Notes on Free Speech — Only for some?

I have been conflicted over the idea that, in the name of free dialogue and advancing discussion of topics of social and political import, that some university campuses have banned certain speakers from talking at their campus. Of course, this has been going on for decades.

Most people (such as I) react incredulously to such totalitarian measures, and dismiss this as academics having their heads in the clouds to the point that they have become out of touch with the meaning of their own rhetoric (is it possible to advocate free speech while banning people from speaking?). But so too, I have had the experience of people (on a personal level) whose dialog is toxic to frank discussion.

Related image
From: XKCD Comics (https://xkcd.com/261/). Under the Creative Commons license v 2.5 (Attribution-Non-commercial-Generic). These comics may be copied and shared but not sold.

There is the kind of rhetoric that is intended to shut down open discussion of issues. It ranges from hate speech to science discussions to discussions about sex. We have banned free speech over several internet media, the most famous kind of banning has to do with “Godwin’s Law”, which unfortunately specifically targets references or comparisons with Adolf Hitler. I think the spirit of the intent of forum moderators invoking it was (or should be) to ban speech which is designed to intimidate others from expressing themselves, that is, creating a toxic environment designed to shut down opposition rather than enable them to fully express themselves and be heard. Views are not shared, because sharing views is no longer safe.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.