Abusing “Free Speech”

 

Freedom of speech is one of America’s most hallowed traditions, but it is becoming a dangerous one.

Like any freedom, it must have limits.

We are not free to do any number of things – murder, robbery, assault – even trespassing on a neighbor’s lot. Why should speech be different?

Free speech has been reined in to some extent. There are laws against libel and slander, for example. And there are penalties for issuing threats or inciting violence.

But with the advent of “social media,” new issues have arisen. I think it is quite wrong, for example, to allow anonymous comments. If you don’t have the guts to use your name, you should shut up.

But that’s just me. Even here on this blog, anonymous comments are permitted. Why? Because it’s such a common practice, I suppose.

As I look around, I see free speech being abused in gross and irresponsible ways. And it can be not only hurtful and damaging but also dangerous.

,Especially in politics,redress seems almost inaccessible.

Libel against a “public figure” is almost impossible to prove. The courts have let the most scurrilous attacks – oral or written – go unpunished. And the definition of “public figure’ has been broadened to include private citizens who thrust themselves into the limelight.

In my opinion, that is regrettable. I think you should at least make sure  you are telling the truth before smearing someone else, even a public official or activist.

So when I read and hear the garbage spewing out of “social media” and “conspiracy theorists,” I think it’s time for serious re-examination of  “freedom of speech.”

The tide of abuse is already keeping decent people from getting involved in public life. Our democracy is increasingly being entrusted to thick-skinned scalawags who have no reputation worth worrying about.

More on free speech

16 thoughts on “Abusing “Free Speech”

  1. People think that they should be free from any consequences of their speech and that is not what free speech is about. You are free to say what you will as long as it is not slanderous or a threat. But if you speak out against your employer you are not safe from being fired. If you say horrible things about your friend, they will not be your friend for very long. People have got to start taking responsibility for their actions and their speech. Alex Jones was free to lie all he wanted, but it cost him his marriage and access to acceptable platforms. If you act like a crazy fringe person then to the fringes with you!

  2. Well said George and Grace, What you both said, makes sense to me. Another thing I hate is a liar. My father always said, you cannot trust anyone who lies. Billy G.

  3. “Lawsuits Begin Against Herbicide Glyphosate in Roundup: Found in Most Foods and Linked to Cancer”

    http://healthimpactnews.com/2016/lawsuits-begin-against-herbicide-glyphosate-in-roundup-found-in-most-foods-and-linked-to-cancer/

    Is (or was) raising the alarm, against glyphosate, the same as yelling “fire” in crowded theatre?

    Monsanto might argue that glyphosate is harmless; but considering the vast money at stake, how trustworthy is that opinion ? Then again, if the glyphosate alarmists are not sincere, any consequent lost wealth could serve to measure society’s loss due to their avarice. Either way, has not the public the right to all conflicting information and excersie their own judgement ?

    Meanwhile, there’s a massive amount of money and influence available to persecute and discredit any voice foolish enough to oppose the big-money agenda.

  4. Incidentally, apparently, glyphosate is a central part of one way that GMO is used. The idea is to plant GMO crops that are resistant to glyphosate, then spray the crops with it. Then the glyphosate would kill the weeds while the crops survive.

    “… is seen as generally a quack and a shill by science bloggers, and is the type of person that repeats dangerous anti-vaccine stances and misleading anti-GMO arguments.”

    http://mic.com/articles/65075/meet-the-health-ranger-who-s-using-pseudoscience-to-sell-his-lies

  5. “Just to be clear, the Internet is as important as the Gutenberg press was in its time. Before the Gutenberg press, a book had to be copied by hand by someone literate enough to be competent. Even today, we can appreciate how expensive such custom work could be because it requires the labor of another qualified human being. Then one can imagine how much the average peasant would have been at the mercy of the authorities for information. The Gutenberg press made it possible to mass produce literature so that there was an exlplosion of literature and also literacy.

    Even as the older media is being brought under control by the increasing concentration of media owership, imagine how tragic it would be if the public squandered such a great opportunity for continued renaisance, simply because they didn’t understand it.

    The authoritarians would take it as proof that the public deserves to be slaves.”

    http://blogs.jamaicans.com/gwgraeme/2018/01/15/racism-goes-mainstream/#comment-1028662

    Probably, the Gutenberg press produced its share of “fake news”, according to the very same authorities that were losing their information monopoly.

  6. “I think it is quite wrong, for example, to allow anonymous comments. If you don’t have the guts to use your name, you should shut up.”

    Likewise, it’s quite wrong to allow secret ballots. If you don’t have the guts for the world to know how you voted, you don’t deserve to vote. (that was sarcasm.)

  7. One aspect that seem neglected is actually the complement of the right of free speech, which is the right to be informed. If people are not free the speak, the rest of society is denied the right to hear.

    When people are ostracized for straying from the political narrative, it discourages others that might have sincere motives to warn or to suggest improvements. That impairs the rights of society generally.

    Then there’s the dross of that process, such as various and sundry drivel to put up with. I submit that such is like the proverbial coal mine canary whose presence indicates a lack of censorship. I’m not writing about mindless drivel that can be universally discounted, because that’s only just garbage.

    Such as Alex Jones is being censored now because of the perception that he doesn’t only shoot blanks but can make a real difference.

    With the persecution of such coal mine canaries, I fear that our civilization is entering a dark age of censorship, probably with evils that accompany that.

    Those who don’t see it will eventually see and feel the cold water pour into their staterooms and (if they’re able) run for the lifeboat-countries as refugees, if there are any left.

  8. “Kodi (formerly XBMC) is a free and open-source media player software application developed by the XBMC Foundation, a non-profit technology consortium. Kodi is available for multiple operating systems and hardware platforms, with a software 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls. It allows users to play and view most streaming media, such as videos, music, podcasts, and videos from the Internet, as well as all common digital media files from local and network storage media.”

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodi_(software)

  9. That comes across as trying to take away alternatives by which the public may access information.

  10. “The Washington Free Beacon attended the retreat and obtained David Brock’s private and confidential memorandum from the meeting. The memo, ‘Democracy Matters: Strategic Plan for Action,’ outlines Brock’s four-year agenda to attack Trump and Republicans using Media Matters, American Bridge, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and Shareblue.

    The memo contains plans for defeating Trump through impeachment, expanding Media Matters’ mission to combat ‘government misinformation,”‘ensuring Democratic control of the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections, filing lawsuits against the Trump administration, monetizing political advocacy, using a ‘digital attacker’ to delegitimize Trump’s presidency and damage Republicans, and partnering with Facebook to combat ‘fake news.’ ”

    https://freebeacon.com/politics/david-brock-memo-attack-trump/

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