For the last week or so, I’ve been wanting to write about a single sentence (actually a sentence fragment that is a sentence on its own) I found in Guerrilla Learning a couple months ago. It seems as though the lack of understanding of the implications of the statement insist on cropping up in the blogosphere. Recently, ‘liberal society’, ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘censorship’ have been mentioned.

…freedom is not inconsistent with obligation. – Grace Llewellyn

It’s been my plan to describe here the things I said in a conversation with my oldest 3 children regarding that statement. And, to go a bit further into the issues of sociology, liberty and politics. For the last 2 nights I have been unable to collect my thoughts around those ideas because of the things I mentioned in the first paragraph. What I realized last night is that the pressing issue is the nature of the use of these terms.

The reason (other than being an idealist) I’m quite bothered by this is the fact that these variations of freedom of speech are being used as incantations (C.S. Lewis used this term to describe words and phrases which were used ‘for their selling power’ not for ideas or meaning they represented).

Even though we don’t discuss it publicly (well, I guess I am now), Andrea and I consider the atypicalife blog to be hers and this one to be mine. Since we both have the ability to post in each other’s blog, there exists the possibility that one of us could post something which the other disagreed with in the other one’s blog. The way we handle that is that, excluding incidental things like birthday greetings, neither of us post in the other person’s blog without running the post by each other. In fact, Andrea has already seen this post up to this point.

I haven’t pointed that out to say that we have issues. What I’m trying to say is that for all intents and purposes, this is my blog. Within the webosphere, this is where my freedom of speech exists. If I write in your blog (eg. via a comment form), you have the ability to decide whether anyone other than you and I see it. And there is nothing that I can do about it.

While no one has suggested it here, there have been accusations that both moderating comments and refraining from linking to another site was tatamount to censorship and being against freedom of speech. And, if I can be blunt, both accusations are nonsense. They make absolutely no sense. If I am under some bizarre obligation (i.e. to freedom of speech) to let anything and everything through and refer readers to every opinion different from my own; if I’m required to post content here under any form of duress, where is MY freedom of speech? Couldn’t a group of dedicated like minded individuals simply drown out everyone else?

Freedom of speech does not mean that every place must give way to your voice. It does not mean that I am obligated to provide everyone with an avenue of speech. It does not mean that the world owes you a free place to speak (although such places exist). I have been paying for domains, webspace and bandwidth for years. And I’ll keep paying, because my freedom and yours is worth far more that what this costs me.

You see, your freedom of speech is inexorably linked to mine. If you set out to take away my freedom of speech, you destroy an argument in favour of your own. If my freedom of speech is worthless to you, why should anyone else value yours? If you value freedom of speech, it is your responsibility to take every available measure to safeguard the freedom of others.

(And, that leads me to what I discussed with the children which I’ll address in another post.)

Author: Ron

Homeschooling dad of 4 (ages 27 - 14), grampy to 3, WordPress core contributor, former farmboy & software developer by profession.

5 thoughts on “Pacing”

  1. I agree completely. However, I will add that creative editing or censorship of the comments on your blog is disingenuous at best, flat out dishonest at worst. If the blogger only lets the comments through that make him or her look good, then an incomplete picture of the conversation is presented, and the blogger’s credibility among thinking people suffers.

  2. Agree, agree, agree, Ron!

    But there can be consquences to “freedom of speech,” correct? If, for example, a celebrity makes a politically charged statement and I decide to no longer buy their music/see their movies, I do not seek to restrict their freedom…I just don’t care to support them. Often it seems like disagreeing with someone is seen as “restricting their freedom of speech.” Pffft!

    P.S. Happy Birthday!!! (a little late…)

  3. In a subrurb near here every year a group of neonazis decide to have a march. The whole suburb, which is largely first and second generation immigrants tries to get that permit revoked, and the city always turns it down, saying it is the neonazis right to march. Then, no one shows up for their march, essentially boycotting it, because of fear of the violence that would break out. I think both parties have exercised their right, and one party has brought something really ugly to the scene. So, I think boycotts mean something. They are often a minoritie’s only way to let the opposition and undecided folks know what they think.Every time those neonazis march down empty streets it might sink in that no one in that neighborhood particularly supports their ideas.

  4. Chris: I agree. But those folks are usually ‘found out’ in due time and eventually the only people who will read them are people who already agree with them.

    Gina: Exactly.

    Kim: Yep. Good illustration.

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