On Free Speech

Free Speech Clip art
Free Speech Clip art

Today I read an article on Aljazeera which attempted to say that the treatment of Milo Yiannopoulos was an example of “Hypocrisy of Free Speech”1. The author Rachel Shabi attempts to say that by the reactions of certain parties to the recent revelation that Milo had endorsed paedophilia Goes on to show that even free speech has it’s limitations.

Free speech in our constitution however guarantees that you may say what you like without risking being jailed for it. The constitution does not guarantee that your peers, employers, or others will not react to it in a manner that you dislike. Your employer’s are free to fire/hire you based on what you speak freely. Your peers are free to endorse or chastise you for it, and all are free to disassociate with you because of the words you have spoken. Free speech does come with those caveats.

So yes Rachel, Milo had consequences for his behavior, but no his free speech was not violated. He was and still is free to continue to say the things he has been saying. But we also have a right to chastise him for it, and his employers have a right to terminate his employment for them. While I will agree with you that being tolerant of hate speech in regards to minorities is repulsive, again those people are free to say what they wish. It’s just that for some reason more people tolerate hate speech then are willing to tolerate paedophilia. In my personal opinion both are sick and disgusting and promoting or tolerating either is truly horrible. I do empathize with your plight, it is sad that there are folks willing to pay people to write such hate filled articles and/or books. But that doesn’t mean that we can take away their right to say it.

This country was built on free speech it’s in our constitution for a reason, Free speech is needed in a democracy in order to debate what our laws should and should not be. Free Speech promotes free and open discussion within our congress. It allows the people the right to address their government with their grievances. Without free speech we could not protest when we disagree with the laws or with the way our elected official are behaving. Without free speech a private citizen running for office would have no way to criticize his incumbent opponent without fear of punishment. Of course there are a couple of limitations, for example one may not falsely yell “FIRE” in a crowded theatre, but those limits are there for a good reason.

There is a saying “I may not agree with what you are saying, but I will absolutely fight for your right to say it.”

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