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Free Speech

Offensive Speech

Some speech is offensive to others. Speech may be offensive in one of two ways. It may be subjectively offensive or objectively offensive. If we take offense to mean indignation, then this refers to speech that causes anger. Now anger is a desire for justice against someone who has slighted us unjustly. Objectively offensive speech is speech that causes anger when the offense is actually unjust. S...

Selfless Reasons to Support Free Speech

I have explained why free speech is a good idea if you wish to convince other people of the truth of your position. But it is also something that you should support even if you do not know what the true position is. Free speech helps those who do not know the correct position because it permits exploration of all alternatives, clear consideration of the evidence and an open assessment of the state...

Reasons to Restrict Free Speech

I have given two lines of argument to support free speech. But many people believe that free speech should be limited or restricted in some circumstances. I am not speaking of restrictions that are voluntary (such as politeness) but restrictions that are involuntary. These restrictions include restrictions for reasons of hate, offensiveness, sensitivity, practicality and power. Some speech may be ...

Free Speech vs Hate Speech

In my last post I described some of the motives and underlying assumptions of hate speech regulations. I indicated some of the problems that hate speech laws have and suggested that alternatives are necessary. Hate speech laws divide society, increase hatreds, promote ignorance and punish questions. The solution to the problems of hate speech laws and hate speech is free speech. If hate speech reg...

Encouraging Respect

In my previous post, I showed that objectively offensive speech falls into two categories. False speech can be punished by law, while disrespectful speech cannot be. Free speech by itself cannot solve the problem of a lack of respect in speech, but neither can any law. Laws only make the situation worse. Respect can only be encouraged by virtue and sound reason, which require a good education, whi...

Privacy, Sensitivity and Free Speech

There are some people who wrongly share private information. There are others who (usually reporters) who pester the sick and abused. Still others bring their conflicts into the public. All of these things are wrong sometimes very wrong. One possible solution to these problems is to restrict the press (or individuals generally) from releasing this kind of information. This counts as a restriction ...

Free Speech and Power

I have discussed a number of reasons to restrict free speech and have found them all wanting. It is better to have unrestricted free speech than to restrict speech in order to protect the feelings, privacy, or any other attribute of another person. But there is a different kind of objection to free speech. It might be possible for one person to “drown out” another person’s free speech. The obvious...