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Free Speech - it is not for the faint of heart


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Our founding fathers thought this was important enough to make it the very first amendment to the Constitution. I think it becomes more apparent everyday the wisdom of that decision. The stifling of speech is the first steps down the road to authoritarianism.
Andrew Breitbart once said that “Politics is downstream from culture”. I think there is a lot of truth in that. While we probably should not take political philosophy from movies - I am particularly fond of a quote from the movie - The American President. The 1995 movie directed by Rob Reiner and written by Aaron Sorkin presented an idealized version of politics from a more left wing / progressive point of view. In the 20 plus years since that movie debuted, I would imagine both of those guys would disavow their strong defense of free speech. Never the less, they captured perfectly why free speech is important and why it is so damn hard to embrace.

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.

Personally, I really hate reading posts that are wildly antisemitic, racist, nihilistic, anti-American or unpatriotic. I think flag burning, kneeling during the National Anthem, satanism, misogynistic or just rude and nasty for the sake of being rude and nasty are stupid and kind of disgust me. However, I do believe that people have a right to be as stupid as they want to be as long as they stay within the law and don't physically hurt people. What is that old saying, your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.
All of the censorship on social media platforms seem to me to be going about this all wrong. Our social media platforms should provide robust personal blocking tools. If I choose not to see antisemitic posts - they let me easily block that type of content out. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Pushing out people on the fringe tends to radicalize them even more. The best way to kill bad ideas is with better ideas.

Anyway, that is the way I see it. What are your thoughts?

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