Monday, October 16, 2017


Free speech: It's not a hard concept

The reality surrounding free speech can be, and sometimes is, contentious. But the issue itself is relatively simple.

Let everyone speak. Let people decide on their own whether to listen or not to listen. Provide security, if necessary, to ensure the rules of decorum are followed. Impose disciplinary measures against those who would try to silence a speaker or take over a meeting where a lecture is being presented.

That seems to be pretty much what happened at a recent event, where audience members inside the Illini Union listened to a guest speaker while protesters outside denounced the speaker as, according to one sign, "a fascist alt-right sympathizer who looks like a mashed potato."

Some on campus seemed to be scandalized this particular speaker was a conservative who spoke enthusiastically about free-market capitalism as the best method of building wealth and reducing poverty.

Most people would find that type of event wholly ordinary on campus. At the same time, most people would be similarly undisturbed if a liberal gave a talk on why single-payer is the best approach on health care, a socialist asserted government should take over private enterprise or a libertarian advocated the legalization of illegal drugs.

These speakers advocate points of view, and people make of them what they will. No nannies are needed to ensure that dissenters' feelings not be hurt by being exposed to an opinion they do not share.

But that common-sense viewpoint seems alien to members of the campus community, which explains why University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen has decided to appoint a task force made up of faculty, administrators and students to develop permanent policies addressing speech issues.

SOURCE

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Free speech means the right to speak and write without being hindered. It does mean a right to have people listen or read what is presented.
Free speech was never intended to be a right to use profanities and vulgarities or to make personal attacks on others.

Anonymous said...

1:37,

Such a short reply with so many things wrong......

Free speech means the right to speak and write without being hindered. .....by the government. The government has a duty to protect the right of free speech which means protecting people involved in legal speech activities to not be hindered by others.

It does mean a right to have people listen or read what is presented. Depending on circumstances, this is both right and wrong.

Free speech was never intended to be a right to use profanities and vulgarities or to make personal attacks on others.

False. Just completely false. Do you really think that the colonies and founding fathers spoke of King George ii loving terms and that were not personal attacks? If you want to see such attacks in action, look at the 1800 election between Jefferson and Adams. There was nothing but attacks during the campaigns. Are you sure that the Founding Fathers knew that "attacks" were somehow not "free speech?"

Do you really think that "vulgarities" are not protected speech because they offend your sensibilities?

In today's world, the problem with "free speech" is not its existence but the false statements of those attacking or trying to defend it.

Bird of Paradise said...

To liberals Free Speech is only for them and their privlaged bunch of pathetic little snowflakes

Anonymous said...

without being hindered. .....by the government.
That is right, I should have added that.

It does mean a right to have people listen or read what is presented.
Sorry. I intended to write: It does NOT mean a right to have people listen or read what is presented. I wrote the correct statement to a local newspaper 40 years ago. I claim senior moment.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:17,

Sorry. I intended to write: It does NOT mean a right to have people listen or read what is presented.

As I said, this is both right and wrong. Generally speaking people do not have to listen to what is said or written but there are laws on the books that require some people within government to read and respond to issues or complaints. Failure to do so results in penalties. They have to listen or read what is being said.

So as I said, your statement was both right and wrong.

Free speech is not an absolute right as some wish to think. The government has the right (and correctly in my opinion) to limit the time place and manner of speech but seldom ever the content. Even "content" restrictions" can be enforced on things like child porn or other things that violate community standards.

Speech is a complicated issue and in my opinion, the best way to deal with the issue of speech is more speech, not less.

Anonymous said...

To liberals Free Speech is only for them and their privlaged bunch of pathetic little snowflakes

Says the person who tells people to shut up and go play in the traffic.

Wonder what that makes him?