A Few Home Truths About Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is a human right. 
It is the right to express  one’s ideas and opinions verbally or in writing, either publicly or privately.
It is the right to engage in public conversation about personal and public issues and events.
It is the right to communicate meaningfully with other people. 

Even so, it has it’s ethical limitations. 

All individuals have freedom of speech. It is not just the domain of one person, or one group. 
This means that the right is also accompanied by the responsibility of listening to, and responding thoughtfully to, the ideas and opinions of others. Freedom of speech is a two way street. 

It is not the right to cause harm or injury to other people. 
It is not the right to incite violence. 
It is not the right to abuse, slander, or misrepresent situations or other people. 
It is not the right to spread dangerous disinformation.
It is not the right to break the law or commonly accepted rules. 

The people decrying Twitter and Facebook for banning Trump need to understand these things. 

When he opened his social media accounts, he agreed to the terms and conditions. Nobody can have those accounts without agreeing to those rules, which clearly state that one cannot use that social media platform to break the law or encourage anyone else to do so. There is a clearly stated warning that infringement of those rules will result in your account being suspended or cancelled. 

There is no doubt that these are the rules invoked when the accounts belonging to a range of criminals and terrorists were cancelled in the past. People and governments actively and rightly demanded that this should be the case in response to the manifesto and live streaming of the actions of the Christchurch mosque terrorist, for example. 

It is illegal to use social media to promote illegal activity or post offensive material. 

Why, then, should Trump not be banned for inciting a riot or encouraging sedition? Why should his followers not be banned for plotting violence and premeditating murder and insurrection? 

The clear answer is that they absolutely should. 

Anyone using social media to plan or conduct a criminal act should be banned and then prosecuted to the full extent of the law. 

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have acted rightly. 
They have not assaulted anyone’s free speech. It is not censorship. Those on the quiet end of a ban have invited that consequence for themselves. 

A Few Home Truths About #FreedomOfSpeech
#Rights2021 #SocialMedia

2 thoughts on “A Few Home Truths About Freedom of Speech

  1. Well said. I hope you’ll contribute this to the group ezine. I’ve written on this theme several time myself. I maintain that the 1st Amendment was NEVER intended to protect lies as free speech. I have come to believe there must be substantive legal repercussions for public figures who lie and promote lies, particularly as policy agenda. There are legal consequences for medical and legal malpractice – there MUST be legal consequences for political malpractice.

  2. President Trump did not incite a riot or encourage sedition. He did question the validity of the 2020 election, as millions of people did and continue to do, with good reason. There is a blatant double standard at work here. Those on the Left are allowed to call for the death of their enemies or encourage mobs in the street–oh, and they are allowed to challenge election results as well; they indulged in that extensively following 2016–and remain unbanned.

    And I’m not saying they should be. Canceling, unpersoning, defining what truth is and not allowing contrary views to be heard, because or course they must be “lies”–these are the tools of totalitarianism. It took a bit longer than Orwell posited, but the world of 1984 is now upon us. Please don’t cheer its arrival because at the moment, you agree with those in power about who the bad people are.

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