If I am to be labeled any kind of extremist, it might be that I am a “free speech extremist.”
This does not mean I am a free speech “absolutist.” I recognize there needs to be limits on speech.
- One should not be able to falsely yell “fire” in a crowd.
- One should not be able to make threats of violence.
- Child pornography, no thank you.
- Lying under oath. Bad form.
- We can come up with more I’m sure……
This list, however, should be short and limited to moments when speech creates tangible victims based on the real world (including market impact ie: Copyright/Trademark) consequences of speech. The examples above cause real harm to real victims.
The current list of exceptions to the first amendment is a pretty good list. Notably – many European countries have laws against hate speech. The U.S. does not. As despicable as I may find a racist rant, complete with burning flag in the background, I won’t stop somebody from doing it. Even if I find it….. gasp….. offensive.
Bottom line: No idea is sacred to all. No idea is free of criticism.
It’s freedom of speech as explained by Ghostbusters
Do I recognize that it’s ‘Dickish’ to go out of your way to offend. Sure. But nobody should be forced to “play nice” with an idea, especially if it’s one they think is stupid or want to criticize.
Just as they have the right to be critical of something you hold sacred, you can respond with your own speech. Point out how they are being an asshat. Or better yet – offer a rebuttal or critique their own speech/comment/criticism. In the open marketplace of ideas – may the best meme win.
Anyone who points out that Charlie Hebdo was being offensive is missing the point. Of course they were being offensive. There is and never should be a limit to how offensive one can be with speech. No idea is sacred to all. No idea is free of criticism.
Standing for free speech is not American. It is logical. If one allows a government to control—to censor—offensive speech, then no speech will be allowed, except that which government approves, for any speech can offend anyone and then all speech is controlled.
Speech is a human right.