I just want to make it clear that my article in no way makes any legislative suggestions about the 1st amendment. Nowhere in my piece do I suggest that there should be limits on free speech placed on people by law.

What I do suggest is that we as individual people or groups have erred on the side of using speech un-persuasively, as of late. And I think that has a lot to do with the climate of free speech being used as a justifier of itself. Just because you can say whatever you like doesn’t mean that it’s going to help your cause — in fact (as I argue) it often hinders it.

Regarding your analysis of the alt-left and censorship:

I tend to see the arguments of people trying to shut down free speech as one of these three variations

  1. The speech in question is contributing to violent and/or oppressive action against others.
  2. The speech in question is echoing beliefs that are already inherently driving some oppressive mechanism in society (racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc.), and so refusing to allow it to be voiced yet again, in yet another outlet isn’t taking away from the speaker’s freedom any threatening way.
  3. The speech in question makes people feel bad.

I think number 3 is what most on the right tend to think is the left’s only argument, which makes the left seem childish and stupid. But really, number 3 is a red herring. It collapses into #1. The real bone of contention is #2.

I can understand how people who are fighting to reveal what they see as an oppressive, racist, patriarchal, anti-gay societal machine would have no interest in letting yet another racist, or yet another sexist speak publicly on behalf of racism or sexism.

I can also understand how principles are principles, and it is a danger to free speech and an open society to begin choosing speech to allow and speech to disallow based on various other principles.

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Author of “The Wabi-Sabi Way” and “Be, Think, Do”. Subscribe to my newsletter “Woolgathering”: https://goo.gl/UhzUYL.

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