Free speech

Like religious liberty, freedom of speech and of the
press is required by the freedom of the human mind.
More plainly, it is a requirement for any government in
which the people choose the direction of government
policy. To choose requires public deliberation and
debate. A people that cannot publicly express its
opinions, exchange ideas, or openly argue about the
course of its government is not free.

18 thoughts on “Free speech”

  1. Fair enough. It neglects, however, the big question of where the line is drawn.

    We have presumably “always” had restrictions – no bogus shouting ‘Fire’ in a crowded cinema, no urging a mob to lynch someone, and so on. In the matter of which restrictions to keep I think I’d opt for a conservative line – for everyday life keep those of my childhood. By all means scrap the higher restrictions of my childhood – the Lord Chamberlain (was it?) censoring theatres and so on.

    This policy would return us to the happy position when our speech customs were far freer than those of, for example, the Americans.

    Should we consider a quasi-constitutional defence of free speech on American lines? Probably we should – it’s striking that Americans seem now to enjoy free speech only when the issue is protection from governmental interference. Being fired and/or cancelled is a risk everyone takes, apparently, for indulging in genuinely free speech even outside the workplace.

    Of course, other noon EST even this protection from government censorship may come under attack.

  2. 🙁

    ” There were, instead, living in the thirteen British colonies in North America some two and-a-half million subjects of a distant king. Those subjects became a people by declaring themselves such and then by winning the independence they had asserted as their right.”

    The SJW Left will be all over this for failing to acknowledge the native Americans [or whatever the nom-du-jour is today that is required to be used to prevent you from being cancelled].

  3. i see that the new administration has already taken the document off the whitehouse.gov site as it doesn’t chime with all whites are barstards (except dementia joe and the rest of the democrats)

  4. The people who decry that certain speech (apart from direct physical threats or libel) should not be protected by the First Amendment:

    1. Are severely undereducated on fundamental human history
    2. Have a partisan political agenda they are trying to push
    3. Have not thought through the issue long enough to construct a logical argument beyond their personal feelings
    4. Are the first to hypocritically walk back on this opinion the instant their own Fee Speech is in jeopardy
    5. Tend to either have, or be blind to, unchecked power

  5. JGH is quite right. The First Amendment is about the government restricting free speech. People getting sacked or being barred from Twitter and so on are matters of contract and it has to be tested in the courts what rights the individual has when dealing with corporations or other individuals ( I am sure that it has many times in the USA, but I do not know any American precedential law). The question of Twitter, Facebook etc censoring users or content boils down to whether the content in question actually broke their Ts&Cs and if it can be shown that the move was political/malicious whatever then that changes the relationship with the end-user. The platform becomes a publisher because it is editing the content on its platform and so is open to litigation by anyone feeling defamed by other users on the platform.

    There is quite an amusing anomaly about the Lord Chamberlain’s role that I discovered a few years ago. The Oscar Wilde play Salome was banned by the LC until 1931, but Strauss’ opera version ( Lachmann took the French version of Wilde’s play and translated it into German ) was a smash when premiered by Thomas Beecham in 1910 with a few changes to remove the blasphemous bits. Gustav Mahler was then Director of the Opera House in Vienna and could not get Salome past the censor there.

  6. The document is still accessible if you go to WaybackMachine.com and click on the link for the latest pre-inauguration edit.

    It’s a pretty comprehensive and mostly balanced document, as far as its argument for the founding principles goes.

  7. The question of Twitter, Facebook etc censoring users or content boils down to whether the content in question actually broke their Ts&Cs and if it can be shown that the move was political/malicious whatever then that changes the relationship with the end-user. The platform becomes a publisher because it is editing the content on its platform and so is open to litigation by anyone feeling defamed by other users on the platform.

    This is the heart of the matter. The traditional view that free speech only applied to governments cracking down has been overtaken by events. The big tech companies are abusing their monopoly status to restrict speech on what has become the public square – as happened to Tommy Robinson, Sargon, Alex Jones et al, there was clearly a coordinated approach to deplatforming, so a cartel in action. Yes, it’s private property and there’s a contract, but the contract is being applied arbitrarily. And if you don’t like it, well build your own, which is what Parler and Gab did… Oh…

    Although Gab is back up and managing fairly well, they have no payment processors that will work with them and likely as not, that will be the next attack on Parler when they rise from the ashes. In the meantime, they appear to be going after Minds…

    So we have monopolistic abuse along with arbitrary enforcement of Ts & Cs as well as treating their legal status as a platform as somewhat flexible.

    The whole free speech discussion has taken a turning and we need to adjust. The big corporations are just as able to stifle speech – and competitors who enable it – as governments and possibly more effectively.

    What has happened recently caused me to change my mind on the “their gaff, their rules” argument. It has been overtaken by events.

  8. ” The Oscar Wilde play Salome was banned by the LC until 1931, but Strauss’ opera version ( Lachmann took the French version of Wilde’s play and translated it into German ) was a smash when premiered by Thomas Beecham…”

    I believe the rules were different for plays than for operas or musicals. That’s one of the reasons why there were so many why Music Halls in Britain; you could say things in song form that you couldn’t in plain spoken word.

  9. Off topic but I was pursuing one of those dating websites, as I do when I’m bored and vaguely wonder if there’s a woman out there who’d give me blow jobs but otherwise STFU and not ask anything of me, when I came across this gem on the blurb of some shrivelled up leftie.

    “No Tories or narrow minded people”

    They don’t even realise what they are.

  10. Andrew C, I’ve run into that scenario a few times in New York City. I once had a woman go on three day-long dates with me and really take a liking, only to completely change her mind after asking who I voted for (even after I explained that I’ve belonged to both political parties over the years, and probably know a bit more about them than she does). Here are a few helpful options for responding to such women:

    “Your ignorance is not my problem”
    “You seem very proud of your ignorance”
    “You don’t seem to understand much about an entire half of your own country. That’s kind of sad.”
    “Are you one of those people who confuse political views with values?”
    “Welp, at least I can say I’m not the bigot here”
    “I don’t think you even know why you hate me so much”
    “I hope (insert a politician or political group they inevitably worship) will keep you warm tonight”

    And my personal favorite, only to be used on those who deserve it:
    “Oh well, have fun staying single in your late 30s”

  11. I’ve already sussed the New Free Speech.

    Trump = Orange Monkey was OK for the past years. ( and seriously… there is a limit to fake tans…)

    Biden = Leatherface ( as taken from his inauguration pics..) instant facebook ban for a month….

  12. If private businesses can be penalized for discrimination during their hiring processes, then they should also be penalized for trampling on the most fundamental of constitutional rights. You can’t pick and choose God-given rights. You can either penalize all infractions, or none of them.

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