Speech – Where America is still the freeest

Those of us with libertarian tendencies can occasionally become so obsessed with pointing out America’s flaws that we fail to consider the alternative.  Sometimes, we get tunnel-vision on issues of property rights, social liberties, and taxation.  Sometimes, it seems like we’re actually LESS free than those crazy socialist Europeans and that we should all be lining up to renounce our citizenship and move to Canada (less debt, stronger currency) or Switzerland (better gun rights) or Hong Kong (less regulation, less taxation).

But every once in awhile, you run across a news story that firmly establishes the one area of freedom in which the good ol’ US of A is still #1.  Freedom of speech.

Our friends in merry olde England are always among the worst offenders of violating this fundamental natural right.  Recently, a 21 year old student was sentenced to 56 days in prison for “offensive tweets.”  Allegedly, they were racist.  Of course, we don’t really know, because they won’t re-print them.

Most British people I argue with on the Internet regularly defend the practice of outlawing speech that is “offensive.”  Most of them don’t seem to appreciate the inherent insanity of having a judge decide what speech is “offensive” and what isn’t.  In any case, I would like to take this time to formally warn all of my British colleagues on the Internet:  If you ever say anything that I deem offensive, I plan on alerting your government so that you can suffer the full consequences of your actions under the laws you so regularly defend.  Luckily for you, I am a white, heterosexual male, so it is unlikely that anything you say about me would POSSIBLY be declared offensive by a English judge.  So ask yourselves Brits… do I feel lucky?  Well, do ya?  Chap!

Fabrice Muamba: Racist Twitter user jailed for 56 days

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About Dude Where's My Freedom?

My name's Matt and I love Freedom.
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One Response to Speech – Where America is still the freeest

  1. RX7InfinitiIII says:

    I’m reminded of the incident a while back where a performer was arrested in the UK for singing “Kung Fu Fighting,” because someone took an undue amount of offense. (See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8475965/Pub-singers-racism-arrest-over-Kung-Fu-Fighting-performance.html). I seem to recall people defending not only the actions but even the philosophy behind the arrest. Having been an American citizen for my whole life this initially strikes me as absurd, that someone’s “right” to not be offended can override the right to free speech. But as I examine the issue more closely… I can see where these people are coming from, even though I still disagree.

    For example, in my perfect society, employers would not discriminate based on factors that do not affect workplace efficacy (unless of course due to the nature of the work), such as race, height, gender, or even personal lifestyle choices like weight or social circles (refer to the controversy over some employers requiring Facebook logins from potential hires recently). This can easily be seen as a restriction on freedom of action. But, in my opinion, the right of workers to not have irrelevant personal details called into question trumps the employer’s rights in this scenario.

    The UK citizens who defend their laws are doing the same thing. They truly believe that the right to not hear offensive speech trumps the right to freedom of speech, and they believe it so strongly that they are willing to JAIL people over it. That is a valid opinion, even if it strikes me as repressive and counterproductive.

    More importantly, they DON’T believe that it is repressive. Laws are only rarely written with the intent of simply restricting rights. Instead, they see these laws as protection for what they see as the more important right. So, they are at least being internally consistent, and we can’t truly compare them to places where freedom of speech is restricted just for the hell of it.

    Now obviously they can choose to do whatever they want in their own country, but this is one of the reasons I will be sticking to the good old US of A for my own living situation.

Constructive discussion is welcome.

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