Friday, May 15, 2015

My thoughts on the Limits of Free Speech in regards to Social Justice

I'm writing this post because I want to make my personal opinions on the limits of free speech clear, especially as it regards the social justice movement.

Free speech means, in my view, speech that is unfettered so far as it does not infringe on the rights of others, and by rights, I means LEGAL rights.

Social Justice Warriors seem to believe free speech should be restricted if it hurts their feelings, and not only is their no law to defend that (and there still isn't, thankfully), that is a foolish restriction that could decrease the range of expression in such arbitrary ways that almost ANYTHING could be construed as "hurting someone's feelings", since all humans have different emotional cues, so that should NEVER be a precondition for limits on speech.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes defined the legal limits of free speech as that which endangers the rights and safety of others, an eminently reasonably guideline, as the rights he was referring to are outlined in the Constitution and the limits as regards to safety are sensible, as it would endanger others and infringe on their rights to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater, so speech that endangers the life and well being of others can be restrained, since that would infringe on the free exercise of their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

When it comes to offensive speech, you have two LEGAL choices when you encounter it: tolerate it, as everyone is entitled to their views so long as they are not trying to incite criminal acts (for example, saying you hate black people does not mean you are planning crimes against them unless you are trying to encourage others to hurt or murder black people), or simply avoid the source of the offensive speech if possible (for example, someone sends you an insulting tweet, just ignore it or block the offending party).

However, this brings up another legal bulwark I feel should be discussed. You have the right to wall yourself away from offensive speech as part of your personal pursuit of happiness. You DON'T have the legal right to force others to censor themselves for you.

The above stated, here is my response to every social justice warrior triggered by racism, sexism, or other forms of offensive speech:

You have the right to be offended, but you have no right to suppress the right of those who say that speech so long as they do not advocate actual crimes. If that legal caveat to suppress their speech does not exist, you either need to get thicker skins, or try to avoid that offensive speech.

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