What Is Free Speech?
What does free speech mean to you?
When do you draw the line at free speech?
I just read a great article by Walter Williams in Townhall.com, Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics.
Dr. Williams asks the question “What's the true test of one's commitment to free speech?”
His answer is “It does not come when he permits people to be free to say or publish ideas with which he agrees. Not by a long shot. The true test of one's commitment to free speech comes when he permits others to say and publish ideas he deems offensive.”
Seems pretty simple does it not, then why do so many people who want their right to “free speech” want to deny others their right to “free speech”?
Remember the racist chant that surfaced by a fraternity at the University of Oklahoma, two fraternity students have been expelled. The president of the university was quoted as saying "To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you: You are disgraceful."
Now let’s look at the 12 people murdered by Islamist at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The Islamists did not like what the paper was printing.
In his article Dr. William’s asks: what's the difference between the actions of the University of Oklahoma administrators and the actions of the Islamist murderers in Paris.
His answer “both found the speech in question offensive. Both took actions against the people involved in that speech. So what's the difference? It's a matter of degree, but not kind. Both were unwilling to tolerate speech they didn't like. Of course, the difference in responses is by no means trivial -- one being expulsion and the other murder.”
Dr. Williams then applies these same principals to the commitment to freedom of association.
He condemns discriminatory practices in publicly owned facilities, i.e. libraries, parks and beaches. He condemns these practices in the publicly owned facilities because they are financed by us, the taxpayers. He then states that “denying freedom of association in private clubs, private businesses and private schools violates a human right.”
He asks another great question, one that I have been asking on my show for a long time.
His question “For those who support such attacks, we might ask them whether they would seek prosecution of the owner of a Jewish delicatessen who refused to provide services for a neo-Nazi affair. Should a black catering company be forced to cater a Ku Klux Klan affair? Should the NAACP be forced to open its membership to racist skinheads? Should the Congressional Black Caucus be forced to open its membership to white members of Congress?”
Is that not a good question?
As he stated “Liberty requires bravery”
I like him believe that too many people want liberty and freedom to say what they want and associate with whomever they want but do not afford this same right to others.
What are your thoughts?
Am I missing something?
Do you have another point of view?
Let’s discuss this today on my show The Live with Renk show, which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts at (269) 441-9595.
Or please feel free to start a discussion and write your thoughts in the comment section.