Is Free Speech Overrated?

By Rich Rostron

Free speech is, apparently, overrated.

Free speech is overrated the way wings on an airplane are overrated. But folks today, particularly, but not exclusively, younger people, have attitudes about free speech that are more in line with the idea that free speech is overrated.

In particular, these people believe that there should be limitations to free speech. Free speech that is hurtful shouldn't be allowed. One such person who took this position is someone I know from Germany, and she used the example of how, in Germany, it's against the law to claim that the Holocaust didn't actually happen.

Another person I know is always trying to find 'the middle ground' and suggested we should find 'the middle ground' in terms of free speech, too.

I've pointed out that their approach to free speech isn't really free speech at all. When they say that people shouldn't be allowed to say things that hurt people, my question is "who gets to decide how we define 'hurt?'"

Does hurt include hurting someone's feelings? If so, do my feelings count, too?

The one suggesting we should find 'the middle ground' asked, "How will we control people who don't have all the information and say stupid things."

My initial answer is simple: "What right do we have to 'control' them?" But my answer goes beyond that.

Who gets to decide what constitutes 'all the information?' Who gets to decide what information is correct? How many times have we found that what 'we all' thought was correct, turned out to be completely wrong?

I suggested to him that we're already living in a time when we don't have free speech. He disagreed suggesting that I get to decide how free my speech is. I hope he doesn't mind if I translate that as follows: "I get to decide if I'll keep my speech within the bounds of what is 'allowed' today." In other words, will I ensure that my words fit within the WOKE Narrative?

I grew up at a time when people would say of free speech, "We protect the most vile speech to ensure free speech for everyone." There is wisdom in those words.

It always comes back to the idea that, when you have limitations to free speech, someone has to decide what speech is acceptable and what speech is unacceptable. That represents incredible power. And if the people we entrust with that power are benevolent and trustworthy today, how do we ensure that those who are 'entrusted' with those roles in the future will also be benevolent and trustworthy?

The real answer to the question of 'how to control people who say stupid things' or 'people who say things that are wrong' isn't limitations on free speech. The solution is more free speech. Better free speech.

When someone argues against the Holocaust, intellectually slap them upside the head with truth they can't deny. Give 'em superior examples of free speech and more than they can handle 'cause free speech is never overrated.