12 responses to “Yeah, what *about* your free speech “rights”?”

  1. Rosemary

    YES. Thank you for this. I find it so ludicrous when someone who’s just been called out for offensive language, for instance, goes on a tirade about how they can SAY WHAT THEY LIKE. Yea, you can. And so can I. So as long as you keep saying offensive crap, I’m gonna keep calling you on it because I, also, can SAY WHAT I LIKE. Dude, follow your Own logical outcome, much?

    Also, geeze, no one is stopping these people from starting their own blogs to spew whatever they like and making it so people who want to argue with them can’t comment.

    How in the world has the concept of free speech been so twisted to mean that anyone can say anything to anyone else where ever they want without any consequences whatsoever? Ugh.

    Thanks, again, to all of you who moderate these comments and keep the rest of us from having to see everything. I can’t even begin to imagine how awful it must be some days.

  2. lullabymoon


    Fantastic post.

  3. rrr_for_marrr

    I saw people arguing over this same thing on feministing the other day and it bugged the hell out of me. (The topic was a politician who was being fined for being a rape-apologist.) They kept going, “well, we shouldn’t police what people say bc they should be allowed to say what they want!” vs the people who said, “but what if their words are hateful and/or creating violence?”

    So glad to see this on here. I’m going to bookmark it for future “I can say what I want because I have free speech!” arguments.

  4. Kaitlyn

    When my sister says something bigoted (or flat out wrong), my mom won’t let me correct her or tell her about the other person’s side, because she wants to avoid a fight.

    But sometimes she’s trotted out the free speech – “Becky has free speech!” “Well then I have the freedom to respond!”

  5. Katherine

    People coming from other countries hopefully appreciate that they don’t have a right to come onto someone else’s private property and spout whatever crap they like without being ejected from the premises. People in the US must be aware that they don’t have this right, but somehow some of them don’t seem to equate blogs with private property, and that really boggles my mind.

    Great post :)

  6. lauren

    Great post!

    Since you mentioned US-centrism:
    In Germany, the corresponding article of the constitution is the right to have and express an opinion. (there are more “specialised” rights for freedom of the press, freedom of science and freedom of art). All of these have something in common: they are not absolute. Because whenever the rights of two people collide, there must be some cind of compromise. When it comes to freedom of expression and opinion, that means laws against libel (and slander). It also means that lies (about facts) are not protected, though this is only applicable when the lie can be proven, mostly in connection with those libel cases. There is also one specialised law that makes it illegal to openly declare that the Hollocaust never happened- everybody is free to present their opinions and interpretations of history, but outright denial is not allowed in a puplic media forum.

    Regarding the people who think their free speach is endangered whenever someone critizised something they say, there are two options:
    You can either think before you open your mouth, and try not to say something sexist/ ableist/ racist/ classist/ transphobic/ homophobic… and when you actually manage that, people will have nothing to accuse you of.
    Or you can say whatever you want to say, with no regards to who might be hurt. And then people have the right to react to that. They can react by using their own right to free speach to critizise what you have said. Or they can use their right to not listen to you. That’s really what a comments policy is, the enacted right to not have to listen to people.

    Freedom of speach does not mean freedom of responsibility.

  7. EAMD

    Oh yes!

    What really grinds my gears is what you allude to in the last part of your post; not only do these individuals defend their right to say whatever jacked-up garbage they say, but they also expect you to respect their opinion just because…it’s their opinion, I guess.

    I was just having a “discussion” with someone the other day in a lecture on intimate partner violence. This individual would. not. stop. insisting individuals in abusive relationships “just need to leave”, and that was the only appropriate course of action. Period. Things got heated, and he finally said something like, “Okay, well, I know we have some strong opinions about this, but I am glad to see that even though we disagree, we still respect each others’ opinions.” I stared at him for a second before just saying, “No. We don’t.” I was just flabbergasted that despite the fact that he could not back up his opinion with anything other than more opinion, nor offer any cogent response to actual evidence showing IPV homicide is likeliest when trying to leave one’s abuser, he expected me to consider his opinion equally legitimate as someone’s life experience, research, and/or work.

  8. EAMD

    I just finished reading the last post to which you linked, and I wanted to add–thanks. That was a real gem.

  9. Ang

    Great post. I really hope people read it and understand more why there’s a commenting policy here.

    The unthought-out ‘free speech’ defence was particularly prevalent during the Amanda Palmer debate. Ironically enough, I noticed that the very people who were shouting the loudest about how artists were being censored/their own free speech was being denied them as commentors, were also the most intolerant of people from the disabled community having our say. Too often, ‘free speech!’ as it’s used in debate simply means ‘free speech for people who agree with me!’

  10. Annaham

    Ironically enough, I noticed that the very people who were shouting the loudest about how artists were being censored/their own free speech was being denied them as commentors, were also the most intolerant of people from the disabled community having our say.

    Excellent point, Ang.

    Everyone else, thanks for your comments!

  11. Ladypolitik

    Here Here! Fantastic post.

    I actually wish (esp. in light of the University of Ottawa incident with Ann Coulter) that the US had more bite to their hate speech laws the way Canda and the UK do.

  12. Kath

    I always say that my blog is not a democracy, it’s a dictatorship and I’m the dictator. I consider my blog my territory. One wouldn’t go into someone’s house and tell them to shut up or bully them into removing the curtains, so why would I allow someone to come into my territory online and do the same?

    Great post, I’ll save it to reference in future.
    Kath´s last blog post ..Sorting Out My Head