Free speech argument

Free speech is an important right. Unfortunately, some people have no idea what it means. Of course, that doesn’t mean they stop demanding it.

—Stephanie Zvan[1]

"Not sure what it is, but it's mine!"[1]

The free speech argument, also known as the free speech fallacy and pejoratively as "freeze peach", is an attempt at silencing and derailing. The fallacy is based on equivocating the right to free speech, free expression, and a free press with the (non-legally protected) right to a platform.[2] It may also take the form of invoking Orwell or crying "censorship".

Example

Person A: "[prominent feminist] is a bitch!"

Person B: "You shouldn't use misogynistic language to describe women."

Person A: "You do not have the right to trample on my right to free speech!" (Read as: "My freeze peech!")

Why it is wrong

"This argument is one of my least favourites because no-one takes a genuinely absolutist position on ‘free speech’ but the discussions occur at such a level of abstraction that we start pretending the debate is about a principle in the ether, not about the material conditions of human beings. Which annoys me." — Naoise Dolan[3]

Free speech does not apply to private entities such as blogs, internet forums, and social media sites etc. The state cannot intrude unjustly on your words on the sites, but the private owners do not have to give you a platform for your speech.

Free speech does not include the privilege of people to taking you seriously or listening to you. If you are harassing someone or spewing hateful bigotry, no one is obligated to listen to you or treat your opinions as valid.

Free speech does not include the right to not suffer consequences for your speech. For example, if you are a celebrity and say hateful things about gay people and your show/movie/podcast/other media gets boycotted, you are not protected by free speech.

Free speech does not apply to many situations that require restrictions on what one can say or divulge, e.g., doctor-patient confidentiality, lying to the police, contempt of court, copyright and patents, defamation, and so on.

Free speech does not protect speech that causes clear and present danger, such as falsely yelling "fire!" in a crowded theatre or "bomb!" in an airport.

United States

In the United States, the 1st amendment only protects one from unjust interference to limit your speech by the state. It may also apply to extralegal harassment and abuse in certain situations.

See Also

External links

See the Wikipedia article on United States free speech exceptions.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Swag, by Stephanie Zvan
  2. No, you’re not entitled to your opinion, by Patrick Stokes
  3. Freeze Peach, by Naoise Dolan