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4 Quora Answers About Freedom of Speech You Need To Check Out

8 mins read

Is being offended by someone’s freedom of speech also my right to freedom of speech?

Yes. You have the absolute right to declare you are offended, to disagree (and explain why), and even to become fairly nasty about it, although you do so at your own risk.

Freedom of speech, as understood in most democracies, means the government may not prevent you from speaking your mind. It does not mean anyone has to listen to you. It does not mean anyone has to publish or repeat what you have said. And it doesn’t mean they have to be nice about disagreeing with you. (That’s covered by manners and the rules of etiquette and does not come under rights.)

If you offer a physical response intended to harm the speaker who offended you, you are liable to be arrested for assault. Assault is not freedom of expression. Giving the speaker the finger is.

Answer by Barry Hampe, Writer & atheist

Is YouTube violating freedom of speech?

You have a megaphone and own a ranch. You invite people to your ranch.

They come.

You use the megaphone to tell the funniest jokes you know. They laugh, you feel happy.

Other people ask you if they can also use the megaphone. You’re a cool dude. You say “sure, line up”.

Except, you just don’t feel like listening to lectures.

So you say “take my megaphone and have fun, but do not lecture anyone. If I see you lecturing, I will take my megaphone away.”

So you go around lending the megaphone to people. Some tell jokes. Some sing songs. Some do impressions.

Then suddenly one guy starts to tell people about the evils of capitalism.

“Hey”, you yell, “I said no lectures”.

He doesn’t listen, he continues.

So you take your megaphone away and give it to the next person in line.

“You tyrant”, the guy who lost the megaphone yells, “I want my freedom of speech”

You’re annoyed, naturally. You ask him to leave your ranch.

“F you”, he complains, “you’re violating my freedom of speech”.

You try to reason with the guy. “Look, it’s my ranch and my megaphone. These are my guests. I want them to have fun. You can stay, but no lectures”.

He doesn’t listen, and you kick him out.

Replace “you” with “YouTube”, “ranch” with their platform and “megaphone” with “videos”. You have your answer.

tldr: You have no rights over YouTube. YouTube is under no obligation to give you anything. Therefore, by not giving you something, they aren’t violating any of your rights.

Answer by Zee Hamid, Town Councillor. Public Speaker. Father. Techy. Traveller.

Can I sue Twitter for suspending my account permanently as a violation of my free speech rights?

What free speech rights do you have? Please be detailed and specific. Cite the exact words of the precise law, statute, or passage in the Constitution that grants you free speech rights.

I’m sorry, what was that you said? You can’t?

Here, let me help. This is the First Amendment to the Constitution;

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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

“Congress shall make no law.”

Did Twitter get Congress to pass a law banning you?

No?

Then Twitter did not violate your free speech rights. Plus, you don’t actually know what “free speech rights” are.

Answer by Franklin Veaux, Professional Writer

Where do you draw the line between free speech and hate speech? If free speech is what we want, then is it alright if my speech would hurt a few people’s feelings? If I’m restrained from expressing my opinion, what happened to my freedom of speech?

At what point? At no point.

As I’ve said many times now on Quora—the right of the Nazis to march through Skokie is the price we pay to ensure that Martin Luther King, Jr. can march through D.C.

Determining what is “hate speech” depends entirely on what values the dominant societal ideology approves of. To a “progressive” society, “Homosexuality is sinful” might be hate speech, but to a strongly religious society, “Faith in God is irrational” might be hate speech.

Even if you only defined “hate speech” to include outright slurs, that would only delay the problem, not eliminate it—because polite terms become considered as slurs when their target group gets more sensitive to them (for example, “Negro” used to be a completely neutral term for a black person, but now it’s considered a milder version of “the N-word”, and “cripple” used to be an entirely neutral term for someone without full use of his or her legs, but now it’s considered an “ableist” slur).

The point is that no matter how you phrase it, eventually any “hate speech” restriction will morph into a rule that socially unpopular views cannot be expressed—and what is “socially unpopular” might shift dramatically. A law intended to prohibit racist statements could one day be used to prosecute people for “disparaging” speech against the “obvious truth” that whites are superior. A law intended to prohibit homophobic slurs could one day be used to prosecute a gay person for “offensively and outrageously” disparaging the theology of the Westboro Baptists.

Free speech means nothing at all unless it is broad enough to encompass speech that causes offense, because speech which doesn’t cause offense doesn’t need protecting (because no one is trying to restrict it).

“Hate speech” is free speech.

Answer by Anthony Zarrella, Conservative with strong libertarian leanings

Born and raised in Shanghai, living and working in Paris.
Stylist, editor, creative director and art project manager.

Academic background: English language and Literature, History of Western Art
Professional background: Art Curation, Fashion Design, Styling, Creative Marketing

Currently pursuing studies in cognitive psychology and the art of negotiation.