Thoughts on Free Speech and Censorship
Google has taken some heat lately over censorship issues. No doubt we’ve all heard by now of the famous “The Innocence of Muslims” video on YouTube that, whether it did or did not cause attacks on our embassies, has been a center of controversy.
It stirs up debate on censorship, so I wanted to offer some thoughts on censorship.
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.
That’s the whole First Amendment, but if you break it down to an even simpler form…
Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.
That, in a nutshell, is how I feel about censorship. But this isn’t about Congress. This whole issue is about Google and whether or not Google should censor the opinions of its users.
I love censorship. I censor things all the time. If you decide to get obnoxious in comments on this blog, I’ll censor you. I try not to, because I want to encourage debate, but if your comments take away from the debate, yeah, I’ll censor you.
I censor things in my home as well. I censor what TV shows my kids see. I use parental control software to censor what Internet content is available.
Censoring content, whether on my web site or in my home, is my right and my responsibility. The same applies to Google. If something posted to a Google property is inappropriate, Google has a right and a responsibility to censor the content.
That’s what happened with this YouTube video. Google reacted and censored the content where it would be violently received, which I believe was an appropriate move to make.
My concern in all of this is that people will use this instance as a reason to support some measures by which the U.S. government could censor content on Google’s web sites. We should be watching carefully for that type of movement. Censorship, like so many other issues, is best handled by the people, not by government.