If it’s restricted, it’s not free

I spotted this cartoon on Gab:

It makes an excellent point.  Speech is either free, or it isn’t.  Any restraint, and it’s no longer free speech.  It really is as simple as that.

Some people argue that the Schenk case, in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes made his famous comment about shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, justifies restrictions on otherwise free speech.  That ignores the fact that the Schenk verdict was partly overturned by Brandenburg vs. Ohio several decades later, in which the court held that ‘government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”.’  The two concepts of lawlessness and imminence of action remain the bedrock of jurisprudence at this time in the United States.  The standard – and, for that matter, the First Amendment to the US Constitution – says nothing about political correctness, ethics, morality, opinion, or any other factor.  As Wikipedia points out:

Categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment include obscenity (as determined by the Miller test), fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Within these limited areas, other limitations on free speech balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as rights for authors over their works (copyright), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons, restrictions on the use of untruths to harm others (slander), and communications while a person is in prison. When a speech restriction is challenged in court, it is presumed invalid and the government bears the burden of convincing the court that the restriction is constitutional.

The trouble is, many on the liberal and progressive side of the political spectrum are conflating speech with violence, arguing that speech supporting any of a number of areas of which they disapprove – such as so-called “hate speech” – is violent in and of itself.  They then use that conflation to invoke limitations on free speech as an anti-violence measure.  That conflation, in and of itself, does violence to the rule of law and Constitutional standards and norms, and must be resisted at every opportunity.  Violence is clearly defined, and is a well understood concept.  If we allow it to be perverted to shut down free speech, our entire society will suffer.

Freedom is freedom.  Restrictions always inhibit freedom.  I tend to choose the maximum practical degree of freedom, and will work against any attempt to restrict it, even if others wish to use that freedom to attack positions and principles that I hold dear.  If they have the right to do that, I also have the right to defend my positions against their attacks.  It works both ways.



  1. If speech is violence, then by the commutative law, violence is speech.

    It's just about time to explain to the Left how they are wrong.

  2. The thundering stupidity of the Left is that they are NEVER concerned that the policies they put in place (or try to put in place) might bite them on the ass, later. Never. And, furthermore, they never freaking learn.

  3. About that whole crowded theater garbage, I have every right to cry fire in one or anywhere else, otherwise we'd all be fitted with locked ball gags every time we entered one.
    And while, based on the last couple of times I tried to go out to a movie, that does have a certain appeal, it misses the point.
    While I may freely cry fire, no law protects me from the consequences of my action should it be shown that I did so carelessly, maliciously, or with disregard for any possible damage that might ensue.
    This is the sort of reasoning I've come to expect from the left. My thoughts might not conform to their current narrative or agenda, so ban my speech. A firearm might be used in a crime, so ban all guns. And of course it's never a complete ban on anything, just for those in opposition.
    The left doesn't hate free speech, just speech by those who oppose them.
    The left doesn't hate guns, just guns in the hands of those who would rein them in and prevent their overthrow of all of society.

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