Freedom of speech and association

What’s the true test of one’s commitment to free speech? It does not come when he permits people to be free to say or publish ideas with which he agrees. Not by a long shot. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when he permits others to say and publish ideas he deems offensive.

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The principle that applies to one’s commitment to free speech also applies to one’s commitment to freedom of association. The true test of one’s commitment to freedom of association does not come when he permits people to associate in ways he deems acceptable. The true test comes when he permits people to associate — or not to associate — in ways he deems offensive.

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Liberty requires bravery. To truly support free speech, one has to accept that some people will say and publish things he finds deeply offensive. Similarly, to be for freedom of association, one has to accept that some people will associate in ways that he finds deeply offensive, such as associating or not associating on the basis of race, sex or religion.

I am all too afraid that too many of my fellow Americans are too hostile to the principle of liberty. Most people want liberty for themselves. I differ. I want liberty for me and liberty for my fellow man.

Author: Greg Raven

Free minds and free markets.