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Speech wars

Ladies and gentlemen, something huge happened this last week.

While I was busy stomping out grass fires, the speech wars turned ugly with a vengeance. It's a battle for control of who gets to speak, what they get to say, and where and when they get to say it. It's a battle that threatens American freedom.

It's a battle for the heart and soul and future of the internet.

The internet is the last, best hope for freedom. It may be the last, best hope for humanity. But it can only fulfill that promise if people can say what they want, when they want, to who they want. There's no other way it can work. The only sure way to protect your free speech is to protect other’s free speech. Even if you don’t like what they are saying.

Especially if you don’t like what they are saying.

That doesn't mean you have to agree. Or be polite. Or even acknowledge it.

We need people arguing and waving fingers under each others noses. Competition keeps us honest. No one group and certainly no one person has all the answers.

Anyone who tells you differently is lying.

Americans are free to believe anything they choose. Americans are free to tell anyone what they want however they can.

Of course if they use force so others pay attention, they deserve the consequences.

Yes, Americans are free to speak and write as they choose. For now.

That's no guarantee that Americans can find someone to pay attention. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to be heard. Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to be read. People can choose to notice you, or not. It's up to them. That's their freedom. Just because you have something to say doesn't mean it's something they want to hear. But you have the right to speak.

Except that's not good enough for some.

They think that if you say something that they disagree with, you must not be allowed to say it.

They think that if you might say something they disagree with, you must not be allowed to say it.

“Thou shalt not dissent.”

These people will use legal means if they can. Failing that, they will try removing your Moral Authority™ to speak by proving you are a despicable, deplorable, and dangerous person Who Just Might Tempt Others Into Degeneracy. Failing that, they will try to link you to the questionable behavior of others to prove you are unfit to speak. Failing that (or if they do not have time), they use violence against you.

You might think that hate speech is not free speech. You might think that you shouldn't have to listen to it. You might think that we need to “protect the children.” That's certainly your right.

But who decides what is hate speech?

From my experiences the last week or so, I know that many people believe hate speech is anything they don't agree with. Those folks were about a half step from condemning Republicans and libertarians along with the neo-Nazis and white nationalists, even though we hadn't done anything wrong. Even though we had no association with the neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Apparently we did not condemn the neo-Nazis and white nationalists fast enough. And apparently we didn't link violence exclusively with the neo-Nazis and white nationalists AND ONLY WITH the neo-Nazis and white nationalists.

Some of us even said that the neo-Nazis and white nationalists had the same free speech rights as everyone else. As long as they didn't use violence.

Some believe these sins violate Moral Authority™ enough to justify removing freedom of speech. Anyone sinful enough must be shunned until they atone for their sins. So domain registrars and web-hosting companies started removing hate-speech sites. Google announced a new initiative to screen against hate stories.

Somehow no conservative group was asked to participate. Libertarians are never asked to participate, we usually do anyway. But if the gatekeepers decide what is hate and what is not while excluding what is not morally approved, how long do you think anyone will be allowed to dissent?

Aside from the moral pretentious and the virtue signaling, let's look at the implications. People who believe that hate speech is not free speech also believe that certain people cannot be trusted to choose between bad and good. They believe that certain people can't learn from their mistakes and do better the next time.

So not only are they treating adults as children, but they are robbing tomorrow. Will you accept that?

Donald Trump and other politicos already want to restrict speech critical of their actions. It's only one step more to decide that no one can be critical of an elected official because after all they are Official and are only doing things For The Common Good.

And it's only one step more to declare since there is no criticism, there's no need for elections.

I'm going to cover the Speech Wars more and more. I have to. I want my tomorrows. You can fight for everyone's rights today. Or you can lose yours tomorrow. Your choice.

Your freedom.
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