Free Speech

Was This the Decade We Hit Peak Free Speech?

Speech was more varied and vibrant than ever before—and then the backlash began.

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Speech has never been freer than it was in this decade. But only if you take a broad view of what free speech means, and only if you look at the right parts of the decade.

There is an argument that says free speech isn't just a matter of stopping direct government censorship, nor of keeping the state from indirectly chilling what we say. True freedom of expression, the theory goes, requires a broader culture of free speech—a society where art, information, and commentary face fewer restraints of all kinds, not just the restraints that have the government's guns behind them.

Now, I'm not crazy about conflating the concept of free speech with those bigger, messier social questions. But they are undeniably linked—a culture hostile to open expression is surely more likely to pass legal limits on speech—and those big social questions are worth thinking about in their own right. So let's roll with it. If by "free speech" you mean the capacity and willingness to speak, not just a shield from the institutions that could forcibly stop you from speaking, then the early to mid 2010s arguably saw the freest speech in history.

As the decade dawned, it was cheaper and easier than ever before to create and transmit a text, an image, or an audio or video recording. That transmission, in turn, had a bigger chance of reaching an audience. People didn't waste that opportunity: Both the volume and the variety of widely available speech exploded. Whole new media ecosystems appeared. Budding musicians did an end run around the record labels, sketch comics did an end run around cable TV, and YouTube DIYers did an end run around licensed plumbers and repairmen. In the political world, the Overton window widened and a flood of oddball ideological tribes poured in—some of them rather unappealing, but that's how it goes with unfettered expression.

That in turn provoked a backlash, and for the last several years we've seen a series of efforts to clamp down on all that uncontrolled chatter. There have been heightened calls for censorship from the left, right, and center, sometimes directed at new sorts of speech (bots, code for printing weaponry) but usually aimed at targets that feel familiar (sex-work talk, terrorist propaganda, hate speech, marchers wearing masks), sometimes so familiar that they're moldy (pornography, Russian subversion). Beyond that, there was a broader feeling of brittleness around all that unfamiliar or unpleasant expression; even critics who would never call for censorship sometimes went overboard when attributing ill effects to speech they disliked. Meanwhile, the biggest conduit for all those emerging ecosystems of expression—the internet—seemed to be growing not just more censored but more centralized, more surveilled, more controlled. That was true not just in purely online spaces but in the dissident movements that at times use cyberspace to organize and communicate. Around the world, it became clear that it wasn't just protesters who were imitating and adapting each other's tactics; the regimes that they were protesting watched and learned from each other too.

All of that raises the question: Did we just witness Peak Free Speech? Will the first half of this decade be remembered not just as a time when speech was less fettered than ever before but as a time when it was less fettered than it will ever be again?

Freedom vs. Tolerance

I may have rushed too quickly past the question of what a "culture of free speech" is supposed to be. It's not a term that everyone uses the same way. The people who throw around that phrase often claim, or at least assume, that certain sorts of speech are more conducive to open expression than others. Some of them suggest that speech should be more civil; others think it ought to be more oppositional. Most of them want the speech, or at least the speakers, to be tolerant of other points of view.

But freedom and tolerance simply aren't the same thing. Both are valuable, but they're often going to be in tension with each other.

Civil libertarians need to be clear-eyed about that. Speech has always included gossip, shaming, and other tools for enforcing conformity. In the past those sorts of speech may have been confined to a single village or middle school, but now they have a global reach. Some testy "free speech" debates of the last decade have really just been battles between different collections of culture warriors, each circulating misleading screenshots as they try to shout the other side down. That may look like illiberal intolerance, but it also looks like a lot of lively speech. It's not a sort of speech that I like, but some form of it has always been a part of public life and it isn't likely to go away anytime soon.

The more important issue, at least as far as the future of free speech is concerned, is whether the institutional environment makes it easier or harder for intolerant people to muffle the speech they don't want to hear. And this is where the most significant change happened. From the '70s through the '00s, America's electronic media grew ever more decentralized and participatory. Not so in the '10s, as the social media services that made publishing so quick and easy also brought more of that publishing under consolidated corporate control. The result was the difference between getting kicked off an email list and getting kicked off a social media network: Both may be cases of a private association exercising its right not to give you a platform, but one has a much bigger impact than the other when it comes to whether your voice is heard.

This didn't mean we reverted to the bad old days of just three big TV networks, or even to the 500-channel universe of the late cable era. It was still ludicrously easy by 1990s standards to get a homemade piece of media in front of a substantial audience. But it was also more likely that your homemade media would suddenly be obscured. That might be because you broke a platform's rules; it might be because an algorithm mistook your photo of a nude sculpture for pornography and improperly assumed that you had broken a rule; it might be because you were mass-reported by the sorts of assholes that the rules were supposed to address. (Time and again, a social media company would create a system that was supposed to keep out the bigots and trolls who harass people, only to learn that the bigots and trolls had found a way to turn the system itself into a tool for harassment.) The result was more Brazil than 1984: a control apparatus full of leaks and loose wiring.

Governments encouraged the process, passing mandates that fostered both the proliferation of rules and a sloppy sort of enforcement. Germany, for example, started implementing a law last year that informed platforms that they had just 24 hours to take down "obviously unlawful" hate speech or face a steep fine. Inevitably, this combination of stiff penalties and narrow time windows prompted companies to suppress first and ask questions later, even if that meant excising speech that didn't actually violate the law. (In one infamous example, the nominally anti-racist statute was used to remove some anti-racist satire.) That's bad enough for the Germans, but in a global internet decisions made by the government of Germany—or any other wired nation, from Britain to China—can affect what people around the world can see.

Centralized platforms make the task that much easier. As Declan McCullagh wrote in Reason this year, they offer "a single convenient point of control for governments eager to experiment with censorship and surveillance." A culture of freer speech might require a technology of freer speech—a more decentralized internet with fewer chokepoints, one built around protocols rather than platforms.

The Global Spring

All that said, there is one big reason to think the pendulum may already be swinging back in speech's direction. This year saw an astonishing level of public protest around the globe, adding up to a revolutionary moment on par with 1968. Unrest has swelled everywhere from France to Hong Kong, from Chile to Indonesia, from Iran to Ecuador, from Haiti to Spain. Such movements have already brought down governments in Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Sudan. In Bolivia, mass protests preceded the ousting of leftist president Evo Morales and then more mass protests greeted the new right-wing regime of Jeanine Áñez. Here in the U.S., last year saw the biggest strike wave in more than three decades, and we may be on track to top that in 2019.

These movements have been sparked by a wide variety of grievances. Their supporters come from a wide variety of ideologies. They use a wide variety of tactics, not all of them limited to nonviolent speech and assembly. It would probably be hard to find someone who backs every single one of them. But put together, they represent a surge in people's willingness not just to speak out but to take risks to do so. That too represents a sort of culture of free speech, even though many of these regimes have reacted to the unrest with a repression that does not remotely resemble free speech in the legal sense.

Those movements are learning from each other, too: When one of them figures out a way to evade censorship, surveillance, or police assaults, the others take heed. (We live in an era when Hongkongers can be recorded neutralizing tear gas in the summer, videos of the technique immediately circulate on social media, and by October protesters in Chile are doing the same thing.) After a decade of authoritarian governments adjusting themselves to the ways protesters organize themselves on- and offline, the momentum is with the dissidents again as they find ways to adjust their tactics in return.

A decade that began with the rise and fall of the Arab Spring is concluding with a Global Spring. And while that could conceivably end with the most vicious clampdown of all, it's also the best reason to hope that what looked like Peak Free Speech was really just a temporary speech recession.

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  1. Most of them want the speech, or at least the speakers, to be tolerant of other points of view.

    And many of them want the freedom to redefine words so that “tolerant” is synonymous with “embracing”. “I may not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” is now considered hate speech. It’s not enough that you accept my right to speak, you must listen to me, you may not speak, and you must agree with me as well.

    1. Remember free speech is not free.Millions have died & suffered for it over the centuries.We must honour their sacrifice !!

      1. “Free” speech also includes criminal speech, which is exactly why we need to reign in some of these unpleasant excesses that we’ve been seeing. Here at NYU, we will continue to welcome law enforcement efforts on our behalf, particularly when certain degenerate elements see fit to impinge on our reputations with unlawful “parodies.” See the documentation of our great nation’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

        https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    2. Exactly.

      Speaking of re-defining words, today’s Democrats are NOT Liberals. Liberal is the antithesis of Leftist, which is now the center of their party. Allowing them the use of the label of Liberal is no different than stolen valor.

  2. This didn’t mean we reverted to the bad old days of just three big TV networks, or even to the 500-channel universe of the late cable era.

    I’m not sure there is really much improvement. The opportunities for speech on the Internet have declined pretty sharply from the early days of the 1990’s. Maybe people don’t see that because there just weren’t many people on the Internet then. So you could speak more freely – but that didn’t many people could hear you.

    Content platforms like Facebook dominate the total volume of speech now. Search was quite competitive before Google so there were many ways of collecting an audience.

    The biggest difference between now and the Big3 days is that far more people are talking and far fewer are listening. Is that good for free speech? I suppose – but not for discourse.

    1. I’m not sure there is really much improvement. The opportunities for speech on the Internet have declined pretty sharply from the early days of the 1990’s. Maybe people don’t see that because there just weren’t many people on the Internet then. So you could speak more freely – but that didn’t many people could hear you.

      On one level, I agree with that. I remember those freewheeling early-’90s days. I would take Usenet’s structure over Facebook’s structure any day.

      But two things improved greatly after the early ’90s. One, as you say, is the ability not just to speak but to find an audience (and all the ensuing feedback effects). The other is the ability to do with audio and video what Usenetters could do with text.

      Search was quite competitive before Google

      I’ve got my complaints about Google, but it really did beat its predecessors by producing a better product. I do not miss, say, AltaVista at all.

      1. I had a web business that was a niche speech platform (called it ‘online community’ before ‘social media’ term came along) pre-Google. The existence of competition for search was much better than having Googles keyword monopoly. Facebook still has very little opportunities on their platform re that. And while the site is still around, it still doesn’t have much more traffic than I had then. With fewer opportunities now to retain any good ad revenues cuz of Google pricing. And talking to the sorts of people I started the biz for back then – they are as lost today as they were back when I started the biz trying to solve that problem.

        I doubt that is really unique – though the target group was a pretty unique group where the Internet actually enabled ‘connecting them’. But with google/facebook stealing all the early/initial revenue stream, there is no longer a business model that can fix that problem.

        What we don’t see on the Internet are all the niche businesses that COULD exist if those two ‘tools’ weren’t sucking up all the early revenues that those sorts of businesses need to start-up. All that’s left are basically hobby businesses.

        It’ll be much better if/when protocols return and replace ‘platforms’. But I’m not sure that that will happen.

        1. Basically – since the tools themselves now dominate the business opportunities that the Internet enabled for hosting speech, those who simply want attention and influencer/celebrity types have become far far more powerful than they ever were before the Internet. But is that really what we normal people want? For speech simply to become entertainment and gawking at train wrecks?

          1. But is that really what we normal people want?

            Based on their revealed preferences?

            Yes.

        2. Oh – and back then it wasn’t just Usenet. AOL and Compuserve and WELL and quite a few more in other languages were able to make a business model work on a platform that offered tons of ways for people to hive off and form/manage/profit from sub-sets of those subscribers who wanted to connect in some forum or other. The Internet itself was just a way that opened the potential up enormously – to different audiences or to those that didn’t need the safety of a ‘pool’ or somesuch.

          That entire vision of what the Internet could have been is now dead.

          1. Oh – and back then it wasn’t just Usenet.

            Absolutely. I moved from the BBS world to MTS (with Usenet onramps) to the early Web (entered via some forgotten indie ISP in the rural northwest, with headquarters I once actually dropped by with a problem—oh, what a different era).

  3. The urge to repress is omnipresent precisely because the haters see so much worthy of their hate and have so little success; it makes them crazier and crazier, ready to pounce on the slightest sign of an opening, only to be rebuffed by the tolerant and, worse, pounced on by other haters. Whereas tolerance is less newsworthy because it is the default of most people most of the time.

    Hate is bad news, and newsworthy. Tolerance is normal, and too boring to become news.

    1. So much truth in this comment. I have always said it’s the hunter-gatherer in us. We evolved to be constantly fighting for our survival. Our modern society takes that away from us and supplies us with endless comfort. The urge to fight hasn’t gone away, so we must redirect it. Some of us redirect it into the social sphere, and hunt out any opportunity no matter how trivial to assert our dominance. Hence you have people shooting other people over parking in the wrong parking space.

      And this is made worse by the media because as you pointed out, tolerance doesn’t sell clicks.

      1. Well said. There is no such thing as a stress free life. If life does not present the stress, then we will create it. We all need some tension on the line. The slack will be taken up.

  4. As for internet censorship by the established social media giants, that is how all wannabe monopolies fail. They overreach themselves, bite off more than they can chew, ossify their bureaucracies, and fear innovation because it would undermine what they already have. They buy newcomers, bury them in bureaucracy, and hope the few who did notice think the new tech was a failure.

    This is all well-known. It leads to the perpetual fantasies of oil companies and auto manufacturers buying up patents to run cars on water.

    It’s also pretty useless. If the new ideas were as disruptive as the establishment feared, they would be off like a rocket, disrupting the establishment before the establishment even knew they existed. That is what eventually happens. I remember especially all the weird search engines before Google; each was so much better than the previous that everyone thought it was the last one; they only turned out to be the previous one.

    Mesh networks are some time off, but they or something equally disruptive will destroy government net censorship. China probably thinks they can just refuse to manufacture it, or install backdoors to subvert it; they will be caught with their pants down like all governments, and the software counterparts will catch Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and everything else off-guard just as quickly.

  5. In other speech news:

    Greta Thunberg apologizes for “against the wall” comment

    Thunberg said she was merely translating a Swedish expression into English and apologized for the way her comments may have come off.

    1. She’s right. The phrase in Swedish is ‘att ställa någon mot väggen’. It translates literally as ‘against the wall’ but is used more like ‘put them on the spot’.

    2. Funny how she always comes as a developmentally disabled brat every time her handlers don’t give her a set of talking points to memorize.

      1. HOW DARE YOU!?

  6. Was This the Decade We Hit Peak Free Speech?
    No, that was quite a few decades ago, probably the 1960’s.

    1. Did you even read the article?

  7. This was an excellent premise for an article and I appreciate how well it was addressed – thank you!

  8. This is an excellent question… This broader notion of ‘the culture of speech’ is one we should be paying attention to.

    ‘Censorship is only a tool of the government’ is a naive argument, or one that is fallen back on when one’s position on the matter is indefensible, and one must resort to lesser arguments to win the day.

    If we don’t have a culture of tolerance of the ‘bad’ speech, and let it see the light of day, and be argued on its merits, then I would argue we don’t really have ‘free’ speech. Conversely you could argue that even the most oppressive regime has free speech because its population has been subjugated to the point where they would never desire to say the wrong thing… So therefore they may say whatever they want.

    I do think we’ve reached a turning point this year though. Certain comedy specials seem to be pushing back on the crowd. If the elections in the UK are to be believed as a kind of foreshadowing, I guess we’ll see the will of the people in America soon enough..

    1. If we don’t have a culture of tolerance of the ‘bad’ speech, and let it see the light of day, and be argued on its merits, then I would argue we don’t really have ‘free’ speech.

      Interesting idea.

      But it becomes pretty obvious that if this is how we define “culture of free speech”, then it’s at direct odds with a similarly defined “culture of free association”.

      Currently we largely favor free speech over free association. That’s what non-discrimination laws (that libertarians love to loathe) are all about… you can think and say whatever you want, but you can’t cut out disfavored people from economic life. The only area where free association still wins is the choices we make as consumers, not producers.

      And all the non-government things talked about in the article are in the same vein: Facebook, Google and others are “intolerant of cultural Free Speech” because they exercise their right to dis-associate from certain people.

      And yes, if we swing the other way, “cultural” Freedom of Speech takes a dive. If it’s a reasonable fear that you’ll lose your job or be hassled by police for going to the wrong church or sharing the wrong meme on Facebook, then your speech is severely crimped.

      Where is the balance between people’s right to distance themselves for your speech, and your freedom to say whatever you want without fear of consequence? Currently we’re, culturally, in a squishy middle.

      1. I see what you mean, maybe the answer is we collectively grow thicker skins?

        The problem isn’t necessarily that people want to distance themselves from that guy who publicly states he wants to ‘killz all da joos’. The problem is our societal instinct seems to have become one of “Oh, you told a joke 10 years ago that was considered at worst off-color at the time and was seen by 10 people? Then we shall smite thee and anyone you ever associated with in the slightest with the almighty ban hammer because one guy on twitter who wasn’t even the butt of the joke took offense! Good luck finding work and avoiding starvation!”.

        I’m not advocating for some government rule, but maybe dis-associating from the former should be considered more socially acceptable than the latter?

        1. I see what you mean, maybe the answer is we collectively grow thicker skins?

          That’s not a “solution”, that’s just tilting things away from “cultural Freedom of Association” and towards “cultural Freedom of Speech”.

          Also, you should note that you’re accomplishing your “cultural Freedom of Speech” by telling people “you’re not allowed to be offended by that”.

      2. If all were free to exercise free association the way facebook and Twitter have, I think there’d be more openness to them doing it.

        Currently, we have carve outs for favored groups who you are legally prevented from practicing free association. The ones not protected are the ones being wiped out in the workplace and social media.

        It would be interesting if there is a set up for the next decade or 2 to be the decade of free association.

    2. Eternal vigilance….do it.

  9. don’t assuage the censors.

  10. “This year saw an astonishing level of public protest around the globe”

    Isn’t that due to a ‘culture of rebellion’ and a resurgence in the freedom of assembly, Reason’s least favorite freedom?

    Also, I’m not sure an increase in the use of words like ‘nigger,’ ‘bitch’ or ‘kike’ is the best measure of free speech.

  11. “All of that raises the question: Did we just witness Peak Free Speech?”

    No. People have always felt this way. People have just become accustomed to allowing corporations to transmit their speech. They have someone to complain to and because corporations usually enjoy making money they will listen.

    Without something like the algorithms these corporations use your voice would just be buried among the pile because it wouldn’t promote your expression so they’re extremely attractive to users.

    The internet is barely censored at all. Think about it. Right now if you have a domain you can post a picture of your erection next to the body of a coyote you just hit with your car no one can do anything. You can film yourself taking the photo while shouting out racial slurs and post that as well. (America!) People are just using it in a shitty fashion because they like ease and instant gratification.

    “You need to host my speech and promote it so people can hear me!”

    That’s the argument I hear.

    1. Yes. Libertarians frequently confuse Freedom of Speech with Entitlement to Platform.

      1. ” Libertarians frequently confuse Freedom of Speech with Entitlement to Platform.”

        Maybe in the USA. Hong Kong libertarians know full well they are not entitled to a platform. Which is why they take to the streets, at great personal risk, I might hasten to add.

        1. While Reason cheers on their buddies in the communist Chinese government and insist we’re just one eliminated tariff away from turning them into the Christian Democratic Union of Asia.

          1. I think that even the most optimistic among us about the “inevitable” liberalization of China have been disabused of that notion given the developments there of the past decade. they’ve come to recognize, albeit belatedly, that authoritarians are a uniquely committed bunch.

    2. ” People are just using it in a shitty fashion because they like ease and instant gratification. ”

      I would never underestimate the love of convenience and instant gratification, but people use it in a shitty fashion because they don’t believe they will be held to account for what they say or write. With rights come responsibilities, though you wouldn’t know it from Reason. The word appears once on the page, informing us Reason takes no responsibility for the comments.

      1. “With rights come responsibilities, though you wouldn’t know it from Reason. The word appears once on the page, informing us Reason takes no responsibility for the comments.”

        But just like social media posts or youtube videos we still click it. The sites are made to be addictive and they don’t care about the comments. They just care about the interaction that pads the stats for advertising. Reason maybe not so much, but I wouldn’t be shocked to discover if they hire such shitty writers because they know it increases interaction from people complaining. Without a comments section people may click a story once and never come back.

        We can all get our own domains and post our messages on there. In 10 years 2 people may wind up coming across it. That’s unhindered free speech. Reason would consider it censorship.

        1. ” The sites are made to be addictive and they don’t care about the comments. ”

          Comments probably add to the time users spend on a page so they should be of some value to those buying and selling adverts.

    3. Think about it. Right now if you have a domain you can post a picture of your erection next to the body of a coyote you just hit with your car no one can do anything.

      Except when every domain registrar delists you and colludes to deny you service, and every web host colludes to deny you service, and your local monopoly ISP refuses to provide you access, and the search engine monopolist Google with a 92% market share deindexes your site so that nobody can find it, and every nationwide bank colludes to deny you service, and the duopoly mobile OS platforms collude to keep your content out of their walled garden app stores, and violent psychopaths in black masks hunt you down in your home and beat you until you have brain damage while the cops look on and do nothing, and then face no legal consequences afterwards.

      But hey that doesn’t happen. Just ask Gab. And Infowars. And Andy Ngo.

      Don’t worry though. They’ll line you up against the wall last while you beg to suck their cock just one last time.

      1. If there is one thing the porn industry and white supremacists have in common is the knowledge that if you rely on a 3rd party to reach the world you’re fucked. Apparently the rest of the world is now figuring this out 20 years too late.

        Everything you have brought up can be worked around. Site deindexed? Pay for advertising. Rent a fucking truck, put a billboard on it, and drive up and down the Vegas strip like they do for prostitutes. It fucking works.

        Onion routing is a thing.

        Gab is still up. So is Infowars. Andy Ngo is still writing.

      2. Maybe next decade we’ll hit peak property rights, if that’s any consolation.

        1. I’m expecting that we’ll have to buy the product the advertisement shows before we can watch the video.

        2. We probably already have, if that is any consolation. “You didn’t build that…” – and by citing that example I do not mean to place it on BHO exclusively; you can’t slide a piece of paper between the mainstream democrat and republicans anymore when it comes to the stuff that really matters.

      3. As I said above, the way y’all are defining “cultural Freedom of Speech” pits it squarely in opposition to a “cultural Freedom of Association”.

  12. Widening Overton Window? What would has this author been living in?

    1. By that he means that the radical left wing Marxist bullshit that was up to that point the more or less exclusive domain of the academic left was forced down everyone’s throats by a rapidly consolidating monopoly of online social media and content distribution platforms. FINALLY it became possible for bloodthirsty Marxist pieces of subhuman shit like Mr. Walker to openly proclaim their political leanings not only without fear of condemnation, but with the assurance that any of their opponents would be harassed, intimidated, deplatformed, beaten, and even killed without any repercussions. For psychotic Marxist pieces of shit this was a huge expansion of ”””””free””””” speech.

    2. Widening Overton Window? What would has this author been living in?

      The one where the Republicans nominated Trump, the Democrats gave a surprisingly strong number-two finish to Bernie Sanders, and a host of far-left, far-right, and just plain unclassifiable views just generally became much more visible in the early to mid ’10s. I mean, that’s one reason why we’ve had this big backlash against uncontrolled speech in the second half of the decade; because people were so disturbed at what they were hearing when all those weirdos got their own microphones.

      Either that, or I’m some sort of bloodthirsty Marxist (and “openly”!), and when my article criticized consolidated control of the internet it was actually endorsing it, and all that other stuff that Nick Carter was raving about. Maybe that’s it.

  13. If by “free speech” you mean the capacity and willingness to speak, not just a shield from the institutions that could forcibly stop you from speaking, then the early to mid 2010s arguably saw the freest speech in history.

    And you’re arguably a drooling fucking retard if you think that speech became more robust in the 2010s while social media and information distribution consolidation obliterated the decentralized nature of the open internet and constricted speech for the first time since the mid 1990s when the web exploded in the first place. By all means make the argument that speech was freer in 2012 when Facebook made an in-kind contribution to the Obama campaign by giving it complete access to its entire index and making its full time employees at the disposal of the campaign while skewing feeds toward Democrats than it was in 2008, you’re just the fucking retard to do it.

  14. The type of free speech described may be the most important politically, but does not address what I believe is still more important: the freedom to interact with reqal people in everyday life without fear of someone taking (unreasonable) offense. That peaked in January 1964. After that, I started to feel like I had better watch what I say or suffer the wrath of PC.

    1. If I had been around in 1964, I would have had a reasonable fear that admitting I was gay in public would not only cause offense, but lead to me losing my job, my home, and being disowned by my family.

      In 1964, black men could face violence for looking at a white woman the wrong way.

      For that matter, the 1960s was fully of political violence, both the government getting violent with protesters (fire hoses, anyone?), segregationists getting violent with integrationists (Ax Handle Sunday), assassinations (JFK, Martin Luther King Jr.), and so-on.

      You may have been more likely to not cause “offense”, but that’s only if you define “violence” as a different category all-together.

  15. Thanks Walker.

    No speech, no agency.

    You may as well just hand cuff yourself to a bureaucrat and wear jogging pants and flip flops in public.

  16. In June 2017 the US Supreme Court ruled:
    “Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate”.

  17. “There is an argument that says free speech isn’t just a matter of stopping direct government censorship,”

    Indeed

    It’s called Freedom of Speech which also prohibits state-mandated speech not just censorship as Walker seems to believe – very ignorantly

    1. Talk about a basic lack of knowledge of freedom of speech and provably other rights by Reason writers

  18. Each passing week Orwell becomes more of a prophetic genius to me. Especially since he accurately characterized what would happen while it was 100% outside of anything he could have imagined from the practical or logistical point of his experiences.

  19. Maybe don’t use a Wikipedia article (about 500 channels) that is just one sentence, basically a quote from a TV exec from almost 30 years ago, with no explanation on how “eliminating the need for broadcast radio channels” would work, and a reference that now redirects to some kind of online Yellow Pages site called Manta, to make a point.

  20. According to Dickhead COP Sean Sticks Larken on Live PD last weekend said it was unfortunate we freedom of speech as a group of cops basically arrested an entire family because a pussy ass bitch cop couldn’t handle being told to go fuck himself. The host screwed up and admitted what he really thinks of our pesky rights and how they get in the way of “protecting us”! Then the cops on FILM all gathered after to get their lies straight about who to charge with what. A true display on Live TV of abusive cops with huge egos and tiny penises demanding people respect their authority. LMAO

  21. Given a balance between ease of reaching people via the internet and increasing clampdown, I feel that peak free speech was more like 10 years ago. Corporate interests consolidating platforms and insisting on “real name” rules which gave a chilling effect to people afraid of losing jobs or job opportunities if they used naughty words or said anything that went against current sensibilities, admitted to smoking weed, or were revealed to, say, publish erotica in their spare time, began to increase around then.

  22. Given the balance between the ease of reaching people through the Internet and the increase in repression, I believe that freedom of expression was about 10 years ago. Online Rashan Card List 2019 Dekhe Mobile Par.

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