Recent events at the University of Missouri, Yale University and some other colleges demonstrate an ongoing ignorance and/or contempt for the principles of free speech. So let’s examine some of those principles by asking: What is the true test of one’s commitment to free speech?
Contrary to the widespread belief of tyrants among college students, professors and administrators, the true test of one’s commitment to free speech does not come when one permits people to be free to express those ideas that he finds acceptable. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when he permits others to say those things that he finds deeply offensive. In a word, free speech is absolute, or nearly so.
No doubt a campus pseudo-intellectual, particularly in a law school, will chime in suggesting that free speech is not absolute, bringing up the canard that you can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is not a free speech issue. A person who shouts “fire” violates the implied contract that theatergoers have to watch a performance undisturbed. Of course, if all patrons were informed when they purchased tickets that someone would falsely shout “fire” during the performance, there would be little problem.
Then there is speech called defamation, which is defined as the action of making a false spoken or written statement damaging to a person’s reputation. Defamation is criminalized, but should it be? That question might be best answered by asking: Does your reputation belong to you? In other words, are the thoughts that other people have about you your property?
The principles that apply to one’s commitment to free speech also apply to one’s commitment to freedom of association. Like the true test of one’s commitment to free speech, the true test of one’s commitment to freedom of association does not come when he permits people to associate in ways he deems acceptable. The true test of one’s commitment to freedom of association comes when he permits people to be free to associate — or not to associate — in ways he deems offensive.
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Source: Free Speech | Human Events