Dealing with a trollish question: " Why do liberals want to shut down free speech?"

We need to have an explicit right to free speech that is protected by clear language in the highest law of the land. In the U.S. we have the first amendment to the Constitution to articulate and protect the right of free speech. It is not conditional.

The question " Why do liberals want to shut down free speech? " stirred an interesting discussion HERE . How do you like [Charles Gray's answer? ](https://www.quora.com/profile/Charles-Gray-45)

I was going to write that liberals do not want to shut down free speech, but as I looked at the existing answers, I saw that there was some truth in the claim behind this obviously trollish question.

Here is the real answer: Everyone wants to shut down free speech for people they disapprove of. It’s a human thing; we all want concord at some level and are very uncomfortable with discord, especially regarding important values.

That is precisely why we need to have an explicit right to free speech that is protected by clear language in the highest law of the land. In the U.S. we have the first amendment to the Constitution to articulate and protect the right of free speech.

It is not conditional. As soon as I write that, I must observe that there is some speech that is not protected: One may not advocate the violent overthrow of the government, for example. There are other cases, but I am not a lawyer, so I will leave their enumeration to others.

When I see that people advocate free speech, providing that it is properly used: That it does not directly insult or demean people, then I can see that the troll who posted this question happens to be right. Many people who call themselves liberals do want to shut down free speech for racists, climate-change deniers, and others whom they regard as dangerously aberrant in their utterances.

Perhaps that would result in a more civil public discourse, and God knows we could use such a thing, but then we would no longer have a free society in any seriously meaningful way.

The price of freedom is that we must tolerate racists, morons, and complete assholes, and let them say what they wish to say. There is no alternative to this, and there are no moderating rules of any kind that will not lead to the destruction of our freedom.

Public safety considerations make it necessary to ban certain speech, as mentioned above, and as long as these exceptions are perfectly clear and very few in number, we will retain our freedom.

But when we try to make the case that abhorrent thoughts lead to abhorrent speech, which leads to abhorrent actions, then our freedom will be short lived because we will outlaw the speech. We will do this because thoughts cannot be seen or heard, and thoughts are what we really want to outlaw.


You are showing that you are a true liberal - and that you are over 40. See this excellent article on how Marcuse changed things such that younger generations tend not to be as committed to free speech, " If we look only at people under the age of 40, intolerance is correlated with a “social justice” orientation. That is, I find that people who believe that the government has a responsibility to help poor people and blacks get ahead are also less tolerant. Importantly, this is true even when we look at tolerance towards groups other than blacks. For people over 40, there is no relationship between social justice attitudes and tolerance. I argue that this difference reflects a shift from values of classical liberalism to the New Left. For older generations, support for social justice does not require a rejection of free speech. Thus, this tension between leftist social views and political tolerance is something new." http://heterodoxacademy.org/2015/09/23/how-marcuse-made-todays-students-less-tolerant-than-their-parents/


I don't like the fact we have to fall back on the "Since you aren't in jail, your free speech rights are ebing respected" - I'd like a culture that respected the rights to free speech tot he point where most of it was private consequence free.

But I think the flip side of it is that you won't get a culture like that unless most political and other speech is respecting of truth, and mutual respect. We've tossed those out the window, and as a consequence, Free Speech Ideals are without solid foundation.

(Meaning provided most of the dialog out there is at least trying to be truthful or find the truth, and isn't trying to be a vehicle for persecution or insult, the odd crackpot or two will feel harmless enough)

The lack of truth and calls for persecution is giving birth to moral strictures, political litmus tests and a lot of illiberal approaches to discourse. Which is awful, but without a foundation of truth and respect in all discourse, how can we expect it to be different?

The "new left" is a breed of its own. I'm under 40 but do consider myself a classic liberal who can see the contradiction of these so-called liberals of today


I'm with you, @TJL206. The "new left's" tendency to shut down or belittle those who hold contrasting opinions is not a good way to build political alliances or make compromises.


The "free speech" clause in the US Constitution is the first amendment one of the ten called the Bill of Rights. It is written in an interesting way: "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.

Not used to the input methodology yet. So I didn't put a quotation mark at the end of the first amendment above. The 1st amendment is worded such that its authors assume everyone has a natural right to freedom of speech that the state shall not in any way abridge. Its authors do not say that the state guarantees everyone's right to freedom of speech because a state guarantee is worthless. E.g. the Soviet constitution of 1936, in article 125, guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press and of assembly. But since the state owned all printing presses and publications in the Soviet Union, such a guarantee meant nothing. Unfortunately, over the years American political leaders, judges and bureaucrats have also abridged Americans' freedom of speech in countless ways. They simply ignore Constitutional or common law protections of individual freedom whenever they wish. Without freedom of speech, a liberal society is impossible.

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