Free Speech is Under Attack
Just last week I wrote about the threat of free speech coming under attack. Specifically I was talking about the offensive video recently found on YouTube and Google’s decision to remove the video in countries where it would be most offensive. Here’s what I said:
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.
Well, it’s happening already. We shouldn’t be shocked. Anyone watching for this would have seen it coming. Pakistani Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, said in a recent CNN interview that the U.S. should “rethink how much freedom is okay.”
It’s easy to understand the sentiment without agreeing with it. The argument is that people shouldn’t be allowed to say or do things that cause other people to go on massive killing sprees. Sure, that’s understandable. Nobody wants to hear reports of violence that erupted because of somebody’s opinion.
But this notion that because people get upset over somebody else’s opinion we should be restricting speech is preposterous!
The First Amendment isn’t about agreeable speech. You don’t need Constitutional protections to say something people already know to be true. The First Amendment is necessary to protect speech that isn’t what people want to hear.
Viewers of this video obviously didn’t like what it said. That doesn’t give them the right to incite violence. Becoming violent is their own choice. We can’t allow people to shift the responsibility of their decisions to blame people who said something they didn’t like.
At the core of this issue is an argument for government restricting our freedom to express ourselves, to say what we believe, to oppose government, to publish content that’s not popular.
This freedom of speech is not worth giving up because somebody got their feelings hurt over a YouTube video. Now is the time to use our First Amendment rights and stand up against these efforts to suppress freedom.
Freedom of speech, once lost, will be lost forever. We can’t let that happen.