gay acts, or miscegenation (still illegal in parts of the US into the 1960s), or anti-war sentiments, or …..well, you get it. We\’re actually in a world where it is even possible to decry homophobia precisely because earlier generations had free speech and used it.