2010-11-10

Sweetliberty on Freedom of Speech

Blogger sweetliberty brings us an excellent blog post on the essence of the freedom of speech. Here's a sample:
"Freedom of speech" in this country is a given in the minds of many, but when it's explained by liberty-minded folks -- even folks like Michael Bednarik -- there are always exceptions. You have total freedom of speech... except you can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. You have total freedom of speech... except you can't say certain words on the radio or on TV during certain hours or without a paid subscription. You can say anything you want about the government... except you can't say you want to kill the President.

Guess what, guys. That ain't freedom!
Excellent. I agree.

The way I tell it is: Freedom of speech in inalienable. So long as you are capable of speech, you can say anything you please. The only way to take it away is to kill the speaker. That's how you know something is truly a human right. The "exception" is not really an exception: When people talk of "exceptions" to freedom of speech, what they really mean is that you are free to speak, but not free to escape responsibility for your words. So if your words defraud someone or send an innocent man to jail, then you can and should be held liable for having engaged in fraud or perjury.

...But not for speech. Speech is an inalienable right. And yes, that should include the ol' death threat to the president thing... Words don't kill people. But it's probably not smart to announce criminal intent in a public forum, either (you may be held responsible later.