Freedom of Speech

The right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.

The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction.

The right to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content and subject only to reasonable limitations…

There is only speech, and government opposition to it.

The protests in France and elsewhere – supposedly in support of free speech – are laughable.  France, having some of the more draconian speech laws, is now the center of the world for free speech and expression.  The politicians, marching arm-in-arm in support of blasphemous cartoonists, are arresting free speakers at the same time they march.

This mass killing has been turned into a free speech issue – an issue guaranteed to garner public support (if the cartoons received as much publicity in the mass media as the march did, perhaps the public outcry would be tempered).  But what does Charlie Hebdo have to do with free speech?

Nothing.

What does free speech even mean?  I do not understand the idea of “free speech” in a private context.  If you are in my house and insult me, I will throw you out.  Have I violated your rights somehow?  If you are in my store and tell every patron that my prices are too high, must I allow you this platform?  I am not asking in the context of current law – I am asking in terms of a respect for private property.

I understand free speech in the “Congress (or whatever legislative body) shall make no law” sense (too bad the protestors don’t understand the thousands of laws that violate this concept).  But not in the private sphere.

And the Charlie Hebdo event was in the private sphere.  Technically, France has laws prohibiting what Charlie Hebdo was doing – yet, did not enforce these laws.  In other words, the government did not prohibit Charlie’s free speech in this case.

In the private sphere, I cannot grasp the concept of free speech.  I understand it only in terms of property rights.  I have a right to limit what is said on my property, and remove individuals of my choosing for reasons of speech.

In the private sphere, I cannot grasp the concept of violations of the right to free speech.  I understand it only in terms of aggression.  The employees at Charlie Hebdo suffered a violation of physical aggression.

There is so much hypocrisy in this episode, not the least of which is crafting the narrative into one of free speech.  It provides a much more sympathetic narrative than does the truth.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

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