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For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.
Washington was on to something. There is no more vital safeguard of our liberties than freedom of speech. Without it, we are, as Washington graphically notes, “like sheep led to the slaughter.”
Benjamin Franklin (writing as the widow Silence Dogood) said it as plainly as it could be said.
In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.
This is one of those truths that appear to be self-evident. But today, only some speech is considered “free.” The rest must comport with a dizzying number of rules, conventions, and arbitrary guidelines that makes a mockery of the concept of free speech.
The left just doesn’t get it. They have lost sight of the beautiful simplicity of the concept of free speech. “If you can think it, you can speak it,” is no longer operative in America. It’s been lost. And if we don’t find it …
Get in line my fellow sheep. How bad can it get, right?
In the days since Musk agreed to terms on a deal to take Twitter private, nearly all of Musk’s tweets have been about freedom and censorship on the platform. Like: “By ‘free speech,’ I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.” Or: “Truth Social (terrible name) exists because Twitter censored free speech.” And: “the extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all.”
Why does Musk care so much about this? Why would a guy who has pushed the boundaries of electric-vehicle manufacturing and plumbed the limits of commercial space flight care about who can say what on Twitter?
Why would any American care about what can be said on Twitter? The whole point of the First Amendment is that it’s no one’s bloody business what I say on Twitter or any other social media platform, blog, website, newspaper article, or email thanking my Auntie Midge for her Christmas fruitcake.
Why suppress a viewpoint because it might hurt someone’s feelings or is repulsively racist or anti-Semitic? Just because it’s published doesn’t mean you have to read it. That’s freedom of speech too — the freedom to ignore the kooks, the crazies, the haters, and all the internet wild people who have created such a toxic place for people to gather. Is it really so hard to tune these loons out?
Let the racists rant. Let the nuts spout their conspiracy theories. The danger is in trying to decide what might be racist or hateful. Once you set up a process, a system, a board, or a person to try and define what is “hate,” what is “disinformation,” what is “unacceptable,” free speech is gone.
Elon Musk is sort of on the right track. But even he will have to bow to the eager-beaver lefty censors who are pure of heart and empty of head. And the concept of free speech will die a little more.
If we can’t trust the people to make their own decisions about what to believe, what to accept, and what to reject, we might as well get in line with the other sheep and offer our necks to the ax.