Freedom of Speech
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Constitution was written first and the Bill of Rights was added later, the question of Freedom of Speech was debated for a long time, but the question was not; do we protect free speech? The question was does that need to be spelled out because it was so obviously a natural right that it didn’t need to be spelled out this clearly. Fortunately, our Founding Fathers decided to spell it out because there are times when some of us for no good reason forget that we all enjoy the same freedoms, especially the freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech means freedom of speech. None of us have to agree with or enjoy your speech, but you’re certainly free to speak. Content is only minimally limited. To yell fire in a crowded building when there is no fire puts people’s lives in jeopardy without cause, to speak about the evils of (insert any group here) and try to convince anyone who is listening to hate the same things you hate is acceptable. Everyone is free to try and sell their ideas to anyone who’ll listen; we’re all free to speak and we’re all free to listen or not to listen.
When I stand in the middle of the town square and start telling you how to make a lot of money buying and selling distressed properties I might get a crowd to stand there and listen to me. An analysis of my advice may show that my advice is faulty and you can’t make money doing what I tell you to do but I’m still free to tell you those things, I’m even free to sell you a product based on my speech.
Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware, there are lines to cross when free speech becomes fraud, and the law is very clear on what constitutes fraud. It’s at the point where your freedom of speech impinges on someone’s else’s ability to make an informed decision and you get to make a profit. To be fraud the speaker has to make a profit by selling you something but the facts fail to meet the claims mentioned in your speech, that’s fraud. Hate speech is not fraud.
There are no limits on the content of my opinion, whatever I believe I can say in public. Whatever you believe you can say in public. I can disagree with your opinion and you can disagree with my opinion, but I can’t prevent you from having your opinion or sharing your opinion, and you can’t prevent me from speaking my mind.
My speech may be hateful and hurt the feelings of 99% of the public, but I’m free to speak my hate filled message. If you strongly disagree or feel that I’m a despicable person because of my hate filled message you’re free to run away and let me speak my ugly message into the wind, you have no obligation to listen to me.
When you try to stop me from speaking my message that’s censorship and that’s worse than my ugly hate filled message. Your judgement that my message is too hateful to be heard in public is just that your judgement, and you’re entitled to your opinion but you’re not entitled to shut me down.
When you’re free to shut me down because you don’t like my message, you open the door for me to shut your message down, regardless of content.
All speech is free not only the speech that you agree with because what you agree with may not be what I agree with. That’s how it has to be, when we limit speech because some of us disagree with the content or we assume that most people disagree with the content, then free speech becomes limited speech. Attempting to limit the most hateful speech opens the door to censorship. Someone or some group becomes an arbitrary standard that will limit freedom.
To shut down certain kinds of content you have to have an entity (a censor) that determines what’s good and what’s bad? Who is wise enough or consistent enough to do a fair job of regulating free speech. Content, language is subjective, we all have our own interpretation.
What offends me may not offend you, and vice versa. Opinions vary, interpretations vary, motivations vary, fair and consistent is difficult to maintain. When you successfully have my free speech cut off because you don’t like my message, I may fight to ban your message not so much because I don’t like your message, but to get even with you for banning my speech. Once you start limiting who can say what, you’re limiting your own free speech.
Freedom of speech is the law of the land, it’s what makes us strong and makes us free. No one has to agree with the content to make speech free, and no one has the right to limit anyone’s free speech. A hate filled speech is as free as a love filled speech, the content is irrelevant, the public must judge for itself to listen or to tune the message out.
Our Constitution and the Bill of Rights are well over 200 years old, we should not have to have this discussion anymore. None of us in this country are so fragile that we can’t be exposed to a message that we can’t agree with that we must ban the message or the messenger.
Freedom of speech means all speech is free, ALL mean ALL Free Means Free