Some things I reckon about free speech

Here are some things I reckon about free speech.

  1. If you say something, and then someone criticises what you said, that is not an infringement on your free speech — it is, in fact, them utilising their right to free speech.
  2. №1 still applies even if the person criticising you is really rude or insulting — it even applies if they’re WRONG. Just as you’re free to say things that are wrong, other people are free to be wrong about what you say, whether it’s right or wrong — you get my drift?
  3. The fact that someone who whines about their free speech being infringed by people who are criticising them is wrong about that doesn’t mean that that person is not, necessarily, at risk of having their free speech actually infringed. For example, you might be calling someone a fuckwit at the same time that someone else is trying to have them arrested.
  4. Freedom of speech does, in fact, mean the right to say nasty, despicable and revolting things. Putting restrictions on things like threats or incitements to violence is one thing, but if you want to prevent people from just being arseholes — however you might define that — you probably shouldn’t claim you support free speech.
  5. Someone who defends another person’s right to say aforementioned nasty, despicable and revolting things is not necessarily defending those things themselves. Sticking up for the right to be a bigot does not automatically make one a bigot (it doesn’t rule the possibility out either).
  6. Someone who claims another person’s right to say those things is under threat when actually all that’s happening is others are calling those things nasty, despicable and revolting, should refer to №1.
  7. It is not true that the only threat of freedom of speech is government repression. Some will disagree with me on this, but if an environment is fostered where severe material consequences will be suffered by a person who expresses a disapproved opinion — for example, where one is liable to lose their job for political views unrelated to that job — that is also an attack on freedom of speech, and to be deplored. In my opinion.
  8. Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is not as important as you’re being told it is. It’s not suppressing free speech in any meaningful way, and changing it won’t unleash a tidal wave of hatred. The battleground is elsewhere. In addition, not everyone who wants to change it wants to unleash a tidal wave of hatred, and not everyone who wants to keep it is anti-free speech.
  9. Be nice to each other. I for one will judge you far more on this than on your opinions on freedom of speech.
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