Freedom Of Speech is not Freedom To Preach

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

The Sunday Telegraph reported at the weekend that 50% of people polled in the UK believe they have less freedom to speak freely than five years ago.

One of the value added benefits of freedom of speech is that it allows bad ideas out into the open. Once these ill conceived thought gimps are unleashed they can be challenged and scrutinised rather than hiding in the cupboard. It’s ironic that people who claim that they cannot say what they really think because of “political correctness gone mad” are usually complaining that they cannot say whatever they like without being scrutinised.

Social Media has a complicated dualistic relationship with the notion of freedom of speech having long sold a vision of themselves as exalted public squares; Twitter once identified itself as “the free speech wing of the free speech party”.

On the one hand they provide the people a global audience and the technological Megaphone to broadcast their every thought out into the world (yes..the irony is not lost on me as I type this)

On the other hand they provide the private echo-chambers where bad ideas become dogmatism, cognitive bias runs wild and facts bow down and lick the boot of opinion.

Critics of Social Media’s democratisation of global broadcast, allowing every nutcase the ability to reach a vast audience, have coined the adage “Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom of reach”. But at least these bad ideas are out in the cold light of day where reason and facts can attack them. Through discourse with bad ideas freedom of speech does not have to equal a freedom to preach.

Words Become Works