The basic idea of free speech should be simple enough for people to grasp. Peeps get to say what they want to say. We do indeed then bring in a couple of restrictions. No, by lying, trashing the reputation of another – that’s libel. And no inciting immediate violence because we do agree that it’s possible to whip up the mob through demagoguery. And after that, well, peeps get to say what they want to say.
Certain people still not quite getting this:
Abortion rights defenders in Canada have accused the country’s largest cinema chain of hiding behind freedom of expression laws in order to screen a controversial US anti-choice film which has been described as “anti-abortion propaganda”. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) said Cineplex Entertainment has “made a decision based on money, not freedom of speech” by choosing to screen Unplanned.
ARCC executive director Joyce Arthur said: “The movie theatres who are agreeing to show this film under the guise of free speech are publicly legitimizing anti-choice views. She told the Guardian: “Why does much of civil society seem to think it’s still OK to allow public challenges of women’s rights in the name of free speech? That would never be tolerated if it, for example, were a white supremacist movie.”
Well, we think that it’s OK to challenge women’s reproductive rights in the name of free speech because that’s what free speech means. That peeps can say what they want to say.
We do, for example allow people who insist that more women should have abortions to say so. We allow the eugenicists who insist that any even partly damaged foetus should – not should – be aborted near irrespective of the wishes of the mother. Actually, concerning Down’s Syndrome that seems to be NHS policy let along something that may be said.
Because that’s just what free speech. People only being allowed to make statements you agree with isn’t quite the point of the exercise at all.
Oh, and we should tolerate white supremacists films. They still show Triumph of Will in movie school, don’t they?