Throughout history great men and woman have sacrificed their careers, freedoms, and even their lives to defend the core liberties that content liberal societies take for granted. These hero’s, many of whom shall be forever nameless bravely placed out their hands to be clasped by the cold physical manacles of the world because only by doing so could they shed the manacles of the mind. Only by resigning their physical freedom through their own determination could they truly be free.
Socrates made few friends with his criticisms of Greek society. In the end His quest for truth and justice was ultimately what led to his undoing. One of the most influential men in history and godfather of philosophy was sentenced by a trial of majority to death by poison. His crimes, Impiety & Corrupting the minds of youths. It was not action that sealed his fate, but words. Words that stung at the ears of the pious community. Instead of attempting to flee his fate he choose to embrace his sentence.
Alice Paul who was one of the key players in women’s suffrage broke away from traditional woman’s rights groups to form the more radical National Women’s Party. She led protests outside the White House holding up signs in an attempt to pressure President Woodrow Wilson into supporting woman’s suffrage (Something ladies of the time just didn’t do). Rather than let their voices be heard the woman were continually arrested for blocking sidewalks and traffic. Eventually Alice was sentenced to 7 months in jail. Rather than lay quietly Alice led a hunger strike inducing her captures to force feed her with tubes. Her bravery may have very well been one of the key factors that swayed public opinion and put pressure on politicians to support women’s suffrage. However not only was her battle key for woman’s rights, Alice and the women who followed her continued to speak out and protest in spite of persecution and violence.
These people have had a profound affect on me and my own personal philosophy. Their strife has given me a greater appreciation for the privileges I am privy to in a free society. This is why I wholeheartedly defend free speech and the exchange of ideas, Even those ideas which may be hateful, ignorant, or unpopular.
I was encouraged to write this after a feminist libertarian in our very own movement called out a man for an off colour joke about Libertarian women and sandwiches. She publicly called for his statement to be shared so that all future employers would know the type of person he is. I won’t state the specific names or details of the event as I won’t reply to public shaming with public shaming. However I feel that this shows an utter disregard for freedom of speech as a principle.
It is far to often that the claim is made that ones first amendment rights only protect speech from being infringed by the government. While this may be true there is still a fundamental misunderstanding of what free speech is.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
It is important that the first amendment does not endow freedom of speech. It prohibits congress from abridging the freedom of speech which we already inalienably have. The constitution merely acknowledges this inherent right. So when one argues that freedom of speech only applies to congress they are fundamentally incorrect. While the first amendment applies to congress, freedom of speech is an inherent right.
So one cannot claim to support free speech when they openly apply gorilla tactics in an attempt to silence speech which they disagree with or offends them. Destroying ones career over an offense and espousing that a person should not be able to work is essentially saying “This person deserves to starve to death because i disagree with them” At it’s core it’s a subtle form of violence and those that truly espouse the ideas of liberty should reject it wholly.
You can’t claim to support freedom of speech in principle if you don’t support it in practice.